Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sweat Test

Mile Marker 4200:

Ever feel like your leg is slipping off in the middle of a busy sidewalk?

If you're an amputee, and it's summer, the answer is probably "yes."

I'm talking about SWEAT.

Ask anyone in Philly.  It's been a sweaty summer so far!   As I navigate the bricks and cobblestones of Old City, my leg gets looser and looser.  For amputees, the simple phenomenon of sweating can make or break your prosthetic suspension -- and your day!

Sorry Bri, I'm outta here!
It can be disappointing, like when I only last for 2 innings at the Phillies game.

Or disconcerting, like when I nearly lose my leg at the Farmer's Market!

Luckily, Donna comes to the rescue!

But mostly it's just discouraging.

When the temperature heats up, I have a tough time cooling down.  Think about it.  Amputees have less skin than most people.  That means less surface area to release the heat.  Plus, it's sweaty inside a prosthetic socket!  My leg is encased in a silicone liner.  When I sweat, the moisture creates movement, or sheer, between my skin and the liner.  At best, I'll get a socket rub.  At worst, my whole leg starts to slide off.

It works!!
Now, it's not all bad news.  I've been on a solution streak this summer.  After all, I finally figured out how to style an umbrella bag as a perfectly fitting raincoat for my Genium!  (The trick is cutting a second hole and slipping it on like a leg-warmer.)  Not exactly hi-tech, but progress!

So I am determined to solve this sweat problem too...

I'm conducting a Sweat Test.

A sampling...
I've had limited success with prosthetic products.  So armed with CVS coupons, I load up a shopping cart with "normal" antiperspirants.  I take them home and methodically try them on my leg, one by one.

A waist harness offers
extra protection.
Thank goodness!
The roll-ons and sticks are too slippery.  But Degree's dry spray goes on better.  It absorbs quickly with no greasy residue.  My liner doesn't slip or slide.  It has potential!  But can it take the heat??

Well, almost.

I'm walking up 3rd Street when the familiar slippage begins.  For above-knee amputees, there's no discreet way to fix your leg in public.  So I've learned to seek shelter.  ASAP.

That shelter happens to be Moko Salon.

"You're early," receptionist Melissa says.

She's right.  My haircut with Jackie is not for another hour.

"Actually, I thought I might use your restroom to fix my leg."  I gesture toward my prosthesis which, by now, is dangling like a loose tooth.

Melissa waves me down the stairs.

Ahhhhh....  Re-donned and refreshed, I sit down in Jackie's salon chair.  As she cuts my hair, I tell her about the Sweat Test.

"This may sound crazy," she says, "but what about a dry shampoo?"

I look at her in the mirror.  Go on...

Bonus!
It's TSA size too!
"I have this product," she says.  "It's a powder that takes the oil out of your hair.  Maybe it would keep your leg dry too."  She hands me a small cylindrical container.

It actually makes sense.

"If it works, you'll be a millionaire!"  I tell her.

At home, I shake Jackie's product into the palm of my hand.  It's like lemony-scented downy snow.  I rub a tiny bit onto my leg.   It feels grainy and tacky.  I roll on my liner.  It adheres like glue.

I walk around a bit.  Feels kind of prickly.  Not exactly pleasant but bearable, I guess.  And if it keeps my leg on...

I begin a one-person clinical trial.

For the most part, the results are surprisingly good.

Until I get a red, itchy, blotchy rash.  (Yep, a side effect.)

My dermatologist, Dr. S, is supportive and sympathetic.  She doesn't chide me for experimenting at home.  And she doesn't laugh when I tell her about the off-label use of Jackie's no-sweat hair product.

Instead, she says not to worry.  "The rash isn't life threatening."

She prescribes two more antiperspirants to try, along with some creams to counteract the rash.  Then she leaves me with these encouraging words:  "Summer won't last forever."

The Sweat Test continues.

At Mile 4200, the DNC is about to make history in Philly.  Despite the heat, I get caught up in the excitement.  Friends convince me to walk 6 blocks to Independence Hall where the Today Show is filming live.  It's 7 a.m. and the humidity is already cranked up to "sweltering."   It's hot.  It's crowded.  Yet somehow, my leg stays fastened.

Jackie's powder aces the Sweat Test!

This is newsworthy!!!

On the way home, we cool off with Old City Coffee's newest special...

"THE CHILLARY"

Only time will tell if we've stumbled onto the next big thing for amputees.  We've still got plenty of summer to sweat through!

(And I'm open to ideas if you've got any!)

Innovation can come from anywhere.  That's what's cool about searching for solutions in a city where history is made.

It's not just perspiring.  It's inspiring too!

2 comments:

  1. Fingers crossed you have success! (And let me know if it works...I have the same problem. We're starting to talk botox injections.) Recently I learned that Endolite has a silicone liner w/ holes in it to combat the sweat issue....gonna discuss that option w/ my physiatrist.

    Very cool that you were at the DNC! :). I only saw one night (Bloomberg and Obama's speeches). The energy seemed awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fingers crossed you have success! (And let me know if it works...I have the same problem. We're starting to talk botox injections.) Recently I learned that Endolite has a silicone liner w/ holes in it to combat the sweat issue....gonna discuss that option w/ my physiatrist.

    Very cool that you were at the DNC! :). I only saw one night (Bloomberg and Obama's speeches). The energy seemed awesome.

    ReplyDelete