Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dragon Leg

Time for a gold dragon to liven up a March day: This is a picture from two years ago of me in my backyard pond and the leg I had then.  I found that wonderful fabric for the socket and had the socket-makers put it on as the finishing layer. My prosthetist said it made quite an impression in the office: they referred to me as The Dragon Lady.  (And if the shoe fits...)

The knee is an Otto Bock 3R60 EBS ("ergonomically balanced stride": this won't be on the final), a hydraulic knee that costs around $5,000, the dollar-store model compared to the C-leg (computerized) that starts upwards of $25,000, and the Genium which costs four times the C-leg... My humble hydraulic joint is for "active amputees" and is supposed to be excellent for camping and golfing. (Cutting firewood and chasing loose horses weren't mentioned but it works pretty well for those, too.) The knee stays locked when my leg is straight with my weight on it, and flexes as my weight shifts onto my toes. But once it bends it's like a hinge and there's no support. I can stand and shift my weight from foot to foot, but if I bend the knee too much, down I go. I used to drop without warning at cookouts during my first summer as an amp. One second I'd be holding my paper plate of grilled chicken and chatting with my friends. The next instant, WHOMP. On the grass.

These days if I fall it's usually because my prosthetic foot drags and catches on something. Then I leap instinctively to catch my balance. Or I fall and try to roll with it as forty years riding horses taught me.  I really like this knee. It's not computerized, so it can't sense when I fall and seize up to hold me, but it's pretty reasonable. Most of my limitations are the result of problems with my other (organic) leg which suffered the brunt of my extremely active life. My gait with my artificial leg is only as good as my osteo-arthritic knee. Ten years ago a doctor told me I had the foot of a seventy-year old. (That one's gone now. I have a tracing of it that my daughter did at the hospital right before the amputation.) And now my "good" knee is like a seventy-year old's.I wore out the prosthetic knee in the photo, and the socket never fit very well.  Now I've got a blue tie-dyed print  socket finished with my favorite T-shirt, and another knee the same model. The old one started clanking; now it's in the closet as a spare.

I'm not sure what model the foot is but it's heavy-duty. I've had it five years now and I really like it. It's got a plastic foot cover so it looks normal under the sock. I change the sock maybe once in six months after it gets holes in it, I guess from rubbing on the metal. I don't pair up my socks anymore. What's the point? I don't mind when the dryer eats them. I only need one. It's liberating.

And swimming: I love it.But that's another story.

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