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!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sweat Test 2.0

Mile Marker 5215:

It's called a Liner-Liner.

It reminds me of one of those "As Seen on TV" products -- like a prosthetic version of the "ShamWow."

In reality, the Liner-Liner is exactly what it claims to be:  a liner for your liner.  The label promises sweat-wicking material, improved comfort, facilitated grip, and a washable interface.  But don't answer yet...  It also costs less than $20!

I first heard about the Liner-Liner on a Facebook page for amputees.  A man from Florida recommended it.  I figured he was probably an expert on sweat!

When I googled it, it popped right up on a website called Amputee Store.  Yes, it's real.  (And awesome.)

In 2 days, the Liner-Liner lands in my mailbox.

Remember last summer's Sweat Test?

Now, 10 months later, it's the morning of Mile 5,215.  We'll call it Sweat Test 2.0.

I pull the Liner-Liner onto my leg like a comfy sock.  My own silicone liner rolls over it easily, and my leg slides into the socket without a hitch.

But before I can take my first step, I spot a warning on the label:

NOTE:  Ensure suspension is effective prior to full time use.

Note #2:  That's not fine print.  It's bold print.

If you're an amputee, you know this.  SUSPENSION IS EVERYTHING.  It means keeping your leg on!

There are lots of suspension systems out there.  Here's how mine works:

I roll on a silicone liner.  The inside of the liner sticks to my skin.  The outside has 5 circular seals -- like rings -- that grip the prosthetic socket.  When I push into the prosthesis, a valve expels air, creating a vacuum which keeps the leg sealed.

If you break the suction -- at any level -- the suspension fails.  That's why sweat can make or break your day.  Literally.

The theory behind the Liner-Liner is simple:  add an extra layer to soak up the sweat.

Note #3:  This is not simple at all.

I walk tentatively around the apartment.  There's more pistoning -- up and down motion -- than I'm used to.  But it's also soft and cushioned.  I give my Genium a tug.  It stays on.

Got suspension?  Check.

Next stop, the sidewalk.  The extra layer muffles the sensation of my foot against the ground, so I step carefully over curbs and grates, and kick extra high to clear the cobblestones.  It's a humid day, but three blocks in, my leg still feels dry and secure.  Whoo-hoo!

I head toward Race Street Pier, a tree-lined park that juts out over the Delaware River.

I rarely walk down here because it's off the beaten path and there's no place to do leg adjustments.  But today, the Liner-Liner brings a surge of confidence.  I savor the stroll, soaking in the lines and textures of early morning.

Even my gait seems pretty good. Check out the replay...

When I reach the end of the pier, I discover this message.

Well, this Liner-Liner, for one!

I'm ready to declare Sweat Test 2.0 a success!

Then I get home.
And sit down.
And my leg slides right out of the socket.

(Got suspension?  Not anymore.)

So.  The results are in.  Despite a pleasant first mile, the Liner-Liner is still very much a work in progress.  And for me, that means it's back to the drawing board.

Hello old friends.

My usual sweat fighters:
Climbing Chalk + Degree DrySpray

The latest Sweat Test proves, once again, there are no easy answers.  But I still dream of a day when my leg and I can take the heat.  In fact, I'm already thinking...

How about Liner-Liner 2.0?  

Imagine it.  Lycra thin.  Cool on skin.  Wicky on the inside.  Sticky on the outside.

Think bike shorts...

...meet hospital socks!

Calling all inventors.  Anyone game?

It's only June.

We've got time -- and temperature -- on our side!

Hey fellow amputees, 
Want to run your own Sweat Test?  
Legs and sockets are all different, so what didn't work for me might work for you.  I have Liner-Liners, in 2 sizes, washed and up for grabs.  Comment or email me if you want to try them!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Becca! Some days it's like every morning is a Brave New World! (Any coincidence that it's one of my all-time favorite books?!)