In March 2007, Mike was in an accident that resulted in an above-the-knee amputation and degloving of his left leg. This blog was created to simplify keeping a large and distributed group of family and friends up to date, and while it still serves that purpose, it also now provides a record of all that has gone before.

Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Finally completed a goal!

Monday, 6/30/08—Overload
Did the "bod-pod" with an upper body workout. Because the pod isn't compatible with the C-leg, I left it off all day (I can't remember the last time I did that).

Tuesday, 7/1/08 - Overload and "The 8 Mile Goal"
Walked 7 combo lap around the Pond (4.41 miles) after lunch, then drove to Columbus for a lower body workout.
The stump was feeling so good after a day off, I walked another 6 combo lap (3.78 miles). That took the total miles for the day to 8.19 and it only took 2.86 hrs (2.85 mph) to complete them. "Scratch one second year goal."

Wednesday, 7/2/08 - Drake wound care
Dr. Adkins examined the flare-up on my hip, the chronic front interior tear and the minor (I didn't know they were there until he told me) rim friction blisters. No infections. He gave me new clean and care instructions. He wants me to apply an iodine disinfectant and skin prep spray then flexible tape to protect the tear and blisters.

Wednesday night thru Sunday, 7/2-6/08 - Hess Lake
Bonnie and I stopped to visit Ruthie on the way. She is just too cute.
Bonnie, Ruth (Maine Dish), Jen, Tyler and I enjoyed the 4th at the lake. (click "read more"at the bottom of this item for more pics)

Very pregnant Ruthie called with the "I'm in labor and on my way to the hospital" Sunday morning at 3:00 am followed by the "never mind - just false labor" call at 4:00 am

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29 June 2008: Make'n progress again

Category: General
Posted by: mike
Monday, May 26th - Overload
We occasionally do "shake-ups" (a change in a routine on a particular piece of exercise equipment to defeat muscle memory). On the chest press, rather than the normal 230 lb super slow reps for three minutes, Adam jacked it up to 480 lbs. After only two smooth but quick push outs with slow negatives (less than 20 seconds), I hit total fatigue. The press was reset to 380 lbs and I fatigued again half way thru the second rep. Reset again at 280, 180, 80, and then 40 with a total fatigue each time. The last three reps at 40 lbs ached more than the first two at 480. We did the same shake-up on the leg press. Started at 650 lbs and worked down to 75 lbs.

Wednesday, May 28th - Overload
This was my first workout with Skylar, Overload's new trainer. He is also the certified sports trainer for the "Columbus Crew" (pro soccer team).

Saturday, May 31st - Hanger
We tried on the new test (clear acrylic) socket. Surprisingly good fit for the first build after casting. It needed some minor profile changes and the load bearing rim was too tall to allow the end of my stump to bottom out (an important feature of this socket).

Tuesday, June 3rd—Cleveland Metro Health
Always good to see Tammy and her extraordinary wound care team. She wasn't too concerned about the chronic tear. She just shrugged and said it would heal up in a few weeks after the root cause is eliminated. She also said my graft skin was about 70% mature and for the most part, "it is what it is", so take care of it. I got measured for another and perhaps the last pair of graft skin compression garments. This pair will be designed to be worn during the day as part of my new socket suspension system.

Wednesday, June 4th - Hanger
Paul put on the test socket. This time it fit like a glove. It didn't have mounting hardware so I couldn't walk in it, but a tripod jack stand allowed me to put full weight on it. The bottom of my stump will bear significant loads (as much as 15% of my body weight) with this new socket suspension system. I didn't feel a single hot spot or pressure point but bearing weight on the end of my stump did feel very strange.

Weekend, June 7th/8th - Yard sales
Took a short overnight trip to Valley View for a reunion with some old "Fagowee" (a ski club I belonged to in my 20s) friends. While I was away, Bonnie found a 2-foot long, 4-foot tall, radio controlled replica of an America's Cup sailboat at a yard sale. It was like new and never sailed. After installing the jib/main sheet and rudder servos we launched it in the pond and it handled well - even up-wind, in close haul, with a light breeze.

(click "read more" at the bottom of this item for more pics)

Wednesday, June 11th - Hanger
Got the new "temporary socket". The white plastic outer shell is thicker, heavier, softer and less rigid than the stronger, stiffer, black carbon fiber "comfort flex socket" that will eventually replace it. The temporary socket is easier and quicker to make (I really needed to get out of the old socket that has been tearing up my graft skin) and it is easier to modify. Walking was a bit awkward at first. The shape is so different. The top is much looser and bottom is much tighter. The old socket slipped on easy and took a lot of time and effort to get it off. This socket is a real pain to get on but slides right off when the expulsion valve is removed. Paul was not 100% happy with how it locked up but told me to walk on it for a couple of days and see how it goes.
Walked about a half mile that evening. The socket felt comfortable. The walking gate was wobbly and the angular toe clocking was very loose (about 10deg toe-in to 10deg toe-out). Used padded bicycle shorts between liner and the sock - seems to work ok but a bear to get the socket on.

Thursday, June 12th - Walked 2.2 miles.
The bike shorts that go outside the liner and inside socket, showed significant signs of wear in crotch area already. The socket felt good but the wobbly gate and sloppy clocking will need work.

Long Weekend, June 13th - 15th
Bonnie and I went to Hess Lake with friends (Gene, Bonnie P, Ray and Melissa). Did a bunch of chores and put the boats in. Wore the leg a lot but not much walking.

Monday, June 16th—Overload
Work out with Adam.
Walked 3.6 miles. Tried to improve clocking stability by stuffing a folded rag between the inner & outer socket shells to line-up with the vertical divide between the muscle groups on the rear exterior quadrant of my stump (it worked pretty well). The clocking was still a little wobbly. Used the bike shorts inside-out. The padding showed more resistance to wear against the socket than the spandex and it's a little easier to get on.
There has been an odor to my stump after being in a liner all day ever since the torn urethane liner got replaced with a silicone liner. Now with the seal-in liner, when I remove it, the odor is more pungent and there is about a tablespoon of dark liquid (looks like strong coffee with very little cream but pinkish). This liner fit tighter and generates more suction.

The compression garment (pants) arrived. The stump pant leg was open on the bottom but much too long to work with the seal-in liner. I contacted the lymphedema folks from Metro Health and they said things might get resolved quicker and more accurately if I contacted the manufacture (Gottfried Medical) directly. They are in Toledo and I have an appointment to visit them next week. (click "read more" at the bottom of this item for pics)

Tuesday, June 17th - Hanger
Paul kinda liked what I did with the rag. He removed, refined and replaced it with a more permanent insert. He also worked on the bow legged knee alignment. The C-leg is still just a smidge bow legged but the mounting hardware is out of adjustment. The effect was corrected with a foot adjustment.
I walked one lap around the pond when I got home. The socket felt better than ever. I even recovered a little of the pretty gate that Emily worked so hard on (still needs a little work I think).

Thursday, June 19th—Overload
20 minute workout with Skylar.

Friday, June 20th - Walked 4.34 mile (2.17 miles twice about 2 hours apart)
The socket felt really good - just a bit of hot spot in the "boney lock" pressure area (felt like a slight bruise).

Saturday, June 21st - Walked 4.34 mile (2.17 miles twice about 2 hours apart)
Again the socket felt fine but the slight bruised sensation in the "boney lock" area was a little more pronounced. Didn't feel like much of anything to worry about.

Sunday, June 22nd - Walked 4.37 miles in one shot on the bike trail.
The socket felt pretty comfortable. My speed was a little off because I was talking with #1 daughter, Erin (the founder of this blog) for about a mile. Toward the end of the walk, I felt a slight pinch where the shelf at the back of socket sees the heaviest load. Later that evening I discovered the old chronic tear up front started to bleed just a little (may have walked without the bandage too soon) and the "boney lock" socket rim bruise turned out to be a full blown blister. The blister broke and things are getting a bit messy again. This time the socket shape is not the problem. The issue now, is mostly with the foundation - the interactions with the socket, the bike shorts or compression garment, the liner, silicone putty (a Kevin Carroll idea to fill voids between my skin and the liner) and my stump. The end of my stump is looking different. I think it is adapting to the new conditions related to increased suction, liquid accumulation and end loading. I don't know quite what to make of it yet. I think I'm going to need more input from Dr. Adkins (Drake wound care team) to deal with the skin break-down (how hard to keep pushing, how to clean, care for and prevent flare-ups, etc).

Tuesday, June 24th - Gottfried Medical, Inc.
The visit and brain storming session with Ms. Gottfried was very productive. She saw first hand what I needed and how the role of the compression garment would change this time. I left with a pretty good feel for what my options are and how to proceed. I have to return the garment, with the hip and rim padding inserts shaped and anchored exactly where I want it, and her crew would stitch it up and send it back with a duplicate in about a week. (click "read more" at the bottom of this item for pics)

Wednesday, June 25th - Walked 1.3 miles around the pond.
Tried putting the bike shorts on inside right, under the liner. Seemed like the liner wanted to bunch-up under the bike shorts. When I did the 6+ miles a long time ago, I put the urethane liner over the compression garment. It seemed to work pretty well but such a sort distance—just too soon to say. Kevin, if you're following this, a little feedback would be welcomed.
Bonnie did a web search and found a company in Oregon, The Green Pepper, Inc. that sells material to people who make their own hi-tech clothing. I'll have the anti-microbial, hydrophobic fabrics to pursue several seat padding options Saturday.

Thursday, June 26th - Overload
Skylar put me on the leg retraction machine and each rep pulled the C-leg off my stump just a little. Neither of us noticed until I tried to exit with my leg dangling by my pants. We all (including Adam, Pattie and a couple of clients in the lobby) had a little chuckle over that.

Friday, June 27th - Walked 1.3 miles around the pond.
I've worn the bike shorts under the liner for several days now. Still seems to be working. We'll need to give the blister another day before attempting a longer hike.

Saturday, June 28th - Walked 2.52 miles around the pond.

Sunday, June 29th - John Bryan State Park
Bonnie and I hiked down into Clifton Gorge (lots of slippery, rocky, narrow, steep ups-and-downs). On the way to the foot bridge that crosses the river, a cool steady rain started. Instead of crossing the river to complete the more challenging "Gorge Loop Trail", we used the more direct "North Rim Trail" to get back to the car. That hike was about 2.2 miles. I did an additional 2.52 around the pond after dinner.

(click "read more" at the bottom of this item for more pics)

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01 June 2008: Imagine that!

Category: General
Posted by: marsha
If I was asked where Mike would be one year from his accident, I certainly could not have imagined it would be in the water at the lake. Congratulations on progressing so far, so fast..I do have to think back to last summer when he was in Valley View mowing some grass. This summer, we're on our own! Love the pics--Marsha
Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Thursday, May 1st - Prosthetists (Hanger/Montgomery)
The second test socket was a lot closer but too loose this time.

Friday, May 2nd - Overload Fitness (Columbus)

Monday, May 5th - PT (Drake Center)
Emily shares my frustration with the socket fit issues. We really can't push anything new and challenging for the moment.
I saw Dr. No (physiologist and my doctor of record) for my quarterly follow-up. He expressed a minor concern about the front interior chronic sore and my blood pressure is slightly high. He still thinks my progress is "w-a-y ahead of the most optimistic recovery expectations".

Wednesday, May 7th - Overload Fitness (Columbus)

Thursday, May 8th - Prosthetists (Hanger/Montgomery)
The test socket fit pretty well this time. Just needs a little fine tuning. Paul wants a viable test socket ready for the evaluation with Kevin Carroll on the 19th. Aware that I am becoming impatient because my socket is blocking progress on the 2nd year goals, he explained that he does not want to make the costly finished socket until after the evaluation. Kevin is Hanger's most knowledgeable lower extremity expert and is ranked among the most accomplished prosthetists in the world. Paul also loaned me a low end, dunkable, stiff knee (sea)-leg for putting in the Hess Lake docks. Why do they call a microprocessor leg that will short-out if immersed in water, a C-leg? What's with that?

Monday, May 12th - Overload Fitness (Columbus)

Thursday, May 15th - Prosthetists (Hanger/Montgomery)
The test socket is ready pending the evaluation with Kevin Carroll. Paul re-enforced the importance of this evaluation given my very unique grafted limb, rapid volume changes, extraordinary (high profile) progress in spite of all, and extremely ambitious hiking goals. We made some adjustments on the dunkable loaner so I can walk in my waders. The stiff leg is very unforgiving (could barely move without falling before the adjustments) and makes me appreciate the C-leg's micro-processor "Cadillac ride".

Saturday, May 17th - Ruthie's baby shower
I know this has nothing to do with recovery (except for the "grandpa is my hero" outfit from Bonnie H.). We don't know the gender yet. My official guess is boy. Click the little "add comment" icon at the top of this entry and let us know your guess.
Ruthie's Shower

Friday, May 19th - Prosthetists (Hanger/Wellington)
Paul introduced me to Kevin in the lobby and it was obvious that the evaluation was already in progress as I stood to shake hands. He directed me to the evaluation room at the end of a long hall and insisted I lead the way. I could hear his Irish accent say, "Watch him walk, would you" and "look at the length of that gate". Once in the room, we reviewed my progress, the photos of the 5 and 6 mile train lap rigging, and my goals. I removed my socket and he did a lengthy and very thorough, hands-on examination of my stump and its musculature. He complimented Paul on the fine job he did on the test socket follow by a "but this won't work for this guy". Kevin has recommended a system that will use a tight fitting "Ossur Seal-in" liner designed for BKAs (generally shorter stumps) that has lower seal rings and padded bicycle shorts (similar to the shrink garment arrangement used on the 2.9mph, 6 mile walk). On the up side, we have an aggressive plan that might get me on the trail. On the down side, I'll have to be recast around the new suspension system. Both Paul and Kevin promised to pull all the stops to expedite the new socket.

Tuesday, May 20th - PT (Drake Center)
Again, couldn't do much with Emily so we decided to cancel future sessions until I get the new socket.

Wednesday, May 21st - Prosthetists (Hanger/Wellington)
I bought the smallest pair of bike shorts I could get into. My right leg was very tight and the left residual limb was loose. Customizing high end bike shorts for a functional fit will be expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome in the long run. I suggested we use the compression garments. They are custom made to be snug on both legs and I already own 5 pair (the oldest has the stump cap removed). Paul decided not to cast without feedback from Kevin (he was concerned about adequate padding). He made a next day appointment and told me to bring the bike shorts and the compression garment with the missing stump cap.

Thursday, May 22nd - Prosthetists (Hanger/Montgomery)
Paul and Kevin managed to get things resolved via email. We cast for the new test socket using the "seal-in" liner and compression garment.

Friday, May 23nd - docks and jet ski shore station
Finally got a chance to try out the loaner peg leg (with the stiff knee and foot). The 4 section dock and jet ski shore station went in unassisted. (click "read more"for photos)

Saturday May 24nd - pontoon shore station
Got some help from friend and neighbor Jim. (click "read more"for photos

» Read More

Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Thursday 4/24 Hanger - Tried on the new test socket. It was so tight it split (they rarely fit on the first try), but the shape looked pretty good. Paul said my stump "seems like" it is starting to stabilize. It's hard to predict because: 1) every case is unique anyway, 2) the entire stump is grafted which presents a plethora of peculiarities, 3) my progress at 4 months would be expected to take a couple years which is why my stump is changing so fast in the first place. Bottom line, it will probably take a few weeks before I get a new socket but well worth the time it takes to get it right. In all fairness to Paul, everyone who reads this blog needs to know, the new socket (that most critical mechanical interface between the body and the prosthetic) will be his hand sculpted work of art.

Monday 4/28 PT - Adductor muscles in the stump were still a little inflamed from the 6 mile walk. So we focused on core exercises.

Tuesday 4/29 - Flight thru Dallas to Oklahoma City for peer visitor training. A lot of firsts - first time on and off a shuttle bus lugging a suit case (Bonnie's wheeled suit case was the smallest thing we had with room for a pair of disassembled forearm crutches.), first time thru airport security (off to the side, fairly quick, very thorough, full body wand and pat down), first ride up and down an escalator (Dallas - I approached it cautiously but it was a lot less challenging than the cascading, sloped, telescoping ramps used to get on and off the planes). I sat next to BKA (a fellow peer visitor trainee) who has been wearing a prosthetic for 62 years. Wish I could have taped the conversation—an industrial accident amputee of 16 months gets a prosthetic device among the most advanced on the planet, meets a congenital amputee of 62 years who just recently replaced a socket system that can be found (quite literally) in a civil war catalog. The only thing our cases have in common is We're both over 60. Quite an interesting fellow.

Meg (a friend from way back) picked me up at the OK city airport then off to join husband Floyd and daughter Malory for dinner at their home. That day, they installed a storm shelter in their garage. Kansas has nothing on Oklahoma when it comes to tornados. (Had to put that in there or the pictures wouldn't make any sense.)

Meg, Malory, and Floyd above ground where they live sometimes.

After a too brief but very enjoyable visit, Malory dropped me at the hotel on her way back to college. As she drove, she sang along with the ipod and sounded better than Patty Griffin coming thru the speakers. She's a delight—Meg and Floyd, you have done yourselves proud.

Wednesday 4/30—Amputee Empowerment Partners (AEP) training. That's the name Hanger has given its peer visitor program. There were 30 trainees, most veterans all very well adjusted and each had a litany of accomplishments that left me in awe. Personally, I have been convinced almost from the get-go, that it is not enough to merely accept amputation, so I've been trying to truly embrace it. I spent the day with 30 people who are already there. Early in the day, the group was asked, who had the benefit of a peer visit. There were less than half dozen hands and mine was not among them. I am still just a "struggling rookie" and just got my peer visit in spades.

Due to lengthy lay-overs in Dallas, I got to hang-out with Abel (a left AKA like me), about my age, has a C-leg and few more years of experience. He was part of a fund raising team that bicycled from California to Florida. Hope to adopt him as mentor. He knows a lot about some of the high endurance obstacles I'm facing (like blisters, C-leg modes,,,,) and has given advice that is already proving useful.
Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Monday 4/21—PT Took a long walk thru the halls and did a high and low speed gate analysis. They moved the computerized carpet that digitizes each step so it has a long lead in and exit. Emily said they moved it just for me. Does she know how to push my motivation buttons or what? We spent a good deal of time on my year two goals (clic "older" the two previous entries). She's going give me a hand with the Otto Bock/C-Leg chalenges.

Wednesday 4/23 Finished a 6 miles walk at 2:45pm. (clic "read more"for stump issues and goal data) I had every intention of completing the 23 laps required to achieve the 8 miles goal but hit the wall well short. This time I could not have gone another lap on a bet, but did manage to average 2.9 mph. I hobbled into the house after the 17th lap, grabbed a small bite to eat, took a quick shower (had some difficulty dragging my tired butt in and out), flopped onto the bed and slept for four hours. I was toast. No bleeding from the blister, but the small graft tear in front bled a little. I now have a new respect for the 8 mile goal.

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18 April 2008: Time's a fly'n

Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
The focus is on the 2nd year goals. We're half way thru April and have not completed any yet. (See "read more")

Saturday 4/5—Got up early (7:00am), put on the C-leg, drove to Valley View, hung-out with the Compound tribe + Ruth W. Ruth K. and Jenny, hiked on the canal path and drove home. Had my leg on for 19 hrs, drove for 7 hrs, and walked 3 miles. Not a first, not a record, not a goal, just a really good leg day.

Monday 4/7—Overload.

Thursday 4/10—Hanger. The hand-off between Pat and Paul (prosthetists) was less than perfect. I was cast for a new liner 3/7 and when it was not here 3 weeks later (never got ordered due to a mix-up), Paul prudently decided to cast again to pick up any stump changes in the last month.

Weekend 4/11-13. Bonnie visited her daughter in Massachusetts, so I spent the weekend in Valley View again. Given the graft skin issues (a little tear on front interior and the inactive at that moment rim blister in back), I snuck in a visit with Tammy (wound and graft care, nurse practitioner) at Metro on Friday. She said I could continue pushing toward my speed and distance goals providing things didn't get much worse. Then she demonstrated proper methods to clean and bandage both areas (It's a good thing I stopped in, I was doing it all wrong).

Monday 4/14—Overload.

Wednesday 4/16—Overload. Finally broke the 400 lbs barrier with both legs on the leg press. About 4 months ago, I broke 280 after being stuck there for several weeks.
Bonnie and I hiked 3.4 @ 3 mph on the Little Miami River Trail. Raised a little blister, same place, some bleeding, nothing I can't handle. The stump is really starting feel strong.

Thursday 4/17—Hanger. Still no liner, it has been shipped and is in transit. Paul cast my stump for the new socket. The socket casting process was quite different this time. The material was water activated plastic resin mesh instead of plaster. The resin generates a lot of heat while it cures. Paul's hands were quite uncomfortable from holding the shape in critical load areas. Because my surface sensitivity is just starting to return, I didn't feel a thing.

Walked 5 miles @ 2.9 mph. (see "read more") Could have gone further but the bandage that was protecting the rim blister slipped. More bleeding, the blister got a little bigger, but not too bad. I really need that new liner and a socket that fits correctly.

Coming soon. - I have volunteered to participate in a "Peer Visitor Training" seminar that will be conducted by Hanger. We will learn how to interact with people who are recent amputees or face amputation in the near future. There will be about 20 of us that will be flown to Hanger's Oklahoma City training facility from all around the country. This will be my first post AKA, thru security and onto a plane experience. I'm pretty excited about it. I am also looking forward to spending some time with Meg and Floyd (friends from way back) while in Oklahoma.

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31 March 2008: Knock on wood

Category: Photos
Posted by: mike
Again I'd like to thank everyone for all the support over the past year. The blog, e-mail, snail mail, and phone responses to the March 11th entry have been fantastic. Hope the 2nd year goes as well. (Now, I'm not superstitious but at this point you can beat the crap out of a log if like.)

As year 2 begins, things are starting to settle into a state of existence some might call normal. There are still a few challenges but the everyday stuff is becoming pretty routine. Bonnie has even hinted that I might consider taking a little more responsibility for household chores. I think that's a real healthy sign. I don't consider my $1 completed just yet and have some significant objectives to achieve before doing so.

Goals for year 2:
o Keep this blog somewhat current and active.
o Take dance lessons and dance with Bonnie at the company 08 Xmas party (left over 1st year goal but not forgotten).
o Get down to 180 lbs (left over 1st year goal, almost forgotten).
o Attend an outdoor concert (maybe, Blossom with some old friends).
o Water skiing (thanks Jen for planting that one). That'll mean spending time at Hess this summer.
o The big one—"Ready" to start another assault on the Appalachian Trail by March 12th 09. The actual starting date could be as much as a month later pending trail and weather conditions. (I have already started training and making good progress—see "read more")

A stroll on the Little Miame Trail.

Routine weekend breakfast

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14 March 2008: New Friends

Category: General
Posted by: bonnieg
Mike and I enjoyed an evening with the Tri-State Amputee Support Group ( on Thursday the 13th. Rich and Patty Friend were our initial contacts and everyone made us feel welcome. We shared our story and listened as others shared theirs. What a wonderful group and a wonderful way to learn and socialize at the same time. We're looking forward to the monthly meetings.

Mike is thinking of attending the annual conference in Atlanta of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) in June. The ACA's website states "The purpose of the ACA annual conference is to bring amputees, their peers, health care and other industry professionals together in one arena so they may interface, share expertise, keep abreast of new technologies, products and services, and find solutions to common problems". I wouldn't be surprised if Mike will someday be a motivational speaker at one of these conventions!

I'd like to also add my thanks to all those who have helped us through the recovery process. Looking back on this past year, I feel proud of us as a couple who not only sustained our relationship but came through adversity stronger than ever. Here's to us, Mike! The best is yet to come!

P.S. If you've enjoyed reading the blog, please sign the Guest Book and let Mike know you were here!

11 March 2008: Ending on a High Note!

Category: General
Posted by: mike
I've been an AKA for a year now and to be perfectly honest I don't recommend it. That said, thing aren't all that bad, I even have a little fun with it sometimes. I am thinking I might change my trail name to "Also Known As" for the 2009 hike but I really like "Oxymoron" too. What to do?

Wednesday (5th) 8:00am - Pat armed with C-leg software, joined Emily and me at PT for a leg tune-up. As I began to pick up speed and gait length, the C-leg would swing forward to knee lock way before my heel would touch ground (knee lock should happen slightly after heel strike). They walked up and down the halls with me to get a handle on the problem. The cord that connects Pat's computer to the C-leg is only about 8ft long and the C-leg micro-processor has six variables that interact dynamically. The best way to accomplish a true dynamic tune-up is on a tread mill. We started at a brisk but comfortable 2 mph. At 2.7 mph things started to get a little dicey. Pat adjusted some parameters and Emily bumped up the speed. 2.8, 2.9, adjust, bump, 3.0, 3.1, adjust, bump, 3.2, take a break, drink some water, crank it up, 3.3, adjust, bump, 3.4, and at 3.5 mph things got a little dicey again. This time the leg was spot on, I was becoming exhausted, so we shut it down. That exercise took about 25 minutes. We took one more walk down the hall and back just to verify the sets were still as good off the tread mill and the session was about over. Normally (if there is such a thing in my world) at the end of a session, I would remove the leg and Emily would examine my stump for signs of skin breakdown. This routine is necessary because I have not developed surface sensitivity on the graft skin yet. We were out of time and my leg felt really good, so we skipped the exam this time.

Went to work, got home about 6:00, popped the leg off and found a pretty good size blister just below the pelvic bone structure that forms the hip socket. I'm not too excited, expected this to happen eventually. This was nothing even close to the blisters Maine Dish had at Neal's Gap.

Friday (7th, blizzard day) - Went to work Friday and opted to give the stump the day off. The weather was really bad and the parking lot was super slick. I got about two steps from the car and the crutches slid out and down I went. Again, once I realized I couldn't save it, the "controlled descent mode" kicked in and ended with a soft sloppy sprawl in the slush. Sharon (our receptionist)saw it happen and called Travis (plant manager). Travis came out immediately to lend a hand. The only thing injured was my pride - which has been so beat-up it's about as numb as my stump. Grabbed the trusty lap top and lesson in humility and headed home.

Due to the bad weather, Pat (Hanger) called me in early to recast my stump to make the new liner which is step one in the new socket process. He said my blister was just that and did not qualify as a more serious skin breakdown condition. He informed me that he was leaving Hanger at end of next week. Today just was not a good news day. We civilians are losing another good practitioner to the VA. Can't bitch, the vets really need all the good people they can get. Good luck Pat, you and your wealth of experience will be missed. I am sure Paul (he was in the test socket pictures) will pick-up the ball.

Weather was serious (level 3 alert) crap all weekend, laid low and had a two day pajama party with Bonnie. Just exactly what the blisters (plural it turned out) needed.

The Monday after the time change (10th) - March 12th of 2007, AKA day, was also a Monday that followed the time change. My one year anniversary PT session at a very early 8:00am went extremely well. We walked with an interesting little twist. Emily got her hands on a metronome. The objective was to have the heel of each foot touch down on every other tic. Tic, tic, tic, down the hall, down the steps, tic, tic, out side, down ramps, up ramps, tic, tic, back to the PT gym, over the foam pad between the parallel bars (look mom no hands), tic, tic, onto the tread mill at 2.5 mph, tic, tic... Even did the "gait analyzer mate" in time with the tics. We didn't want to press our luck with blisters too much. Did the stump exam and finished up early.

which is the C-leg?

C-leg in swing phase

C-leg in stance phase

Emily setting up the tread mill

Emily setting up the gait analyzer

I was declared a graduate and ready start working more on my own. My therapy sessions are back to once a week immediately and maybe even every other week in April. Future sessions will deal with issues that arise with the new socket and the edges of the C-leg performance envelope that I'm sure to bump into frequently.

Tuesday 11th - Was invited to participate in a PR/educational film to introduce Drake Center's outpatient services. As Emily introduced me to individual members of the film crew and PR staff the reaction was almost the same with everyone. Is this "Appalachian Trail Mike"? The lady that conducted the filmed interview asked "why are you in therapy?". Emily chimed right in, "AKA, missing leg", then a slightly embarrassed, "Oh, I didn't know", and the off camera pre-interview commenced. I also removed the zip-off pant leg to make the C-leg visible and showed off on the tread mill at 3 mph for a few minutes. At the end of filming, Emily (beaming with pride) said she thought that was a truly fitting way to wrap-up your first year as an AKA.

All things considered not a bad "first year". My Heart Felt Thanks to all—family, friends, co-workers, medical teams, physical fitness trainers, insurance coordinators, bloggers, etc. Wish I could thank every person by name that has made an impact on my recovery this past year, but there are just so many of you.
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