Managing Swelling


By far, the most frustrating aspect of being a pregnant amputee lies with prosthetic fit. Unlike sneakers, which can be adjusted or changed to allow more room, my prosthesis is fabricated out of rigid carbon fiber. By design, there is no give or flexibility.

Some mornings I feel like I am trying to stuff a sausage into a casing which is entirely too small.  The remaining limb tissue bubbles over the top of the socket, creating an odd muffin-top effect. Not only is this unsightly, it can be dangerous. The tissue becomes vulnerable to sores, pinch cuts and edemas. A sore on my residual limb immediately equates to foregoing the prosthesis until it heals, and this is not something that is easy to accommodate.

In order to increase the chances that I’ll be able to wear my prosthesis in the morning, I have taken steps at night to minimize swelling. I try to avoid consuming excess salt. I also thoroughly massage my limb each night to help promote circulation. My Homedics Massage Pillow definitely helps with this task!  I simply put my limb between the two massaging balls, press start and relax. Not only does it feel fantastic, but it is therapeutic as well!

In addition to massage, perhaps the most beneficial intervention is wrapping my limb with an ace bandage before sleeping each night. (I have a pile of shrinker socks from my Prosthetist, but I have found the ace wrap provides me with a snugger and more consistent compression.) The constant compression through the night definitely helps to keep the swelling in check, allowing me to don my leg in the morning.

Despite my efforts, there are still mornings where it is difficult to slide into my leg. When this happens, I reach for my “go to” solution: hand sanitizer. I squirt about a tablespoon into my socket, and another tablespoon onto my liner. After both surfaces are thoroughly lubricated, I can normally slip right into my leg. Because the sanitizer is alcohol based and evaporates, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up excess or damaging my socket or liner.

Swelling, a reality for everybody, is simply intensified by pregnancy and other health issues. Although I can be frustrating, it is not impossible to manage. With a few steps, and some ingenuity, I expect that I’ll be able to continue to wear my leg through the remainder of my pregnancy.

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