Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sigh. Also Ouch.

Okay, so my current (local) paying gig involves a rake.

After last year's fire scare, people are giving thought to the amount of really, profoundly flammable stuff that tends to collect around fencelines and now they want it gone. That's completely cool, y'know, have rake will travel. I'm in the process of creating a dead zone of about thirty feet on the windward side of a neighbor's whole property. We're not talking about construction trash here, just shattered juniper limbs, blown straw, old tumbleweeds, that sort of thing. A simple matter of raking it up, shoveling it into the Jeep's trailer and taking it someplace else. Nobody asks where. Nobody cares: There's lots of "someplace else" around here and I know where most of it is.

But oh, it gets to hurting after a few hours. I'm really starting to think I need a new leg, but that's not going to happen. Back in '08 I got this one modified for a newer and far superior foot and that was a huge help. For a couple of years I could walk anywhere I wanted and there were few issues but that's just not the case anymore. I dunno: Maybe it's all the weight I've dropped. It just doesn't seem to fit anymore, no matter how many old socks I wrap around the insert. But you do with what you've got. It's still worlds better than crutches.

Wandering aside: I lost my leg forty years ago this year, as of just a couple of months past. My first prosthesis was built in a smelly little shop with no talk of government assistance or even insurance. Just five hundred dollars please, plunk it on the counter and limp out of the storefront. My older brother borrowed the money from his credit union, knowing it would probably take me years to pay it back - I was just a kid and suddenly damn near unemployable. He wouldn't talk about interest, even though he certainly paid some. When I finally had the money I stuffed five $100 bills inside a brand new Bell Star brain bucket and left it on his couch when he wasn't home. He thought that was pretty cool: I knew he'd always wanted one.
Don't laugh. This was a really fancy helmet in the seventies.

The second prosthesis would have cost almost five times as much, and that shop didn't deal in cash at all. They just naturally assumed it was being paid by insurance or the government, and though I'd love to deny it I admit the state paid the freight. First legs don't last long, it seems, because your stump changes a lot under its pressure. I couldn't walk any more.

From then on each succeeding limb was paid for by co-pay and insurance from whatever company I was working for. The cool thing about this particular "pre-existing condition" is that orthopedic surgery is a lot better these days and amputation has become relatively rare, and insurance companies used to throw it into the package pretty casually. Not so much by the turn of the century, though, which is why I didn't replace this one before moving to the boonies.

I don't even want to know what it would cost for a new one, but it's fun to imagine the look on some intern's face if I demanded to know the price tag and then started counting FRNs out on the counter. That'd be fun. But not in this lifetime.

Now I've got to get cleaned up because I'm going into town to meet that litter of kittens I wrote about earlier. And now it looks like I might have to do a sales job because I've been warned that the lady's acting kind of flaky and might want to keep all the female kittens. I won't bring another tom out here: May as well plan to eat it myself as do that. Toms won't stick around where they're safe and they always get killed.

So anyway, that's all for today. It's been a busy one, and will stay so till the evening when I can't run the 'pooter.


MamaLiberty said...

I don't know what condition it is in, of course, but I seriously think there is a good chance the part where your stump rests can be relined and resized. I worked on an ortho floor nearly 30 years ago, and they did it then. Why not now? They can probably do a much better job of it now.

That would cost a lot less than a whole new one. And you do have friends...

In the meantime, I'm wondering if a thin strip of memory foam might help snug things and cushion the stump.

Anyone have a memory foam pad they could bear to part with? I don't have one. Here's one at Claire's store:

Only $16.75

Beats the heck out of a bunch of old socks. :)

Claire said...

I was going to say, Joel, you either need to gain weight, hold a fundraiser, or get yourself more brain-work gigs.

But memory foam! That's a great idea, MamaLiberty. As is checking into having that leg re-lined.

Good luck, Joel. I know that leg has given you fits (or non-fits) for way too long.

Anonymous said...

I know Joel's out in the middle of nowhere...smaller pieces of foam (even memory foam) are available at fabric stores, too.....I'm not sure if I have any, any more; but that was where I last bought a specialized smaller piece (1 foot wide by the pre determined length from the manufacturer) and it was less than $10 - (current pricing may not be that amount, but could be close as it's only been a couple of years since I bought it)......


John Venlet said...

Joel, the coolest thing about this post, is, the very first comments offered up some possible solutions to the issue you're having. You've got good friends out here in internet land.

Joel said...

Indeed, I do. Thanks for the suggestions, guys. It can't hurt to try.

MamaLiberty said...

Great! And please keep us posted. If you need a little help, don't be too shy to ask.

Any foam would help, probably, but most of it just doesn't last long which is why I suggest the memory foam. That stuff seems to be indestructible... and it is washable.

Claire said...

I bought a memory foam pillow this morning at a garage sale that is Joel's if he wants it. If it doesn't work for the leg, it might still make good sleeping.

Memory foam is great stuff.