Another great day!   I went to Hanger to meet with my Prosthetist Ray Gatlin, CP Lp, who made a fiberglass casting of my stump.

Diary Day #23 - Dec. 16th, 2014

I have been driving for a few days (when my wife can push my wheelchair back into the house) and it is heaven!   Ahhhhh, freedom.  I can't wait now for my fake leg so I can drive without having to depend on my wife to push my wheelchair inside.

I also wanted to point out that we have another amputee in our house.....our cat (one of six) miss kitty who had her front left leg shot off by a hunter before we adopted her.  What is funny too is miss kitty can run faster than any other of our family cats!   Below is  our baby miss kitty,

cleaning her ONLY front leg!

Diary Day #15 - Dec. 8th, 2014

I also saw my amazing surgeon yesterday, and was released from his care as my stump is pretty much healed.  He did write me new orders though so I can continue working with my PT guy Jeff, both to help me to continue to build up my strength, and help with my PT when I get my new leg around Christmas time.

Today I got my freedom back....a bit anyway!   Today I had my shiny new left foot gas pedal contraption installed into my 6 year old Toyota Camry.  Many, MANY thanks to my mechanic Brother-in-Law Steven for doing the hard work of setting it up and installing it.  Because my daughter had to drive the car over to my Brother-in-laws house after work, I did not get a chance to drive it yet.  But I do have experience with a left gas pedal setup as my wife (who no longer drives) had to use one due to a birth defect that messes with her coordination (weak right side) and even though it has been several years since we had a car set up for her, I still remember how to use it and look forward to taking it for a short spin tomorrow.  wooo hooooo....freedom at last!   If you are interested in getting one for yourself, I got mine on ebay, NEW for $170 which is about $100 less than what the commercial rehab equipment places charge. I also replaced the factory nuts with locking nuts, much better!

Diary Day #11 - Dec. 4th, 2014

I am amazed at how fast the shrinker is working.  The wing of skin on the left side/end of my stump is already gone (now round and smooth), and the wing of skin on the right side/end is about 50% reduced.   I decided today to swap shrinkers out, putting on the other one that is one size smaller.  I also rotated it 180 degrees when I pulled it on as it appears to make a tighter fit this way with the right wing of skin, thus making the entire end of the stump smaller and rounder.  I am seeing my surgeon tomorrow afternoon, and am really looking forward to having Ray build my new leg in the weeks to come.   Being a monster Detroit Lions fan, I am also going to order a Lions tee-shirt as Ray told me he can then laminate it onto the surface of my new leg when he builds it...COOL HUH?

Diary Day #7 - Nov. 30 2014

Thanksgiving morning. Only a few days in, and I am amazed how much the shrinker has already reduced the size of my stump, with the left wing almost gone.  whoooo hooooo, I can't wait to get out of this wheelchair.  gotta watch my weight though, so I won't be pigging out today, just lots of sugar free jello and turkey!

Diary Day #4 - Nov. 27 2014

Here is my stump shrinker.  Ray also gave me another that is a bit smaller, so I can use it as my stump reduces in size. This is something I will use for the rest of my life.  If I don't have my prosthetic on, I will have my shrinker sock on to keep my stump from swelling.

My Prosthetist Ray Gatlin, CP LP (smiling above) really set my mind at ease, as he explained every detail in getting my stump and body ready for my new leg.   Ray went through all the medical questions required, and then fitted me with a shrinker.  I can't say enough good things about Ray at this point.  He really went over and above to provide the information I needed, and I look forward to working with him in the future.  My next appointment is in three weeks, and if all goes well, he will make a cast of my stump at that visit, and a week later I should have my new fake leg ready to go!

Today was my first visit to Hanger in Mobile Alabama, and it could not have been a better experience!

Diary Day #2 - Nov. 25, 2014

First an explanation.  I wish I had started this diary earlier, but to be honest, during the time I was in the hospital and rehab, I was mentally out of it (due to the infection poison still in my system) so I doubt much of what I had to say would had been accurate or even make any sense.

I went into the hospital (University of South Alabama Medical Center), after stepping on a rusty nail in my yard that resulted in a bad right foot heel bone infection, where (after two operations to remove the infection) it was decided that amputation was the only option left. 

This was considered a dangerous procedure as I am 61 years old, diabetic, fat (340 pounds at 6'1 tall) and have a history that includes a massive heart attack 15 years ago.  While the death rate for this type of operation hovers around 10%, my risk was much higher due to the reasons above.  So, I am thankful to God, my doctors and the hospital support staff who worked me through that initial dangerous operation time frame.

I have now been home for two months (plus a week in the hospital and three weeks in the rotary rehab hospital), and tomorrow I will pay my first visit to my prosthetic specialist (Hanger Clinic) for the LONG process of fitting my lower right leg prosthetic. This is the information I have seen a great lack of on the internet, so I hope this diary will help you in adjusting to your new amputation by giving you a look at what you may also be in-store for.    

I also would like to thank my friends and family for the help they provided, in making my home wheelchair friendly, installing a left foot gas pedal in my car so I can get out and around, building risers under my couch so my transfer board works easier, etc. I really have a wonderful home/family support system.  Also thanks to my fellow Shriners for the equipment they provided to help me out.

Diary Day #1 - Nov. 24, 2014

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ABSOLUTE FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Today was the day to celebrate my first hint of total, absolute freedom!  First let me explain.  I have the most wonderful daughter on the face  of the earth, a child I could not be prouder of.  My daughter Tracy put herself 100% through college at the University of South Alabama (Go Jaguars!)  Unlike other kids, she took out ZERO loans, none, Zip, while she worked almost fulltime. This while also going to school in the business/accounting program full time!  She graduated as an accounting major Cum Laude with honors!  Needless to say I am one proud papa.  But when I had to have my foot amputated, Tracy then started taking a lot of time off her new job as an accountant for a local real estate company to transport me to my many doctors appointments.

As Ray had mentioned before, I am expecting my stump (especially the end) to shrink in size as time goes on.  I noticed that this really started to happen a week ago when my stump started to moved about in my socket, even with the addition of prosthetic socks.  I also had to wear MORE socks (up to 15 PLY) and stop using the plastic shell insert as it was causing pain.  Remember...,"discomfort is OK, but PAIN is not". I also had too long a liner pin while waiting for the correct size to come in. No problem.  Then I had my first bad fall (100% my fault).  I had ordered a new 440 lbs scale as I had not been able to weigh myself since 4 months ago before my amputation.  When the scale arrived I positioned it on some tile in my livingroom so I would get a good reading.

My Silicone liner is rolled on and into place.  When my new leg is ready, a screw in pin will be placedd in the end (outside only) and glued into place so it does not fall out.  Next step, Ray (my prosthetist at Wheeler) shows me my new TEST SOCKET which is clear copy of my new leg, where he can mark changes that need to be made on my new leg.

First Ray places the same jell sock on I will wear with my prosthetic, then he wraps that with plastic wrap, then he wraps that with a special fiberglass wrap (as shown above) then rubs it with water that makes a chemical reaction turning the fiberglass tape hard as a rock.

Diary con't - Jan. 25th, 2015

After Ray's great customer service today, My prosthetic leg is again a nice tight fit and pain-free even with the plastic liner.  Ray did explain that my stump will no doubt shrink some more as time goes on, so he made another appointment for me  IF I need it in a month, and told me to remember to use the prosthetic socks if it starts to get loose again.  Now I feel secure in trying to walk again 3 or 4 times a day (I have to wait until someone is at home besides me) and I will take a shot next week when my PT person arrives and see if I can get out my front door without my wheelchair, lock the door and make it to my car and back (I already have been driving with my left foot gas pedal). Whooooo Hoooooo!

I finally got my new prosthetic leg today.   Ray did a super job building it and applying the Detroit lions art too!

Diary Day #37 - Dec. 31th, 2014

Diary Day #30 - Dec. 23th, 2014

Anyway, today I finally gained enough coordination and upper body strength to be able to get out of my wheelchair using my prosthetic leg and my walker, and bend over to fold, and pickup my 40 lbs. wheelchair with only one arm, putting it in the trunk of my car.  A person who does not depend on a walker/wheelchair does not know the NEW level of freedom this brings.  Now I can tell my darling daughter that she can continue on with her life & work, and no longer take time off of work to help me get my wheelchair in the car or to my doctor and prosthetist appointments!  Here is a very happy Bob (see below photo) after I folded and picked up my 40 pound wheelchair with one arem and tossed it in the trunk of my car.   Now I can do this, and use the walker and my fake leg to then get in my car and go to my doctor appointments without Tracy's help (and then the reverse to wheel into the appointment and later my house)!  Whoooo Hooooo!   Just a side note, My wife Monica (while she does help a great deal around the house, putting away food, cleaning, etc. on top of her full time bookkeeping job) is also handicapped to a degree, so she cannot drive and does not have the strength to lift up my wheelchair!. 

NEXT STEP....WALKING WITHOUT THE WALKER!!!!!  (hopefully in a couple months!)

Then Ray got me up, and I took my first steps in four months since the amputation! (SEE VIDEO BELOW).  This also puts to rest the question on if an old fatman can learn to walk on a fake leg, as I am 61 years old, 6ft tall and 350 pounds!  Since shooting this video  this morning I discovered I can hop both in and out of my car WITHOUT having to use my transfer board.  And I did quite a bit of walking around my house today with a walker.  I believe with the way it feels, I should be walking without the walker (maybe just my old cane) in a couple of weeks, though ay warned me it actually can take up to a year for that as my muscles are still pretty weak.

TEST SOCKET DAY!    Today I was introduced to the test socket that Ray had built from his fiberglass casting.   First, Ray showed me how to replace my Shrinker Sock with my new Silicone liner sock.  I was told to wear this everyday for 16 hours and then go back to the shrinker sock when I went to bed.  As the Silicone liner sock is much tighter (and rolls on very tight), it will continue to help shrink my stump, and in a week or so my new prosthetic leg will be ready.


Today I visited Ray at Hanger Medical and explained what had happened.  Ray examined my stump and noted it had reduced quite a bit since my last visit, and also was told about how the plastic liner would cause pain when I used it!  After about an hour of making adjustments, ray put a new shorter pin on my liner that had come in and we spent some time with me walking on the parr bars while he made adjustments to the foot and leg angle.  No more pain or soreness!  THANKS RAY!

Diary con't - Jan. 16th, 2015

Diary con't - Jan. 16th, 2015

The final step is to stuff my stump into the test socket to see how it fits and if any adjustments are needed. In my case, this was done in the morning when my leg is thicker and a bit full of fluid.  As such it took a while to get my leg to the smaller size it needed to be (via the silicone liners pressure) but after several adjustments my stump finelly fit nice and snug in the test socket and we could hear the happy sound of the end pin clicking 4 times as it locked into the socket hole!

Now that Ray has a rock hard casting of my stump (with strategic points marked in it) he can pour plaster in it, then cut away the fiberglass and have a perfect model of my stump to use in making my test socket, which is a clear prototype of my prosthetic, that I can try on and walk a few steps in next Tuesday.  If there are any final changes he needs to make he now can, and if the test socket/leg fits and works out well, in another week he will have my new prosthetic leg made (he builds them all himself right on site), and I will be set to take it home and start learning to walk again!

I started working out with a new PT guy, and he has given me some much harder exercises, which I needed....FEEL THE BURN!  And after Ray's last prosthetic adjustment, my leg fits much better and I am now walking on it with neither pain nor discomfort.  I took another step towards freedom today, by walking (with help from my walker) from my car to the bench in our yard, then from the bench, THRU the open front door AND THE RAMP into my living room to the couch!  This video below shows this.  It may look like I am walking slow, BUT this is a big step for me, and if I contine at this rate, I may be able to get rid of the walker in a month or two and advance to just walking with my old irish cane!

As you can expect, I walked with my walker and my prosthetic on, up and stepped on the problem.  I was happy to see I weighed in at 355 pounds (including 4.4 pounds for my fake leg.) which means I lost over 35 pounds (including my foot weight) while I was in the hospital.  I now had a current weight and can work on my next goal of 300 lbs.  But then, I started to step back....and as the scale slipped and went flying from under me I fell flat on my back!  I thank god I did not brake any bones with this painful lesson.  So remember, do NOT put area rugs or anything that can slip on like tile, wood or any solid flooring!  I later found I can use the scale If I brace it against the closet door so it cannot again slide.

The final step, now that Ray had me fitted in the test socket, was to get me to walk.  First he wrapped the test socket shell with fiberglass tape to make it stronger, explaining the test socket was very brittle and this would give it extra support (I am a BIG guy.  350 pounds at 6 foot tall), and made a few more adjustments (length, etc) and even so, when I try to stand up, to put most of my weight on my existing real leg.  Now with the wrapped test socket leg on my stump , he rolled me up to a set of parallel bars and I leaned forward and pulled myself up.  I then took a few steps, the first steps I had taken since the amputation almost four months before.  FREEDOM!   And with a lot of pressure (which is normal) and NO PAIN after his adjustments!  But the story is not over. Now I will head home, and Ray will take the Detroit Lions tee shirt (above) I provided and laminate the image onto my new prosthesis which should be ready for a final fitting in a week or so.


Diary con't - Jan. 31st, 2015