Compression socks, etc.

So I wondered why everyone likes compression socks for this device.  The simple answer is because they rock.  There are a lot of ways to do this, and I’m just figuring out my groove.  Feel free to laugh and learn from my mistakes.

I am allergic to polyester, so that narrows options down a bit for me.  I prefer Zensah because only their heather colors have polyester.  I’ve got about four pairs of their winter weight socks, which are no longer available on their website, but Amazon has some left.  I have three pair of their regular variety, I bought a size up, since my calves are huge and I like them higher than mid-calf length.  Moo.  In the Army, they all called my calves cows because they’re so big.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  Eye roll…

Then I ordered a few leg compression sleeves while I was checking out the Zensah website, because they were on sale and I wanted to try them.  I FELL IN LOVE.  I can wear them higher than the socks, and then I can wear my extra cushion Fruit of the Loom ankle socks with them.  Happy feet, happy cows, happy Jenn.  I now have three pair of compression sleeves, size L/XL.  I will be buying more as time passes and paychecks make that feasible.

Another thing I wondered about was the use of knee sleeves.  Summer is coming, and you do not want these things rubbing on your bare skin.  VA gave me a sleeve that promptly fell down into my boot, so I consulted the Zensah, again.  Once I put that bad boy on, I was sold.  They make a freaking awesome knee compression sleeve, no polyester, awesome compression.  I ended up wearing it every time my knee got angry, and it was amazeballs.

If you have sensitive skin, though, limit the amount of time the gripper substance is in contact with your skin.  I got cocky and ended up with a ring of polkadot rash for a couple of weeks.  After that, I let it breathe periodically throughout the day, and had no further problems.  A lot of folks wear the sleeve inside out, and flip the grip side over the top of the cuff.

Speaking of summer…. San Antonio in the summer, that should rock for my chubby Cheesehead self.  So far, I have only worn the brace over yoga pants or skinny jeans (yes, they make those for fat people).  With summer coming, I need to think about what’s in my closet and if it will fit the braces.  You want a tight fit at the knee or you’re going to be squeaking (the brace makes a cute squeak if it’s not on tight) and wrecking pants fast.  You pants either have to fit over or under the brace.

Your best resource for women’s fashion/clothing advice for the IDEO?  Beth Shaver.  She’s a beast.  I’m not a fashionista, but her clothing advice is spot-on for this brace.  Dudes?  You have it easy: wear a compression sleeve or sock, put on pants.  sigh.

Ok, going to bed.  It was a long day and I found out that Fila is not a good shoe for my feet and the IDEO.  More on shoes later.

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Center for the Intrepid

So wow.  It took a while to re-convince the Ortho doc that I needed one of these for the other foot.  He was concerned that the BOA on the medial side (which is a great idea for the fat chick, but it catches on my other pant leg constantly) would hit the BOA for the other side.  I told him it could be switched, or the closure style could be different (clamshell) but he was all out of f*cks to give for the day, so I talked to the Prosthetics guy again and he said he’d do some educating of the Ortho guy.

So they got together and discussed it.  Had another multi-disciplinary appointment with the PT Superwoman, Prosthetics Guru, and Ortho Doc.  They all said big words about how my feet and ankles move when I move.  Then, finally, Ortho Doc said YES.  So I got some chocolate and went down to Prosthetics to schedule my appointment.

IF you’re not familiar with the VA system, it’s pretty unique.   Everything is in one place, the referral system is usually quick and sometimes efficient, and chocolate makes life easier.

A few weeks later, I saw Kyle (Prosthetics Guru) again.  He’s a child genius, I’m pretty sure.  He casted both legs because I’m getting TWO NEW IDEOs!!!!!!  Apparently, they cannot just replace the cuff.  This makes sense when you think about it, but I was so happy I didn’t think, I just made a high-pitched noise and got happier!  In the casting process, he found yet another compensation thing I do with lower leg posture.  Had to recast that leg.  This dude is sooo freaking patient.  this also explains why the KAFO for that leg aggravated my foot so badly.

So this brings me to the title reference.  IDEO braces were invented in San Antonio by a prosthetist named Ryan Blanck.  He worked at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.  I got a wild hair up my IDEO and called the Center, to see if they had rehab guides for the devices, since I need help and they just don’t do this very much in Minneapolis.  They told me to come on down and do some rehab.  LIKE SIX WEEKS OF REHAB! AT SAN ANTONIO!!!

Tricare and/or VA will pay for it.  I just needed to get a referral for Tricare through my civilian doc.  I have Tricare Standard, though, so they won’t pay for travel, but Tricare Prime will pay for it.  That makes no sense whatsoever.  I can’t even have Tricare Prime because I don’t live near a military base, so they won’t pay for me to go to a military base for a medical thing?  But people who DO live near a base can get travel pay… Huh?  So I’ll call them and see what they have to say for themselves…  VA just might pay travel, though…  I’ll let you know how that goes as I find out.

So I’m pretty stoked about this.  I can stay in the Fisher House, so lodging is no problem.  Six weeks of classes, rehab, and training on these bad boys.  They can also make adjustments, add knee extensions, address any issues that come up, and make new ones, if needed, while I’m there.  And I get to be around the military again.  This is going to be pretty freaking awesome.  I might end up with a tattoo…

 

Holy Crap.

OK, so a huge part of me thought this was going to be just another AFO. Another failure. Another disappointment. Monday last week, I went back for adjustments. It was a pain in the ass, took a couple of hours. I actually heard the prosthetist calling it a bitch. 😂. He came back and told me his opinion of adjusting the knee cuff. Definitely a bitch. He also ground the foot plate down a good bit so I could buy shoes to fit it. I tried it on, some more adjustments. Tried it again, he put a slick sticker in the cuff to cure a rub spot. Then I walked. I jumped. I skipped. It didn’t hurt. Not one bit. I about started crying. I stood on my toes, I jumped again. This reminded me that I don’t have one for the other side and to not be an idiot, so then I jumped only on the IDEO side. And I laughed really happily. Probably loudly, too.

Today I went back to the original PT who got all the great minds together to make this happen. She said she didn’t know I was so tall. Or happy. And I could walk just as fast as she could, now. She cried a little when she saw me walk. She called their Advanced Prosthetics PT over and he ooohed and aaahed. I showed them my tricks. They told me I was hot shit and didn’t need them (yet) because I figured it all out. My only problem was that I was bending my opposite knee inward to compensate, so I became aware of it and stopped (because it hurt a lot). I also began wearing the knee brace for that knee when I wear Ethyl (or, as the prosthetist calls her, Bitch) to remind me not to roll it. I hadn’t worn the brace much before Ethyl because my foot had never let me walk enough to need the knee brace. 🤣

I also got Ethyl new Army stickers today. Ethyl and I are taking the dog out, later. For a walk. Outside. Yup. #intrepid

First delivery

Well, I got it today. It’s pretty, they did camo for me. They didn’t have the shoes for it, so I can’t really wear it yet. And I’m not supposed to wear it until I do the PT training for it. Of course, I bought shoes to fit it (three and a half sizes larger than my normal size) on the way home… It doesn’t fit. It’s either too short at the strut, or the knee cuff is too long. The foot bed is a half inch wider than my foot, so finding shoes to fit it is almost impossible and it’s impossibly uncomfortable. I cam take three steps before it hurts too much to walk more. The body of it is too thick, it’s very heavy. My heart hurts. I don’t know if it’s fixable. I’m frigging crushed.

Casting.

So today I found out the details. And got casted. The guy who did my casting explained that the VA has seven regions, he is the head of the Region VII IDEO brace program. He does all of them, for the whole region. So I’m guessing, if you are getting an IDEO brace through VA, you have to go to a Regional VA. I’m lucky enough to have the Minneapolis VA as my primary, and it’s close to home, so no travel for me.

Casting was typical. If you haven’t had an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) or KAFO (knee ankle foot orthotic), it’s pretty cool. They put a skinny cast on your leg, from midthigh down to the end of the toes. It’s warm and cozy and is literally a pain in the ass, because you have to hold certain postures for a half hour or so. My ass muscles are still mad.

First, they slide cotton tubing on your leg, up past your knee. Then they feel for and mark all the important anatomical landmarks, while another prosthetist writes it all down on a form specifically for this brace. Then comes the knee plaster, and then the skinny cast (no cotton, just a thinner 3M casting material on the rest of the leg). It has to set for a bit, but the whole shebang took no longer than 40 minutes. Wear shorts and a change of clothes, your shorts are going to get plaster on them.

So, two weeks until I try on the “glass slipper” model that they make to see what adjustments are needed. Then another few weeks for the real deal.

In other news, DAV called today to tell me they have a motorized wheelchair for me! I have widespread musculoskeletal problems, not just the foot, so this is awesome news. I’m hopeful I won’t need the chair for long, but I’ll have it if I need it! We’re going to pick that up tomorrow!

And Babu thinks she’s allowed to be in the coffee table. Lol, busy day.

Final fitting, The Glass Slipper.

We had to do another casting, the whole top of the proto-brace was wonky, so another month. Today we did the final trimming and measuring and heating and shaping of the second glass slipper. We scheduled for one month out to get the final edition, the IDEO. We so sized and selected shoes to go over it. The brace is going to up my shoe size from a 9 to an 11.

Another cool thing is that they want to make an IDEO KAFO for my other leg. I’m in a clunky KAFO now, and have the same foot problems on that side. Kyle got a gleem in his eye when he mentioned it. I think he wants to build the beast.

Casting.

So today I found out the details. And got casted. The guy who did my casting explained that the VA has seven regions, he is the head of the Region VII IDEO brace program. He does all of them, for the whole region. So I’m guessing, if you are getting an IDEO brace through VA, you have to go to a Regional VA. I’m lucky enough to have the Minneapolis VA as my primary, and it’s close to home, so no travel for me.

Casting was typical. If you haven’t had an AFO (ankle foot orthotic) or KAFO (knee ankle foot orthotic), it’s pretty cool. They put a skinny cast on your leg, from midthigh down to the end of the toes. It’s warm and cozy and is literally a pain in the ass, because you have to hold certain postures for a half hour or so. My ass muscles are still mad.

First, they slide cotton tubing on your leg, up past your knee. Then they feel for and mark all the important anatomical landmarks, while another prosthetist writes it all down on a form specifically for this brace. Then comes the knee plaster, and then the skinny cast (no cotton, just a thinner 3M casting material on the rest of the leg). It has to set for a bit, but the whole shebang took no longer than 40 minutes. Wear shorts and a change of clothes, your shorts are going to get plaster on them.

So, two weeks until I try on the “glass slipper” model that they make to see what adjustments are needed. Then another few weeks for the real deal.

In other news, DAV called today to tell me they have a motorized wheelchair for me! I have widespread musculoskeletal problems, not just the foot, so this is awesome news. I’m hopeful I won’t need the chair for long, but I’ll have it if I need it! We’re going to pick that up tomorrow!

And Babu thinks she’s allowed to be in the coffee table. Lol, busy day.