My first few steps .
From what I gather different areas operate different systems for giving you your leg or should I say taking it home with you , I know that where I had my leg made they tend to pass it over to the physio department , and they decided when you can “walk out” with it normally after a number of sessions , I was different (naturally) my leg got made at the limb centre but I wasn’t having my physio there , so it was a case of here’s your leg & off I go .
Naturally I was over the moon to get my leg and as it was only a few days before Christmas so I sort of considered it an early Christmas present. My local physio department was closed down for the Christmas period so I couldn’t even hand it over to them , plus I wasn’t even sure if I was meant to .
NOW I’m not sure even today if what I did was right or wrong but I decided to teach myself , there are arguments both for and against this approach .
The against is I didn’t know what I was doing which could lead to bad habits and if the truth was known most likely did.
But at the time all I wanted to do is stand upright and walk a few paces, and if you are ever find yourself in this position you know that it is almost an irresistible urge that I couldn’t deny. So I started with “I just try to go across the room “just to see what it is like”. And I guess it just grew from there.
At first I was using two walking sticks, even using these aids I found out the hard way that having the sticks set to different heights made a huge difference on how much they assisted you. So for the first few attempts there were a lot of height adjustments to both sticks till I felt that I had got it right.
I will go on to say that the first few steps (with sticks) was extremely hard both physically and mentally, there is a certain rhythm to walking naturally that I took for granted and didn’t even have to think about, after all I had been doing it for the last 45 years give or take a month or two so why did I have to think about it. …………. Well that all changed in an instant.
One of the many thing I discovered almost straight away is trust ………..and I can’t say this loud enough ……….Trust ….you have to trust your arty limb if you don’t, things will never happen but believe me its hard to trust it, I know. Even today when others ask me about walking in the hills I still reply its all down to me trusting my arty limb.
It goes without saying that the arty leg will claps on you and you will have any number of occasions when you end up in a snotty heap on the floor if and when you don’t get it right, but most “starter” legs will be set up to be very stable and forgiving. This is something that is sorted out with your leg guy before it’s handed over.
Falling, yes it’s going to happen sooner or later you will take a tumble. From my experiences of hitting the floor at various times I can say THE FEAR OF FALLING IS FAR WORSE THAN THE FALL ITSELF.
So the first few steps, the one thing that stands out for me was ……….RIGHT its now all down to me, for weeks I had been at the mercy of other people telling me what to do and how to do it and left feeling totally out of the loop that all changed the instant I put my leg on for the first time, now it was down to me for better or worse.
Walking aids, I had my crutches but the one thing I can remember from my visit to the limb centre was you do not use them when using your arty limb, I have heard this mentioned on numinous occasions since then, however I have still seen amputees using crutches when they have there arty limbs on, so maybe like most thing its down to personnel choice.
Zimmer frame, yes I had one but there was no way that I was going to be using that a minute more than what I had to, but it is an extremely stable bit of equipment and even today has it uses, I use mine at work for moving around in the showers that way I can shower standing up without the fear of falling and it some place to hang your towel on.
No for my first few steps at home I would stick to walking sticks. For better or worse.
I can’t describe the feelings as I begin to take small faltering steps, fear, joy, anger, frustration , a sense of moving forward and starting at long last to pick up the pieces of my life ………it all started with a single step.
Just half a dozen steps ,stop turn around then half a dozen steps back , back and forward across my living room floor , slowly getting faster and more confident .
But one thing I didn’t expect was how tiring it all was, I don’t know if I was still recovering from my accident or throwing the arty leg around is harder than it looked but I recall being absolutely knackered most of the time and extremely hot.
I decided that I was doing ok and that I would go outside and practise a bit , I was fairly confident at this stage , I mean I was still using two walking sticks to assist me , and with it being December it was cooler outside .
However it once again brought home the reality of being “disabled” I managed the garden path no problem and walked a short distance along the roadside path, then I wanted to step down onto the road. I knew that I would have to step down onto the arty leg first , balance, then bring my good leg down ……..sounds easy ……but it wasn’t for me I stood looking down at the curb stone , it seemed a mile drop I stood thinking ………….more thinking….panic .fear………ouch this is going to hurt ………..more thinking then my better half asked if I was all right , I had stood there looking for a minute or so , (it seemed like seconds for me) then preparing for the worse but hoping for the best I stepped down and went into automatic mode , doing just what my brain told me to do …big success . Stepping up the curb proved no problem, so for the rest of that afternoon (between rest breaks) I spent stepping up and down various steps. Getting more confident all the time. All in all a very good day.
Ditching one stick,
After a couple of days, I decided to get rid of one; this caused yet another round of Joy, fear, uncertainty the usual emotional roundabout but it opened up a new world it meant that I could use my free hand to either steady myself or carry something “just like a normal person”, again there was the trust issue to deal with, but I think that all in all it went ok, and I spent the few days practising for every eventually. I was still getting ridiculously knackered and found myself having to stop and sit down anywhere at a moments notice, but I felt that I was making progress.
Soon it was time for me to start my physio, I went with two sticks and really played down what I had been doing, (the last thing I wanted was to upset my physio) and we started, it was apparent from the start, that I had been doing things wrong.
first few steps. (note the crutches )
But she talked, I listened she showed, I copied and progress was made at a very fast rate. But still not fast enough for me .after a couple of sessions she agreed that I was ready for one stick, (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had been on one stick for the last few weeks) the sessions continued for a few more weeks each time “fine tuning “my walking gate until she finally had enough of my moaning on about walking with one stick and agreed if I was happy lets try walking without any aids.
I had been practising walking unaided for some time now , but I hadn’t been pushing it to hard as I had already discovered that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things , I suppose I had been practising balancing more than anything . So I threw away the last walking stick and started under her strict instruction, paying a huge amount of attention to what she was saying. . The normal emotional roundabout kicked off in my head again, but this time there was more joy than anything, after the first few laps up and down between the bars I was off down the corridor with my physio close behind constantly shouting instructions to pay more attention to this or do that. I loved it.
Walking out of the hospital that day without any aids was a very good day, and it’s very hard to explain how I felt about walking down the street again. Pure joy doesn’t even come close.
This was just the start, I had already decided that I was going to use every bit of willpower, strength and guts that I had to not only improve my ability from a few meters but push myself to see what possible .and set about a strict training routine to see what my limits are .
cont on my first leg........................................ MY FIRST LEG