Go on, say hello - she won't bite!
Stuey turned up at my place yesterday, looking for a good home. Stuey also has a joey in her pouch but I don't have a name for the young one just yet.
Stuey came my way courtesy of a fellow competitor who happened to win a World Title at the world masters track champs. This kind hearted Victorian suggested the roo might make a good daily reminder to me of a goal to ride at next year's championships. What a good idea. I'll just have to find a good place for Stuey to hop around. Just watch out for the magpies round here Stu.
You'll also notice Stuey has a medal around her neck - that's a UCI world champs medal. You see Stuey was one of a special breed of kangaroo that was waiting for the day to become the favourite icon in households around the world.
Stuey's cousins are now all over the world in Germany, Great Britain, the USA, New Zealand, France, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, Japan, Austria, Russia and of course all throughout Australia.
Only other news to report - I walked about 1,000 metres today, still with the aid of crutches, so bit by bit I'm getting stronger. That's seven days after getting my leg so I reckon that's pretty good going. Next goal is to walk unaided. Not sure how long that will take but hoping for weeks and not months.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Posted by Alex Simmons at 7:52 pm
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thought I'd share a couple of things.....
Firstly, my new leg that I picked up last Wednesday. Here's a pic for you.
This is the bog standard govt. issue prosthetic that will serve me in these inital months. It's such a lovely shade of pink! The top part will probably need replacing as my leg stump changes shape and size with time and use.
In the meantime, I manage the fluctuations in size by using various numbers of "socks". Leg stumps tends to shrink as the day goes on, so the need to add more socks to keep the fitting very snug.
Another really important thing to be done is to name the bugger! You know, "Larry the Leg" or "Cruncher #1" or something much more creative or funny.
Any ideas and suggestions gratefully accepted. The winning entry might even get a prize (or most likely a thank you and a laugh).
Anyway, it's not much good sitting over there by itself, so I took [insert clever new name]
My walk was about 500 meters I suppose, but that's more than I could do this time last week when I couldn't walk at all!
I can also stand up at the bathroom sink to have a shave and brush my teeth, which sounds like a novelty but is just one of those little things you forget about doing easily when able bodied.
As it stands, the leg and the supplies that go with it cost me a $200 contribution with the government's Artifical Limb Service funding the rest of the >$3,000 cost. That will have to be repaid though should I receive any compensation.
My problem then became - how do you take a photo of your own camera? Well I had to cheat of course by taking a pic of the photo on the box it came in. I suppose I could have borrwed someone else's or stood in front of a mirror!
So there it is. An overly generous gift but I am very grateful as I didn't have a digital camera before and haven't dug the old film based SLR out for many years.
Posted by Alex Simmons at 4:19 pm
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The astute reader would have noticed a small item in a recent post called Bureaucracy 101, where I outlined the tale of obtaining a Mobility Parking Card from the Motor Registry.
Well today I have another funny tale to tell. More of that in a tic.
Today was a pretty important day. I went to the amputee clinic and received my first prosthetic leg. I have taken my first somewhat tentative steps although I still need to use the crutches for support when bearing weight on the "new" leg. I can stand unaided, which is a real novelty, even swinging my hips around in a little jig!
The knee is a little sore in motion and I'm a little awkward as you would expect, my leg has not borne any weight for 7 months and let's face it - it got smashed up pretty badly in my accident.
I'm off to the the rehab ward at the Hospital now to do some training on using the leg. I'll be learning all about things like using these special socks to adjust my fitting, how to walk properly with the leg, exercises to try etc. All a whole set of new sensations to learn and adjust to.
So what about that funny tale?
Well today, of all days, being the day I got my first prosthetic leg, was also the day the local Council decided it would rip up the footpath outside the front of my home and make it a real bastard to walk across for even the able bodied! They'll be installing a new one in the next day or so!
I suppose that's irony.
Posted by Alex Simmons at 1:49 pm
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Methods of Estimating Funtional Threshold Power:
Further update on PMC during season and pre-race build:
Using the PMC to retrospectively analyse an previous season and learn from training/planning mistakes:
Using the PMC to plan a comeback to racing (parts I & II):
Use of the PMC to predict rider performance in a Team Time Trial:
Monday, October 22, 2007
Over the last few weeks I’ve had a lot of trips to the hospital for various bone and leg scans (three different types!) as well as sessions with Infectious Diseases Docs, prosthetics people, Rehab Doc and my GP. Good news is that the leg scans are much improved on previous ones and the Infectious Diseases Docs have suggested I stop taking the antibiotics for the time being (yay!). Not quite out of the infection woods yet - I will have another set of scans in 4-6 weeks to ensure I am in the clear and will continue with blood tests in the meantime just to be sure nothing flares up.
I’ve also dropped or lowered several other medications, just down to two now.
I go into the amputee clinic this week to have my first prosthetic leg fitted and then after that go back to rehab ward at the hospital to learn how to walk again. I don’t know how long or how many sessions will be required nor what bumps in the road I’ll face along the way (everyone is different) but it’ll likely be a process of gains with some set backs along the way. Still, the days I can mostly do stuff without the crutches will be marvellous.
One example of set back – although seemingly small – the elastic wrap I have on to shape my stump must have been a little tight one day and rubbed some skin off my shin (I can’t feel that part– no nerves there at the moment). I don’t think you can wear a prosthetic when that happens – due to risk of infection. Hopefully I’ll still get to try on my new leg.
The first leg will last 2-3 months, then I get another type of fitting which will also probably last about 3 months before needing replacement. All due to the stump changing shape and size over time.
I managed to take myself out to the velodrome to watch some of the World Masters Track Champs last week. A bittersweet experience, good racing, nice atmosphere but hard watching and not participating. Lots of people from around the world and Australia said hi, which was cool. Sorry if I didn't get to catch up with some. I pretty stuffed just lugging myself around on the crutches and my back was not agreeing with me so I gave the final days a miss.
I’m still working with my GP on a return to work plan. He is not keen for me to start just yet, he wants me to be settled on the leg first and is keeping an eye on the mental side of things. Broadly I am positive and going well (but we all have out moments, don’t we?). It’s all taking longer than I thought but I am grateful for the support I get from everyone.
It took three trips to the RTA to get my disabled parking card.
Apparently dropping into the Motor Registry with half your leg missing along with the correct RTA form signed by a Doctor to say that you have half your leg missing, is insufficient evidence that you have half your leg missing and could possibly be eligible for a disabled parking card.
I have a new kitchen!! Aside from a few finishing touches (tiling of splashbacks, range hood ventilation pipe and painting!) it’s all but done. The new dishwasher, oven and stove have been put through their paces over the last few days. Other renovation marvels continue. The irony of building an attic that I can’t at the moment climb up to see hasn’t escaped me either!!
House next door sold at auction on the weekend and, well, I was gob-smacked by the price. Glad I bought when I did, no way I could do that nowdays.
Posted by Alex Simmons at 8:24 pm
Saturday, October 13, 2007
OK, it’s been a few weeks again, so what’s new since last time? Well apart from giving Mum a break so she could go home and do some stuff for herself for a while and having my brother stay for a week and a half to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, the last few weeks have been fairly busy, mostly with trips to the doctors and staff at the hospital as an outpatient and some progress with my house renovations. I had a session with the rehab Doctor and met my prosthetics guy for the first time. We discussed my current situation and made a decision on the type of leg I will use for the first few months. A script was written for the leg and sent to the government for funding approval.
I then had a meeting with the Doctors at the infectious diseases unit to discuss my progress in dealing with the MSRA infection I picked up while in hospital. It would appear I’m doing well based on simple examination of the leg and blood test results, however some scans are needed to properly assess the infection status. This will determine whether I can stop taking the drugs and then just monitor my status with regular blood tests, or possibly at the other end of the spectrum require lifetime medication and maybe even another surgery to remove the metal plate in my leg. I sure hope not the latter two. I’ve had enough time in the hospital bed thanks very much!
The little bastard MSRA:
So it was back to the hospital for three days this last week for these various scans. First was a normal bone scan on Monday, then one using a technetium isotope to look for infection hot spots. A few “warm areas” were seen but these were inconclusive, so it was back on Wednesday for another irradiated white cell scan. I’ve had this scan twice before and described it in this post. That was then followed by a sodium colloid scan on Friday, which is designed to isolate out real hot spots from those that are just due to bone marrow left stranded after the amputation surgery. As yet I don’t have the full results. There is one more potential scan they may require – a gallium scan but hopefully not.
Meanwhile, the government funding approval for my prosthetic came through, so I made a visit to the artificial limb clinic to be sized up for my first leg. That involved a few things, a pencil line around my right foot, presumably to match the other side, leaving a good pair of my walking/running shoes with them and taking a cast of my stump with key positions marked. George (the prosthetic specialist) also showed me the different systems, including his own funky carbon and titanium model with fully self-controlled vacuum system to keep the leg on nice ‘n’ snug. I learned that this first leg may not last long (a few months maybe), as my stump will change form significantly and that I will change to a different style of fitting next time. Even then I may need a third leg fitting in six months.
So, the prosthetic is currently under construction and I’ll be trying it out in about two weeks. It’ll be the bog standard govt issue leg but given the short useable life span of this first leg, no point wasting money on some fancy gear. Bit like buying your first bike I suppose.
The worst part about all this of course has been the time it all takes. It’s now more than six months since my accident and I’m not walking yet. The bike will be many more months away yet, so patience is key. I still get pretty tired, getting about on the crutches is certainly not ideal and combined with my lack of symmetry now it completely buggers my lower back – sometimes getting up is quite painful. Early nights and often lie down rests during the day are needed to relieve this.
Then of course I have to start losing weight, really hard when you can’t exactly do much exercise.
One other thing I did amongst the less interesting stuff (like trips to the bank and chemist) was to test drive a car. You see my nice Subaru Impreza is pretty useless to me now since I have no left foot in order to operate a clutch. I really like that car but I have to be rid of it. So while I did test drive the new model Impreza with an auto transmission, I also tried the VW Golf. The Golf’s six-speed auto transmission was light years ahead of the Subaru four-speed offering and for that reason alone I’m likely to go for the Golf. Shame for the Subaru – it does everything else well but the four-speed auto transmission lets the motor down.
Anyone want to buy a 2006 Subaru Impreza with low kms and in perfect condition?
Posted by Alex Simmons at 4:14 pm