Ok, first, I have had SERIOUS writer’s block! Which, in a sense, is probably not a bad thing for someone who writes a blog about learning to live and laugh as an amputee. It means that life has been uneventful (at least as far as the amputation goes). However, it is not fair to my readers, especially those of you who have been with me since the beginning. I have tossed around ideas, but nothing really stuck out and I kept slacking….until Tuesday. I went into the Prosthetist and met a woman in the parking lot. She and I have met via email, but never in person. I was THRILLED to bump into her! I wrote about her on May 5, 2012 in “Introducing Cupcake”. Scooter is a 70+, spry and hysterical woman, who also happens to have a residual limb named “Cupcake”! She told me she noticed it had been a long time since I had written. She told me she kept checking but there was nothing new. She also called me out on my last blog being a re-run of a past blog. I decided I better get my butt in gear and WRITE. I did not want to upset Scooter or Cupcake! So here it is!
I have noticed on a lot of interactive amputee support websites, the words, “look for a new Prosthetist” are thrown around a lot. Of course, there are times when a new Prosthetist is your best….or only choice, but I think too often, we jump the gun. Our care is not something the Prosthetist should bear alone. He/She needs our participation in order to properly do his/her job.
I have heard people say, “my Prosthetist didn’t give me any options” or “my Prosthetist didn’t tell me that” or “my socket doesn’t fit right” and the list goes on. My question is, how involved did YOU get? Did you ask what your options were? Did you ask questions? Did you give the Prosthetist a list of what you wanted and didn’t want? Did you take your time with the test socket and insist on changes? Or did you just sit back, complacent, and expect your Prosthetist to read your mind?
Don’t get me wrong. If your Prosthetist tells you that you “have to” get a certain product and doesn’t give you any other options or does not listen to you, then yes, you may want to find someone else. If you tell your Prosthetist that you are in pain or having issues with your prosthesis and they tell you “that is just how it is”, then yes, find someone else. But if you are not interacting and participating with him/her or being a little demanding, your issues are just as much your fault.
Here is an example. I got a new socket a while back. It just never seemed right. I had multiple issues including the fit, pain and the prosthesis making odd noises. My Prosthetist, Rich, tried multiple techniques to fix it and finally, in December, instead of settling or giving up, we decided to just start over with a new one. I have been wearing a test socket since January. Everytime I would say, “we still haven’t gotten it right”, I would hear from friends and other amputees, “maybe it is time to find a new Prosthetist”. My response, “NO WAY!” Rich LISTENS to me. He is willing to keep trying until I am 110% happy. That is NOT a Prosthetist you toss away. If your Prosthetist decides to give up and says, “there is nothing more we can do”….that one needs to be traded.
Part of my pain issue is due to a neuroma, which has nothing to do with Rich or my prosthetic. Instead of telling me it was not something he could help me with and I should see a surgeon, Rich made it his mission to design a socket that did not press on the neuroma and was more comfortable for me, so I could avoid surgery. Guess what? He did it. But I had to help. I had to be insistent. I had to put my fears, feelings and frustrations into words. I had to believe that “good enough” was NOT good enough for me. I had to be aware of my body, where the pain was and what it felt like. I had to put all of these into words to explain to Rich what I was dealing with, so he could help me.
Friends, this goes for any medical provider. They do not know how you feel unless you tell them. Most professionals are in the medical field because they want to help people. However, in order for them to help you, you must help yourself first. No one will ever be a better advocate for you than YOU. Just because something hasn’t been done, does not necessarily mean it CAN’T be done.
As I shared in “The First Four Months”, I wanted a great ankle, that moved like a regular foot, making walking look more natural. I decided on the MotionFoot. There was only one issue. I was insistent on a split toe so I could wear flip-flops. It was not something I was willing to give up. This ankle was not designed with a split toe and I was told I would have to choose between split toe OR the MotionFoot. I said that was not acceptable. Rich, being a great Prosthetist, agreed and contacted the company. He said, “what will it hurt?” Imagine our surprise when they said they had tossed around the idea of designing one with a split toe. They said if we provided them with a foot shell I liked, they would make a foot for it. So here I am, with EXACTLY what I wanted, because I asked and I have a Prosthetist that listened.
So is it time to make a change with your Prosthetist? That is entirely up to you. But before you make the decision, ask yourself, “Am I being as involved as I should be?” The answer may surprise you.
Thank you for your patience with my writer’s block. I am always open to suggestions! Send me your ideas!
And as always, thank you for allowing me to be part of your day!