Before I had my final surgery, I was paid a visit by the prosthetic specialist who would be building my first prosthesis. His name was Eddie, and he was this extremely funny Jewish disabled comedian on the side. Eddie used to perform at the original Yuk Yuk’s in a church basement in Toronto, and Jim and I would go see his act while we were in town. Eddie was paralyzed from the waist down and got about on forearm crutches. His sense of humor proved to be something that I would always remember as putting me a little more at ease while dealing with my amputation. His routine had a lot of disability humor and he used to do this gimpy doctor routine that was hilarious.
Eddie’s visit however, had more importance than providing a few laughs for Jim and I. He was there to take part in the amputation by providing advice on how the limb should be amputated to best fit a suction socket style of limb. This was a great idea that worked very well. My stump is about mid thigh, and I have plenty of muscle in the residual limb.
When I walked out of the hospital, I was on temporary leg consisting of a cast over my stump, fitted with a knee unit, what looked like a piece of pipe, and an artificial foot. Using two crutches at first, I was able to get around pretty well. Jim and I even made it to the bar the night we both got out of the hospital, and I remember all my friends being glad to see that I was up and in good spirits!
Soon, I was began fittings for a permanent leg at Sunnybrook Medical Centre in Toronto. For a young kid from Niagara Falls, this was a pretty weird place at first. It was a veteran’s hospital, and the waiting rooms and fitting rooms were filled with disabled veterans, some with horrible disfigurements. This is where Eddie’s sharp sense of humor helped a lot.
Learning to Walk as an Amputee
I was casted for an above knee prosthesis, and fitted with temporary limb. By this time I was using two canes. I stayed at the hospital for a few weeks for physical rehabilitation. Every day, I had classes in the gym with the head rehab nurse, who was previously in the military I was told. It showed. It was a lot of hard work learning how to fall. I climbed stairs, ramps, swam and walked up and down in front of a mirror for hours. I guess the hard work paid off, as I have had comments made to me that I walk very well. The final prosthetic limb was finished, and the next year or two consisted of a series of adjustments and different limbs, and getting used to being an amputee.
I can’t really tell you about the technical aspects of my various limbs at that time. To be honest, I wasn’t really that interested in the technology. I was more concerned with getting back as close to “normal” as fast as I could. I can tell you that I have always worn a suction socket fitted with a hydraulic knee and spring foot. I recall being glad that I didn’t have to wear belts to hold it on. The suction socked seemed to be a good fit, I guess. I was young, and this was all new to me, so I guess I took a lot of it in stride.