Get low

Well… No chemo yet! My counts have been pretty low all week. In my last post I said that we might be starting chemo on Monday, but after being tested on both Monday and Thursday, my platelets have not recovered enough to get back on chemo. Basically my body is just worn out. I like to say that we have beaten it into submission. Nothing is so low that it causes concern, but everything is still too low to start another round of chemo. So basically we have just been in limbo and are going back in on Monday for another check. If my counts are still low after this next check then we are going to sit down with Dr. Rosen and Adrienne and discuss what they think we should do next.

On Monday we also had my first fitting for my prosthesis! My prosthetist, Ryan, made a hard plastic mold as a test size for my future socket, and I took the first few steps that I have taken since February 24th! The mold needed some serious adjustments, so it was hard to walk comfortably, but it was exciting to get the process started. Ryan took measurements and notes on where the mold needed to be altered to get a better fit and we went back in on Wednesday to try a new mold with his changes. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was MUCH better and I was able to actually take some decent steps on it! I walked up and down the hall for a while and we figured out where there needed to be some more adjustments to the mold and how the leg and foot should be positioned, etc.

Walking on a prosthetic leg is kind of a weird thing to get used to, but I am so excited to get up and moving that I find it to be a lot of fun! With the C-Leg you create a setting that measures the pressure you exert as you push off of the toe to take a step. When the right amount of pressure is exerted on the toe, the knee releases and swings through to take a step forward. You have to kind of lift your hip as this happens or the toe of your shoe catches the ground and stops. That’s when you are happy you haven’t gotten rid of the crutches quite yet! Haha. I still definitely have a lot to get used to with regards to walking correctly, but Ryan said that my progress over our first two sessions has been incredible. I asked how long it generally takes to get up and walking well on a new prosthesis and he said that it really depends on the person, but that where I was at the end of my second day is where a lot of his clients are after a month or two of physical therapy and training. He said that with a lot of people he answers my question in a discussion of months, but with how it looks like I’m progressing it might be more of a discussion of hours!

We have another appointment with Ryan this coming Monday, when I will actually get my first socket rather than the hard plastic molds we have used during our first two appointments. For anyone who might not know how this works (as I certainly did not before a week ago!), here is a brief rundown on how the prosthetic attaches to your leg.

First I take a “liner” that has a gel-like plastic interior and an exterior that has a texture like a heavy duty ace bandage. I flip it inside out and then kind of roll it up my leg. It is extremely tight so that it doesn’t slip or shift when it is on. You screw a velcro strap onto the bottom of the liner. Next you pull that strap through a small hole in the bottom of the “socket” that I have been talking about. It is actually a plastic mold that also fits tightly over your leg. You pull the strap up and through a ring on the outside of the socket and then velcro it back to itself. This keeps you strapped into the socket and pulled down tight to the bottom of the socket, ensuring a good fit. The C-Leg is attached to the bottom of the socket, so once the socket is strapped to the liner you are ready to stand up and go!

It’s a pretty quick and easy process, but ensuring the good socket fit is the tricky part. Your leg will change size as you gain and lose weight and this can affect a good fit. You want your leg to fit into the socket as perfectly as possible so that when you make a small move your prosthesis responds without any wasted movement. Walking with a prosthesis already requires more energy than normal, so you don’t want to waste more energy than necessary trying to move the leg with a bad socket fit. There are different ways to attach a socket, but this is the only way I know about so far. I’m sure I’ll learn about the others in time.

Ashley came up on Tuesday, so she went with us to the Wednesday fitting and got to see me really start to walk for the first time. Her visit has actually worked out perfectly with the chemo delays and the prosthesis advancements! She will be up here through Wednesday, so she will get to see the actual socket when we get it on Monday and the arrival of my C-Leg as well! (The one in the pictures is an older model leg used for fitting purposes). This visit will probably be her last trip up here because I think we’ll probably be heading home before too long! Everything relating to the cancer is starting to wind down, but at the same time it feels like things are just getting started too. It’s an interesting time to say the least!

I’ll post another update after the prosthesis fitting on Monday. I’m not sure about how the process works exactly, but hopefully I’ll get to bring my leg home soon and really get to work mastering that thing!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter!

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3 Responses to Get low

  1. Brucerugby79 says:

    Rob hope you have a great Easter-I realize it may be down the road but when you make it to winston to see a game-I won’t forget I owe you a super Ribeye
    Bruce Lauriault
    Thank you for the inspiration your battle has given me

  2. Bob and Paula Parris says:

    Happy easter, Rob, from Antwerp, Belgium (not Atlanta owing to a trip arranged by your Aunt Joan)! The prosthetic looks amazing. Hope your platelets improve soon–we’ll keep praying.

  3. peggy redfern says:

    It’s so exciting to read about your progress!
    I’m glad you and Ashley are spending time together.

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