original blog covered my amputation, the period immediately after and
the subsequent 2nd operation to chop out an infection that
was threatening to take what was left of my leg.
In order to speed the healing process up I was fitted with a vacuum dressing which worked via a small pump. The pump drew the slough [pronounced ‘sluff’] out of the wound and left the remaining tissue free to heal. I kept the pump on for two months [day and night] give or take a week, and it was a giant pain in the arse.
The day I got the all clear from the hospital was truly momentous. It meant an end to the thrice-weekly 40 mile round-trip from home to the hospital in Coventry. It meant an end to the huge wait for a parking space once we arrived at the hospital [it’s not uncommon to wait for 40 minutes in a queue for a space] and it meant an end to having to carry the vacuum pump around in a dainty little man-bag everywhere I went. It also meant I could finally start my rehabilitation and start working toward getting a leg.
rang what I call ‘The Leg Place’ from the car park at the hospital.
I’d visited the Leg Place prior to the Infection setting in and met a
woman there that I’d taken an instant dislike to. She wanted me to go
in every week to mince about doing stretches and shit but I didn’t
want to disturb the vacuum pump and set my recovery back even further
so refused to do it [which pleased her no end].
made an appointment to go and see the same woman. It turns out the
Leg Place only has one qualified physiotherapist and appointments are
like rocking horse shit as a result.
went in at the appointed hour and fully expected her to magic a leg
up there and then, but no, she wanted to do stretches and then she
wanted to inspect every square inch of my stump, and my remaining
leg. Our initial relationship was frosty to say the least, I didn’t
understand what she was messing about at and just wanted to move on.
At one point, when she was telling me that 80% of amputees never walk
again because it’s too difficult, I decided to tell her that I’d seen
small children and old people wandering about with prosthetic limbs
so it can’t be as hard as she was making out and could she please
hurry up… to her credit she didn’t call me a twat, but a tenner
says she was thinking it, and she probably said it during her
tea-break or something.
After a couple of weeks of knobbing about it was time to try out for a leg. There are a number of hoops that need to be jumped through before you’re considered suitable and whilst I can’t remember all of them I do know that one of them is standing still for ten minutes, supported by the parallel bars when needed, and another was to stand perfectly still for 1 minute and balance on the remaining leg without touching the bars or anything else. I passed both tests plus whatever else it was at the first attempt and was free to trundle off to see the woman who makes the legs… joy!
It was early July when I went to the other side of the Leg Place. The right side deals with prosthetics, the left side deals with rehabilitation and physiotherapy – and the two sides don’t get along. Mention one side to the other and you’ll get a roll of the eyes, some muttered insult and a lot of finger clicking as a scene from Westside Story cracks off before your very eyes. They hate each other, which is mega when you’re stuck in the middle.
On the day of my appointment I was called in late [as usual] and the woman I met didn’t bother with pleasantries such as “hello” and instead preferred the phrase “are you wearing pants?”…I assumed it was a colloquialism and nodded slowly so as not to scare her. Perhaps, I thought, this is how they do things round here, maybe this woman has a brother/father or a sister/mother, best not to spook her.
I was directed to stand between the parallel bars as is the norm and watched as the woman readied herself. She was perched on a mechanics stool directly in front of me and in another time and place [and perhaps without my missus watching] things could have gotten interesting. Sadly though, the following took place.
Without a word of warning my new best friend plunged her hand between my legs. Ordinarily I’d take this as a good sign but on this occasion It meant danger. I’d like the reader to keep in mind the fact that this was July, in what turned out to be the warmest summer ever and my balls were seriously sweaty. I would also like to alert the reader to the fact that my new best mate had chosen not to wear gloves and had had to move my dingus out of the way as he blocked her route to my nether regions.
The whole time she was rummaging about all I could think of was “did she wash her hands after the last bloke left or is sweaty ball smell the thing that does it for her?”.
been going for ten minutes or so by now and I needed a break, my left
leg is pretty rubbish and having to support the rest of me takes it’s
toll. I sat down in my chair and she finally explained that she was
looking for certain ligaments and bones. She also told me that she
could have reached them easier from behind but didn’t want to move on
account of it being warm.
after I stood up again, she scooted round behind me and started to
root about all over again. This time she said she was looking for the
‘bum bone’ and this time I started to imagine that this is what
prison must be like. For the record your bum bone is located a gnats
chuff away from your bumhole and, let me tell you, any unauthorised
activity in that area gives this bloke the heebie geebies!
some point the invasive probing stopped and I think she might even
have measured something, I was past caring by that point though and
needed the missus to take me to the nearest toy shop so I could buy a
doll and point out to the Police where I’d been touched.
best mate told us as we were leaving that she was going on holiday
the following day and would be away for two weeks. She said she’d
leave the information with one of her colleagues and that they would
be in touch in due course. I’m delighted to say she washed her hands
at that point, I’m hoping she’d done that before I entered the room
too, although it’s possible that she didn’t enjoy the rich aroma of
my sweaty ball… posh cow.
tootled off home in good spirits [okay, I didn’t have the urge to
kill everyone for 20 minutes or so] and set about waiting for the
telephone call telling me my Gucci leg was ready. I waited, and I
waited and then I waited some more. Eventually, after six weeks or
so, I got fed up of waiting and called them. I heard the woman on the
end of the phone go quiet. She did a bit of tapping and some rustling
of papers and then said she’d call me back [she didn’t] I called her
again the following time and this time got through to someone in the
leg department. The person I spoke to told me that they’d lost the
notes and needed me to go in to be measured again – dagnabit!
appointment was hastily arranged and the whole nasty procedure was
completed again. This time my best mate said she’d deal with it
herself, right then, this is bound to work. I asked at this stage if
i’d have any chance of taking my boys out on Halloween around the
village “I don’t see why not”, she said… wahoo!
time I really did only wait two weeks. The call came and I fairly
bounded off to the Leg Place. This was the day I was going to walk
again, and I couldn’t flipping wait!
arrived on time and were kept waiting, again, and then we were
wheeled into the same room as before to find something that looked
like an upturned Policeman’s helmet secured in some type of
contraption. No leg, No knee, No foot, just a massive helmet.
explanation was offered, apparently I should know the inner workings
of a prosthetic clinic, why wouldn’t I? I was told to stand up and
put my stump into the helmet, I did. I asked for it to be lowered
because I was virtually on my tip-toes but she told me I needed to
straighten my leg. I tried to stand tall but was told I wasn’t doing
it right, that my posture was crap and that they couldn’t fit this
thing if I didn’t stand up… I felt a similar kind of rage that
Bruce Banner experiences just before he goes green and fucks shit up
but I held on to it and asked if they could let me see in the mirror
so I could correct whatever they needed as I just couldn’t understand
what she wanted.
mirror was duly rolled in [I looked good as usual] and I saw the
issue. “Ah-Ha”, I said, “My left knee doesn’t get any
straighter than this, it’s osteoarthritis and there’s sod all I can
do about it”.
was told that my explanation was rubbish and that of course I could
get it straighter, she started banging on about range of movement
being poor and before I knew it Bruce was gone and Hulk had turned
up. We exchanged more than a few words, she was told to stop talking
to me like I was 3yrs old and her parentage might have been
questioned too. It’s fair to say that our relationship hit a bit of a
road bump that day. Appointment over, I was told to go and see the
original woman as there was no way I was ready for a leg and the
other lot had stuffed up, the bastards!
another appointment was made, another week delay followed and in I
went again, for about 15 minutes. My range was tested [the movement
of my hips basically, how far they’ll move given everything on the
right hand side hasn’t been used in months and is busy shrinking]
once again my range was declared suitable only this time the physio
woman [dubbed ‘Mad Lizzie’] called the Leg woman [dubbed ‘That Twat
on the other side’] and told her to come and see for herself – she
refused – so, guess what, another appointment was made, only this
time it would be for a fitting. An absolute cast-iron guarantee this
time, my leg was just two short weeks away from being here!
morning of the next appointment rolled round but, a few minutes
before we were due to leave the phone rang… the parts needed to
complete my new leg hadn’t been delivered. Not to worry, they’d be in
later that day and they’d call me with a new appointment… they
rang the next morning and was told the parts still hadn’t landed,
that they were in touch with the couriers and not to worry. A short
while later they called again, the couriers had lost the parts and
they now needed to be re-ordered… Balls!
appointment was made as there were no parts and no lead-time. They
would be in touch when they landed and until then there was nothing
anyone could do. Sorry. I was offered some physiotherapy, which I
refused, and told to wait until they called, a couple of weeks passed
but no call came so I rang in and was told that they still hadn’t
shown up. At this I got the arse and decided an email to head office
was the way to go, I was months down the line by now, Halloween had
come and gone and my new goal was to be walking by Christmas. I
emailed head office but got butkus by way of reply, not a peep.
absolutely hate using the phone, anyone who knows me knows this. I
don’t ring people and very rarely answer if they ring me, but this
time I figured I’d ring head office and demand answers.
called the number advertised and a woman picked up. I thought I’d
called the wrong place though as she said it was ‘Opcare’ and I’d
called ‘Blatchford’, I explained I’d called the wrong number but just
before I hung up she asked who I wanted, I told her and she said “Oh
they’ve gone, we’ve taken over and the number has been transferred to
turns out that Blatchford had lost the NHS contract to supply
prosthetics and related services but rather than actually tell me
that they decided simply to make up stories about Couriers. The
reality is that Blatchford didn’t want to spend any more money and
had pulled all of it’s machinery out of the building so no more legs
could be built. All staff but the centre manager were being retained
[which would make it a tad awkward when I next spoke to the woman who
lied to me]
and it would be business as usual in a couple of days.
The lady I talked to happened to be one of Opcare’s directors. She
happened to be passing reception when the phone rang and figured
she’d answer it. She promised to get me squared away ASAP and,
amazingly, as soon as they opened the next morning they were on the
phone booking an appointment for a leg fitting!
time all went smoothly. I went in at the allotted time and was kept
waiting [nothing changes] but as I entered the room with the bum
forager, there was my leg, an actual real-live leg!
tried my new leg on, Christine took a cheesy thumbs-up photo and that
was me done! A couple of weeks practising and I’d be out of there.
couple of weeks” turned into another four months. Christmas came
and went and then the new target of walking by my Birthday was
missed. The root cause was me needing to have another leg made, which
involved another set of measurements and, amazingly, another set of
measurements because the first ones had been lost, again!
the leg arrived I got cracking straight away, I had more hoops to
jump through such as walking a slalom course of cones, practising
going up and down stairs, opening and closing doors, going up and
down slopes, picking things up off the floor, picking myself up off
the floor should I fall over and, sitting… I got through all of
that lot only for my bastard stump to change shape! The stump is
prone to change for the first two years post-op and it wasn’t
entirely unexpected. At first they increase the number of ‘socks’ you
wear [a sock is exactly that, it’s an over-sized sock that goes over
the stump to prevent sores and rubbing] the socks come in thick and
thin types and I got up to needing 4 thick socks which is the trigger
for a new socket. Off I went to see the bum forager again only she
was off sick [hooray!] so someone new got to fondle me instead [boo!]
the only good thing is that no dudes ever got involved in the
bum-foraging. It’s bad enough when a chick does it but a dude would
be too much and someone would get whacked, me probably.
loathe to even write it but, for the umpteenth time, my measurements
were ‘mislaid’ so they took another set ‘just to be sure’. They then
sorted my leg out in double-quick time and off I went to see mad
Lizzie needs to see patients performing the tasks set twice before
she can sign them off so we set about knocking them off sharpish. It
only took a couple of weeks to complete the list and she started
making sounds about taking the leg home for a test drive. A day here,
a day there, that kind of thing. I told her one day that I’d been
coming to the Leg Place for 7 Months, and that I’d just read about a
guy who lost both hands and both feet to an infection. He was in
hospital for 7 weeks and walked out under his own steam… she told
me I could take my leg home there and then!
leg has been christened “Doctor” in homage to Dr Legg from
Eastenders [Christine’s idea] and for the first few days I felt
guilty that I wasn’t wearing it often enough. I’m meant to be using
it in 30 minute bursts 3 times per day, the intention is that you
slowly add minutes to each session until the sessions meet up and
form one big one. I had two walking sticks on day one but I tossed
one of them on day two because my posture was crap and I looked more
like Caesar from Planet of the Apes than Andy from Huncote of the
day I decided to see what could be done so I kept the thing on all
day from 8am until 6pm, it was fine, but I didn’t really go anywhere,
just mooched about at home, and then I picked up the Infection and
things slowed down again as my left knee has been wrecked for a week
or so. Due to the osteoarthritis I have no cartilage in the knee but
I suspect the infection I didn’t know I had was keeping the joint
filled with fluid and that acted as a shock absorber in the same way
a normal knee uses cartilage. Once the infection went, so did my
past few days has seen me venturing out like a big boy on my own. One
day I made it ¾ of the way up the street before being forced to turn
back but earlier today [Tuesday 21st May] I made it all
the way to the end of the road, across the main road and over to the
bench at the end of the next road. I even took a picture! My next
goal is to make it as far as the park although I need to be careful
not to go too far if I get there as the effort of walking means I’m
massively out of breath and, trust me, the children’s play area is
not the place to be when you’re a bloke, and you’re panting, and a
bit sweaty… I can see the headlines now “Mothers Club Together –
suspected kiddy fiddler found with a Hedgehog jammed up his batty”.
and out, good people [person] until next time.