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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Philosophy 101: It breaks therefore, it is my leg.

This happenend a few years ago when I was taking classes at the main UofA campus. I was at the Walton College of Buisness headed toward my Econ for Elem Teachers class, when my leg broke....again. I thought it was the bolt to my foot like last time, but no. This was much worse. The type of foot I had at the time, didn't have a bolt. It was attached to the TITANIUM rod by a series of screws and socket things. The TITANIUM rod (or aluminum can't remember which) broke above the foot. It looked like a hollow spear was sticking out of my pant leg. I sat down in the middle of the hallway and a coulple of my classmates happened to be walking by. They asked if I needed help and I told them to just to get me a chair. As they did that, I called my grandparents to bring me crutches. I now keep crutches in my vehicle at all times. I was thankful that I was in a building that was somewhat easy to access from the street. My grandma showed up and I gave her directions to where I was at. I felt so bad because it was hard for her to walk down the stairs. The only elevator I knew of was way down at the other end of the building. The crutches she brought were too short and very old. I think they were the crutches I had when I was 13 and first lost my leg. But, they were better than nothing. I had to go up the stairs using those things. I hate stairs. I wasn't worried about what I looked like; been there done that. What I was worried about was the Philosophy paper that was due. I'm not sure why I was so determined to get that paper in that day. I think it was because; 1. it was already late, or 2. I did not turn in the previous paper that had been due. Maybe it was the final paper.

I had to go to Old Main and drop it off at my professor's office. There is no easy way to get to Old Main. My grandparents took me to my car and I drove to the parking lot that was the closest to where I needed to go. I still had about three million miles to crutch-walk because nothing is close on that campus! I started using my leg spear to help propel me faster toward my goal. Sweat was pouring off me but I made it to the building and rode the elevator to the floor the office was located on. I went to his door and knocked, praying he would be there. He opened the door and I thrust my paper at him panting that my leg broke and that I wouldn't be in class. He took in my sweat streaked face and too short crutches and I could tell he was concerned more for my sanity. He asked about my leg and I said it was fake and stuff like this happens all the time blah, blah, blah. He said that I didn't have to turn it in under the circumstances, he would have understood. I could hear the exasperation in his voice. I find a lot of people sound that way around me... I lamely replied that I wanted to make sure he got it. I wish I could remember why it was so important. Maybe it was the last class before the final. Maybe I'm masochistic.

I got back to my car with a hole in the leg of my pants where the spear pierced the cuff. I think I sat in my car for thirty minuets just resting before I finally drove home. I wish I could say I had some ironic philisophical break through but all that came to mind was, "Shit happens."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It wasn't me...it was my leg!!

In case you don't know, my leg goes inside a socket. My prosthesis stays on by a combination of socks, gravity, and suction. Since I have the silicone sock with the pin that locks into the socket, my leg does not move up and down as much as it used to. However, sometimes air still gets trapped between my leg and the socket causing a very unfortunate sound. I do not like using the "f" word but it is the same sound created when you cup your hand under your armpit and vigorously flap your arm up and down. This used to happen A LOT when I first got my prosthesis. What is left of my real leg swells and shrinks during the day, which is why my leg will move up and down inside the socket. One time in high school, we were getting ready to march over to the football field. I was in line behind Derek and my leg made that unforgivable noise when I stepped forward. He turned around and looked at me. Quickly, I shouted it was my leg and attempted to recreate the sound to prove my story. It failed to deliver. I tell myself he was laughing because I was so embarrassed about it and not because he thinks I was trying to cover something up. Finally, my leg did it again. This made him laugh harder but at least this time, I could laugh/cry with him.

This unfortunate incident happened again when I was taking a college course in Wellness or something like that which no longer is needed for my degree. We were in a small gym area learning about yoga. I was on my back and when I was told to put my left foot on my right knee, my leg made a sound that reverberated throughout the gym. I sat up like I had been electrocuted and clutched my leg like I was in pain. I turned to the closest person to me and started babbling about my leg coming off and how it makes that sound when air is trapped. This girl...I never looked at her face, said she understood and went back to doing her flying dog pose or whatever it's called. I remember laying back down and staying down on the mat not moving until it was time to leave. I never looked up from my feet as I followed my classmates out the door. Why, why, why, did that have to happen? Ugh! I get embarrassed just thinking about it....I should have stood up and stopped class and showed them that my leg has pseudo flatulence issues!

I think I am okay now. I haven't had an incident in a long time. Hopefully, I will prepare my students in case a situation arises. In which case, I will demand a time out for the class to cup their hands under their armpits and flap vigorously for at least five minuets.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ocean = Bad for Fake Leg

In my previous blog, I wrote about how I would go swimming with my prosthetic leg and it really wasn't good for it. I now have a spare leg I can use just for swimming. I sometimes have used my "good" leg, but only if it's an unplanned water event and these are rare. About seven years ago, I went on a trip to Cozumel. I quickly learned a new lesson in water/fake leg relations.

SIDE BAR:
I love going to the airport. I love setting off the metal detector and being asked to step through again, just to assure them the detector is working. I love to be told to move aside so I can be patted down by a female attendant. I love when they get out the wand that detects explosive substances and swab it up and down my prosthetic leg. I really love when DFW asks me to remove my leg to swab the inside of the socket. And I love doing this... every... single... time... I go to an airport.

I went with a friend to the lovely island of Cozumel. We stayed at a hotel called the Casa Del Mar. It was right next to the ocean and had a really cool bar attached to their pool so you could just swim up to it and order a drink. The first thing we did after we checked in was take a walk on the beach. I wanted so badly to be able to stand in the ocean again. The last time I was in the ocean was when my family took a trip to Corpus Cristi Texas when I was twelve. The waves would knock your feet out from under you at times, but usually they would just give a gentle pull, encouraging you to go farther out and frolic in the sea.

I was kinda having a bad day, (that is a different blog), and I suddenly was mad at the limits I have by having a disability. I didn't care what happened. I wanted to experience walking from the beach into the water. I knew water wasn't great for my leg, but one time wouldn't hurt, right? When we got back to the hotel, I took off my leg so I could take a shower. It was pretty late so we took a nap before exploring the rest of the island. When I woke up, I moved to put on my leg. I wear a silicone sock that has a round tipped screw/pin on the end. The pin goes inside the socket where it will move down and click into place. To take it off again, I press a button on the side that releases the pin. For some reason, the pin was not locking in place. I had to stand and balance myself as I lifted my knee up and down trying to get it to lock. Finally it did and I was good to go. That night, I couldn't get the button to press in and release the pin. I had to bang on it with the heel of my hand before it finally came off. I didn't want to think about why it was sticking. I was too tired.

The next morning I had to repeat my balancing act, but it seemed to click faster than it did last night. My friend and I spent the whole day walking around the village square and sight seeing. It was great. That evening I tried to take my leg off to go to bed and I couldn't. Desperate, I grabbed a rocks glass and used this to bang on the button. It chipped the glass. By this point I had sweated enough that I could slip my leg out of the silicone sock. Gross, but it worked! Now I was confined to my room. There was only one day left of our trip. I convinced my friend to go out without me. (We had made some friends from the night before and they had invited us to hang out with them.) My friend left me at the hotel, and I tried to fix my leg. I finally got the sock out but now the button was staying stuck in. It still hadn't dawned on me that getting it wet had anything to do with this. This problem had never happened before when I got it wet.

After working on it, I got the button to stick out again but now it wouldn't lock. I was going to have to walk very carefully. My leg was now only staying on with some suction and me using what muscles I had left, to push out against the socket so my leg would stay on. The pin would move up and down making clicking noises. It was still like this the next day when we left for the airport. It dawned on me I was going to have a very long awkward walk through the terminals. After much internal cursing over my lot in life, we finally made it home. My mom, who is a master at everything mechanical, took my leg apart and there was rust all over the button area and pretty much any place there was metal. It was then I remembered seeing rusted out pay phones on the island. I was told the salt from the ocean makes the metal booths rust. This is what happened to my leg. I rusted it shut. It only took one day. Fortunately, I had a spare leg I could wear until I could get a new one.

So thus, I have learned the lesson of swimming in the ocean with a fake, metal covered leg. Do not. When I went on my trip to the Dominican Republic, I took my leg off on the beach and kept it far from the treacherous waters. Unfortunately, I had to put it on to walk back to my room. I tried to get all the sand off before, but come on...you can never get all the sand off of you until you get in the shower. I had to spend another day alone in the hotel room because my leg looked like I rubbed it with sandpaper.

I've decided that my next vacation will be Aspen; where the only thing I will have to worry about is the possible attack of an Abominable snowman.