MAS Socket Diaries - AUGUST 2005
3 August 2005
the big day finally dawned. After reading and hearing so much hype
about this new MAS socket, I made my way to Marco's
offices (he's my stunning prosthetist in Pretoria) to start the
long process of fitting for one of my very own.
was a lot of measuring, which needs to be 100% accurate, and Marlo
Ortiz's instructions must be followed to a ‘T’. I am lucky to have
a special and trusting relationship with Marco, so all the prodding
and poking, looking for ‘this bone’ and ‘that bone’ and the ‘bone
in-between’ wasn’t as invasive as one would imagine it to be. Finally,
after more than 10 years of being an amputee, I know where my Ramus
and my Ischium are located. Exactly located! I feel educated.
says I am relatively easy to measure because he can feel the bones
under my skin. I smile to myself, I know that’s just age – you know
– when your skin kind of thins out…..
plaster-of-paris mould was as revolting as it normally is, with
bits of gunk slopping around and making strange slurping noises
as it was applied. I am still amazed that it goes on so cold, and
slowly heats up as it sets. Catches me by surprise every time it
to self : Do a special guideline booklet for new female
amputees on what to expect at your first fitting. It can be a frightening
experience if you don’t know the procedure.
entire measuring and mould making procedure took about an hour.
Not bad. I should be seeing Marco again on Monday or Tuesday next
week for the first test socket. I am a bit nervous. We are going
to use a different knee, the Endolite Mercury Junior. Perhaps the
Total Knee has made me lazy (it’s so easy to use), but I am dreading
all the energy I am going to have to expend with the new hydraulic
knee. I used every excuse in the book to get out of it (including
“it’s a high energy knee for nutter-amps who run all the time”),
but he just smiled and shook his head, like a parent indulging a
on next week!
9 August 2005
women’s day. And my first test socket is ready. Forget nervous.
I am terrified!
- Ok, well, I take one look at this new socket, and it is WAY scary.
The inside ‘ear’ is so high and pointy, how can that ever be comfortable?
don’t want to put it on, but I do. I don’t want to put any weight
on the leg, but I do. And it’s as awful as I thought it would be.
Not sore, but so odd. With that damn ‘ear’ pushing right up my butt.
No man. Marco just laughs at me, but I am not amused.
feel as if I am wearing a socket that only comes to my mid-thigh.
There is no pressure or feeling of tightness at all around the very
top of the leg. In fact, I have to check to see that I am in properly.
If not for that bloody ‘ear’, then I would swear that the new socket
is half-size. And I don’t feel safe. I feel bow-legged and very
precarious, like I am perched on top of the leg.
is a problem. That damn ear again. And it hurts. So it’s off, tweak,
and on. Off, tweak, and on. I stop counting how many times we do
that. And eventually we get to a point where I can sit almost comfortably,
but walking is a problem. I have developed trust issues with the
MAS socket already!
if anyone thinks that the personal poking and prodding for the initial
measurements is invasive, lawdy lawd, don’t even go near the first
visit for the MAS test socket. You feel like saying “you realise
you’re gonna have to marry me now”. No kidding.
– Marco says I can come back next week for the second test socket.
Maybe even take it home. He says he thinks today went well. I’m
not so sure. I’m getting too old for this sh*t. My nerves are shattered.
I put my Ischial socket on and it feels like an old friend.
can see I’m unsure. He reminds me how scared I was changing from
a Quad socket to an Ischial Containment socket. Mmmm, I remember.
He has the patience of a saint.
going to have nightmares of being chased by giant ears.
I am still terrified.
12 August 2005
appointment with Marco. Mental block makes me too tired to wake
up, and I am late.
it is…the new socket with the same dreaded ear, larger than
on much easier this time. I still feel a ring of tightness midway
on my leg, and no pressure at the top, but somehow I feel a bit
safer standing in it. I take a few steps using one crutch. Then
a few more. I really don’t like the Endolite Mercury Junior
knee. It’s on it’s lowest setting but it’s still
hard to swing through, so Marco puts my Total 2000 knee on the socket.
Pretty soon I am walking up and down between the two full-length
mirrors. There’s no way I am going to fall out of this baby
today. And it’s ok. The stupid ear is still digging into my
butt and it bothers me. Marco asks if it’s sore. Nope, not
sore. Could I get used to it? Maybe. Big maybe. I make a face, like
“can you see I’m not convinced?”
is very low in the front. Probably about a thumb’s length
down. It’s weird. And sitting is still a problem. I tell Marco
that maybe I need to learn how to sit so that the ear doesn’t
move upwards and hurt me. But no, he isn’t happy with that.
He wants me to be able to plop down and have immediate comfort.
Hell, I can live with that! The outside of the socket (the bit opposite
the ear) is very high up my hip, but comfortable. I can’t
even feel it there, and it fits properly, no gaping at all. The
socket will have to be a bit longer, I am hitting the bottom when
I relax into it. I look down and there is NO CONTACT between the
socket and that sensitive place in the groin area that has always
given me trouble. In fact, there is a definite gap. Like I said,
it’s weird. And not unpleasant.
of pressure is very noticeable to me, but I remember when I changed
from a Quad Socket to an Ischial Containment Socket, the pressure
was so severe that I thought I would never get used to it. But of
course, I did. And relatively quickly too. So I am willing to work
through this new feeling because I have ‘been-there-done-that’
before. Marco looks at my stump with his CP eyes through the clear
test socket and he is happy with what he sees.
not taking it home today. There are too many adjustments. Marco
shares a secret with me. The last test socket was scrapped because
when he checked the measurements, he discovered that he had made
a MAS Socket with his Ischial Containment Socket brain. This makes
perfect sense to him but doesn’t mean much to me. So he made
a new test socket with his MAS brain, and I must admit, today is
a lot better than Tuesday.
sits me down and shows me exactly how the MAS socket holds on to
you and supports you and moves with you. Yip, I can feel the penny
dropping. It’s so simple, it’s just got to work.
still wearing my “I hate the ear” face, so he measures
it. And what do you know? It’s too long! HAH!!!!!! So my little
friend is going to be cut down to size. Hehehehe…..
am out of there in less than an hour today. As I leave I say to
Marco “you know, I would have taken it home for the weekend
if you had told me to”.
that’s a very good sign!
16 August 2005
another great day in Africa (this is when you haven’t been
robbed, mugged or hi-jacked at gunpoint for two consecutive months),
and off to see Marco.
I’m not late, or terrified. ‘Apprehensive’ would
be the word today.
it is. And the ear! Well, I couldn’t be happier. It’s
much flatter at the top, and shorter. About half an inch shorter.
I smile. I ask Marco if I should give the Endolite knee another
try, but he says that I should deal with the socket first. Good
don it and man it feels so tight. Squeezing the damn life out of
me. I realise now that my Ischial Containment socket is too big.
I must have had quite a bit of residual limb shrinkage since I first
had it fitted in September last year. This is going to take some
getting used to. Again.
get the ‘ear’ where it’s s’posed to be and
I can see why there is no room for error when you put on this socket.
There’s only one spot that little brat-ear can fit. Marco
made me put it on skew, or so it seemed to me. But it fits ok. Don’t
think I would have gotten it on correctly by myself on the first
is ok, no crutch today. Marco does his sergeant major thing :’SWING
YOUR ARMS!!”. Sigh, I have to do everything in this damn relationship.
So I swing, and stride, and try to look up, and when I finally de-stress
a bit, and start to walk in a more relaxed and trusting way, it’s
front of the socket, which is very low cut, is digging into my thigh,
pushing against my muscle, and I don’t think it’s something
I can get used to. Marco says he will flare the lip out a bit.
length is cool now, I don’t bump the bottom of the socket.
Bit of pressure at the end of my stump on the side bit of the bone,
Marco will push it out. We fiddle a bit with the alignment because
I still feel a bit bow-legged. I’m not sure we get it 100%
right, but I am very distracted with the tightness, and also with
the front lip, which hurts.
the ear…..I have to laugh….I have made such an issue
about it, but I swear people, it was a monster extension in my previous
visits here. Today the ear is more subdued, and although I can definitely
feel it pushing up into my derrière, I reckon I might get
used to it. It’s certainly not sore.
go and sit down. Ok, that was fine. So I plop down. Hey hey! And
it’s feeling not so bad. Definitely not sore, still feel the
ear, but it’s not pushing on the bone. So I lean right back
(almost flattened, with bum on end of chair and head on the back)
and wham! The ear catches me. Marco looks at me with one eye. He
wants to know what’s wrong. I say “I can’t sit
like this” – he says “and why do you want to slouch?”
I have no answer to that one.
find a wall, and I do cross legged standing, and wide legged standing,
and it’s comfy all the way. Marco wants to try the sitting
cross legged thing, so down I go, and I manage to cross my legs
about 60% of the way. I really don’t know how the girl on
the MAS site does it, because the more I try to push the prosthesis
towards the floor, the more it feels as though it’s going
to lose grip against my skin, and twist out of position. (I know
this because the ear warns me!)
so, another fitting that even I have to say has gone well. Marco
says that when I walk with the MAS socket, I look as though I have
more control than when I use ‘old faithful’.
of course, I have to take a look at my rear-end with this new MAS
socket. My oh my. I have twin buttocks. TWIN! Not one that has succumbed
to gravity, and one sitting halfway up my hip. You know that lopsided
look I’m talking about ladies. They are almost identical.
Wow. And you know what that means?? No more ruining good pants from
sitting on the hard end of a high fitting socket. (I'm guessing,
but the odds are really bent in favour of my new little theory).
take it home today, Marco is going to tweak it a bit : make the
front lip flare, give me more space at the bottom where the bone
is catching, and bring the hip-hugger side a bit higher. I still
am in awe at the fact that there is nothing catching me around my
groin. And I am not sitting on the rim of this socket. The back
is almost as low as the front. It’s an amazing thing to feel.
over an hour, and I am on my way home. Yip, another great day in
22 August 2005
sitting at the PC now wondering how to document everything since
last Thursday. It feels like eons ago.
(the 18th) saw me back at Marco’s rooms with a slightly tweaked
MAS socket waiting for me. Hells bells. Such small changes made
such a big difference. I just couldn’t get comfortable. Not
for love or money. The socket was slightly bigger to ease some of
the pressure, but then I think I slipped further into the socket,
because the ear nailed me again. So we had another day of off-tweak-on,
off-tweak-on; it seemed endless. Even Marco was disappointed. We
had almost got it right on Tuesday. How could such small changes
make such a huge difference to the feel of the socket.
one stage, Marco started to mark the places (again) where he was
going to fiddle with the socket, and I moved it ever so slightly
on my leg and it made such an immediate difference. I did the off-on
thing again, and the fit was 100% better. Marco said that I put
it on only 1 or 2 degrees differently. We both couldn’t believe
the huge change.
socket still felt tight. I had been there for 5 hours, and at the
end of the day, I didn’t know if I was coming or going when
it came to comfort. I was sore and dog-tired, and I really couldn’t
tell anymore how the socket fitted. So I decided to take it home
and give it a test drive.
the time I got home (an hour’s drive), the ear was really
digging into me, and I couldn’t walk properly. Took it off,
collapsed in a heap, and didn’t look at it again till Friday
at about 11am I gathered up the courage to put the leg on. ‘Gingerly’
doesn’t begin to describe it. Marco had brought the sidewall
up and it fitted very close to my hip. Well, one step and that was
me. Instant agony. My hip was so sore that I even forgot about the
ear. You can imagine. I tried to push through for about an hour,
but I could see that it would be impossible. Phoned Marco and back
spent about an hour there – Marco ground down the wall around
the hip and flared it out a bit. I still wasn’t too sure about
the ear, but decided to take it home again and give it another go.
was going to be a long one for me. I had 3 functions to go to, which
means a lot of leg work. I put the socket on and it felt really
tight. More so than yesterday. In fact, I kind ‘bulged’
out the top, even though I put it on 3 times. I think I was a bit
swollen, and I didn’t manage to get in as deep as the day
before. I Thought that if I wore it for a while, I would shrink
a bit, and then I could put it on again.
that didn’t happen. The shrinking, I mean. I must have put
it on about 5 times from 3pm until just before midnight, but my
leg was aching from the pressure, and I could feel that my prosthetic
leg was definitely longer than it usually was because I just wasn’t
getting in properly.
didn’t wear it at all on Sunday.
I put it on again, and I went in easier than before, and deeper.
I’ve been sitting at my desk for most of the day, and this
is definitely not a comfortable socket to sit in at the moment.
The ear isn’t hitting against any bones, but it is digging
into my flesh properly. Feels like I am sitting on a rock. This
can’t be right. I’m just wondering if the ear needs
to be flared out a bit, because it also catches me like that when
I stand. Or maybe if it wasn’t so damn hard it wouldn’t
hurt like this. I don’t know. Am going to try again tomorrow
and see if maybe I can get a better fit. Could be that I am still
a bit swollen, although that doesn’t make any sense. I am
feeling like I should be further in. Maybe.
offered to send a courier collection service to my house to fetch
the socket today if I didn’t come right so he could make a
new one by Wednesday. How nice is that?
one thing I learned about this socket is that you’ve got to
put it on correctly. A few millimeters in the wrong direction, and
where am I now? Tired, a bit sore from the rock-ear, and totally
confused about why I can’t seem to get it on right.
does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end
of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow”.
never rang more true than it does tonight.
24 August 2005
soon I am going to be able to put my car into auto-pilot and it
will get me to Marco’s on its own. 12pm and I’m going
back. This week has been pretty dismal with the leg.
still feeling as though I’m not in properly and the leg is
bugging me. The ear in particular. I wouldn’t admit it to
Marco, but I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s too
decides to re-measure me compare it to the original measurements
we took for the first socket. He takes one look at me, and declares
me ‘definitely not in’.
am convinced that my stump is at least twice its normal size. Marco
measures, and then we compare the new notes to the original ones.
Unbelievable. I am smaller. Ever so slightly, but smaller. And this
is not making any sense to me.
says that my residual limb is a bit fleshy, so he takes another
set of measurements. This time, with a tape that is not elasticised
at the end. And the sizes are a bit bigger.
the new plan is to make another socket, use the third measurements
(the bigger ones), decrease them by 5% (I think), and take it from
there. Marco isn’t going to change anything to do with the
ear, but I am slightly appeased with the fact that the new socket’s
ear won’t be so thick.
leave his rooms feeling tired, even though its only an hour’s
And concerned that maybe I have expected too much from Marlo’s
25 August 2005
phone call from Marco (doesn’t this man sleep?), and the new
test socket is ready. I get a couple of things done around the office
and contemplate cancelling today’s appointment. But that would
be silly. So off I go again.
new test socket looks clean and shiny. And the ear doesn’t
look so bad either. The shape of the MAS socket is still a thing
of wonder. So very different to my IC Socket.
on she goes. Nope, not right. On she goes again.
think, “something’s not right”.
say, “it’s too comfortable”.
not tight enough. The ear isn’t digging into me. The front
lip doesn’t hurt. I take a few steps. Where the hell is that
ear?? I cop a quick feel just to check. Yip, it’s there alright.
man, how can this be? I ask Marco to check if I am sitting in deep
enough. He says it’s fine. I feel like I am waiting for Chicken
Licken to run in screaming that the sky is falling. Or something.
is almost perfect. This is good. This is, like, WAY good. This could
be it. This could very well be IT!
sit down to do the cross legged thing and I manage to get right
down to the floor. Both legs flat. But I feel that the socket has
moved, and when I get up the socket fit is not right again.
helps me to don the socket once more, and he pulls me into the socket
this time. I can feel that I go in deeper than before, and when
I walk now, I can feel the ear, or is it the shelf. I feel something,
but it doesn’t hurt. And it doesn’t dig up into me either.
It’s just there. Barely.
Marco has made the top of the socket wider, it no longer feels like
the MAS is hanging on to me like a rabid animal. I have a very graphic
imagination, and that was the exact image that flashed through my
mind when I pictured the socket (between the ear and the hip) latching
onto my bum.
I am absolutely ready to take this socket home today.
stop off at the mall and buy myself a bottle of KWV. I think I shall
make a few toasts tonight, and one of them shall be to Marco, and
Marlo’s Marvelous Mas!
Script : It is now 9pm and I have done a good deal of sitting
at my desk today. The ear is behaving and has lost its rock-like
qualities. I can sit, I can plop, and best of all, I can slouch!
to MAS Diary - September