I have just finished up my third day at The Rusk Institute, the rehab facility associated with NYU hospital. We have been making a lot of tweaks to my prosthesis and my socket, trying to get everything perfectly tuned so that I can walk as naturally and as painlessly as possible. Below is a video that my dad took this morning, showing me walking around without my crutches.
I’m obviously still working on perfecting my gait. The snapping sound you hear at the beginning of the video is my PT trying to help me get a good rhythm as I walk. Her name is Cyndi and she has been great. The whole team has really been a lot of fun to work with. We work hard, but we joke around and have a good time too. The end of my amputated leg is still somewhat tender and bruised from back when I fell on it (or maybe just from the amputation itself), so it is kind of difficult for me to load my weight properly onto the prosthesis, but I am working on it!
I think the biggest hurdle that we are trying to overcome at this point is the fact that my leg size is fluctuating so rapidly. In a matter of minutes my leg can go from fitting perfectly in the socket to being so small that the socket is practically falling off! It can be rather frustrating, because when it starts changing sizes and getting unpredictable it pretty much brings everything to a screeching halt. That being said, we have made tremendous progress in a short amount of time. As Ryan (my prosthetist) said to me today, some people work for months or even years to start walking like I am right now, so the fact that our big issue is fluctuating leg size is nothing. That will settle down over the coming year, and is a natural occurrence for new amputees.
Today in occupational therapy I actually went outside and walked to a local grocery store, bought some ingredients and then cooked a meal in their kitchen. It was a good exercise because I got to see how I functioned in real world environments like navigating the tight walkways in New York City grocery stores, walking on uneven sidewalks, crossing streets, carrying groceries, etc. Once we got in the kitchen I had to work without using crutches because I needed both hands to prepare the meal while I moved around the kitchen grabbing the various ingredients and getting everything together.
I was expecting to be in here for 2 weeks, but was told yesterday (my second day here) that the team of doctors and therapists overseeing my progress had already met and set my discharge date for this coming Tuesday. They made it clear that I should continue working on my prosthetic skills as an outpatient, but they think that I will be sufficiently prepared to leave the inpatient program by that point. So while it seems that this is going to be a shorter process than we had geared up for, I am happy with the progress that we are making and I am going to keep pushing hard to try and walk out of here without any crutches by next Tuesday!
I also want to send out a big congratulations to our troops! Bin Laden being hunted down is a big accomplishment brought about by the efforts of so many people. Surely those that have spent time overseas have to feel a lot of pride over this. Taking down the man who masterminded the original attack on the World Trade Center, and then the second attack on 9/11, on top of so many other attacks on the US, is a big step forward in combatting the Islamic Jihadists. Being here in NYC for the past six months, I have heard several first hand accounts of people who were working on Wall Street and witnessed the planes crashing into the buildings with their own eyes. Watching in horror as people jumped from the buildings rather than burn to death… All of the horrific events that came along with that day just seem even worse when heard from the mouth of someone who watched these events unfold with their own eyes, not just on TV. This is a big accomplishment by our military and it will be interesting to see what happens next in our war against the terrorists of the world.