DATE                               07.04.05

DISTANCE                      2.8 MILES

WEATHER                      BRIGHT BUT COOL


First trip to Simonside

Todays walk wasn’t about distance, well there would be a bit of distance involved but today I was going to concentrate on different types surfaces and how to try to overcome them, I was hoping that if I kept the distance down the Tegaderm and foam system I was working on would protect my skin from any real damage but I knew that there would be a lot more twisting and sheer forces applied today, so I would have to keep an eye on things  the other thing I was concerned about was my good leg , I was still getting that burning sensation and leg  shake when I used it too much .

To try to overcome this I had taken it upon myself to start to exercise it or should I say stretching it starting before I even got out of bed , I would stick my leg out of the bed covers holding  my leg at about 45% with my toes pointing straight and try to “write “ my name and address in the air , this I found out was much harder than I thought and the first few times I could just about “air write my name” before the leg came crashing back down to the mattress and me feeling slightly ashamed that I was such  a weakling . Over a matter of months I / my leg became stronger and my wife and I would play a game of guess what word or sentence I was air writing. Which went from any old crap to some downright dirty comments?

I had also taken to massaging the calf muscle at every opportunity   , naturally I didn’t know what or how to do this but over a period of time I sort of developed a feel of what worked and what didn’t, sometimes I even managed to turn a rock hard almost locked muscle to a more warmer flexible type (if that makes sense) but if the state of my good leg was anything to go off what’s happening to the rest of my body , I was already starting to suffer from back aches , neck aches , shoulder aches yes you get the general idea if it could ache in a place, It would ! so…………it was time to go and see a professional , as luck would have it a friend recommended a local sports physiotherapy’s and after a phone call things where set up .

On arriving I really didn’t know what to expect and have to say that the experience was something from my worst nightmare to extremely relaxing, I would find myself squealing like a school girl one minute to giggling hysterically the next, after the session I was totally drained , walking like an old crippled man just about made it home then  get showered (as I smelt like a girl with the hand lotion she used to as slippery as a greased up pig) then crawl into bed where I would drop off to a deep sleep totally knackered .

However come the morning I felt like a new man, what a pleasant surprise it was to wake up without  any aches and pains in fact I found myself thinking of tigger off whinny the pooh bouncing around

Found myself bouncing around like Tigger

(In fact even now ten years later I still pop in and get sorted out when I find myself with one to many aches) I can’t recommend this type of massage highly enough.

Anyway getting back to the walk, I had a good idea of what the ground was like and where I was going to go as I had been up here many times before my accident , but of course that was then and now was now , I knew what I took in my stride without even thinking about it would be completely different now …….but I knew that and it was one of the reasons I was here to start to learn all over again , my should was giving me some grief before I even started to I made a silent promise to my self that if and when I used the hiking poles I wouldn’t put to much weight through them , try to use them for balance only ……well that was the plan.

Gear was thrown into the car and off I went, I had packed enough food and water to last the day and I fully intended to spend the day practising unless I split the skin open or did something stupid like dropping dead!.

I  had also invested in a small fold away mat that I could quickly get out of the rucksack and sit down on , as it was this turned out to be one of the best bits of kit I have ever brought .

On arriving it was gear sorted and a quick rub of my good leg muscle trying to loosen it up before I start (I was starting to get a bit paranoid about my leg by now) and off I went, easy forestry track to start with then I planned to turn off and head up to a higher level track via a very wet and slippery rocky path , I knew that it wouldn’t  be easy but I needed the  practise , about half way up I started to change and experiment with different methods on how to get up different bits, by the time I was ¾ of the way up I decided to drop back down and start again trying different methods over different bits , I think I went up and down some sections four or five times until I had a system that sort of worked for me , it goes without saying that I was totally knackered by the time I got to the high track but from there it’s  was only a short walk along a level track till I came to some bench seats that gave me excellent views towards the Cheviot hills .

I made the most of the bench seat and had a well deserved extended lunch break, a quick check of my stump showed that the tegaderm plaster and foam had done there job but I still had a couple of warm spots developing a dollop of thick hand cream on them seemed to help, then a few minutes rubbing my calf muscle which was really kicking off big time letting me know that I had overdone it and I was ready for the downhill section , my plan was to walk along the forest track then cut straight down to the car park along a very difficult path the path weaved its way between the trees , across rocky boulders , throw in the tree roots that where sticking up everywhere and it should make for  fun afternoon .

On standing up my good leg once again starting shaking and burning , I guess I had spent to much time sitting down and stiffing up , another lesson ……..keep my breaks short and sweet .

And off I went, after a couple of hundred meters my calf muscle started to relax again and things and stuff where all well then I came to the downhill path.

Any above knee amputee will tell you going up hills is bad coming downhill is a trillion time worse and I was just about to go down what could be the worse path in Northumberland, I decided not to think about it to much and just concentrate on the next six steps then worry about the next bit after that ……………..sorta breaking it down into manageable sections something that I still do today, the trip down was one huge learning experience and by the time I made it to the bottom I was both mentally and physically exhausted and there was NO WAY on this earth that I could go up and do it again , I was feeling sore on my bum cheek and my good leg calf muscle was burning and trembling  ,

It was time for a sit down and rest even though I was only a few hundred meters away from the car park.

Sitting down rubbing my good leg helped as did drinking the last of my coffee, then it was time for a stump check , the foam was still in place with its tegaderm covering but I had a couple or very red spots where the skin had been rubbing but it hadn’t broken , another hundred yards and there would have been some serious damage done , a rub with cream brought instant relief but it got me thinking ……I need some better type of anti chaffing cream time to use Mr google when I get home and a few minutes to spare .

A few photos from today:-

The last bit of the rocky path leading up to the higher track

Having a well deserved rest looking towards the Cheviot Hills


Same place just taken at max zoom


Looking up at the higher crags (it would be a while before I went up there)


Now on the path down ugh!!


Still heading down


A break in the trees and a chance to stop and look back up


Still heading down

Day after thoughts , I cut it close today ….very close another five minutes and I would have torn the skin away from my stump and I would have been buggered till it healed up again . Lesson learnt! If it starts to get warm STOP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

The going uphill proved to be very rewarding and I proved to myself that I can go up some very tricky places safely which was a huge confidence booster BUT going down hill it was more luck than skill that got me to the bottom without falling flat on my face, I have got a lot of serious work to do on my downhill methods but it was a good start so another successful day. My burning calf muscle still burned and shook for an hour or so after the walk and didn’t really loosen up until I got into a hot bath later back home ……………..still got some work to do on that .