I discovered the other day at the doctor’s that since I am considered to be living with a chronic condition I am entitled to six free physio sessions a year. This is perfect timing as I have been instructed to visit a physio and have them show me some stump strengthening exercises to build up the muscles in my stump which will make the new walking process a lot easier.
I make an appointment with a female physio from New Zealand who I am told is the best in the company and has had experience with amputees before.
After our first session I am not entirely sure this is true and if it is I feel extremely sorry for the other amputees she has seen if she treated them anything like she treated me.
I tell her about the operation and she seems quite interested. She brings out a sheet of exercises that are designed for people who have just been amputated and asks me to take my leg off so we can run through the exercises.
I am in the process of taking it off when she gasps somewhat and tells me how huge my leg is.
As a girl I instantly take offence. Is she calling me fat?
“That comes up so high! The new legs don’t come up so high and are no where near as bulky!”
Great, she is practically calling my leg prehistoric. I can feel the tears ready to spring from behind my eyes, but I refuse to cry in front of her.
I don’t know how many prosthetic legs she has seen in her life but as a through-knee amputee if my leg didn’t come up as high then there is no way it would be able to be held on by suction. This would be the case for any through-knee or above knee amputees.
I get on the table and run through the exercises which focus mostly on my right hip, butt and hip flexor. I go to the gym six days a week and do a variety of classes from Body Balance to Pump, to Step and Boxing so I figure these simple exercises will be a breeze.
With many of the movements I can feel my hip (or lack there of I suppose) clicking and cracking as bone rubs against bone. It’s not painful as such but extremely uncomfortable and like the tactical equivalent of finger nails scraping down a chalkboard, gives me an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
I am also surprised at how very little muscle I have in my right leg and butt cheek. I knew it was underdeveloped as this has always bothered me in pants but I figured since I went to the gym there would be at least some muscle strength there.
The physio says she can feel a flicker of movement in my right glute but it’s weak.
I feel flustered and frustrated and leave almost in tears, worried that with such weak muscle strength learning to walk with my new leg is going to be incredibly difficult.
One prospect I am excited about though, is the thought of building up the muscle in my right thigh and glute. I have long felt self-conscious about the difference in size in my butt cheeks. I’m sure it’s barely noticeable to most people but for me it’s like a flashing neon sign.
When I was 13 I was dressed in a pair of tight jeans at a party and I thought I looked pretty hot. One of the girls at the party was chatting to me and she commented on my butt. 12 years later I can still remember her exact words.
“Do you have a fake butt as well as a fake leg?”
Up until then I had been happy to wear tight jeans, Capri pants of stretchy fabrics and tight skirts but after that comment I threw them all out of wardrobe.
Tight pants and clingy fabrics have never been my friend. As well as not looking great with my lopsided butt, they pull too tightly across the top of my artificial leg highlighting the bulk and outline of the prosthesis.
The prospect of being able to wear whatever I want and actually looking good in it fills me with as much as excitement as a kid waking up to new bike at Christmas.
It’s a simple thing and something that many take for granted but for a girl who loves fashion the prospect of a whole new wardrobe with countless options is the thing of dreams.
I just have to get these muscles strong first.