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.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, would never have thought in one day it would have rusted up! and OUCH sand!!! I think Aspen is a great idea, and I dont look at them as limits, they are challenges that others dont have the privilege of experiencing, there are many things you can do and you have one thing most people dont have and that is the courage to face what comes your way and blast through it with smile!!