New socket fitting

This morning was met with both excitement and nerves, oh and of course tiredness. All this was due to my 08:30 appointment with Lynne (my Prosthetist) for the fitting of my new socket. I went in on time and in came Lynne, my leg and my old socket (for me to keep). The first thing I noticed was that the new socket was notably smaller than the last one was, which will be of help under clothes. They had built a valve in it this time just in case it was needed but that wasn’t the plan. I whipped of my ¾ length trousers, left my shrink sock on and tried to push in to the socket. It went well at first but it was the last little bit at the top I had an issue with. I thought I was some way off at the back too but apparently not as bad as I thought but Lynne wanted the skin at the front to be dragged in. With that came my worst nightmare when she said she would have to go and get a donning sleeve. Regular readers will appreciate my heart sank at this point because I was hoping to move away from that, still it was the only way to get me fully in the socket so it had to be done. When she came back I unscrewed the little valve donned the leg and then screwed the valve back in again. The valve was easier to use than the makeshift thing I had on the old socket, the advantage of having it built in over a bodge fit.

I started walking towards Lynne using the bars and she asked me how it felt, I told her it felt like I was eating it. It was going so far across at the back it was cutting in-between my bum cheeks (politest way I could think of putting that), most uncomfortable. As I turned around she could see exactly what I meant and said she would trim that way back, it was also catching me in my old nemesis, the groin. She told me I was flicking the foot out to the side a bit when I walked but she was unduly concerned at that stage, as she had mentioned it I concentrated on correcting it when I walked the next time. She went away to make the alterations and came back about 20-30mins later. I tried it on again and walked up and down the bars, this time trying not to hold on. Lynne commented on how amazingly well (not blowing own trumpet, her words) I was walking considering I hadn’t walked, or stood up much, for months (I reckon nearly 11 months). It was definitely better round the back but just that groin area was still not quite right. She got me to take the weight off my leg where she placed her finger between the groin and the edge of the socket. I then had to push into the socket again so she could feel where it was catching. Straight away she found the exact spot and commented that I’m unlucky (there it is again, unlucky) that my tendon is so prominent, that’s what causes the problem. I tested out sitting down, while I still had the leg on, and the foot and knee placement seemed better than it had been when I was walking before. The leg was whisked away for some more alteration.

So, third time I put the leg on and walked up and down, not flicking my foot out and trying to keep my upper body as straight, symmetrical and with as little movement as possible. It felt uncomfortable but more of a pinch of skin at the top of the socket this time, so I took it off and put it back on again. It felt much better everywhere and Lynne still commented on how well I was walking. It wasn’t too bad so we stopped there, as she didn’t want me pulling it on and off too much today. The stump throughout all this wasn’t too bad and I didn’t feel the tissue movement as much as with the Femurett (test leg) on. There was some slight aching towards the bottom on both sides but for the first time of having a leg on it wasn’t too bad and wore off. So this is all OK, trotting up and down the bars a few times on a flat level floor in that room, but how it will fair after a Physio session? That will be a real test. She was happy for me to take it home and I’ve been told to practice getting the leg on and off and spend some time sitting with it on, to build up my bum tolerance of the plastic digging into it. I can do some walking too, using two sticks to start off with round the house and then ditch them when I have got used to walking again. I probably won’t walk outside with it on until I have seen my Physio for an assessment. Lynne is hoping that in about 6 months time we can go for a more permanent socket and use liners for fixing, so I wont have to use the suction socket any more. Because my knees are really level now she is not looking at using the pin method, which I was a bit disappointed about. Still, that’s all in the future and I just have to start the process all over again for now.

One thing I did mention was the worry of falling over, especially when I was on the tread mill I found I was scuffing the foot quite a bit. She explained that some people use their real leg and spring off it to lift the prosthetic leg higher to clear the floor, some swing the leg to the side a little and others hitch their hip. Because I am walking so well, and symmetrical like they want people too, it means I have only slight floor clearance. This is OK on a flat surface but on anything slightly uneven, carpet, a track, pavement etc. it can mean scuffing the floor on a raised area and falling. She told me she would be more than happy to shorten the leg 1cm, which will help with walking but that would mean when standing I would be slightly tilted at the hip. She told me it is such a fine line to get everything as good as possible and reduce the risk of me falling over. I also mention the mental exertion of walking. I have to concentrate on every step, if I were to look at scenery or start a conversation while walking the risk of falling is much higher. I asked if it would always be like that or will I be able to walk without having to concentrate so hard. She told me that I will always have to be aware of my surroundings and looking ahead to plan my walking but I wont have to concentrate so hard on every step, it will become more automatic over time, like when your learning to drive a car.

Apart from the unfortunate circumstance with regards to the donning sleeve, things didn’t go too badly today. I have the advantage of having been through it before, knowing what it should feel like and knowing my past issues. We came out at about 10:45, so about 2 ¼ hours, I think my record so far is about 4hrs so we did well today. I’m hoping to speak to my Physio tomorrow to sort out when and what class of Physio I will be starting, Lynne seems to think it will be straight to the advanced class and see how we get on. I’m OK with that and surprised myself how well I was walking after such a long break. She did remind me right at the end that even though there is no movement at the moment it doesn’t mean it will always be the case, it is still really early days and we have no idea how this will go. I don’t think she was putting a downer on things I just think she is keeping me grounded and being practical about it. I have no problem with that, I know there are no guarantees and we can only wait and see how things go. I just have to do as I’m told, take it slowly and learn to read my body and what it’s telling me. That said, I also have to put in the hard graft needed to walk as well and correctly as I can while I can. Bring it on!

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2 Responses to “New socket fitting”

  1. Learning to walk again, as an adult, must be draining. Physically and emotionally. Thinking back a couple of months you have made some great progress. Fingers crossed it continues. I want to say “well done” but don’t want to sound condescending. You get what I mean anyway!

    • Like you say Steve a few months ago I wasn’t in the best place, drugged up and in immense pain. Things are better now and I have to make the most of this time just in case it does deteriorate. I know what you mean by the ‘Well done’ and thank you :)

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