A dream filled my mind for more than a year. I could see it clearly: Following amputation of my left foot in the spring of 2017 I dreamed I would walk again. No, better than that I would go shopping, visit restaurants, explore trails, even play tourist at some of our world-class attractions here in the southwest.
The journey toward that horizon was long and tough. At first, I couldn’t even pilot my own wheelchair and transfers were sketchy at best. With rehabilitation, I learned to stand on my right leg. It took a year but at last, my left leg healed and I was fitted with a prosthesis. Now I could stand on my own two feet but that was about all I dared try. Then I learned that to get into physical therapy I had to be able to get around at least with help from a walker. So I got a walker and tried. Lo and behold I discovered I could walk.
I’ve been walking for almost a month now and I’ve graduated from walker to a cane. I can handle slopes and steps. I can assemble my own dinner standing at the kitchen counter. You might say much of my dream has come true and you would be right.
But make no mistake, life with a prosthesis has its challenges. Improvements in gait are incremental and vary day to day. Much depends on how the device is fitting today and that depends on me getting the sizers right. Sizers are socks that fit over the sleeve and under the socket. They come in several thicknesses denoted by color and fill the space between the sleeve and the carbon fiber exterior of the prosthesis. Sound technical? Getting the mix of sizers right is indeed technical. And that is just one of many day to day complications involved with this new life. So has my dream turned sour? Not at all! I can or will soon be able to do everything I dreamed of doing. I’ve simply discovered that I will always have to work at it.
It turns out that prosthesis life is just like life in general. You get out what you put in. You have to test and expand your skills daily. (I make sure the sun doesn’t set without me doing something I never did before.) You go to physical therapy because the stronger you are the more enabled and the less disabled you are. Today I approach the whole thing as a grand adventure. How far can I go, how much can I do? I’m not just referring to walking. What’s at stake in the adventure of post-amputation recovery is living, becoming the most productive person possible. But I suspect this is an adventure everyone is challenged to face in one way or another.