“That came off quickly”, my friends commented with surprise as I removed my prosthetic leg.
We were having our annual get-together lunch at La Capannina, an Italian restaurant at Milson’s Point. As it’s a once-a-year occasion, I was both excited and trepidatious about attending. I had to give a fair bit of thought about the logistics. Would I need my wheelchair? Could I be comfortably seated for such a lengthy period of time?
“Are you okay?” one of my friends asked me, as I adjusted myself during lunch. Though I wondered myself, I quickly realized that the readjusting was likely the kind of thing I would normally have done after being seated for an hour or so anyway.
The confidence that resulted from this week’s experiences of walking with crutches was with me again on Friday morning. I took a brief walk by myself down the street to get a haircut, and I planned my visit to the restaurant without my wheelchair, and in a “regular” Uber, and not a wheelchair taxi as originally planned.
Nonetheless, I reached out to a friend and asked him if he could meet me at the other end of the trip from home. The main entrance to the restaurant has a lot of narrow stairs, though there is another entry via a sports field, which was smooth and flat. I ended up arriving before my friend and waited briefly before his arrival.
Lunch, as always, was a wonderful experience, as we enjoyed conversation, food, and wine.
Inevitably, the conversation came around to my health, and in particular, questions about my prosthetic leg. And that’s when I whipped it off.
Like many, my friends had no idea about the practicalities of my prosthetic, including how it was attached to my leg and whether or not I would be able to walk without assistance in the future.
“If all goes to plan,” I explained, “I’ll be able to walk with only the prosthetic. This time next year, I hope I won’t need support getting here, but you never know.”
There may be days, weeks, or even months when I’m unable to wear the prosthetic and may need to get around in my wheelchair.
We talked briefly about the “olden days” when prosthetic legs were attached directly to the bone of the missing limb. In my own case, I have a latex sleeve that goes over my stump. The glove has a bolt on the end that “clicks” into the prosthetic. I need to be aware of how many “clicks” occur, in case my stump begins to “bottom out”.
To help with that, I have a series of woolen socks that I may need to adjust according to the time of day or the year. This is because my leg can adjust in size due to a range of factors, including the weather.
I was happy to talk about my experiences and show my friends what was happening. Due to the weather, I’m still wearing shorts and probably will do for some time. My disability is quite “visible,” I’ve mentioned to quite a few people.
But what about next year? What about when I’m wearing long pants during winter? My disability will be far less visible then. Generally speaking, people I meet won’t know I have a prosthetic. They’ll be less inclined to ask those questions, I assume, but in the meantime, I’m happy to chat and explain what’s happening.
Armed with new, shorter crutches, I went to visit the prosthetist Thursday for a few minor modifications.
Here’s an update on how my walking is coming along.