A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to New Jersey to participate in the 2nd annual Golf Supports Our Troops golf tournament. It was an amazing weekend of golf and fun. Flying up to New Jersey from Florida I was able to enjoy the fall in the Northeast. However, this may not have been as much of a blessing as I had expected. For some amputees, traveling is something that can change our normal daily routines. The changes in altitude, temperature/humidity, and diet may cause issues when it comes to wearing our prosthetic limbs.
I have flown often since I became an amputee 11 years ago. I noticed on a couple of my trips the volume of my legs changed. This trip involved not only the change in altitude of flying but also the difference elevation change from Florida to New Jersey and back again within 3 days. On this weekend trip to New Jersey I had an issue with my left leg. For several months before I went on this trip I had remained in a one ply sock on both legs, with a great fit. When we arrived in New Jersey our hotel room was not ready so we headed to the golf course to get in some practice. That night I noticed my leg was not fitting well. The next morning my left leg had some swelling, and my right was just fine. We played in the golf tournament and flew home the next day. By the time I got back to Florida, the volume of my left leg had increased to the point where I had difficulty wearing my prosthesis.
Another factor that plays a role in the volume change while traveling is the change in climate. When I left Florida the temperature was around 85 and the humidity was about 85%. In New Jersey there was an obvious difference, it was Fall weather. It was a crisp 60 degrees with very low humidity. This may have not been what changed the size of my leg but it is definitely a factor you should take into consideration when traveling.
A commonly overlooked culprit that affects the fit of a prosthetic is weight and fluid retention. When you change your typical diet it can have huge effects on your volume of your residual limb. Every meal during these three days was from a restaurant. One night on this trip everyone socialized in the hotel lounge. This is very different from my normal diet. I don’t think I gain much weight in such a short period of time. However, I’m sure the difference in the amount of sodium intake could have made a significant difference in my fluid retention.
Since becoming an amputee, I have done my best to continue all of the things in life I enjoy. Most things in life I still enjoy but I have realized sometimes I have to adapt to changes from my normal daily routine. The motto of amputees should be: “prepare and adapt”.