Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sun, Sand, Surf...

It may seem strange to you that I am proud of myself for hanging out at the beach so successfully for the last week....  But I really have to hand it to myself - I've got the beach dialed in.

Let me explain...  Beaches:  sand, salt water, waves, etc. all create scenarios that can be quite challenging to an amputee.  Sand wants to get into places in my liner* and leg that cause big fit and comfort problems, not to mention blisters... and stopping sand is tough.  Water wants to #@%! up my fit, corrode various parts and generally make stuff uncomfortable and heavy.

There was a time when I would head to the beach, lay out the most massive towel possible and try not to move from it (all while pretending to enjoy myself.)  Talk about lame and not fun at all...

Eventually I had a beach epiphany - a beapiphany:  quit trying to avoid these things - go for it and fix the problems later.

So how does this work? (if you don't care I understand... and now would be a good time to surf to MSN Money or YouTube or something more interesting...)

1.  I started by just going for it... doing what I used to do when I was a bi-ped.  Analyse the results.  Corrosion of metal parts, sand everywhere, ruined prosthetic sock, pretty uncomfortable while in use... though not as bad as I would have expected.  Also, the experience of "forgetting about it" - FANTASTIC!

What you need:  A willingness to get in there and tinker - don't be afraid of your own leg!  Some tools.  Dessert optional.

2.  Problem solving.  Problem #1 - Corrosion.  Hardware store - metal nuts, bolts and washers - now chrome...  I was going to get stainless steel (and that would have been smarter) but the chrome was sexy...  somewhat of a makeover for my leg.  The locking mechanism inside the prosthetic is the only other metal part on my leg...  When I get out of the water I try to rinse ASAP with fresh water (as opposed to salt water) and I dry it every night by leaving the leg upside down and I also spray Liquid Wrench inside to keep everything moving and limit the rust a bit.  And if this doesn't work 100% I don't sweat it... because I can replace bolts and that locking mech. is gonna break one day anyway.  

Problem #2 - Sand:  Well, it's going to get everywhere.  What to do?  Let it.  And every once in a while pop the leg, liner, and pros. sock off and rinse it out...  No big deal.  Very liberating.   

Problem #3 - Fit:  Yeah it kind of sucks compared to perfect, dry-land conditions.  Then again everyone is a little less steady on the beach or in the waves etc. Buy a thicker sock and devote it to the ocean... once it is wet it will come down in size a little and the fit will be 'close'... I used to baby these prosthetic socks because they cost so much**... to hell with that. Pop it in the dryer at night (or don't bother if it is getting wet again tomorrow.)  I can chase my kids, surf, swim, and enjoy myself.  

Benefits:  You can do what you want at the beach...  not getting sunburnt can go back to being your number one concern (alas, it was never relegated to #2 for me...).  Also, and here's a nice one...  when you get home, just hop in the shower like you used to - on two legs! - to rinse everything out thoroughly.

Hey, this may not seem like a big deal to most people but I know that it can be for those of us with robotic parts.  Take it from me - go for it!  What's the worst that can happen?  (Well you could lose it in the ocean... but I am developing a leash system...  ha ha!) 

If you made it this far, take a moment to consider something that you have a mental block with...  think of that thing you just hate dealing with...  find your beach.  Now figure out your approach to defeating it.  If you are lucky it will require a week of working on it in Hawaii.... 

Trip to Hawaii:  $ a lot

Wrenches: $5.00

New chrome nuts, bolts, washers: $6.50

Leg Bling: Priceless.

(Rocking the beach with my kids - also Priceless - though less ironic and a bit too syrupy sweet to be written outside of brackets...)

* Liner is the silicone sleeve that I roll onto my leg.  The pin attached to the end of the liner locks into the prosthetic.  This system creates a suction suspension to keep the leg on.  Works 99% of the time...

** Ridiculously, wool prosthetic socks can cost as much as $60.  And it seems there isn't one company that has ever thought to make them in any colour other than white.

*** Sacha wants me to remind people that the photos are from the condo in Hawaii...  lest you should think we hired the Golden Girls to decorate our home. 

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Ri said...

I may not have your leg, but I can definitely benefit from your attitude.

MJ said...

In the end that's why I wrote the post.... I can benefit from it too.

Sometimes it's easy to be "on it" in one area of life and somewhat lame and ineffective in another.

For instance, it began to irk me that I could run a marathon or do a triathlon but not hang out comfortably at the beach!!!

In the end I needed to do the same things I would do for a MUCH LARGER challenge: Experiment, plan, analyse, trouble-shoot....

It is pretty easy to overcome some of the silly obstacles in life if you go at it in a serious way...