My name is Kathryn Grainger and I underwent a
amputation of my right leg on July 17, 2017. As a diabetic, you learn very quickly that everything is complicated by diabetes and that is certainly true of vascular disease.
This all started in January 2016 as an undetected infection in a corn on my little toe that was quickly out of control. The infection spread and in March 2016, I lost my toes and struggled to heal. Attempts to improve my circulation followed with modest improvement. My vascular team and podiatrist made every effort to save my foot and ultimately my leg.
In late June 2017, it looked as though my foot was improving and my doctor wanted to do a wound debridement. He indicated that he saw new tissue growth and the wound appeared smaller. So, you can imagine how upset I was when on the morning of the outpatient procedure, he told me that there was, in fact, an infection. The surgical team admitted me to the hospital with a life-threatening infection that ultimately resulted in my right leg being amputated below the knee.
I spent approximately 2 weeks recovering and going through rehab before being discharged home.
I was introduced to Travis Barlow, CP at Optimus through my vascular surgeon, Dr. Aaron Kulwicki. They are both amazing. This was a very scary period for me and they just took me under their wing and guided me through the whole process. And it was not an easy process for me. As a diabetic, I am also a slow healer which meant it could take some time.
Finally, in March 2018, I was granted clearance to proceed with getting my prosthesis. Working with Travis was an educating experience. He explained all the steps involved in building, wearing and caring for my prosthetic leg. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Everyday presents new challenges but it is so rewarding to accomplish them. Figuring out how to stand on one leg in front of the mirror to comb my hair was one of my first challenges. I was able to speak with a fellow amputee and we both wondered if we would be able to just get up and walk. Unfortunately, that is not true. Depending on how long it has been since you walked, it could be awhile. The body must relearn and learn anew. For me every day gets a little better and a little easier and makes me feel a little more normal.
My goal is to go on my first solo shopping trip and I see that in my not too distant future. My second goal is to go bowling with my husband and hopefully rejoin my team.
The best advice I could offer others is to never give up. I have followed that my whole life, even before I became an amputee. Most plans are not successful on the first try or even the second, third or fourth. That's why there are more than 4 letters in the alphabet. It is not the end of the world and everything is manageable. Give yourself some time and cut yourself some slack. Rome was not built in a day.