Sunday, November 21, 2010

More on TSA

I'm providing more stories about amputees dealing with the TSA here,  here, and here. Again, I can't help but be a little amused at the general public's outrage with the new TSA practices when we've dealt with this kind of scrutiny for years.

If you're flying over the holidays, familiarize yourself with the TSA rules regarding prosthetics. Carry a copy with you in case you're subjected to anything like the nightmare situations above. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TSA - No Disparity Here!

OOOOoooo... I love it! Welcome to MY world!

Ever since scanners and pat downs have been around, I've been suspect just because I have a prosthesis. I announce to everyone that I have "an artificial leg" which draws the attention of all the other passengers but never the bored and indifferent TSA agent. Next, I walk through the scanner and set off the alarm, so they tell me to go back. I announce AGAIN what the problem is and if they're listening, they yell, "FEMALE PAT DOWN!" Then I'm instructed to stand on the little green footprints on the floor and hold my arms away from my sides while they run the wand over me. Of course they find "the leg" so AGAIN, I explain. (So much for HIPAA - now 200+ passengers know my medical history). Because the wand goes off, they have to pat me down explaining that they're using the back of their hand (come on... how many guys in High School would have cared if it was the back or the front of their hand...really!). And, we're not done. Then I have to sit down and they swab my hands and my leg to check for bomb residue. Finally, I'm free to try to find my carry on luggage that went through 5 minutes earlier, without me.

Think it's just me being extra sensitive? Read this 2 year old story.

That's the best case scenario. The worst case is having to disrobe in a booth to show ALL of the prosthesis. Note to self: Always wear nice underwear when traveling. Or the questions, "How far does it go up, how far does it go down, blah, blah. Then everyone is staring but trying not to stare. the rest of the world is dealing with what I've put up with for years. The outcry is all over the news "Now, I'm here to tell you, it's an outrage! An outrage I say!! We won't be treated this way!"

The Amputee Coalition of America surveyed 7,300 amputees about their experience with the TSA and 75% were dissatisfied. I'm guessing that's similar to the general public's level of dissatisfaction, after all, we are the general public. We're just the general public with a prosthesis or two.

So, in my quest for parity, who knew that the TSA would be the first to get in line?!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why I voted against...

... my representative, Emanuel Cleaver, D-MO. For two years I've never gotten a response that made any sense, much less addressed the issue of prosthetic parity. I received letters that assured me that mental health parity was indeed important (huh?!) and that yes, he supported the health care bill (prosthetic parity was not included in the massive health care reform bill) and I forget what the latest generic response I got was, but none addressed HR 2575. I mean, how hard is this really? A Google search could find the text for "HR 2575." Cut, paste, co-sign the bill and I'm a happy voter. Too late. My one vote didn't matter though so it's back to work trying to make my voice heard.

On the flip side, Jerry Moran, R-KS, has cosigned the bill and is now a US Senator. Congratulations to Senator Moran and thank you again.

Now, please, let's get these bills passed. Please contact your senators and representatives!

Where have I been?

Busy... so busy with work - the kind that pays the bills. I've also developed a pesky neuroma. A neuroma is the result of cutting the sciatic nerve. The nerve cells start growing into a little ball, sending out all sorts of crazed messages that spell PAIN. I was in serious denial for a long time - maybe a year. We blamed the socket and no doubt there were some serious issues with the socket materials, but once we ironed these out, the pain remained. Gnawing, crushing pain that invaded my thoughts and every moment of my day and night. Every step, even something as simple as rolling over in bed brought it on. Vibrations from the car would send my leg into spasms and phantom pain.

The MRI revealed the neuroma and I still denied that something that small could cause so much pain. I saw a pain specialist that listened to all my drivel about bone spurs, etc., and he calmly said, "It's the neuroma (stoo-pid)." One injection of anesthetic and steroid shut it down. Dang. It was a miracle. Four weeks later it reared it's ugly head and like resistant bacteria, nothing could calm it. It was back with a vengeance. I was certain that surgery would be the answer so I visited my surgeon. She described what it would take to find, cut out and calm the nerve with no guarantee that it would not come back and could possibly come back even worse. It was gruesome and left me reconsidering my pain options. So, back to the pain specialist.

Now I'm on 1800 mg of Gabapentin and 25 mg of Amitryptyline a day. This dulled the constant, gnawing pain and allowed me to at least walk about 25 yards without seizing up. Two weeks ago I had a lumbar block which basically consists of having 5 inch needles stuck in your back and blocking the sympathetic nerve that sends the message from the sciatic to your brain; the message that says, "OH MY GOD! OW!" Brilliant. I can walk. I can roll over in my sleep. Now, when walking away from a group, instead of acting like I'm doing something "busy" while I ever so slowly get used to the pain, I stand up and walk away. It's not perfect or permanent, but right now, this moment, it's damned good!

And, speaking of good, I figured out how to modify the old 3R80 knee for riding. That floppy, useless hydraulic knee is perfectly suited for riding. Just turn the foot in 45 degrees and let the knee hang. It only has two useful positions locked upright - which allows me to stand in the stirrups - and hanging there passively, all booted up and in the stirrup. Very useful for riding and I don't scare small children like I did riding with no lower leg.

And now, about that parity issue. It's about as stale as an old Cheez-it found with the loose change under the couch cushions. Alright already. The elections are over. Let's get this show on the road!