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Mas Socket Diaries - OCTOBER 2005

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Wednesday 12 October 2005

Well, in case anyone has wondered about the break in between MAS fittings, I took off for a week into the African bush and Mozambique. So awesome. Although South Africa still has a LONG way to go when it comes to catering for disabled people. I am fairly mobile, but very aware of mobility issues for people a bit worse off than I am. In fact, I visited the most beautiful town while away. One look at the WHOLE place and I realised that it is COMPLETELY wheelchair unfriendly. I mean, like everything. So, if anyone who is slightly ambulatory challenged, please give Pilgrim's Rest a wide berth. Skip it completely. Ngwenya Lodge near Komatipoort isn't much better either (booked through RCI - the time share people in Africa). But that, as they say, is another story.

So, nothing has been done about the MAS since the end of September. A whole week with no fittings. Double holiday!!

Today Marco phoned me. He said "I've got good news and I've got bad news". Oh crap! Who likes to hear that? And honestly folk, what do you want to hear first? Gimme the.....erm...gimme the....erm, oh shyte, just spit it all out at once why don't you!

I got the good news first.

I AM GOING TO BE A WOMAN WITH A ICEROSS SEAL-IN LINER !!!!! This has always been something that I avoided like the plague. Like a wheelchair user should avoid Pilgrim's Rest. For different reasons though, albeit with the same passion I would imagine. A silicone liner in SA is an unimaginable additional expense to a prosthetic limb. For someone like me anyway, who doesn't have 3rd party or government insurance & compensation, or a medical aid who will step out and offer it. Even though it is purportedly an immeasurable aid to a more comfortable fit, and more forgiving than the hard shell of a fibre glass socket.

There was no way in hell I was going to try something that would make my life easier, and at the end of the day, I could not afford. Worse than window shopping. Another amputee told me that it was like driving a Merc in comparison to a Toyota. No thanks, not me. I don't need to add any more discontent to my life. I don't want to know what it's like to eat cake when my staple diet is bread. What's the point?

Hehehehe (these extra smiles are adding years to my face), I am getting a silicone liner. God is smiling on me. It is better than sunshine. And, dammit, there are SO few people I can tell because they are able bodied and have NO idea what this means. Marco made me a good offer. He is a saint.

Marco du Plooy is unable to advertise his services. Legal BS and red tape. I don't know why. It's archaic, it's shitty, it's unfair, and quite frankly it gets my back up and my claws out. As an amputee, how the hell do you go about finding a prosthetist who is up to date with the latest trends? Who is qualified to make you any number of different sockets? Who still treats the making of an individual false appendage as an ART, and is passionate about getting you walking, and walking properly? Who gives a damn about your comfort, your activity level, your financial status (like not selling you the most expensive limb so he can make a quick buck), and YOU as a person?? Certainly not in the yellow pages. So then WHERE? I don't know. He isn't allowed to let you know. At least, not in the places where 'normal' people would think to look. If plastic surgeons can advertise in glamour mags that they can make you years younger with the flick of a scalpel, why then not Marco advertising that he can get you walking and functioning in an able bodied society? And in my humble opinion, this is by far and away MORE IMPORTANT!!!!!!!

I don't give a continental about medical ethics and the little Boards 'they' form when it comes to this. At the end of the day, it's US who have the absolute RIGHT to be able to choose the most competent prosthetic person available. Then give us the damn information! Why shouldn't Marco du Plooy be able to advertise the fact that he is one of the few qualified MAS Socket builders? Why can't he advertise that he is a certified C-Leg provider? Give me strength!

OK - I am officially off my soap box. For now anyway. There's more to come, make no mistake.

Where was I? Oh yes....the bad news.......

My heart sank.

My first thought was....oh heck, we're giving up on the MAS. I'm not ready for that yet. I want one. I know I complain, I know I'm a wuss, I know I'm so knock-kneed that I give Marco nightmares....please, let's not give up yet, I can change....

Marco : "We're going to have to make another mould".

Bugger, he knows me too well. But this time I am there like a bear for the next plaster of paris experience. And I shan't huff and puff my way through it. Or at least, I'll try not to.

God is smiling on me. And it feels better than sunshine.

Monday 17 October 2005

Back to Marco today, feeling quite good about the visit and looking forward to meeting my liner.

It's unbelievable that this little silicone sleeve costs around R8000. Marco says that just looking at it won't help justify the cost. He says that after wearing it for a year, then it will start to make sense.

We have to remeasure. What a thing. Tape measures, calipers, rulers, thingeys that measure angles (and pinch your skin if you're not careful). Marco measures, and remeasures. And then we do another couple of measurements just to be sure.

Well, mould making time, sigh. But this time, the plaster of paris goes on over the liner, so it really doesn't feel as bad as usual.

The socket is going to be bigger than before, to accommodate the liner. The girl side of my brain worries a little that I may have to shop for a larger size jeans.

Not a bad day - I am out of there in 1 hour.

Thursday 20 October 2005

I wake up with a smile on my face realising that I am going for my first test socket with my liner. I have visions of putting on the test socket and skipping into the sunset.

Well, not quite. There are a couple of changes to be made and they're a bit too much to change on the test socket. Marco will make a new test socket.

The liner feels strange on my leg. Not unpleasant though.

Now here is my absolute delight. Remember how I battled to pull the other test sockets on? And I even sprained my thumb (YES I DID)? This little baby slides on - just like that! I kid you not. And it gets better...it just slides off! Unbelievable.

And when it's on, it stays put. No moving around. Marco hangs onto the end of the socket and tries to pull it off. I hang onto the chair and try not to fall off. The socket doesn't budge.

I am in love with my liner. Good line for a country song don'tcha think? I skip off into the sunset in old faithfull. It's a good day.

Tuesday 25 October 2005

Back off to Marco to try out the new test socket. I am ready to take it home today, liner and all.

Unfortunately today is not the day for skipping off into the sunset with the MAS. Three hours of tweaking and aligning and pondering have left Marco with no alternative but to make yet another test socket. The socket is slightly too small. I'm not getting into it properly, so the ear isn't doing it's job.

However, the liner is behaving well. Marco and I have a little 'moment' and he says to me : "Well Ally, you may not be able to walk in the leg, but you've got good suspension". I have to laugh. Good observation doc.

Ah well, I leave slightly disappointed because I'm not wearing the MAS home. But I'll be back tomorrow....

Wednesday 26 October 2005

Feeling a bit tired, battling to keep my business going and get all the Marco visits in, but I am pretty sure that today is the day. Yip, today I will get to take home the new socket.

The first thing I notice about the MAS and the ear, is that I am finding it a bit hard to feel exactly where the ear should be going. The liner is getting in the way I think. And I'm feeling a bit confused. I ask Marco to check every time I don the socket because I'm not sure.

And the ear feels very long today. Marco says it could be because of the new way I am donning the socket. Before, I would "pull" my leg and all the excess skin into the socket. Now, I am "pushing" the limb into the socket - so perhaps the ear feels more intrusive because there's more skin sitting outside the socket. It kind of makes sense to me. I'm willing to work with that theory for the moment.

I get all the way into the socket today, and I am hitting the bottom on the outside of my stump again (that old knock-kneed story). The shelf just under the ear gives me a bit of trouble so Marco moves it slightly down.

I really don't know how he manages it (sneaky) but Marco gets me to agree to go and see a physiotherapist to get strengthening exercises for my residual limb. If I build up the right muscles, I may overcome this adduction problem.

Ok, well I am leaving on old faithfull again today. Marco will make some changes to the test socket and I will come back on Friday afternoon.

As I leave, Marco phones his physiotherapist to make an appointment for me on Friday. He's busy. What a shame.

Friday 27 October 2005

Ok - back again. Marco agrees to see me after hours as my day runs to hell. I get there at about 7pm and I'm ready to try this new socket. I think.

I battle to get into the socket with the liner. More so than usual. I feel as big as a house. But I'm not really. Am I?

I walk up and down, and up and down, and I sink a bit further into the thing, but it feels so tight. I'm hot and bothered. I think Marco might be as well. It's ok. But that's all. Just ok. No great shakes.

So I sit down. And that's enough for today. Bloody ear nails me again. What is it with the damn ear? I ask Marco if I should maybe try to sit down more gently, more like a lady, less slouching. He feels where the ear is nailing me and he decides that it's not going to work. Something is wrong.

We call it a day.


Go to MAS Socket Diaries NOVEMBER 2005















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To be or not to be by Kimberley Barreda

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)