Learning to walk again
While holidaying in Adelaide I took a ride in a taxi. My cab collided with another car. An ambulance rushed me to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The doctors had to amputate my badly injured foot.
I knew learning to walk again was going to be hard work. But I wanted to do all the things I did before my amputation. I began my rehabilitation at Caulfield General Medical Centre. The doctors wanted me back on my feet quickly. Long periods of inactivity make walking difficult for amputees. I had to wait two months for my leg to heal. It was very frustrating. My joints ached from the strain of using crutches for so long.
When my leg healed I was fitted with a basic foot. Amputees begin walking on a prosthesis designed for stability. The moment came to take my first steps. I had to walk between bars. I was surprised at how lifeless my foot felt. But I began to sense my prosthesis. I could feel it bending and flexing like a real foot. My stump was very sensitive. I had to get used to putting all my weight on it.
The therapy required to relearn daily tasks after the loss of a limb is extensive. I spent many sessions improving my balance and walking around obstacles. After learning the basics I was taught how to run.
Like many amputees I have a phantom limb. I feel the foot I have lost. Sometimes the pain associated with a phantom limb makes it difficult to wear a prosthesis. Fortunately my phantom limb is painless. But it is impossible to scratch when it itches!
Support and encouragement
There was a strong sense of camaraderie among the amputees I met at the hospital. I was grateful for their support and encouragement. The obstacles I had to overcome seemed small compared to the challenges others faced. We shared advice and tips about dealing with common problems.
My foot was not suited for running or tennis. I needed an upgrade to a high performance foot. I visited many websites that advertised artificial feet. The feet had names like
Perfect Stride. They promised dynamic response and smooth rollover. I pictured myself sprinting or hiking up a mountain. But when I tried walking on them they sadly felt like a worn-out shock absorber.
My expectations were obviously too high. I realised the foot was not going to do all the work by itself. I practiced running. I was thrilled when I began to run faster. I came to prize the foot I chose.
Patience and perseverance
My prosthetic foot allows me to do the things I love. I can run, cycle, play tennis and travel freely. But there is a lot of stress on my stump. Bruises and sores suddenly appear. They stop me from wearing my foot. I am forced to use crutches again. I get depressed when I have to postpone future plans.
I remind myself I need to be patient. If I persevere I can achieve the goals I have set myself. Losing my foot was hard to accept. But it has made me realise I should be thankful for what I have.