Monday, February 1, 2016

On Soap and Soapboxes

I haven't posted in quite a while and I should have warned everyone about how my December and January would be. I  have worked in the transportation industry for the last 27 years. Traditionally the weeks leading up to and following the Christmas holiday are always a crazy time for us. Retailers demanding their product in time to sell it for the holiday, then processing all the returns to the vendors, coupled with trying to meet the needs of our drivers work-life balance takes a lot of time and energy. I had little time to have any thoughts, much less post anything that made sense. Thankfully, this rush has finally leveled off and I can return to some sense of normalcy.

I want to touch base on something that is very basic that every amputee has to know. How to take care of their residual limb. This is a very touchy subject for some people, when it should be something that is taught from the beginning. A large amount of issues could be solved by good hygiene, yet many amputees choose not to follow simple rules about keeping clean. I admit, since my infection with MRSA that began my experience, I have become a bit of a germaphobe. I am forever marked as someone who is susceptible to another MRSA infection. I never want to experience that again, if I can help it. So I follow some simple rules about keeping my body clear of issues.

First, I make sure I bathe myself at least once a day. I know it is a hassle, having to use a shower chair and having to make sure that everything is dry and clean afterwards. It generates more laundry, uses more water and everything. During the process, I make sure that I clean my liner and my suction sleeve. I change out my stump socks and put them in the laundry. I use a product that I have really come to believe is one of the best soaps on the market. HIBICLENS®  From their website, they claim the product is an antimicrobial, antiseptic skin cleanser that can be part of an effective defense for preventing the spread of MRSA.and other staph infections.I have found that it is very effective at keeping any infections from becoming worse. As a guy getting up there in age, I grow hair like a woolly mammoth. Having a sweaty liner against my skin 16-18 hours every day does wonders to create ingrown hairs. This can allow for skin breaks and eruptions that can create portals into my body for creepy crawly bugs like MRSA. I have found that regular waxing of certain problem areas keeps this problem at bay, but daily use of Hibiclens® helps keep me from getting an infection. An added benefit is that it retards growth of bacteria for up to six hours, reducing the smell when I remove my liner. I highly recommend it for people that can tolerate it. Since I am not a doctor, I would suggest that you talk to one, they may have other ideas on proper skin care and hygiene.

Another point I wanted to make was to remind everyone that advocacy matters. The Amputee Coalition, Amplitude magazine and several manufacturers of prosthetic devices including Rush™ Foot, have been fighting the battle for us on the issue of the Medicare guidelines. As I have written before several times, this is  a huge issue that affects every one of us, not just those that use Medicare benefits. We as amputees comprise just under one percent of the population of the United States. That means about 1 in every 125 Americans has suffered through the pain of losing a limb. This is a significant number of people. While about a quarter of those do not choose to, or do not require the use of prosthetic devices, about 1 in every 200 people need them to lead productive lives. We must make our voice heard, especially during this time of decision making. Lean on the representatives and senators for your district. Make sure that they are aware and get their commitment to provide the pressure needed to make appropriate changes to the guidelines that can reduce fraud and still provide the tools we need to lead our lives a close to normally as we can. And a note to the medical "professionals" that defrauded the government by approving or recommending inappropriate devices to those that did not need them, shame on you. You should lose your license to practice.

I hope to be back to posting on a more regular schedule through the rest of the year, thank you for your patience!!

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