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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Waiting for Sleep...

People often ask me to explain the biggest adjustment I faced post-amputation. Many people assume that it would be walking on a prosthetic. They are often surprised by my answer.

Sleeping was, without a doubt, the most difficult adjustment post-amputation. I just could not get comfortable with my residual limb. My amputation and my stump felt foreign as I was lying in bed. I felt incomplete.

I remember lying on my side, trying to rest my stump against my sound leg. It felt strange. My legs no longer lined up and I couldn't get used to the new sensations. Regardless of the position I tried, I felt like a stranger in my new body. It was horrible.

It was during the midnight hours that I shed the most tears. I grieved for what I lost. I cried out of the anger and frustration that stemmed from being a stranger in my own body. I couldn't get comfortable. I couldn't escape the amputation, even in sleep. I used to just lie as still as possible until I finally fell asleep. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I saw the sunrise.

I found that I didn't have difficulty napping during the day. At first I attributed the ability to nap to my insomnia. Although this was probably a contributory factor, I suspect that my wearing the IPOP (Immediate Post-Operative Prosthetic) allowed me to finally rest.

My IPOP against the mattress and my body simulated the sensations of having a leg again. I was able to nap with little fidgeting and no tears. Unfortunately I was not able to wear the IPOP for extended periods of time, so I could not wear it at night.

I found sleep a little easier when I wore a shrinker sock. I suspect it was a combination of compression and keeping the skin on the stump covered. I often placed an elongated pillow under my stump when sleeping at night. The pillow provided some physical feedback on my sound limp as well as providing a comfortable resting position for my stump.

Eventually, I adjusted to sleeping without my leg. It was difficult, but I am now comfortable with my residual limb. I slowly became familiar with the feeling of my stump in bed, and those sensations became less foreign. There are times when I still use a shrinker sock and a pillow to fall asleep, but these instances are rare. I am not sure that time heals all wounds, but it certainly does facilitate adjusting.

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