First, a little back story. My prosthetist asked that I bring in a pair of my sneakers so he could look at them and deem them appropriate or inappropriate for walking. On Tuesday, I brought him my customized Nike “Free” kicks that I had bought a couple of years back and he said that they were fine to start off with but that a brand new pair would be better. I said, “Not a problem. I’ve already started customizing a pair of Nike Air Maxes.” So, he took my Frees to the lab and disappeared with them. I thought, “Oh, you’re holding on to them?” And then I thought to myself, “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not like I’ll be needing them.”
Cut to today. I had an appointment at A Step Ahead for some PT and a fitting. Fitting first. I show up and he tells me that we’re going to be getting up on the parallel bars today. “We are?!? I thought that was next week?? Ok…” I wheel myself over to the parallel bars and the next thing I know, I see him coming out of the lab with a pair of legs with my sneakers on them! Weird. (These aren’t “my” legs and I won’t be going home with them. These are just the ones that we’re working with so he can see how I look standing up on my sockets. By standing up, he can see how the sockets fit me, my alignment, and what adjustments he’ll have to make. This way, when my legs come in, we can rock and roll.) So, he puts on the left first and then the right. Ok, not too bad. Then he tells me I’m going to stand up in them. Uhm, ok. Super nervous. Not something I can just do anymore, needs to be thought out before I even make the attempt. I pick my butt off my wheelchair, put weight in my “feet”, push my hips out, pull the rest of myself up with my arms (which are holding onto the parallel bars), and then pull my shoulder back. Ok, I’m up…and this thing is digging into my butt and other areas of me that things should not be digging into. Ouch. Stand a little, get used to the feeling, try to center yourself, and don’t look down, look at me (Oh, like in Dirty Dancing. Hehe). Ok, now sit down. Ouch some more. Erik then takes the socket back into the lab to make some adjustments.
Adjustments made. Time to go again. He puts them back on me and I have to stand up again. Ok, think about process again and then go. I’m up. Ahh…not digging into me so much this time. Still now the most comfortable, but manageable, for now. I stand for a bit and then I sit back down. He needs to go back and make another adjustment. We do this a few times.
This time, when he comes back out with the legs it’s a little different. We go through the process of him putting the legs on me and me standing up again. Then he asks, shall we try walking?!? Uh, what? Did you say walking?!? I just put on prosthetics for the first time and stood up for the first time in over 6 months! He says, “Yea, let’s try taking a few steps.” F*** it. Ok, let’s give it a try. Now, this requires even more thinking before hand. And, the “instructions” for my left leg are not the same as the instructions for my right leg. I listened to his instructions (trying to not cut him off too much..I get anxious…) and then I went for it. I walked. I walked!!! See pics and videos below.
So, how did it feel? What was it like? It was a little painful, a little uncomfortable, and very unknown. I know unknown isn’t exactly a feeling…but that’s what it is. It’s very weird to be standing up but not being able to feel the floor beneath you. Keep in mind, I don’t have full sensation/feeling back in both of my legs yet so I don’t feel everything that’s going on as I’m standing or walking either, which makes it even more weird. Some words to describe the experience: weird, uncomfortable, new, amazing, scary, nerve wrecking, tiring, hard. It’s hard to do something that used to be natural and effortless. When you walk, you don’t think about all the things you have to do just to move one leg and then the other. Now I do. I know it will eventually become second nature but for now, it’s a lot of work. But, as expected. It’s also hard to be learning something that you didn’t actually “learn” to do. Yea, as babies we crawl, then stand, and then walk. But it’s not like your mom or dad actually taught you how to walk…you just kind of figured it out.
Today was amazing. Did I cry? No. But, I think that’s because I didn’t actually get to experience it as I was doing it since I had so much I had to concentrate and focus on, but when I got home and looked at the pictures and videos, it was pretty awesome.
Another fitting next week and maybe more walking. Stay tuned…
Have a happy and safe 4th everyone!