If you would like to start my amputee journey from the beginning click here
After a couple of weeks of wearing granny’s shrinker sock, I was back at physio for a measure of my stump. It was going down but not very fast. The next step was to get me upright with compression on my stump. This is done with what’s called a PPAM aid.
A Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility aid is a big rubber bag that looks like something from a gimp suit. It goes around your entire residual limb, then leg and bag are put inside a metal frame with a plate at the bottom. The bag is then inflated inside the cage until it is tight enough to take your weight.
The main point of it is to gently introduce your residual limb into weight bearing. The pressure from the bag also helps to push swelling out of your stump.
At first you only “walk” inside the parallel bars for safety. But being upright on, kind of, two legs was a strange feeling. Taking my first steps since the accident was a big milestone but was still a difficult thing to be happy about. The video below is literally my first steps after my amputation.
It only took a couple of goes up and down the bars and a quick rest and measure then I was free! Well two old man sticks and a slow hobble around the room kind of free.
After my first go on the PPAM aid the circumference of my stump went down by nearly 2cm. If I could just keep that swelling out, I would be getting a fitting in no time.
The next week the hospital transport turned up to take me to my physio appointment, on time this time. I hated being in a wheelchair, like despised it. I just felt like it took my humanity away in some form. And people are so different with you, but that’s another story.
During hospital transport they push you up the ramp and into the van, then they ratchet strap your wheelchair to the floor with you in it, and there is this odd seatbelt thing. It doesn’t feel safe, and it takes like 10 minutes so I would usually say that I am ok at transferring. I got to sit in a proper seat, and they just tied my wheelchair out the way. The drivers were all ok with this, it was quicker for them, and I felt “normal” for a bit.
This driver point blank refused, he said it was against the rules and went against health and safety regulations. “Bullshit.” I told him that every other driver was fine with it, and he said that they needed reporting then.
We had set off by this point as he had strapped me to the floor already. I challenged him on the health and safety regulations by saying “so, I can get tied to the floor in a makeshift seat, but factory fitted seats and seatbelts are against health and safety?” He said that that was not the point and started stuttering and mumbling under his breath which pissed me right off.
“Nope! Pull over, I’m getting out” as I was starting to unstrap myself from the van. He had to pull over, get the ramps back out and wheel me all the way back down the street, up my drive and into the house.
Livid, I had to call my physio and explain what had gone on and that I wasn’t going to make it. As soon as I said the driver’s name, she knew exactly who it was. I got a call later that day from the hospital transport department asking if I wanted to put in a formal complaint, which I did.
Most of the drivers were lovely. Late, but lovely. But as in anything you can get some right nobs.
After a few more weeks where I actually made it to physio and used the PPAM aid, my physiotherapist thought that my stump had shrunk enough to get me my appointment for fitting an NHS prosthetic. Now this I was excited for!
If you find you need some support, don’t be afraid to speak to friends and family. If this isn’t possible please consider giving the Amputation foundation a shout at amputationfoundation.org or even get in touch with me via my contact page