I have been writing, the past few months, about my experience with ignoring my diabetes and how ignoring my diabetes diagnoses caused me to have my right leg amputated below the knee. During the past few weeks that I’ve been writing this account of my hard headed dumbfuckery, which was ignoring the management of this disease, I have often talked about the issues I have with the prosthetic system.
To recap: I started off with a prosthetic company that would not listen to me when I told them I needed a smaller socket……because the socket I had at that time was too big. The socket is the black carbon fiber bucket looking thing shown below….
This socket was huge by the time I had been wearing it for 6 weeks. The fit has to be correct or wearing an ill fitting socket will cause skin issues such as blisters, sores or skin irritation to the limb. I visited my former prosthetists twice to complain the socket was too big/ill fitting and requested a new socket.
He didn’t listen or pay attention.
I immediately found a new prosthetic company and a new prosthetists. Below is the newest socket and it also happens to be a new system, a suction system. The old system was a “pin” system.
This is the new socket…….
You can see the size difference between the two sockets and if you can see that difference, you may wonder why the old prosthetic professional couldn’t see that difference….and make me a new socket that fit properly.
There is a lot of misinformation in this medical profession of prosthetic legs. I am not that familiar with the issues concerning other limbs or fingers but I’m guessing there are some issues with those amputations as well. It seems people who are responsible for the prosthetics used to assist us amputees in walking have a hard time listening to us who are doing the walking using their prosthetics.
IF you do not use a prosthetic daily, but are responsible for making and showing us how to use a prosthetic for the first time, might I suggest when a new amputee comes to you with ideas on how to make THEIR prosthetic work better FOR THEM,….YOU LISTEN.
I happen to be the one using the prosthetic, everyday, so when I tell you something is uncomfortable and then tell you exactly HOW to fix that problem for me, so MY prosthetic fits MY limb better…..LISTEN.
YES, I comprehend you’re the professional whose been doing this prosthetic thing far longer than I’ve been an amputee……but here’s where the rubber meets the road…….. I AM USING THE VERY PROSTHETIC YOU ARE NOT USING, HAVE NEVER WORN, DO NOT KNOW FIRST HAND HOW IT FEELS OR WORKS FOR MY LIMB.
Every amputee is different. We heal different. We progress different. We need different things done to get us where we need to be in order to live a somewhat normal life, which includes walking. The endgame, the goal is to walk. As normally as possible, using the BEST prosthetic system that gets us mobile. Mobility is the reason any amputee uses a prosthetic.
This foot you see above, WITHOUT AN ANKLE, is NOT how we were born nor was it how we learned to walk. DO NOT tell me I can not start out with an ankle joint on my prosthetic foot because I wouldn’t know how to control an ankle socket/joint….when I was born with an ankle socket/joint and learned to take my first steps, 59 years ago, using that ankle socket/joint.
That insults my intelligence and my ability to get back to being normal by walking normally.
If I tell you MY prosthetic needs to be adjusted or modified to fit my limb or enhance my walking and mobility needs, PAY ATTENTION, THEN DO WHAT I ASK/SUGGEST.
Thats all for now…..we’ll see how this amputation thing goes……
Just in case I’ve not made myself clear in past post….DO NOT IGNORE YOUR DIABETES……OR YOU WILL END UP EXACTLY LIKE ME.
On Friday, the 19th of July, I received my second socket, which is attached to my lower prosthesis….and it fits beautifully. It’s a new system, this new socket works on the suction vacuum principal….the other system I had, to start my life as an amputee, was the “pin” system.
A new amputee will have his/her amputated limb reduce in size a great deal in the first year. The surgery swelling and the loss of fluid in the limb will steadily get less and less as time goes by, due to healing, tissue reduction and fluid loss. It’s common for a new amputee to need up to four new sockets in a year.
I had to change prosthetic companies because my first prosthetic company was not willing to change my socket as needed. I wore a socket that was waaaaaaay too big for my limb, FOR AT LEAST 1 MONTH. Thats unacceptable.
Let me be clear about this entire prosthetic “game.” And believe what I tell you, it’s a game. Insurance companies won’t allow amputees to receive the very best prosthetic available, insurance companies want us amputees to start out with the lowest quality prosthetic and prove over time we deserve the very best prosthetic system. What that means is we take a test, called the AMP test, which is designed to see what “level” prosthetic we deserve based on our AMP test score, the levels are K1, K2, K3, K4. K1 is basic no frills standard type block of wood foot connected to a rod then a socket.
The higher K score you get on the AMP test, the better prosthetic you will get. Athletes who get amputations get K$ prosthetics. Average humans like me, who score at a K2 level get garbage. I scored ONE point below the 27 score needed to be a level K3. I got a prosthetic with a block of wood in place of a working ankle socket/joint.
As you can see in the slideshow above, there is NO ankle joint or socket between the foot and rod, making it damn near impossible to walk “normal.” For 50 years I’ve walked using a foot, ankle and leg/thigh. Insurance companies and prosthetic companies tell me I am not “ready” to walk with a prosthetic complete with an ankle that works like a real ankle.
This is coming from people who do NOT have a prosthetic nor do these people know what the hell I am capable of doing nor do they know what I CAN do. I am told I jave to learn to walk without an ankle first, then once I accomplish that, I can get a prosthetic, maybe, with a working ankle and start to learn how to walk with that ankle…..
Who does that bull shit logic make sense to?
Below is the time line for my progress……
This timeline is proof that I am not following the normal schedule insurance companies have set up for amputees. I am sick and tired of being told what I can and cannot do based on what other amputees can or can not do.
As Yogi bear would tell boo boo…..”I’m not like the other bears.”
Telling me I won’t be able to walk, control or use a foot equipped with a walking working ankle, this soon, is just bull shit.
I am pleased with my new prosthetic company, Hanger….
My final thoughts on this prosthetic mess is this……
I should be allowed to get whatever prosthetic system that works best for my life, lifestyle and peace of mind. Losing a limb or fingers is a traumatic experience in itself so making new amputees jump thru hoops to get the best prosthetic system available, which just might make learning to walk again easy, is wrong.
Here’s my common sense solution. If a new or recent or old time amputee wishes to start out with the very best prosthetic made, let them. If after a trail period of 6 weeks, that amputee can not master the top rated prosthetic with PT/OT help and a damn good prosthetists……then drop them to the level they are comfortable with.
This AMP testing is a joke and here’s why….. I was not tested to decide which type of prosthetic I should start with……USING A PROSTHETIC, BUT USING A WALKER. Thats as asinine as giving a new driver a driving test for an automobile using a motorcycle. Think about that for a second.
Here ends my rant.
This guy who you see here, below…..is the absolute BEST prosthetist ever.
Tim Zwanziger, CP
HANGER CLINIC: PROSTHETICS & ORTHOTICS – FIFTH AVENUE, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
Most insurance companies accepted