My “NEW” System (LEG)

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.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!new socket

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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……

timeline1

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….

hanger2

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

Certified Prosthetist

 

Tim Zwanziger, CP

HANGER CLINIC: PROSTHETICS & ORTHOTICS – FIFTH AVENUE, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA

866 5th Avenue, South EastCedar Rapids , IA 52403

Phone: (319) 364-2767
Fax: (319) 364-1031
Hours:Monday – Friday, 8 A.M. – 5 P.M.Clinic Info:24/7 on-call emergency support
Free Parking
Most insurance companies accepted
ABC accredited

 

Slow Down. You’re TOOO Fast.

Prosthetic companies need an amputee on staff. This has become more evident to me at each visit I have with prosthetic experts who are responsible for the development of my progress toward walking “normal.” I am puzzled how an expert or “specialists” can actually be an expert or specialists…….on what I need as an amputee……when that expert specialists HAS NEVER BEEN AN AMPUTEE.

Something that makes Me go Ummmmmmmm.

Way back on February 4th, when I cane home from the hospital after having my right leg amputated below the knee, my limb was huge from the surgery and from swelling.

4

The swelling decreases over a matter of weeks, as the fluid in the limb goes back to normal and distributes to the other body parts as needed. This is why it takes weeks before a new amputee can be fitted for a new prosthesis. The wound has to heal properly and the sutures must seal the wound before a prosthetic cast can be made of the limb.

Soon after the healing process has reached a point determined by the specialists, you get your limb cast for your new socket…..

0000000progress.jpg

It IS a process and this process I fully understand. Whats troubling to me is the process has been developed by people who have never walked with a prosthetic. It’s exactly like asking a carpenter who works only with wood, to build a cast iron shelf….or a better analogy would be….asking an aerospace engineer who has never flown an airplane or spent one minute flying in an airplane, to design a better version of the Airbus A380-800.

People who have never worn a prosthetic can not know exactly the needs and everyday concerns of those who wear a prosthetic as a way of being mobile every single minute they are up and moving.

This is my brand new prosthetic, it’s almost 2 months old…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are two very important issues I have with this current prosthetic….. ONE is it’s not equipped with an ankle joint/socket, so walking like “Normal” as one does who has a working ankle, is impossible. TWO is the socket, which is this carbon fiber part of the prosthetic….. thats the black part that resembles a bucket….

02

…….Is toooo big for my limb. I have progressed far too fast by “normal” standards and need a new, smaller socket to walk comfortably and normally. That means my limb has shrunk faster than expected and I have created a problem for the prosthetic company and the insurance company that is paying for this prosthesis. My quick advancement from this first prosthesis to the next level socket that fits a smaller limb …..is too fast and that means the prosthetic company needs to make me a new socket that fits…..and charge the insurance company…..AGAIN.

Below you’ll see MY timeline for MY recovery……which is different than what the prosthetic company OR the insurance company is accustomed to seeing from patients.

timelineimage

HOW DARE ME heal so quickly, get my amputated limb down to a normal size this fast, start walking on my own and needing an ankle joint like normal people, this gosh darn soon? 

What the hell is my problem, why the rush, I’ve only had this first prosthetic since May 16th, 2019….a mere 39 DAYS. HOW CAN I EXPECT THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO GET ALL EXCITED ABOUT MY SUPER SPEEDY RECOVERY, WHEN THE INSURANCE COMPANY HAS TO PAY FOR THIS STUFF?

I am NOT supposed to be out and about this soon…..

20190601_112948

As you can imagine, I am getting a new, better, prosthetic company with a prosthetic specialists who is indeed, special. Instead of using the pin system I currently have, to connect the prosthetic to my limb …….

00000003

I’ll be using a more stable connection method…..vacuum/suction. A sleeve will create a suction vacuum to keep me seated/connected to the prosthetic socket. The video I am showing you below is what I need…….this 59 year old man is who I desire to be in a few months.

I could go on and on and on about all thats wrong with this prosthetic game. There really needs to be a human being who uses a prosthetic on a daily basis so that human being would know first hand what an amputee needs.

I started a GoFundMe account to get the funding needed for this new vacuum suction socket. If you are able and feel the desire to help me get the prosthetic I need, please feel free to make a donation at GoFundMe.

Have a very happy week folks,……see you next time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Prosthetic Game

I discovered years ago that having an extremely high IQ, and also having common sense and a gift/curse to identify bullshit immediately…….are not the best qualities to possess in this world. 

I started this blog, after a years absence from bloggin, to educate the people who might be experiencing diabetes issues….like me….because they chose to ignore their diabetes diagnosis…….like I did. Now it’s turning into an anti insurance, anti dumbass prosthetic company rant fest.

AND I hate that.

clark1

Clark & Associates happens to be the company I chose to get my prosthetic limb through and I am afraid that decision might have been a mistake. Now don’t get me twisted, the employees are nice enough and are somewhat competent at what they do……but lets face it, it’s damn near impossible to be knowledgeable about a “thing” without experiencing that “thing” first hand.

If you’re not a cancer patient, it’s very difficult for you to know what a cancer patient is going through and whats best for that cancer patient, because each cancer patient is different. And each cancer patient must be treated as a person unlike the last cancer patient you may have dealt with in your job of dealing with cancer patients.

Case in point…….

IMG_20190601_132335_460

This is my current leg and it has no flexible ankle joint….which makes walking the way I’ve been walking for the past 59 years, IMPOSSIBLE. Clark and Associates tells me the process for learning to walk with a prosthetic limb is as follows….. You get the most basic prosthetic limb, which has no ankle joint, and you get used to walking on that first. Once you learn to walk without a flexible ankle (an ankle that rotates, bends and flexes like a NORMAL ANKLE WOULD/SHOULD) then you move on to a prosthetic limb with a somewhat flexible ankle joint.

This somewhat flexible ankle joint is better than what I currently have right this second, but still not the normal ankle joint we all were born having attached to our foot. After I am proficient at walking on a somewhat flexible ankle joint, then I am blessed with a normal flexible ankle joint,…..WHICH I SHOULD HAVE FROM DAY ONE. 

newfuckinleg

My prosthetic, pictured above, has NO movable/flexible ankle joint, which makes walking up/down stairs near impossible for a first time amputee. Telling me I must first learn to walk with no ankle, before I can get an ankle to walk on, which is the normal way we walk as humans, is asinine as well as just plain stupid. Why learn a task, like walking with a prosthetic limb, three times when you can learn this task once, from the start.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

THIS is what every amputee should have from day one, so the process of walking is made as easy and comfortable as humanly possible.

NOT this garbage………

_76258353_163728906

…….which has NO ANKLE JOINT WHATSOEVER….making the task of walking “normal” impossible.

I am a very advanced patient, and here’s what I mean by this statement. I had my right leg amputated on January 31st of 2019. Went home on February 4th, 2019. Received my first shrinker, to help with swelling in the amputated limb on February 14th. Received the final shrinker, before being fitted for my first prosthetic on March 14th. Took my AMP test, which told the insurance company which type of prosthetic they would be paying for on April 4th. On April 4th I was also fitted for my prosthetic limb and seen by an orthopedic specialist who wrote the order for the prosthetic limb.

Came home with the prosthetic limb for the first time on May 16th, using crutches to walk. On May 18th I switched from crutches to a walker. On May 19th I started walking with a cane to assist my mobility. On May 23rd I started walking with no assistance from any mobility device.

20190601_112948

On June 1st, I went out to the grocery store with Grace my fiance, walking on my own, with no mobility device whatsoever. I came home with my prosthetic for the first time on May 16th…and by June 1st I was out and about running errands walking on this new prosthetic with no cane, walker or crutches.

aaaaaaaaaaa

Clark & Associate tells me I am not ready for a real prosthetic with a real ankle joint that flexes and rotates because I have to “get used to” walking on a foot with NO ankle joint FIRST. In other words…..I have to learn to walk abnormally on my prosthetic limb before I can learn to walk normally…..on my prosthetic limb.

clarks7

As you can see from the image above, Clark & Associates offers a plethora of prosthetic limbs but the culprit here happens to be the insurance asswipes, who decide the process of who gets a prosthetic limb, how they get said prosthetic limb and more importantly…..if they qualify for the best possible prosthetic limb or the bare bones NO ANKLE prosthetic limb……which is ME.

So I’ll be jumping through prosthetic hoops and just chillin…..until I am qualified to walk normal…with an ankle that works, like normal…..like I had for the past 59 years…… ALL BECAUSE I CHOSE TO IGNORE MY DIABETES DIAGNOSIS AND BE A HARDHEADED DICKHEAD.

newfuckinleg

angryblackmanspeaksdiabetesbanner1

I Got A New Leg

So on Thursday the 16th of May, thats yesterday for those who are brain dead, I received my brand new carbon and titanium prosthetic leg. The entire process for a new limb is daunting to say the least, and at best, going through the fittings process for the man made limb can be stupid to those who use common sense on a daily basis.

I have the new limb and I am learning to walk all over once again.

newfuckinleg

It took me almost 4 months to reach this point of losing my leg and getting this replacement. I’ve been battling this outcome of losing my right leg since August 15th of 2018 all because I was hardheaded, stubborn and stupid in my decision to “Ignore Diabetes.” Now had I been intelligent, which my IQ test convinced me I was, I would researched diabetes and followed conventional wisdom and sensible choices to slow down the deterioration of my leg.

I did not do that.

oldnew

This is me now, for the rest of my life. I am currently learning to walk again. Teaching my left leg to walk normal because since January 31st of this year, my left lag has not been walking normally but instead hoping, as I learned to use a walker to move from room to room.

I am currently teaching my left thigh to assist my prosthetic in responding to my mind sending signals to my thigh, to make my prosthetic move like my left leg. Thats hard work. The mind and a normal leg communicate in unison to one another, without there being a nano second between the mind signal and the legs reaction.

The prosthetic does not recognize any signals from my brain. So there is a time lapse between what I want my prosthetic to do and when it actually does what I want the prosthetic to do…and when my thigh makes the connection between both actions. In other words, the instantaneous connection between mind and limb, is gone. Forever.

So I’ll be learning to walk as if I was a 8 month old baby, I’ve reverted to being a toddler. All because I ignored diabetes. 

The good news is I met a wonderful human being and SHE has decided she loves me. This magnificent lady has stood by me from start to now as I travel this road of being an amputee.

Allow me to introduce  you all to Grace…..

mybaby1

This woman is why I am alive. She is why I survived the amputation. Grace is actually what keeps me going. I plan to walk down an aisle somewhere in some island one day when I learn to walk again, to tell her I Do.

Anyway…..I now have a new leg. I now no longer ignore diabetes. Too little too late to be honest. So I close this blog post with my usual warning: Do NOT be stupid like I was. Do NOT Ignore Your Diabetes. Research the disease. Investigate the disease. Learn about diabetes. Do whatever is necessary to never end up like me……

Like THIS…..

newfuckinleg

Ignoring Your Diabetes…… DON’T IGNORE DIABETES.

a-doctor-writing-the-word-diabetes

diabetesbanner1

Being Hardheaded With Diabetes

I’ve never been a fan of the medical profession. I don’t trust many humans and doctors are very high on my list of those who lack my trust. Most doctors these days have a mindset ruled by two things…… bottom line profits for themselves and profits for the big pharmaceutical companies who pay these doctors to push their pills, medication and drugs.

180309151401-prescription-opioid-payments-illustration-full-169

Since my diabetes diagnosis in 2008 I have learned that the average doctor has no interest whatsoever in curing disease. Lets be real and honest, if a doctor cures a disease or ailment then he loses a customer. The medical profession lives on repeat customers.

How-Much-Do-Physicians-Earn-Overall.-1049x879

No money can be made if doctors and medical professionals cure what ailed us to begin our visits to doctors offices. The goal of MOST doctors is not to heal, but to make whatever “condition” we have something we can live with AND keep us returning, for that every 3 month office visit.

doctorvisit

I said all this to kinda explain what my mindset is/was about the thought process that led me to ignore my diabetes. I do not preach to people about anything but…..if you have a diabetes diagnosis and do nothing to manage your diabetes, you are headed to the exact same place I am in right this second…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now the good news in all this for me is I am recovering in spectacular fashion. It has been just 85 days, from the amputation surgery on January 31st, 2019, until May 2nd, 2019, when I visit my prosthetic designer. I will get my first look at and wear for the first time, my new prosthetic limb. 

I still do not trust the motives of all doctors. I have horror stories to tell that would curl your toes in disbelief. All in all I am coming through this experience in great shape.

All this for me could have been avoided had I taken my diabetes diagnosis seriously, NOT been my usual hardheaded self. I DID NOT LISTEN to doctors and paid no mind to the warnings I received. 

The bright side to the past 9 months is I met a wonderful woman, who decided to love me, hard head and all, and stick by my side through every nanosecond of this ordeal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In upcoming blog post I will detail my journey and the unnecessary things I had to endure at the hands of incompetent doctors, unprofessional medical staff, and insurance companies that should be behind bars for the way they treat customers. I will relate my experiences to you in hope that my experiences will help you navigate the waters of what happens if, when, you decide to ignore YOUR diabetes, and end up like me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.