Saturday, 15 October 2011

New Knee Brace

Today began as usual with my late wake up call from my darling hubby, with my coffee and breakfast.  While still in bed I eat my nutrition bar, a banana and drank my morning coffee and I usually phone Mum and have a chat. This morning Richard decided to grab a chair and visit with me while he worked out his day and told me what he had planned, that being done he left to continue on with his day and leave me to my phone call and breakfast.  Today Mum must have been downstairs with the other residents, I left a message.  Then I decided to touch base with my sister, Pat, had to leave a message there too.  This is my regular Saturday morning, when we don't have be anywhere. 

Today was a little different as I spent time feeling sorry for myself, shedding a few tears, and generally feeling miserable.  What was different?  Today I had to put on my new knee brace myself, unlike yesterday when I received said knee brace.

I guess this should begin with yesterday.  After months of frustration for me and my doctor trying to get me an appointment at the City Hospital Rehabilitation department so I could get the correct papers signed for a new prosthesis. 

Golly this is harder than I thought it would be to write.

My current prosthesis is over eight years old and is in a sorry state and requires replacing.  It takes ages to get an appointment in Saskatoon, an appointment I should have had when I moved back to Saskatchewan in 2008, same as for the Cancer centre, but that's another rant.  Anyway for months my Dr. has tried to get me into the system to get a new leg made.  During all this I have seen an Orthopedic Surgeon about the pain in my other knee (left one) which is causing pain in that hip.  He informs me that I have a detached ligament in my knee.  What is generally called an ACL, you will often hear about professional athletes getting this injury and they get surgery to have it fixed.

I, on the other hand, am not a professional athlete or a teenager (yes they can have the surgery too) but an old lady who is also an amputee, as far as I understand from my Dr., will not be getting the surgery instead I have to get a brace.  Those of you who follow my Facebook page will know that a basic brace does not work on me as my legs bend different from the average person.  I have now waited at least two months to get a brace but once it was determined that I would have to have a custom made one it only took two weeks, yes two weeks.

While I was being measured etc. for the custom brace I was busy chatting as I am prone to do.  I was telling John how I need a new leg, not the one he was measuring for the brace but the other leg.  Oh, I missed stating that where they handle the braces they also make the prosthetics.  So poor John had to hear all about how my leg needed replacing and that I could not get an appointment in Saskatoon for the Rehab. Dr. to fill out the requisition form.  John said he was the wrong person to talk too but he had an idea.

After that I saw Lyle, one of the prosthetists, who checked out my current leg and agreed it was old and not in great shape and he wasn't surprised that I now have an ACL of the good leg, good because it is complete, where as the other one is generally known as a residual limb, part missing.  Lyle heard my story and said he would caste me for a new socket and I told him that I did not have permission for a new leg, he told me not to worry he would work things out. 

I left Saskatoon that day not only measured for a brace that they would bring to Prince Albert on the 14th, but casted for a new socket, and most importantly an appointment with the Rehabilitation Dr. in PA on the 14th.  They fitted me in by using their schedule of appointments, so I could pick up my new brace and as the rehab. Dr. was going to be there too she would see me at the same time.  Talk about people using the back door to help an old lady out.  They pulled more strings than I can even begin to imagine.

Now getting back to today,  I had watched John put the brace on as he explained it to me, and I read the directions on how to put it on this morning, but I couldn't do it, I used our phones to contact Richard in the basement to come and help me.  By the time he got upstairs I was in tears.  It's bad enough being a amputee and having to put on a prosthesis everyday, which of course I'm used to doing considering I've had one since October 2000.   But now I also have to put this knee brace on every day probably for the rest of my life, unless the Orthopedic surgeon decides to do surgery and fix the ligament. 

I start work at 8:00 each week day morning in order to get to work on time I have to get up at 5:30, I can't just get up, jump in the, shower, throw some clothes on do the hair and make up, make lunch, have breakfast and head to the office.  Now on top of  having to put on my prosthesis I also have to put on this brace.  Maybe it shouldn't take all that extra time to get ready but as we get older we get slower and I have to use crutches when I don't have my prosthesis on, so it all takes time.

This knee brace has five straps that have to been tightened in a specific order, so I took a picture of me with the knee brace on... it's not a great picture because I was using the computer camera to do it, so here it is.

Not a great picture you can see that the top part of the brace is angled to compensate the way my knee bends.  The first strap is the lower one which straps in the front, the solid part of the brace is at the back of the calf, then you do the top strap which is behind the thigh,  while your doing those straps you have to ensure the brace is aligned correctly on the knee.  Then you push the side hinges back and tighten the strap behind the lower part of the thigh, the last two straps are on the section below the knee which really has three parts the wider part across the leg is fastened tight and then the front strap and then the back strap.  Now I have to be able to do this all while making sure the hinges on the side of the knee remain in the correct position.

Richard got cross with me because he said I should have made sure that John, the technician, made me put the brace on myself once he had done it and shown me, I didn't ask, and he didn't suggest it.  Now these guys do this all the time the fit people with braces surely they would know to have the client show them that they can put this thing on properly, well he didn't and all I had to go on for Richard to help me was the written instructions and what I could remember yesterday.

It feels right I can't completely straighten my leg, which is good because they do not want me to be able to lock my leg straight as that would cause pain, damage, etc.

So there you have it, a prosthesis on the right leg and know a brace on the left.  If anyone can give me ideas about where I can buy dress pants that are not tapered at the knee and wide enough to accommodate my new contraption let me know.  I have an ugly pair of jeans that I got a long time ago from a jean store that have wide straight legs, but gape at the back when I sit, actually I think they are men's jeans but they seem to work.  I know I have at least one pair of dress pants that should be OK.  Other than that I shall be wearing skirts, which I do most of the time anyway even during the winter.

Thanks for listening, reading... if you made it to the end of this.  I know just as I got used to wearing a prosthesis I shall get used to this but it is the pits, and it may not have happened if I had had a new leg two years ago.


Laura said...

Well....that is a lot to endure. I hope that as you get used to it, things will become easier. It is a new routine...and that takes time. How wonderful the doctor got that appointment for you and hopefully your other leg will be functioning better soon. Big cyber hug....a really big one, tears and all...

Sketti said...


Ok...for jeans, try the jean wearhouse (I've not been there in years) but you should be able to get some wide leg jeans. I still see people wearing them.

My work trousers that I am currently wearing are very loose around the knees (and it's not just because I've lost weight!). I got them from Reitmans and they only cost $40. I wish I was closer so I could take you shopping (and you me...I need some clothes!)

Love you and 'keep yer pecker up!'

Ronnie said...

Thanks Laura. I'm getting used the brace, the knee doesn't really hurt and the pain in my hip is gone. And the socket for my new leg is ready for me to test.

Ronnie said...

Thank you sweetheart... I wish you were closer too it would be great to go clothes shopping together. I think the pair of jeans I have on are from jean wearhouse, the fit terribly around the middle but the leg works over the brace, but I can't roll the leg up to adjust either my prosthesis or the brace... so only work at home;-)