Monday, August 27, 2012

It Is All In How You Look At It

Last week was packed full of medical and other types of appointments.

Monday I had to have blood drawn at the lab at Rush University Medical Center Professional Building immediately followed by an appointment with my Rehabilition Doctor. There are now more strigent requirements being placed on patients and healthcare providers by MediCare, resulting in more actual doctor appointments. Effective immediately MediCare will no longer accept any other healthcare provider's notes as criteria for reimbursement for services provided, this includes prosthetists and physical therapists.

What does all of this mean? It means more trips to the doctor, longer waiting periods for treatment and longer wait periods for receipt of prescribed medical devices.

Tuesday I had an appointment with my prothetist, Jason. I was supposed to receive my new right "short" leg but of course it could not be completed because of the aforementioned new procedures being implemented by MediCare.

Wednesday, I had my usual physical therapy appointment with Chris.

Friday I had an appointment with my caseworker, Lisa, here at my home, followed by an appointment with a prospective roommate, who incidentally cancelled.

You may be thinking who cares? The reason I am writing this is because I want those who are new to the amputation and prosthetic arena to get used to these appointments. Not only get used to them but also welcome them into your new reality. Being an amputee means, among a lot of other things, being relegated to seeing healthcare professionals on a regular basis, most likely for the rest of your life.

The physical therapist will probably be the healthcare professional you will see most often, especially at the beginning. This is especially true  if you are like me, and desire to learn to use your prothesis to the best of its intended advantage. Believe it or not, I have had at least one PT appointment every week for the last year.

Because I am a bilateral above knee amputee, I am in a somewhat unique position. First, there are not a lot of bilateral AK amputees who are capable and or willing to put forth the work necessary to regain their mobility and secondly, learning to walk without the benefit of either knee component is a daunting task, to say the least.

It may seem strange for you to hear me say that if you have only lost one leg you are lucky. Moreover, you are even luckier if on that one leg you have lost, you have been able to retain your knee component. The advantage to having one remaining natural leg is endless, compared to losing both legs and these disadvantages are multiplied ten fold if you include the loss of both of your knees.

Those who have been able to keep one leg, can expect your PT session period to be shortened a great deal over those who have lost more. Speaking from my own personal experience, you can lead a fairly normal and certainly productive life with one natural leg and one prosthetic leg. Things become dramatically more complicated and difficult with the loss of both legs, particularly if that includes the loss of both knees, some, if not most, will find walking impossible.

I have touched upon in past blog posts about the important role the prosthetist plays in an amputee's life. As an amputee, you can expect to see your prosthetist several times a year. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you are in your adjustment to living with a prothesis, the more frequently you will see your prothetist. After a certain period of time, your visits may become less frequent, however, you will be seeing the prothetist for as long as you actively use a prothesis.

If you are going to live a happy and fulfilling life, you must learn to accept that your new reality will be one that involves seeing healthcare professionals, like the rehab doctor, the physical therapist, and the prosthetist.

The outlook you choose to take with regard to those whom you will meet at regular intrevals can determine not only the results you receive but also how happy or unhappy you make your life.

I would advise not to dread your upcoming appointments but to realize the benefit you derive from having such dedicated professionals involved in your life. It is all in how you look at it.

You can choose dread regarding your appointments or you can appreciate the help that is being offered to you. I, of course, choose the latter, it has served me well.

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