Tag Archives: Amputee

Ready for Snow!

A chill is in the air and the leaves are turning beautiful hues of orange and gold. There is no doubt about it, I won’t be wearing my shorts and tank tops for several long months.  During the past few years my region has been relatively lucky in terms of ice and snow. Much to the chagrin of my little boy, we only had one substantial snow last year. Apparently this is a big bummer when you have a new sled to try out.

Meteorologists are already predicting that we will be receiving more snow and ice this year. Although I won’t count on it, I will admit that we are overdue for a hard winter. I know my little guy will be delighted if school is called off for snow. I can’t control possible snow accumulations, but I can be prepared!

Being a lower extremity amputee poses unique obstacles every season. In the summer many amputees complain of excessive sweating within their liners. In the spring and fall, slipping on wet leaves or nut shells poses a risk of falling. In the winter, the threat of snow and ice strikes fear into many lower extremity amputees. There is little more unnerving than trying to ambulate on a thin sheet of ice while wearing a prosthesis.

Slipping a prosthetic into winter boots is not always feasible. My prosthetic ankle is fixed, so trying to don a boot is both cumbersome and time consuming. I just don’t have a spare 30 minutes to try to put on a single boot.

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Some amputees adapt by wearing a treaded boot on the sound foot while keeping their everyday shoe on the prosthetic. In addition to contributing to instability because of the differing heel heights, the lack of winter tread on the prosthetic side can lead to slipping and falling.  Although this approach works in a pinch, it is not a long term solution.A safer option is donning a pair of Yaktrax Walker Traction Cleats. The hand-wound coils on these cleats provide a full 360 degrees of traction on snow and ice. With each step the metal coils “bite” into the ice to provide stability and thwart slipping. The cleats are easy to slip over bottom of shoes and are quickly removed. The prosthetic does not need to be removed in order to don and remove these ice grippers.

Before the forecasts have  you are stocking up on milk, bread and toilet paper, you might want to consider picking up a pair of Yaktrax Walker cleats.  These ingenious little treads allow me to walk on the ice and snow safely. Because I know that my foot is not going to slip on the slick patches, I no longer stuck inside while everybody else is sledding.

Apple Prep- Simplified

I adore apple season. From applesauce simmering on my stove top to pies in the oven, I am constantly in the midst of an apple cooking project. Needless to say, my house smells heavenly!

This time of year I tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, whipping up treats which always taste better when there is a chill in the air. While I enjoy cooking and baking, sometimes the prep work is laborious and exhausting.  Wishing I could find a kitchen tool that would clean up the mess, I have been forced to settle for items that simplify the prep work.

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Admittedly, I am a kitchen appliance and gadget collector. My cabinets and drawers are overflowing with specialized items, each touting promises to make my cooking experience quicker, faster and more delicious. I am an eternal optimist, some would say foolish, so I typically believe each testimonial and buy the product.

On a rare occasion, one of the kitchen gadgets actually lives up to its promise. My apple peeler/ slicer is one of those products. This ingenious little tool makes the dreaded task of peeling, seeding and cutting apples both easy and quick. I can’t believe I’ve spent so much time trying to peel bushels of apples with an uncomfortable and often awkward vegetable peeler.

Peeling apples with a standard peeler was difficult because I have some hand strength issues. Apparently spending 5 years on crutches has caused some mild nerve damage. Most of the time it isn’t too intrusive, but repetitive hand movements can exacerbate the problem. Using a standard peeler I was often forced to stop every few minutes to relax my hands. The pain certainly interfered with the pleasure I used to reap from baking.

I love how quickly I can peel and cut several pounds of apples using this tool. I am able to get my pies into the oven with minimal prep work. Because I am cranking a handle and not grasping an uncomfortable peeler, my hands do not tire and I do not feel the aching pain in the palm of my hand.  As an added bonus, the reduced prep time equates to less time standing. Anytime I can reduce the amount of time I need to stand and load my prosthesis I will do it!

Not only is this peeler/slicer ideal for apple preparation, I found that it works great for potatoes. Whether I am making mashed, scalloped or hash browned potatoes, this peeler is up for the task. Allowing me to save my hand strength and unload my prosthesis, this little kitchen tool certainly helps me to be an UNlimiter in the kitchen!

Bag Mate

Despite living with a prosthetic leg, I love going for walks. I find little more relaxing than turning my phone to Pandora and going for a long stroll through the neighborhood. The time alone affords me a much needed opportunity to regroup and to clear my head. Walking has become my sanctuary.

Although I enjoy going for little jaunts, I utterly detest walking while carrying any sort of load. Anytime my center of balance is compromised, by carrying an awkward package or heavy objects, I become hyper cognizant of each step. When I feel unsafe, I tend to avoid the activity.

Being a busy Mom, avoidance is not a solution. Although I would prefer to never carry a package or bag, it is simply not a reality. Gallons of ice cream would melt if I didn’t carrying it in from the car after grocery shopping. Circumstances have left me with no choice but to carry the cumbersome, and often times poorly packed plastic grocery bags up our outside steps and into my home. 

Tackling the grocery bag predicament, I began to investigate better options. I suppose I could make multiple trips up and down the steps to and from the car, but that seemed laborious. My time is limited, so I always seek the fastest and safest way to accomplish a task. 

My husband, tired of coming home from work and having to carry in every non-perishable item that I bought at the grocery store, began to do some research. Several months ago he found these bag carrying hooks. Simply brilliant in design, I immediately knew that these hooks were the solution we had been seeking.

It took a little practice loading, but I can now carry five bags on each hook, for a total of ten bags of groceries, on one trip. I have learned to load the bag hooks evenly, so I am not weighted heavier on one side. Even weight distribution, coupled with my carrying the load on a single point, has been the solution I’ve been seeking. As an added bonus, because I’m holding the comfort grip handle instead of the thin plastic handles, my hands and wrists are spared the painful pressure points often inflicted by the handles cutting into my arms. 

These bag carrying hooks, although seemingly inconsequential, have made a great difference in my life. Being able to comfortably carry the groceries into my home, without compromising safety, has been wonderful! (My husband certainly appreciates not being loaded up like a pack mule as soon as he comes home from work.)  I love how such a simple idea has created a profound impact on my life. These bag hooks have certainly helped me to become an UNlimiter!

Game Console Fitness

Because I am intrinsically lacking the “I love to work-out and sweat” gene, I am constantly searching for new options to keep me motivated. Time constraints, my lack of motivation as well as my limb loss combine to make working-out a chore.  I find that I am more apt, and hence more successful, when I am able to merge my working out with my daily activities.

Being the Mom to a little boy, my house is filled with game consoles and games. My husband and son can spend hours playing games and, although I am not a gamer, I have learned to appreciate their value. Not only do the games afford me a few moments of solitude, I discovered that I now have access to a wide library of work-out routines. A number of games incorporate enough movement to work up a sweat and to burn calories. After all, fitness doesn’t have to happen in a gym.

Active is an interactive program designed to move the player through a variety of work-outs. This basic fitness program has options to work sections of the body, or to run you through a whole body workout. Because of the ability to personalize, the player can eliminate the exercises which are difficult or painful. I find that I have to adjust many of the exercises to accommodate for my prosthesis, but it typically doesn’t seem to interfere with the work-out.

Dance Dance Revolution has received a lot of press in the past months. Despite it’s popularity, many lower extremity amputees find it frustrating with the constant impact on the residual limb becoming painful. This is a game that utilizes primarily foot movement in quick succession. Dancing ability, which I am admittedly lacking, is a requisite for this game. Although it looks fun, I had a difficult time with the pace, the impact and the pistoning within my socket as I tried to mimic the moves.

Just Dance, another physical game, only utilizes the hand controller. Foot options are demonstrated on the screen but are not required to score points. Lower extremity amputees are not at a disadvantage! Be careful, this game will have you working up a sweat in a song or two.

On days when I can’t walk outside, I have started turning to my XBox and Wii for an effective and fun fitness experience.

Go Walk.

Unlike many of my friends who have Zappos bookmarked and love spending hours walking through DWS, I have never been a “shoe person.” Of course I buy shoes, but simply because it is more comfortable to keep my feet covered versus trying to make a fashion statement. I don’t coordinate my shoes to match an outfit (unless I am going to a wedding or funeral) because it is inconvenient to change shoes on my prosthesis. If I cared about fashion, I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue, but since I don’t care, it is nothing short of a hassle to pry the shoe off of a plastic foot shell and then try to wiggle another one in its place.

Even before my amputation I was not a shoe aficionado. Since I’ve become an amputee, my blase feelings towards footwear have only increased. I find shoe shopping an exercise in frustration. People inevitably stare when I whip off my leg so that I can have a better angle to wiggle on a new shoe. Although I typically smile through the process, I hate trying shoes on in public!  I tend to buy the same brand, style and size of shoe once I find a pair that is comfortable.

I have found Skechers to be the most comfortable and prosthetic friendly shoe for me. I like the stretch along the tongue, which allows easier access for my quasi-human shaped foot shell. I am particularly fond of Shape-Ups, not because of the toning benefits but because the shape of the sole allows me to roll over the toe of my prosthesis with ease. My gait is more natural with this little boost of assistance.

A few weeks ago I tried a new style of Skechers, the “Go Walk” shoe. My first impression was the weight of the shoe. This shoe is light, weighing in at only 4.5 ounces. By comparison, my Skechers DeLite shoe weighs 10 ounces. When wearing a prosthesis that weighs upwards of 7 pounds, any reduction in weight is greatly appreciated!  (Yes, I admit to digging through the abyss of my kitchen cupboard in order to find my scale so I could provide an accurate weight. I not only found the scale, but discovered a can of Spaghetti-Os that expired in 2009. I really need to clean out my cupboards!)

Impressed but not convinced by weight, I decided to try on the shoe . Wow, the stretchy material on the top of the shoe certainly made it easier to slip it onto my prosthesis. A few steps and I was sold! The bubble-like sole assists with the roll-over that I love from the Shape-Up shoe, without compromising heel height or comfort. Not only do I love how these shoes feel, but I like the way that they look.  Because of the simple lines, I can wear them with a skirt or with jeans.

I know that this sounds like a commercial for Skechers, but I assure you I am not compensated by the company. I am simply excited that I found something that is working so well for me. Every once in awhile I discover a new product that makes my life as an amputee easier. I know that others struggle with shoes and I think that the Go Walk shoe might be a solution. I have found that Skechers shoes have helped me become an Unlimiter in life!

Here is a brief video of me walking in the Shape-Up shoe:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfafnQ_Z1S8&w=500&h=281]

Back To School!

It’s hard to believe that we are beginning Labor Day weekend. It feels like I just cleaned up from the Fourth of July party. Oh wait, I did just finish cleaning up from that picnic. Oh well, I never claimed to be a good housekeeper!

With Labor Day approaching, all efforts in my house are pointed towards the same goal. I need to get my son (who is entering the second grade) and my husband (who is a teacher) ready for the new school year. It’s safe to say that neither are terribly excited about their vacations coming to a close, so out of respect I’m trying to keep my elation to a minimum.
This year my son will be attending a new school, which means that he is allowed to pack his lunch for the first time. It will be nice to pick him up knowing that he has eaten a good lunch. Last year I was able to predict the days he would not eat based upon the provided menu. Neither one of us enjoyed the “I’m starving” afternoons!

Wanting to make lunches so delicious that he would refuse trading with a classmate, I set out researching containers and lunch boxes. I came upon this fantastic lunch box kit from Rubbermaid. The containers are the perfect size for treats and goodies, and nothing crumbles or crushes because it is protected within the hard plastic. The containers click into an icepack so everything stays cold until it is time to eat.

Knowing my own limitations when it comes to cleaning, I decided to be proactive and bought two kits. I also ordered the salad kit for my husband, hoping to save him (and our bank account) from the daily visits to the salad bar. Of course, now that I have all of the containers I am going to have to figure out how to fill them. I wish that solution would be as easy to find!

With the lunch box conundrum solved, I have moved my focus towards the traditional “Yes, I’m an amputee” presentation I give to my son’s class. I have found it helpful to address the issue quickly, encouraging his classmates to ask their questions at one time. I don’t want his new friends to be fearful of my prosthesis, and I have learned that talking about it from the start helps to make everybody more comfortable.

Although talking about prosthetics and amputees is the norm in my house, it is completely unknown for many children. I begin the talk by keeping it as simple as possible. I try to strike the balance between providing enough information to quell their curiosity while not overloading them to the point where they become fearful.

I usually explain that I had an accident and the doctors tried to fix my leg. When they couldn’t fix it, they decided to give me a new one. Taking off my prosthesis and encouraging the students to hold it, try it on and ask questions at the beginning of the school year goes a long way towards demystifying the disability. By talking about the prosthesis and answering all questions at the beginning of the year, I quickly become just another Mom in their eyes.

I’m hopeful that exposing these children to limb loss at an early age will encourage them to grow into accepting adults. I have come to accept that I won’t change the world, but I haven’t abandoned trying to change my little corner of it.  I wish everybody a happy, and safe, Labor Day weekend!

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

 

My New Toy

I used to love to cook, especially for my family and friends.  While I don’t throw lavish dinner parties, I do thoroughly enjoy preparing meals that my husband will brag about at work.  Like any activity, the pleasure is often erased when it morphs from being a hobby into a responsibility or job.

I still have moments of pure creativity in the kitchen, but for the most part the activity has become just another chore rather than a conduit for relaxation.  Between working and taking care of the house and family, I have too much to do and not enough time. In reality, spending hours standing just isn’t as much fun as it was before my amputation.

I have come to realize that I don’t mind cooking, but I do resent the fact that it has to be done on a daily basis. It is a vicious cycle that never stops. A sucker for an infomercial, I have cabinets bursting with “quick and easy” cooking gizmos and appliances.

Instead of taking hours to prepare a meal, I am interested in creating healthy and palatable options with as little time as possible. Unfortunately many of the “revolutionary designs” simply don’t work, or are too complicated for me to utilize on a regular basis.  I am at a point in my life where I need quick and easy.

Recently I have acquired a new kitchen appliance (i.e. toy) that has helped to erase my “what’s for dinner” woes. Unlike my other culinary purchases, this appliance has stayed on my counter top since its acquisition. We use it several times a week, and have yet to make anything that isn’t delicious.

I don’t often fry food, so I was hesitant to purchase the Actifry. Like most kids, Robby loves tater tots and chicken nuggets. While this is an easy lunch, I hated turning up my oven and heating up my entire kitchen in the heat of the summer days. I figured that if I only used this appliance for the tater tot lunches, it would be worth it.

It turns out that my solution for avoiding the oven has become my go to appliance. Since I can make pounds of fried food with only a tablespoon of oil using this machine, I feel more comfortable serving french fries, fried chicken and other treats to Robby and my husband. The Actifry is a self-contained appliance which is not filled with oil, so I no longer feel compelled to stand guard like I did with a traditional fryer. The fact that I can turn it on and sit down on the couch is not an attribute I take lightly!

If you love fried foods, or if you are a busy Mom struggling to fill the menu on a daily basis, I would encourage you to check out the Actifry. It has truly UNlimited me in the kitchen by reducing prep time, minimizing clean-up and allowing me to conserve my energies. I appreciate anything that simplifies my life and promotes healthier eating, and the Actifry fits the bill on both counts.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

Americans with Disability Act– 23 years old today!

On this date in 1990, a monumental piece of legislation was signed into law. Although it is not perfect, and we still have work to do, I have no doubt that my life would be far more complicated had this law not been signed. Happy Birthday Americans with Disabilities Act!

Today is a special day in our community. If it wasn’t for the ADA, individuals with disabilities would be dealing with profound accessibility issues. While the system is not perfect and improvements are necessary, this law has worked towards being the ultimate UNlimiter for individuals with disabilities.

Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I have come to rely upon handicapped parking spots at malls, hospitals and other public buildings. Of course, just because the spaces have been designated does not necessarily mean that they are available! I become so frustrated when I see a car without a tag occupying a handicapped parking spot.

My husband is more of the confrontation type, but that is not my style. I have never felt comfortable engaging in heated verbal exchanges, especially with a stranger. Not only do I feel uncomfortable confronting the abusive drivers, I don’t feel that it is safe. You never know the mental strains that somebody is under, what they might be stowing in their car, or what might tip them over the edge. I certainly don’t want to be the recipient of pent up violence so I always try to steer clear of stranger danger.

Just because I am not the type to physically confront somebody does not mean that I don’t take action. In the past I have been known to contact mall security when parking abuses were occurring. Unfortunately the response time was habitually slow and resulted in frustrating me more than the parking violator.

Recently I have begun more covert operations. I keep this small, inexpensive digital camera in my glove compartment. When I see a parking violator, I simply snap a photo of the license plate, positioned so that the handicapped parking sign in clear view, and I send it to the DMV. I’m hopeful that the warning letter they receive will be enough to make the individual think twice before parking in a designated spot.

What accessibility violation do you find frustrating? Do you let it slide or do you take action, and what do you do?

Adapted Cleaning

Oh how I wish that my disability could translate into an automatic “get out of housework free” pass. Unfortunately that isn’t the reality. (Although a girl can dream, right?) Since becoming an amputee has not excluded me from cleaning, I have had to figure out a way to make the dreaded tasks easy and safe.

I struggled for years before and after my amputation with one task in particular. For me, wrestling with my bulky vacuum was both laborious and frustrating. I often became tangled in the long cords and wrapped around the various hoses and “convenient on board accessories” to the point where I resembled a frustrated mummy!

My stairs were rarely clean, not because I didn’t know that they were dirty but because I didn’t feel steady enough with the unruly hoses to tackle the job. I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t despise vacuuming. After all, it isn’t terribly difficult to push a machine across the floor.  Rather, I hated MY vacuum because it was not conducive to an individual with an orthopedic impairment.  Realizing that my limb loss was not going to go away, nor was my responsibility to clean the floors, I searched for a better vacuum.

I wanted something that was as lightweight as possible, without compromising cleaning power. Self-propelled was a must have feature because it simplifies the task and reduces my exertion. I also wanted something that was low maintenance and reliable. I think I was pickier when it came to my vacuum than I was when I was car shopping!

After weeks of research and trials at various stores in my area, I finally found the vacuum that works for me. I love my Oreck XL upright vacuum.  It is extremely lightweight, weighing in at only 8 pounds. Because it is so light and compact I can carry it up and down the stairs with one hand, leaving my other hand free to hold onto the handrail.  It is easy to push around obstacles and between floor types. I find the fact that I no longer become entangled by the long hoses and cords a bonus!

I still don’t enjoy cleaning, but I don’t avoid it as much. Finding the correct tools has made a huge difference in my life. After all, adapting is the culmination of a lot of little things.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

An Inexpensive Beach Insurance

In the next few days our family will be packing up and heading out on vacation. Robby, my seven year old son, is ecstatic to be going to the beach. He’s looking forward to spending his days playing in the surf, building sand castles and eating ice cream. With a little planning, I’ll be able to do the same!

Wearing a prosthesis to the beach can be a daunting tasks. Sand and salt have a way of wreaking havoc on mechanical components. Considering that a basic prosthesis can cost upwards of $15,000, protecting it from the beachy elements becomes of paramount importance.

There are a variety of waterproof prosthetic protectors on the market. I have found most to be cumbersome to don and quick to rip. A waterproof protector is of little use when a huge hole develops during it’s first use. After a lot of experimentation and trial and error, I have discovered a protector that is both easy to wear and durable. The Medline Curad Cast Protector provides an excellent barrier between my carbon fiber prosthesis and the sand and surf.  It is comfortable to wear, and doesn’t require tape or acrobatic feats to don. As an added bonus, at less than $2 I don’t mind throwing it away at the end of our vacation!

Protecting the components is only part of the battle when it comes to ocean fun. The waves have a reputation of stealing, and prosthetics are not immune. I have heard too many horror stories about legs being pulled off by the undercurrent and swept out to sea. I can’t imagine anything ruining a vacation quicker than losing my leg in the ocean!

Thankfully necessity is the mother of invention, and there is an easy (and inexpensive) way to insure your prosthesis against theft by wave. A surfer’s bungee cord, hooked around the ankle and secured to the waist, will ensure that your device is always tethered to the body. If the waves do break the suspension seal, the prosthesis will not be swept away.

With my prosthesis properly protected and ready for the surf, I turn my attention to my biological foot. I am vigilant about foot care! Because I bear the majority of my weight on my biological foot, the smallest blister or cut can become bothersome. Not wanting to take undo chances, I always wear a water shoe in the ocean. I feel more comfortable having a barrier between my skin and the sharp shells, small animals and rocks that are strewn on the ocean floor.

Between my cast cover, the bungee cord and my one water shoe, I’m sure I’m quite the sight! But I’ve learned to not be bothered by appearances, and I know that I am being proactive about maintaining a functional prosthesis. I’m not about to let anything get in my way of fun with my family, especially my disability!

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

 

Picnic Fun!

In our house the summertime weather always leads to the same activity. Whether we be going to the pool, to the park or just in our own backyard, we almost always have a picnic basket with us. Thankfully my son has inherited my affinity for outdoor dining on a blanket, and my husband has learned to accept that we are a picnic-loving family.

Over the years I have owned a myriad of picnic baskets.  I have had a difficult time finding a basket that would provide us with the space we needed without becoming too bulky or heavy for me to schlep through the zoo. Truth be told the shelves in my garage are overflowing with so many baskets featuring various shapes, sizes and designs that the room is beginning to resemble the entrance to Crate ‘n Barrel! After investing more money than I would care to admit, I have finally discovered the perfect picnic basket. The design and features are easy for me to handle, especially on those inconvenient bad leg/back days, while still providing ample room for all of our accessories.

It turns out that my perfect picnic basket is not a traditional basket, but is rather a picnic cooler on wheels. I didn’t need to struggle trying to carry a bulky and heavy basket when wheels are readily available! After all, pushing or pulling something is almost always the safest option for me. Although I’m typically steady with my prosthesis, it is easier for me to maintain my center of balance when I am pushing or pulling something instead of carrying a bulky item in my arms.

There is more to this picnic cooler than meets the eye. It is stocked with accessories and storage features that make it perfect for the outdoor loving family. I have no doubt that it was designed by a Mom!

The caster wheels move in all directions, allowing the cooler to be pushed or pulled from a variety of positions. They are tall wheels, providing ample clearance from the ground. Mud and muck don’t become caked onto the bottom of the cooler as it is being moved through fields.  I also appreciate that I can easily change my grasp to accommodate for the terrain and my gait pattern. Because of the ability to push the cooler, I no longer arrive at the picnic destination with sore arms and an unsafe gait.

The telescoping handle extends to a variety of distances which can be quickly adjusted depending upon who is pushing or pulling it. A variety of bungee cords have been sewn throughout the inside and the outside of the cooler, providing additional storage for dirty utensils, small toys or bug spray. As if the wheels and storage wasn’t enough of a wow factor, the lid is fully stocked with place settings for four. It is so much fun, and better for the environment, to use special picnic plates and utensils verses the disposable variety that leak and break easily.

It is strange how a product, which probably wasn’t designed with a disabled user in mind, can change an entire activity. This cooler has enabled my family’s picnicking, and I couldn’t be happier. Now we can go and enjoy one of our favorite outdoor activities without experiencing the frustrations of maneuvering with a bulky and heavy basket. I feel both safer and less fatigued when we arrive, allowing me to fully embrace the moment.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

Nothing “Phantom” About This Pain!

I wear my prosthetic all day. As an active Mommy, I start my day well before 7 am. The first thing I do in the morning is put my leg on, and the last thing I do when I get into bed is take it off. Many days, I am wearing my leg for in excess of 15 hours.

I have discovered that the best fitting socket in the world doesn’t alleviate stump soreness and those pesky “phantom pains” which, for me at least, manifest themselves at night. I have tried numerous medications. None of the pharmaceutical treatments worked well for me, and if they did work they left me feeling drowsy and spacey. I knew that there had to be a better way.

I know that every amputee experiences phantom pains differently. For some, they actually feel pain in the limb that has been amputated. This has happened to me on a few occasions, but the occurrences are rare. I consider myself lucky that I don’t suffer from this type of pain.

My phantom pains are strictly nerve based. My residual limb feels as if it is being stung by hornets. I feel extremely sharp small pains all over my stump, causing my leg to involuntarily kick. On nights when the stinging is severe, I feel as if I should have been a Rockette.

The stinging and kicking combine to make me miserable. Pain medications are ineffective and merely leave me groggy the next day. I am forced to try to find a comfortable position in bed and hope that it goes away.

Although I haven’t completely eliminated the phantom pains, I have greatly reduced their intensity and frequency. I also have a problem with my limb “kicking” at night, involuntarily and sometimes quite rapidly. My husband is thrilled that I have come up with a way to quiet the “cricket leg.”

I have started using the HoMedics Shiatsu Massaging Pillow at night. I have found that the deep circular massage, for 15 to 20 minutes every night, treats the stump soreness and drastically decreases the phantom pain issues.

As luck would have it, my residual limb fits perfectly between the two massaging balls. I can sit down, relax and let the massage pillow works its magic on my angry little nerves. My life has been so much better since I found a non-narcotic treatment for my pain, which is anything but phantom!

 
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