Walking Once Again
This young man had a debilitating lower-leg bone disease and after living with it for almost three years, took the brave (and ultimately, life-saving) decision to have his left leg amputated below the knee! He came to see us about manufacturing a prosthetic lower leg. We assessed his needs and set about the project without delay. Measuring, making a mould from mid-calf to below the knee. We formed and finished a comfortable socket, constructed a “shin, ankle and foot” and made sure the fit was perfect. We gave him a few pointers in walking and within two days, he was fully mobile and once more, involved in the mainstream of his business.
What started off as a normal day of flying, enjoying the clear skies, good company and scenery ended with not such a good note. We flew down the coast from Mossel Bay to Saldanha and back. On the way back we noticed smoke in the cockpit, which cleared after a while but then returned and the motor stopped turning. To cut a long story short we crash landed in a field belonging to a farmer. The impact of the forced landing broke my T12 vertebrae, paralysing me from the waist down.
People tend to say to me
“your life hasn’t changed, you just do things differently”…..really??
“Ag it’s not so bad man”……really??
“What’s the problem?”…..uhmmm…..
“Why you crying?”…..well that is the most difficult to explain!!
To suddenly be paralysed from the waist down IS a life changing experience.
After the fusion operation it changed and I was classified as a L1 Incomplete – meaning….movement and partial feeling was restored to midway down my lower legs. Total loss of pain and temperature sensation from there to the ends of my toes. As well as the “horseshoe” area of the Sacral region, meaning loss of control of bowel and bladder, which thankfully my bladder has partially restored (sorry if this is too graphic for you). Which means I can feel I need to go I just cannot control it….no “holding it in”….now means NOW!
Thankfully (for Hans Potgieter sake) my wearing of nappies came to an end.
I had 2 choices, curl up and “die” or straighten up and “live”.
I love the song by Queen “The Great Pretender”…so fitting for me at times. Its not always that easy, but I am becoming a master at it. I know I am not a burden, but feeling that I am cannot be helped.
To stay at home 24hrs a day 7 days a week is not what I had planned for myself, but then again I’m sure nobody plans things that way. There are plenty of times that I cry my eyes out, but that is only when there is nobody around and I know there is enough time for my red eyes (evidence) to fade away. I am thankful for my husband and my family and friends who have stood by me and been here for me, without any of you I would definitely have curled up and died.
Rollercoaster ride comes to mind….not just for me but for Hans too. Having a wife who suddenly is paralysed can not be something easy to handle. Thanks for all your patience with me!! My loving daughter and her fiancé, thanks for all your help and understanding Chandre Dre Tiddies Roestorff.
I found Malcolm Freedman on the internet after bring released from the Western Cape Rehab Center, where I had spent 3 months learning to walk again with the aid of AFO’s – An ankle-foot orthosis is an orthosis or brance than encumbers the ankle and foot, they are externally applied and intended to control position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities. The AFO’s from the state were plastic and made me feel as if I was always falling backwards. I went to see Malcolm and he immediately gave me a different type, with which I could stand on my own unaided for the first time in almost 4 months. But when I was released from the WCRC I had a “blood blister” under my left big toe, which eventually popped and was in actual fact a pressure sore, this worsened over time, resulting me in not being able to wear the AFO’s and to stay off my feet till it healed. This in turn caused my feet to get atrophy from not being “used”, to such an extent that I could not stand at all or walk anymore. After much deliberation and “googling” how to repair them I woke up one morning and said: I’m going to have them amputated, then I can walk again with prosthetics”. Much to my husband’s horror, he wouldn’t speak to me for days. This was the only way I could see myself ever walking again. I contacted Malcolm and told him of my decision and made an appointment to see Dr Jason Crane. He saw my point and the extent of the atrophy and agreed to do the double amputation. It was scheduled for a month later, I went to theater on the Monday morning and went home on the Tuesday morning. 2 months later I had an appointment with Malcolm for the first casts to be made. It is a year since the amputation and I have been training myself to walk with crutches and have my first set of permanent legs. I could not wish for a better prosthesist than Malcolm and his team.
After 47 years of pain and 24 surgeries later, I decided to have a BTK left leg amputation in January this year. I met with my Prosthetist, Malcolm Freedman, who took me through all my options and went as far as to show me websites and videos, so I could consider all the options available to me.
Once I had my surgery, I was back in his office after eight weeks, and was introduced to different components so I could compare flexibility, movement and stress on my stump. I finally opted for the Harmony system and Meridium foot. Although the prosthetic is significantly heavier, I do not feel the weight when I wear it, I do however, sometimes take off my prosthetic and let people feel how heavy it is as a party trick. The foot adapts well to all terrain and I immediately felt less strain on my right leg while noticing about an 80% decrease in phantom pain. I now have more flexibility and movement with my prosthetic, than before the amputation. Its nine months after my operation, and I even managed a yoga class yesterday, while wearing my prosthetic.
I am fortunate to be the first in Africa to own this fantastic device and my wish is, that one day other less fortunate amputees, have the freedom and gift of movement I now have. Thank you to Malcolm for his wisdom and guidance and to Otto Bock, your service to me in Cape Town has been fantastic and I am now a proud ambassador of your wonderful technology in Africa.
This letter to you is you affirm my appreciation for all you have done for me since I became your patient and then an amputee. Your encouragement, positivity and belief in me have helped me in exponential ways to get on with my life. I never believed you when you said there is life after an amputation. I still work daily, drive my hands control vehicle, exercise 3 times a week with the help of a biokeneticist and have a full social life. In fact most times I have to remind myself that I am an amputee as even though I may not have a limb I am more able bodied than those with all their limbs!
Coming to your rooms is like seeing old friends again as you always have time for me and always with a ready smile and nothing is ever a problem for you to help me with.
Once again thank you so much for all you do for me and other amputees – we are indeed very fortunate to have you
I just wanted to say thank you very much for sorting out my new braces, they fit fantastically, and I’m super happy with the service you have provided me with.
I have been riding with Cti braces now for the best part of 15 years as a result of a torn ACL, and a detached MC ligament, and as far as I’m concerned, every wakeboarder should be using them as a protective and preventative measure. My Cti braces have allowed me to do things that my doctors told me I would never be able to do. The support they offer is unbelievable, the feel is super natural, and the confidence they provide to me as a rider is nothing short of exceptional.
So, big thanks to you Malcolm for the great service, and the guys at Ossur for an exceptional product.