My knee is tired. I only have the one, and it's been complaining a lot. In turn, I complain to my friends, relatives and horses. Six years ago, a year before my above-knee amputation, an orthopedic specialist sent me to an orthotist (vocab word: will be on the final) for this unloading brace.
Back around 1975 when I had two normal legs I realized I was bowlegged: when my feet were together my knees had several inches of daylight between them. I rode horses constantly so I claimed it had made me bowlegged like a cowboy, but it was probably just heredity.
Then my left leg caught a bacterial bug that turned into osteomyelitis, which is always bad, and worse if you belong to a hardcore Christian Science family in the Boston area at a time when it was legal to pray for your kid instead of take them to a hospital. (It's still legal to do this in 38 states. Not in Massachusetts anymore.)
The infection destroyed my left knee. It fused solid in a bent position perfect for riding horses but bad for walking. I did both for thirty-five years until my left foot and right (normal) knee were trashed. The amputation solved the foot problem. Now, five years later, my remaining knee is trashed. The already off-kilter joint grinds towards the inside. (I've been told I'm hard on my equipment.) The unloading brace pushes the outside of the joint to take pressure off the inside. And yeah, it's as bulky and annoying and "Run, Forrest, run!" as it looks. I only wear it a few hours a day.
(It also feels like a second prosthetic leg. Wow. Let me just say I'm grateful to be only a single amp. I love my trashed, organic knee. My daughter tried on my brace one time and hated it. Come over and try it sometime.)
Knee replacement surgery is probably on my horizon. It's a bad deal for an AK amp because it'll leave me pretty much without a leg to stand on. On a wonderful amputee website called Stumps R Us http://www.stumps.org/guestbook/guestbook.html I posted the question: any AKs gone through it? Recently a fellow amp wrote to tell me about his knee replacement this past winter. I was hoping for happy magical news, but it was what I'd expected. Endurance, patience and nose-to-the-grindstone PT. So. We'll see.
In the meantime, have you hugged your limbs today? :-)