He’s Got Legs

I’ve got new legs.

I mean, they’ve made me new prosthetic legs, because the shape of my stumps has changed with time, and the old legs weren’t fitting so comfortably.

I had to go to the limb fitting centre which is out near the M1 beyond Leicester. It takes about an hour to drive there.

The prosthetists know me well, they’ve been looking after my legs and my robot hands for the best part of two decades now. They take plaster casts of what remains of my legs below the knee, and they make liners that push into the legs themselves.

These new legs make me slightly taller, which is a bit weird. 

I think everyone has their natural height level, so it feels strange to be elevated. They’re a good fit, not too uncomfortable, and mean I can walk very short distances – around the house, up and down stairs, across the office.

They coated the liners with some kind of powder that irritated the grafted skin on my leg stumps. All this week, I was trying to cope with the red, itchy patches this raised on my legs. Plus, I still have a chronic open wound on one knee – caused by the previous pair of ill fitting legs.

Hopefully both these Issues are on the way to getting fixed now.

But I’m conscious there must be better prosthetic limbs out there, more comfortable and more functional – it feels wrong that people in my position have to fund that privately at places like Dorset Oethopaedics. I went there once for an assessment and they have the very latest technology, but we cannot afford it.

I’d particularly like to find out if I could get better prosthetic hands.

My NHS myoelectric hands only have two modes, rotate and grip, whereas the latest hands have individuals moving fingers. That would be a great improvement, but as far as I know, the NHS won’t fund them.

What a strange position to be in. What a life. Sometimes at work in the call centre when I’m talking to people on the phone, I wonder what people would think if they knew that they were talking to someone without hands or feet. Or what would they say if they could see my amputated face.

It’s what’s in the heart and the mind that matters.

I lie on my bed, without my plastic arms, without my plastic legs. I see the wind blowing in the branches of the trees in our back garden. I see the white clouds, moving with purpose across the blue sky. 

I’m so damaged. In my head, the past is a battlefield. But I think there are people that still love me.

I have survived, and so long as I’m still here, I’ll speak up for those hundreds of thousands who have survived sepsis – and for the millions who died and no longer have a voice.

We’re strong.

We can recover.

Even with plastic arms and plastic legs, we can love the life that’s left.