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Mas Socket Diaries - SEPTEMBER 2005

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Thursday 01 September 2005

Happy Spring Day! And I am running around with all the allergies that come with the end of winter and the fresh buds of a new season.

The new socket is behaving quite well. It has its moments, as do I, and generally most discomforts are rectified by re-donning the leg. I have been able to wear the leg for quite long periods at a time. There have been no blisters and no bruising. The ear only gives me trouble when I'm not positioned correctly in the socket, otherwise it has been relatively unobtrusive.

This test socket came with a slight flaw in the form of a hairline crack running down the outer length. Initially I was able to halt the suction loss with some carefully placed tape, but the other day, the crack deepened and I am finding that after a couple of hours, the leg needs to be put on again as it starts to feel very loose.

I know that I am running the risk of landing on my nose as the test socket material is very brittle and can quite easily shatter, but I am going to try and hold out until at least next week. Then Marco will make another test socket and fingers crossed, it may well be the last one.

I was battling with quite a tight ring of pressure around the bottom of my stump, but it seems to have eased considerably now. Only question is - is it because of the crack in the socket, or am I really getting used to it? Another problem that the crack may be responsible for is that I seem to be turning in the socket ever so slightly after wearing it for a while. The new test socket should sort these things out either way.

I am also sitting quite comfortably.

Marco is probably going to have a fit when he finds out that I never told him about the crack getting worse. Quite frankly, I think he has other things to worry about at the moment, one of them being that of becoming a first time DADDY today!


Anyway, a huge thanks to everyone who responded to my frantic plea on how to fix a cracked test socket on my own just so that it would hold for a while. At the moment, duct tape is my new super-hero!

All in all I am very happy with this test socket at the moment and full of the joys of Spring.


Wednesday 07 September 2005

Well, pffftttt!

This weekend didn’t go too well with the duct-taped socket. I really battled on Sunday. I bottomed out and really knocked the hell out of my leg. I've done something really nasty to my back as well and I wonder if it's because I was favouring the prosthesis. Marco suggested I see a chiropractor. Quite frankly I would rather stick needles in my eye.

Anyway, went back to Marco today and left the MAS socket there. He will make a new test socket, with a few changes (make it a bit longer and bring in the side around my hip a bit). He looked at the ear and said “I wonder if I need to make it a bit longer…”. I don’t know if he was kidding. I nearly collapsed.

So I am back on my IC socket after a week of walking with the MAS. Marco wanted to know what it felt like. I said, “like I am wearing a tree stump”. Jeez – this IC Socket really comes high up and feels SO big. The MAS doesn’t feel like it is swallowing my stump. I think I like it better.

I also find that the IC Socket grips the top half of my thigh, where the MAS locks onto the bottom half very close to the end of my stump. Very different.

I will probably have the new test socket by the end of the week. We are hoping that it will be the last.

And I saw little Nina du Plooy today. What a beautiful baby!

Friday 09 September 2005

Went back to Marco today, very hopeful that I would be fitting the last test socket and all would be well.

It seems we have got the top fit right, or as far as Marco can see and I can feel, it’s good. However, after walking up and down (yeah yeah Sergeant Marco), I felt the socket pushing at the bottom on the outside of my stump. Almost like I wasn’t standing straight into the socket. And it started to hurt quite a bit. I really wanted to take the socket home, so we changed the alignment a zillion times, and eventually even tried a different knee, but it didn’t quite work.

Marco asked if I wanted to take it home and try to walk through it. As much as I wanted to say ‘yes’, I didn’t think I would be able to do it. I had a lovely red pressure mark on my leg that was more painful than I wanted to admit.

And so……………..much to my dismay and horror………………Marco chopped my new test MAS socket IN HALF! Eish, my aching nerves. We recast the bottom of the socket, and Marco is going to make another socket using the same top measurements, and new bottom ones.

Will be going back next week to try, try again.

Thursday 15 September 2005

What blue week emotionally. I feel like I could curl up and sleep for the next few months. A friend of ours was killed in a biking accident on Sunday morning. He was so young, only 26 years old. It's knocked me back a few steps and got me thinking about how closely related life and death actually are. On one hand you have a life snatched away, and on the other, a new life comes into the world and brings such joy and happiness. Which means that deep sadness and great joy are similarly intertwined, hand in hand, evil but necessary twins. My head won't let me leave this philosophical place and I begin to understand how Tibetan monks can retreat from everything and simply PONDER for years.

Well, Tibet is out of the question for me, so I do my pondering on the long drive through to Marco's offices. I don't feel like this today. I am too tired.

I get to Marco at around 1.15pm and am introduced to yet another shiny new test socket. I don it, and it feels ok. The tight ring of pressure that I felt around the bottom of the socket has evened out a bit and is now more evenly distributed over most of the socket. I am still bothered by pressure at the bottom, so Marco has to take off the adaptor, bend it out, bond the adaptor back to the socket, and wait for it to dry. Takes a while.

And we try again. The ear is behaving, I am not hitting the bottom of the socket, but that damn spot, kind of at the bottom and behind the end of my stump, is still giving me trouble. Almost like it is catching a nerve. I tell Marco that it's sending shooting pains down into my calf that's not there. And I don't like it.

So it's off with the adaptor, bend some more out, bond the adaptor back to the socket, and wait - again. This time Marco puts on a "Best of Mr Bean" video for me to watch. I think it's the first time I laugh the whole week. Properly. British comedy is just the best.

And finally Marco is back with the socket. He puts Mr Bean off. Mmmm. I was enjoying that. And now the socket is feeling better. But getting the damn thing on is a feat unto itself. What a job. I think I have a sprained thumb from all the tugging and pulling. I know that Marco tries not to laugh when I tell him this. He's too kind for that. But in sympathy of my sprained thumb, Marco does the pulling and tugging on my behalf today.

Today we spend a lot of time working with the alignment. I feel like I am standing more straight into the socket, but it could be better. I don't think I am one of the most pleasant people to be around today, and am finding it difficult to articulate what's going on inside the socket. Also making it harder to 'feel' the MAS, is the fact that I have just spent quite some time in the old Ischial socket.

Eventually, after three and half hours, we decide that perhaps I should take this thing home and try to figure it out that way. Nothing is really hurting, and I have reached that point where Marco says "how does it feel?" and I am saying "I just don't know". I look down and see that the socket is slightly forward, looks almost as if I am standing with the knee bent. Marco says he can change it, but I am halfway out the door, and I have had enough for one day.

Driving home, the ear starts to feel a bit like a rock again. In the evening I just can't get comfortable. And I am not liking it. I'm fairly sure that I am 'in' properly, but I go and re-don the leg. Wouldn't you know! It feels 100 times better. (The socket fit, not my thumb). The comfort lasts for a while, and then the leg irritates me again. I think perhaps I am perspiring inside this plastic. The alignment feels out, the ear nails me - I am misery personified.

I yank it off and go to bed.

Saturday 17 September 2005

Yesterday went well with the leg for a while. I donned the leg in the morning and spent a few hours walking and sitting in a bit of discomfort, convinced that the alignment was wrong, the socket was wrong and maybe Marlo Ortiz isn't that fantastic.

Eventually went and re-donned the leg. Man, I've got to get little Post It notes up all over the place to remind me that IF YOU PUT IT ON WRONG, IT'S GONNA HURT. Ok, so the leg is not so bad if you put it on right. Duh! I definitely think that perspiration is a major issue with me and this new socket, because last night I redonned it three times when it started to hurt, and each time it felt better. I think I may be losing suction every now and then as well.

This morning the fit was great. I still think the alignment is a bit off, but it's something I can work through until I see Marco again. I've been sitting at my desk for about 3 hours now, and I don't think the MAS likes to sit for too long. Either that, or I've lost some suction, or I'm sweating a bit again, but it has moved.

I'm going to re-don the leg now, and feel a whole lot better (I stuck a Post It on my computer).

Tuesday 27 September 2005

Ok, so I have been battling a bit with this new MAS : getting it on comfortably in the morning and feeling like I'm floating on the leg and the ear. Nice. But not for long. A few hours later the ear starts to hurt a bit. Can't get comfortable. Can't sit right. So I've been doing the off-on thing for the last nine or ten days, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong. I don't want to go back to Marco and just say OW! I want to be able to say THIS is where it hurts and this is WHY it hurts so he knows WHERE to fix it. I have felt a little unstable as well. I'm hoping it's just the alignment.

I dunno. I landed up going to Marco today and the more I tried to explain it, the more confused I made myself (and him too probably). I'm not even sure anymore where the ear is supposed to go. One place when I stand, another place when I sit. I don't get it. Neither does Marco. I feel like all I've managed to do is say OW.

Marco measures the angle of the ear, and then he measures the angle of my ischial ramus. There is a 5 to 7 degree difference. Marco figures out that when the leg is on, the ear is not cupping or incapsulating the ischial ramus properly. This may be why I feel unstable - the ear's not doing its job holding onto me. And it could be a bit too far back, and it could be the angle that's slightly out. It's sure not the alignment - cause we tweak and tweak and tweak...to no avail.

Marco flares the ear out a bit - YIKES no man. Now I'm hitting the bottom and the ear is doing nasty things around my butt - like when we first met. A little too close for comfort my friend.

I can see Marco looking at me with one eye. He does that when he's going to make me do something unpleasant. He says "shall we?" I say "well are you ready to give up?" He shakes his head. I say "me neither."

Sigh. Out comes the bucket of water, out come the bandages, on go the stockings...EWWW...we're making another mould. Damned ear. The rest of the socket is way okay. I think. I don't know if I'm Ally or Sally at this point.

Three hours later and I am on my way home again, wearing the old Ischial Containment socket. I have definitely done a bit of shrinking while wearing the MAS, I can feel the bottom of this socket properly.

To quote Marco : They say that money is the root of all evil. They're wrong. The ischial ramus is the root of all evil!

Clever man, Marco....can't argue with that!

Go to MAS Diary - October






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Disability sport in South Africa DISSA

THE ANGRY GIMP Awesome must read site!

Marco Du Plooy My Pretoria based prosthetist

Sleeve Art by Fred's Legs

Employment Guidelines from SA Dept of Labour for PWD's & employers

Amputee Resource - Al Pike CP

MAS Socket - information

Fly SA - Paragliding

Co LeDahu - Personal Website

Jam Ally Entertainment - where Ally works

Eric Morse - Para-sport photographer & friend (Canada)