Socket List

On my very last day at Louisville, way back when I had just had surgery and I thought my life was over, I was told something about percentages.

I was told that after I was back up on my feet my life would by no means be over. In fact, 98% of the things I had done before I would still be able to do.

Wow, 98% sounds like a pretty good number, doe it not? Well, at least until you think about that last little 2%. See, what they just don’t understand is, 2% is a big number for me. There are a lot of things I have done in my life, lots of adventures, lots of exciting things.

Were those great times and exciting adventures going to be in that 2%?

I don’t know, not yet.

I am sure by now everyone knows what a bucket list is. I heard that movie was great, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. Bucket list. Almost a scary thing. The list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket.

I don’t have much of a bucket list. Like I said.. Lots of good times, lots of adventures… So not much in my bucket.

On my prosthesis there is a very important component called a socket. A socket is custom molded to my residual limbs, and is the thing that lets me stand on my new legs….

So I have a “Socket List.”

I have a list of things I want to do AGAIN in my life, once I am back on my feet. This is where that 2% really comes into play… Are the things I am about to list for you in that 2%?

I hope not….

My Socket List:

1. Fire/EMS

A long time ago I got a wild hair and started volunteering for my local fire department. Providence Fire/EMS is a paid department, but accepts the help of volunteers. I can remember when I first started, they would put me in full turnout gear and make me run around the the the building the station is housed in.

I don’t know what was tougher, the running, or the sniggers from the guys as they watched me sweat my ass off! I did a lot of training in the beginning, and it always seemed to involve sweating on my part ๐Ÿ™‚

Being on a fire department can be a lot of work. Fighting fires is not glamourous stuff. It is labour intensive, and is dangerous. But I stuck with it. When the siren went off, or the phone rang, I was there. Believe me, I wasn’t the best fire fighter in the world, but I tried. I am sure I frustrated some of the guys when I screwed up, but they put up with me because I was dependable, I always showed up to help.

Eventually, the department sent me to First Responder school, so I could work on the ambulance as a volunteer. I don’t think this was done often, but again, I always showed up.

On night, there was a fully involved structure fire on Cedar st here in Providence. I ended up on the roof with a pike-pole tearing off roofing. On the ground there was a paid man from the department hollering up, asking if I needed anything.

I thought it a bit humorous that the volunteer was on the roof, while the paid man was on the ground asking if he needed anything. Talk about role reversal! After the fire got under control and I was back on the ground the Asst Chief pulled me aside. Walking down the street a bit away from the fire ground the Asst Chief told me the decision had been made to bring me on as a paid man part time.

I was blown away.

I could go on and on about the time in years I spent serving the citizens of this community on that fire department, but I think you get the picture. I made a lot of friends on the department, I am quite certain I irritated the hell out of some of the guys because I always come across as a “know it all,” and I know I goofed up sometimes. For the irritations, I apologize. I hope all the men down there know I always tried to do my best, and I always tried to help.

My career as a weekend and part time paid man ended when the new mayor was elected. My mother ran against him on the ballot, and he won. The last shift I went in to work on was on Christmas Eve. I was going to work an overnight so one of the full time guys could go home to be with his family.

Another person was found to work that shift, and I was never told. I showed up to work, but was sent home. Could be that it is coincidence that I was pulled off that shift after the new mayor was elected. I was never called in for another shift, and I just faded away from the department. No matter the ending, I was proud to work at that department, and serve my community. I was there for the tornado, and like most every other man there I worked a nearly forty hour straight nightmare. I would do it all again, because it was worth it.

So, that is one of the things on my socket list. Get back on a fire department and at the least volunteer. I don’t care if all I do is hump hose and clean up, I want to serve again! I don’t know if P-Town FD would have me, but hopefully some department will.

2. Search and Rescue

Two of the friends I made at PFD was Lee Jenkins and Monty Hardman. I am still good friends with lee to this day, he comes and visits me on his Harley fairly often. Monty pulled up stakes and moved away on us.

Those two got me into search and rescue work. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to join the Webster County Rescue Squad. I had more fun with those guys than you could ever imagine. We did high angle rope rescue, wilderness SAR and water rescue.

On my time on the squad we did several searches on land and on the water. Lee and Monty pushed me forward to get many rescue certifications. Because of those guys I am state trained and hold certificates in High Angle and BSAR rescue. I was eventually made an Asst Chief of the squad over high angle rescue.

So, on my socket list you can add being part of a SAR team again.

3. Rappelling

One of the things I did a lot of on WCRS was rappel. Every chance I got I was on the side of a tower on a rope. I loved it! I bought all my own gear so the county wouldn’t have to, and I still have it.

Once, Lee and I got the opportunity to train the KY Dept of Corrections CERT team. This is basically the state prison system’s SWAT team. We had a great time over three days hanging off the side of a military base’s training tower, watching as burly prison guards squealed like little girls as they broke over that tower on a rope!

This is something I truly loved to do. So we can add this to my socket list as well. I want to rappel again!

4. Motorcycle Riding

Sitting in a living room of an empty house is my Zuki. If you know me at all, you know I love that bike! I have spent many a weekend burning up the backroads and highways of KY and all it’s surrounding states with my friends. Jenny and Bob, Jim Durnil, Eric Kim-Bro and all the rest I have ridden with.

Kim-bro and I have traveled all over on our bikes. Hell, he sold me my Zuki to begin with and got me back into riding!

I know I can’t ride my Zuki. My knees just don’t bend enough to be comfortable on the foot pegs. Plus, it’s a rocket, I lost my legs already, I don’t want to push my luck!

I think I could ride a cruiser, though. I already have one picked out. So add that to my socket list. I want to freaking ride again!

5. Driving

Many wheel chair bound people still drive. With the use of an automatic transmission and hand controls it is very doable. But, I have a problem..

My little truck that I love dearly is 4×4 mountain goat… With a stick shift!

I have never gotten the thing hung up, it is pretty as a peach, and it is damn near paid for! It is nothing to find a spot and dive off the road and push that 4 high button.. Yea, push button 4×4!

So this one is very simple. I want to drive again… I want to drive MY TRUCK again…

All of these are just a drop in the bucket…ummm… socket…. of the things I want to do again. I cant list everything, but these are some of the things that are more important to me..

Are they in the 98%… or the 2%?

I don’t know, but I am sure as hell going to find out. you just watch me!

Been a while…

Well, it has been a bit since my last blog. I guess you could say I have been laying low.. Honestly, I have been recovering from my time in rehab. They worked me very hard. They crammed 21 days worth of training into 10 days.

Yea, I needed a break. Also, honestly, I have been a bit down. Not in a bad way, mind you, just…. frustrated.

My prosthetist has told me time and again not to expect to be running marathons, but I am stubborn and hard headed. I want to be so much farther along than I am! I know, don’t say it. I do realize I need to be realistic. It wont come all at once. I am making good progress, and fast progress.

I have had some minor setbacks, I had to heal from the over working of rehab, so had to take nearly a week off from wearing my legs per my leg guru’s orders. My right leg is much shorter than the left, and cant take as much of a beating as the left, and it got really sore. Also, my right hand, arm and shoulder tend to compensate for the weaker right leg, and all of the above mentioned body parts were sore and in need of a rest.

This past Saturday was the go ahead day I was given for getting back up on my legs. My son, brother and myself went to Evansville to do some shoe shopping for my son. I was on my feet all morning before we left, walked into the shoe store, sat down and then walked out again when he found his new shoes.

I then walked into Olive Garden, had a meal and walked back out again to the car. In case your curious, I had the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli, ummm… ummm… good!

Just doing this stuff wore me out so bad I had to use my wheel chair to get back in the house! So, Sunday I took a day off from walking and jumped back in on Monday. Other than my morning bathroom run and getting in/out of the shower, I spent ALL DAY on my legs! Back and forth through the house, walking outside, going to Madisonville to pick up the kiddo from school and then going back o drop him off at his Mom’s house later.

No, I didn’t drive! O_o

Afterwards I went to Salonworks with my mother to get a hair cut. I walked in there, then back out again. When we got home it took all I had to get up the steps and into the house, but I did it!

Essentially an entire day on my legs! Today, of course, I am going to be taking it easy. Besides, I just bought the latest episode of Justified and season 2 of Carnivale from itunes. I am gonna spend a lazy day watching stuff on the ol’ iPad. And also, maybe write a blog or two!

That’s right, two. this is number one, just a catch up with how I am doing, and number two will be a hopefully long ramble about this concept in my head I have named the “Socket List.”

Come join me a bit later to read more!

Home again…

Well, today is Sunday. This is my second morning home from Frazier Rehab. I have to tell you, it is good to be home again. I haven’t done a whole lot walking-wise since I have been back, as the doctors and therapists all told me to take a few day long break.

While at rehab, they worked me to death! We had a limited amount of time and a maximum amount of training to go through. I woke up every morning at rehab sore and hurting, and ended every day going to bed early. I am sure you could see the fatigue in my face on my video blogs!

so, the couple of days break was called for! I have sore and stretched tendons in my right hand, and it hurts like a beast at the moment. I had this while in rehab, but copious amounts of pain meds kept the worst at bay. There is no taking a day off because you hurt at Frazier!

My right knee also hurts, as it got really overworked. Most afternoons I would spend my OT time working on loosening up my left hand and practicing picking up smaller and smaller objects. I just couldn’t do two walking therapies in the afternoon, I hurt too much for that. So, OT was for my hand, and PT was for walking.

My right hand and wrist are hurting a bit at this very moment as I am typing. Pain meds are starting to dull the ache, so I am OK for the moment. Speaking of typing…

We stopped by Best Buy in Evansville on the way home. I picked up a few things I have been wanting to get, one of which is a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. I will talk a little more about the other things I got in a bit. This keyboard is awesome! It is, of course, an Apple keyboard. There is a keyboard dock that is made just for the iPad, and I agonized over which to get of several good iPad compatible keyboards.

I settled on this one over the others because it runs on its own battery supply. The iPad specific keyboard looks much the same as this one, but it runs off the battery power of the iPad itself. The iPad keyboard also limits the iPad to portrait style viewing only, and I like to use my iPad in landscape mode. Also, I already have a very nice leather binder/holder thing my folks got for me for Christmas, and it holds up my iPad at just the right viewing angle. It also has a long slot in the front that this keyboard happens to fit quite nicely into, leaving the whole setup quite like a laptop when in use.

This is what my keyboard looks like:



Notice there is no key tray. The keys are set into a aluminum plate, and are spaced just a tad bit further apart than a regular keyboard’s. This makes it great for my modified typing style I use now with my left pinkie finger. The keys are also raised just a bit more than regular, which also works well with my new typing style.

Overall, I am well pleased with it. There are, however, a few kinks that take some getting used to. The iPad’s on screen keyboard auto corrects every typo, as well as magically correcting “i” into “I” for you. It also automatically capitalizes the first letter of any word after a period. My new keyboard does not do these things. i have to pay attention when i am typing a bit more. see what i mean? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The benefits most certainly outweigh the detriments. The traditional “F” keys at the top run my iPod app, volume, screen brightness and a few other nifty tidbits. Not all of these F keys work, though, because this is not a true iPad specific keyboard.

Another great thing about this is that I no longer have to take extra steps to get special characters. Here is an example:


T just typed all those just by hitting the shift keys and all the number keys. To use this on the on screen keyboard, you have to tap a sequence of keys just to get to the special characters, and most of the time the on screen board jumps back to the regular keyboard after every special character. So, this wireless keyboard is the bomb diggidy for using special charters.

Last, but not least, this new keyboard has a tab button, and arrow keys. No more tapping the screen to move ahead or back to correct an error or jump to a new typing field in a website sign on screen.

Well, now that I have reviewed my new keyboard, on to other things!

I also got a home wireless adapter while at Best Buy. What this does is extend an ethernet cable to anywhere else in the house without running wire everywhere. A good example of a use for this is:

Your kid has an xBox and uses a wireless wifi adapter to get online. Your kid complains because it is not fast enough to play certain games online. You use a set of these things i got to get an ethernet cable plug in close enough to the xBox to jack directly into the router. All you do is plug these two adapters into the wall and plug ethernet cables into them then, presto, instant hardwire ethernet connection!

That example is not based on my kiddo, of course, he doesn’t complain much about anything. He is a good kid!

I also bot a bluetooth headset for my phone so I can have my good hand free from holding a phone while I am talking on it. I can use my left hand to hold the phone to my ear, but I have to basically keep the phone to my ear by applying constant pressure and keep the thing pushed up to the side of my head. So, a BT headset solves some problems for me.

On a different subject entirely…..

When I started this blog/website, I really didn’t know what I was aiming for. Maybe a place for my friends and family to keep up with my progress, for sure. A place to share my thoughts and experiences, of course. Maybe a few other things..

I want to keep this always a place for my loved ones to check in on me, but I also want to expand a bit. See, when I was in the hospital, right after my surgeries, i had no one to talk to that had been through what I have been through. In a crowded hospital I felt alone at times, because there was no one that had been where I was at.

A good example of this happened while I was in rehab. I had a great therapist that was reviewing bathroom and bathing stuff with me. I told her how I preferred to sit in the bottom of a shower to bath as opposed to sitting in a shower chair. she seemed a bit perplexed at the thought! She could not understand why I would not want to use a special chair that was made for a special needs person such as myself.

She could not get how it might be uncomfortable to sit in a freaking chair to shower! She had trained people for a long time to do things the “accepted” way that she could not fathom doing it any other way. Now, don’t think i am complaining about her, she was awesome in most everything! She was the therapist that got me started o the hand therapy that got my flexion back. ๐Ÿ™‚

Regardless, she was not an amputee, so no matter what, she truly could not understand what it is like to be like this.

Also, while I was up at Frazier, I got to help out a new amputee. He was two floors above me, and had just had surgery for a left below knee amputation. The doctors and therapists all asked me to go talk to him. I was excited to help, let me tell you. We had only one conversation, but i got to talk to him and his wife, and show them the entire setup for my legs. I even took one off and handed it to him… lol

I wont use his name, but he does have this website address. If you read this, my friend, I want you to know it was an honor to come talk to you and ease your wife’s mind!

keeping all that in mind, I am going to start a new section here at Two Feet Shorter dedicated to just info for amputees and their family and friends. I want help from my family and friends, of course! If you would like to be a contributor to this new section as a writer, please comment below letting me know.

I want perspectives and thoughts about being a close friend or family member to an amputee. What thoughts crossed your mind, how you dealt with things. I want contributors that can and will write in such a way that friends or family of new amputees might get a little hope and comport knowing they are not the only ones feeling the things they are feeling.

I now know a few amputees myself. I have some old friends from back in the day who are married and he is a single below knee amputee. I think they will know I am pointing at them on this! (catfish leg, hint hint!) Also, my new friend I made on the tenth floor at Frazier. If you read this my friend, and would like for you or your wife to contribute, please let me know!

I also have therapists and prosthetists who occasionally read this blog, if any of you would like to contribute, please do.

I don’t want one single new amputee to have to go through the fear of the unknown. I don’t want new amputee’s family and friends feel helpless from not knowing what to do or say, or worry because they don’t know what the future might hold!

Help me, my friends and family, to help others. There can be no greater cause or goal in this world than the simple thought of helping others.

How ’bout it? Who will help? Just comment here to let me know! (Also, please make sure that comment is here, and not on my FB page! I want to keep Two feet Shorter a separate thing from FB)

Thanks all,


Day 9 Video blog

The video on this is a little messed up, didn’t preview it before I uploaded it.


Day 6 and 7 video blog

Thanks to my brotha from anotha motha, Matthew, for coming in to see me and shooting all the video!


Day 3 Video Blog

OK, I am totally confused! I keep thinking this is only the second day of therapy. This is day three!