If caring for the residual limb were to be ranked, I suspect that I would be classified as "hyper vigilant." I have known too many amputees who have gone from being a below knee amputee to an above the knee amputee because of a sore that initially looked benign. My leg has compromised circulation and reduced sensation, the result of the amputation, which means that my daily physical examinations are imperative.
Yesterday I woke up in the morning and, true to my routine, I looked over my leg before donning my prosthetic. Everything looked fine and my leg felt comfortable. I took a few test steps and I knew that I had a secure seal. I had no pain and everything felt normal. I didn't think about my prosthetic again until 10:00 that night, when I took it off for the night.
My heart skipped when I removed my liner and it was coated with blood. Frantic, I shouted for Scott to bring me a washcloth. We cautiously cleaned off the blood, revealing a sore about the size of a nickle on the side of my leg. My leg felt completely normal throughout the day. I was shocked that I could have been bleeding from a sore this large without knowing that I had an issue!
Scott disinfected my liner while I tended to my leg. I pulled out what I dub my "limb survival kit" which I keep stocked with antibiotic ointments and creams, moleskin, band aids, adhesive remover, alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, unscented lotion, ace bandages, a small magnifying glass and a hand mirror. (Incidentally, if you don't have your kit assembled I would highly recommend gathering everything in one location. I find that it makes it easier, and less stressful, to tend to the health of my limb when something has gone awry.)
I cleaned off the sore, washed it with peroxide and coated it with Neosporin. I continued to be amazed that I didn't feel the skin breakdown. In some situations, the lack of pain is not a good thing!
This morning I cleaned the sore again, and it is looking better. It isn't red or inflamed, so I don't think it is becoming infected. I am going to try to keep my prosthetic use to a minimum (I won't exercise) but keeping my leg off all day is not going to be a viable option today. I have cut a large moleskin frame to put around the sore, creating a buffer to keep the liner from touching the wound. I'll take my leg off a few times throughout the day to monitor the skin.
I have been teased about being compulsive about my limb care routine. That is a label I will proudly assume! I couldn't feel the skin breaking down, and I know too well that a small sore can quickly spawn an infection that spreads throughout the limb. I consider those few minutes I spend everyday on inspecting my limb to be an insurance against infection. Of course, nothing is 100% effective, but being diligent provides me with the best odds possible!