Archive for May, 2011

Finally Going Home – Sharon’s Surprise

The last few weeks found me getting stronger, for hopefully, the trip home on May 4th. I was getting used to walking with the prosthesis and walker. Of course learning to maneuver stairs as our condo had three flights of stairs. A hard thing was learning how to getting up from the floor if I should fall. Rehab assistants helped me get to the floor then I was to try to get up. Not easy and could not do it without assistance. They said this was normal. They were trying to impress on me that I needed to be very cautious in what I do. I should plan in my mind how to complete each task. I can honestly say that in the last seven years since surgery I have only fallen once. That was moving from one stair climber to the other. ( A major blessing from Heaven)

Repairs were being made at home so I could move around. The master bedroom bathroom had the tub removed and a shower put in along with a hand-capped stool to sit on while showering. They installed a guard to hold onto while maneuvering to sit on the camode. The main floor bathroom had a higher camode placed in it plus the guard to hold on to. A hospital bed was also put on the main floor which was the living room, kitchen, dining areas and bathroom. this is where I would live pretty much for quite some time.

The biggest item needed was the Stair Climber (Glider) to get from the garage (20 steps) to the living area which had not been found. However, Sharon’s surprise was that monies collected by the Airline Industry friends had totaled $ 1,500.00 for help in purchasing a stair climber. I was so shocked and grateful for such truly wonderful friends and family who also contributed some of those funds. God is so Great!!!

The target date May 4th came and went, but by May 5th, I was released from the hospital. What a superb feeling, but I was also terrified at how I was going to be able to function in a three story Condo. Two Rehab nurses accompanied us home and assisted in helping me to climb the twenty steps to the living room. What a challenge! It took a while, but we made it with no mishaps. Tony holding me on one side and a rehab assistant behind and one in front of me. What a heart warming feeling to be in my home again.

So after instructions from rehab, one of which was to immediately call to get a life line alert installed in our home, in case I fell and was home alone. We called for one that day and I recommended this to anyone with health issues or living alone. Praise the Lord, I have not had to use the life line assistance, but it does give one peace of mind that assistance is just a push of a button away.

So began my life as an amputee/wheel chair individual on my own. Like I said a terrifying feeling, but so happy to be home. Afraid to make a move from my recliner for fear I would fall, but each time walking with the walker to the bathroom, kitchen, recliner got easier. I was getting stronger every day and got into my daily routine.

It was probably home a week or more before Tony attempted to get me up to the master bathroom for a shower. There were two sets of eight steps with a landing to rest for a bit. I would get tired after just a few steps so this took a while. “Man Oh Man” did that first shower feel great. There were times when maneuvering stairs that I would sit on the steps and slide down one by one. Just picturing this would be quite a comical “U – Tube” feature. (Believe me not comical) Things settled more into a routine, but managing the stairs was always the big challenge.

By the end of May, Sharon had found a stair climber for stairs from the garage to the living room. Stair climbers are not cheap, but we found a used one and had it installed. Wow! what a difference that made. Going to doctor appointments, even able to start attending church by June. My blessings continued. I was doing well mentally, physically and enjoying life.

Bonies continuing story

Diabetes And Preventing An Amputation

The following is a study done in 1992-1993 of 432 Sioux people in the Aberdeen, SD area. They have diabetes. This study came about through grants from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and from the Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services.

All of the information remained confidential. The information from this study was then added to other known information about diabetes. Suggestions were made that will help prevent amputations.

Complications from diabetes are: vision changes, kidney problems and blood flow problems. then a very serious complication is Neuropathy, which causes a loss of feeling in the feet.. Because of this people can easily injure their feet without even feeling them get hurt. It is harder for sores on the feet to heal because there is usually a loss of circulation (blood flow) to the feet.

I was very lucky, as I had not been diagnosed with diabetes, yet, when my husband and I had gone to Las Vegas on our way to Nebraska. It was a very, very hot day. We decided to walk several blocks to a shopping center. I was wearing sandals and white socks. When we got back to the RV, I stepped up onto the step and noticed my sock was all bloody. So was my other sock. I suddenly felt really sick to my stomach. Once inside the RV, my husband helped me remove my sandals and socks. He got a large pan and some warm water and proceeded to clean and soothe my very blistered feet. I was extremely fortunate. The care we gave my feet over the next few weeks allowed my feet to heal with no consequences.

Their Study Findings

• Toes re amputated more often than feet or legs.
• The most common problem that leads to amputations is an ulcer (open soar) that does not heal.
• Sometimes ulcers come from common injuries: stepping on a rock in bare feet; getting blisters from tight shoes; getting a splinter from a wood floor; or dropping something heavy on the toes, such as a book or frozen food.
• Foot ulcers can be healed when attended to carefully.
• Foot ulcers can lead to an amputation quickly, even in a few weeks.
• Men seem to be at risk of having an amputation at a younger age than women.
• It is more common for people who have had diabetes for many years to have amputations, but that is not always the case.
• People who have not had diabetes for long are also at risk for amputation.
• Medical problems, such as peripheral vascular disease ( poor circulation) and Neuropathy (loss of feeling), increase the chances for amputation.
• Some people with foot problems wait too long before going to the clinic, and often the problem becomes serious before they get medical help.
• Health professionals do not always check feet during clinic visits so a diabetic person should remind him/her to do a foot exam each time.

Preventing Amputation

• Know about the lack of feeling (neuropathy) in feet and legs that often comes with diabetes.
• Protect your feet by always wearing shoes that are the right size and that fit comfortably.
• Never go barefoot.
• Check inside shoes for nails or rough edges before putting them on.
• Get someone tho help check your feet every day, including between the toes, and on the bottoms to look for any open sores, cracks in the skin, calluses, redness, swelling, or pus.
• Clean your feet every day with water and mild soap, then put lotion on them to keep the skin from cracking.
• Wear clean socks every day.
• Trim the toenails and never use anything sharp on your feet.
• Go to the clinic to check on a small sore, splinter, infection, or callus on the foot, even if it does not hurt.
• Return to the clinic until the sore or infection has completely healed, even it it takes many visits.
• Avoid exreme temperatures to the feet such as hot water bottles, heating pads, or ice packs.
• Quit smoking because it decreases the blood flow (circulation) to the feet.

Please, take care of your feet. they are your foundation.

Needs Of The Amputee & The Perception One Might Have

If you have been following Bonnie’s story, you know she has had her foot amputated to the ankle. While she writes her next posting, I will continue to share some of my research with you. Both Fishman and Goffman are highly revered in the field of psychology.

Fishman identified seven human needs common to amputees.

• Physical function with a prosthesis
• Visual and auditory considerations for the prosthesis
• Comfort of the prosthesis
• Energy expenditure in using the prosthesis
• Achievement in various activities with the use of a prosthesis
• Economic security
• Status and respect of one’s peers.

Fishman affirms these needs cannot be completely satisfied, and the consequences of the frustration that arises can result in psychological conflict and varying behavior

Obviously, an amputee would like the prosthesis to perform somewhat close to what the normal appendage would do. One would also like it to look fairly realistic, or, at least, not be too noticeable. It is great if it is comfortable, relatively easy to put on and after a short period of time, seem like part of your body. If it isn’t too heavy, it won’t take any more energy to use than normal. Thus, making it easy to go about one’s normal activities.

Try to put yourself in an amputees place. How would you feel? Would you want to share your experience, or hide it from everyone? Or would you avoid the situation?

How do you view an amputee when you meet, or see them in public? Do you stare? Are you surprised to see them leading normal lives? Do you feel sorry for them? Do you wonder what happened that lead them to have an amputation? Do you wonder if they are in pain? Do you reject them, or avoid them? Do you ever take the time to talk with them? Do you know someone who is an amputee? Are you their friend? Do you socialize with them? If so, where do you go? What types of things do you do with them?

Goffman states that the amputee often feels less respected, or accepted as a human being and often fears rejection. They can have pain even a ghosting pain. They also have anxiety of anticipated rejection.

Take time to be sensitive to those around you.

Sharon’s Surprise & My Continued Rehab

Sometime the middle of April – Sharon contacted fellow employees at Penair and many friends at Anchorage International Airport. She said she needed help in finding a way to help Stair GliderTony and I purchase a Stair Glider (also called Stair Lift) for our three story condo. I knew nothing of this in the beginning. I had been overwhelmed by all the calls, cards, gifts and prayers from all of them. I did not feel they needed to do more, but boy did they. Several long time friends at Alaska Airlines, ERA Aviation and Penair, put together fund raisers, silent auctions, and lunch specials at the airport. So many people worked so hard. The end result was over $1400, enough to purchase a Stair Glider for the 1st set of 20 stairs. What a blessing for us. I was totally amazed and so proud of all of them and the blessing they gave us.

As terrible as January, February and March were, April was buzzing by, lots of hard work, but so rewarding. Tony and I were even able to attend Palm Sunday and Easter services in the hospital chapel. It was wonderful. Day to day routine was getting easier – practice makes perfect.

The rehab trainers met with Sharon at our home to see how I would be able to cope with a three story condo. The stair gliders were a must and as Sharon did her investigation, found them very pricey. The trainers decided I would be making my part of our home the living room/kitchen area which did have a half bath on that floor. I needed a hospital bed for sleeping, bathroom stool would need a guard for holding onto for sitting down and being able to rise.

So, I continued workouts, building body muscles back and learning how to roll a wheelchair by my self. (You would think that should be easy.) There is a certain knack to it and definitely good muscles are needed, which I did not have at first.

Bonnie’s continuing story