You need to walk like a cowboy

“You can see the concentration on your face”, a friend commented today, as I posted on Facebook a video of my “first steps” with my new prosthetic limb. Though it took a lot of concentration, taking those steps wasn’t as challenging as I had anticipated. I attribute this to the incredible support and guidance from the team at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation, part of St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

Last week, the prosthetist visited the hospital to measure my stump and create a plaster cast. Since then, he has fashioned the “first version” version of my artificial limb. Today’s meeting was around making the necessary “real-life adjustments” .

“Don’t attempt these adjustments yourself,” he advised, emphasizing that some individuals attempt DIY modifications and end up causing more harm than good. We all shared a laugh at my friend’s comment about the many perils of a man armed with an Allen key.

I still have to wait an additional week before receiving the “final model”, following today’s adjustments, the anticipated arrival of some components from overseas, and me learning how to walk properly with one.

Today’s session also involved some training on caring for my prosthetic limb and its various components. For example, after removing the silicone protector, we all noticed how much sweat there was on my leg. The silicone needed to be wiped down and allowed to air dry.

It’s not simply a matter of donning the prosthetic and resuming my daily routine. The specialist in charge recommended a fifteen-minute session with the leg on during tomorrow’s gym session. Over the next week, these sessions will gradually extend in duration. Even when wearing it “full time,” I’ve been advised to remove it if any discomfort arises.

While I was conscious of the presence of the prosthetic and noted its weight, I experienced no “phantom pain.” However, I did notice a sensation in my right foot. “I can feel my toes touching the floor,” I told everyone, highlighting the remarkable capabilities of the human brain.

Thankfully, one of my primary concerns, balance, didn’t pose as much of a challenge as I had initially feared. Nevertheless, I received advice to hold onto the bars while walking back and forth.

“You perform better when you maintain a forward gaze, as opposed to looking down.” my friend Michaela noted. She quickly acknowledged the expertise of those present but was absolutely correct. Additionally, everyone noticed that when I looked down at the floor, my legs tended to come closer together, making balance more precarious. The consensus was clear: “You need to walk with a wider stance, like a cowboy.”

6 Replies to “You need to walk like a cowboy”

  1. Hello James,
    Amazing!! You have come a long way and it’s all down to your positive attitude. Good on you. Nice to see you back ‘on two feet’ so to speak.
    Best regards.

  2. Maybe you need to walk like Tony Abbott!

    I once passed him in an unguarded moment (we were headed in opposite directions on a quiet city street at about 9pm) and his stride was amazing. Come to think of it, as much Popeye as cowboy.

  3. Many thanks for these comments. Yes I have come a long way and realised only this week how serious the situation was. I knew it was bad, but only just starting to get some more of the details/complications. Lucky and thankful.

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