Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blade Running

After months of anticipation, seeking insurance approvals, going for fittings and taking cautious test flights indoors, I went for my first run in two years on Wednesday!

There was no pain and the motion felt extremely natural once I found my groove. It seems to be all about finding a rhythm.

I was very awkward at first, having a nearly uncontrollable pogo-stick springing motion off my left side and a resounding "thud" on my right (my real leg). I slowed my cadence and lengthened my stride, finding a more suitable pace. I settled in quickly and everything started to click!

What a great feeling!

My cardiovascular system is still in great shape but my running muscles are very weak. My hamstrings were tight and sore afterward so I'll start small and train up a bit but it's great to be back on the path.

It was a great achievement for my second Legadon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Amusing Social Experiment

I'd often wondered if I'd be allowed on a particular type of rollercoaster; you know, the type where your legs hang down because the ride is suspended from the track above?

Now, I know the laws of physics and I understand friction, momentum, etc, but I also know I could probably bungee jump with my leg on and be quite confident that I wouldn't die. If you don't believe me, check out my "Sky Jump" post from New Zealand!

With this nagging question in the back of my mind a few weeks back, I found myself buying a ticket to an amusement park and heading straight for the upside-down rollercoaster line.

I was shocked to see a little icon on the "You must be at least this tall" sign that said "no prosthesis" right next to the one about "no pregnant ladies". It appears they've really thought this one through!

Ignoring the sign, I decided I was in the mood for a social experiment in "amusement park ride operator competence". Would anyone even notice? Would they tell me I couldn't go on it? What if I'd been wearing jeans instead of shorts?

It turns out the answer is a resounding NO, they didn't notice or at least didn't say anything if they did. I wasn't turned away, in fact the girl walked right by me as I climbed into the seat and did up my buckle!

Don't worry, I didn't take it on the ride; I wouldn't put others at risk like that.

When everyone else kicked off their loose shoes, sandals and flip-flops, I kicked off my leg. The squeals of two excited boys in the line behind me were priceless. When the ride got back in, I quickly stepped down into the socket and without missing a beat, walked off as smoothly as anyone else.

Remember kids: friends don't let friends ride the upside down rollercoaster wearing prosthetic legs!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reader Comments

I've had some really inspiring comments on some of my past blog posts lately and I thought I'd share them here! Comments are a great source of inspiration for me to keep blogging and I really appreciate every single one I receive.

There was a great exchange on the last post that I encourage you to read if you're looking for a source of good information as a new amputee.

On "The Elmer Fudd Conundrum" starting with Tiff's recommendation for "Dancing with the Stars" (thanks for the idea Tiff but I'm an "A-lister"):

Sean @ Gisoku Budo said...
Hi Michael - came across your site via another amputee blog from a fellow Aussie amputee, just wanted to say it's great to see you writing about your experiences, there aren't a lot of us out there I think! I'm an above-knee on my left, but still keep active, particularly with martial arts. Loving your travel blog and doctor dramas, I'm about to get the ball rolling with getting a new prosthesis myself, so it's all fresh in my mind! Keep up the good fight!

Joe said...
Hi, I've enjoyed following your website, and it has been a great resource for someone like me who lost their leg nearly 3 months ago. I'm still waiting to get fitted for my first prosthetic. I'm ready to get rid of these darn crutches! Two questions for you: 1) What is your opinion of a pin vs suspension prosthetic? What type of interface does your new leg use? 2) How often do you have to go back to using crutches? I was told by my doctor that most people can only wear a leg for a few hours at a time, and must always carry crutches around. He also said I should always take the leg off when I'm at home. Thanks again!

On "Swimming Revisited"

Anonymous said...
I just started swimming again and found as you did Mike my kick was either slowing me down or slowing push me to the left. What I am looking for is excerise I can do to help me swim and lose weight at the same time. Does walking help?

On "The Chicken and the Egg"

Dustin said...
I ran across your profile and I'm curious what prosthesis have you come up with for rock climbing by chance?

On the post "Tennis: Going Balls Out"

JJ said...
Hi! My name is JJ Larson and I was actually born with what is called congenital amputation. Basically I was just born without my left arm below my elbow and I have worn a prosthesis since I was 3 months old. I started playing tennis when I was ten and I ended up playing division I college tennis. For the heck of it I googled "amputee tennis" and found your site. Its so great to see what other people have accomplished!

Enzo said...
HI! My name is Enzo Amadei Jerez. im from Santiago, Chile and im 24 years old. I have a physsical problem. i wish can talk with you. please contact with me. in you tube you can find videos of me playing tennis!
(NOTE: I didn't publish this comment because Enzo included his email address and I didn't think he would want me to share that, but Enzo thank you for your comment, we'll be in touch!)

Cynthia said...
Hey Mike! I am also a left BKA tennis player - though I am just starting tennis again after 3 years with the prosthesis - and it's great to be back on the court. I'd love to hear more about changes you've made to your game and what's worked (and hasn't). I live in Vienna Austria - if you are ever in the area looking for a game, me know.

Comments like these definitely keep me writing but even more importantly, it's great to meet so many inspiring people out there on the inter-tubes! Thank you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Elmer Fudd Conundrum

Things have been a bit quiet lately (too quiet) thanks in part to a ridiculous "Cease and Desist" order I received on one of my travel tips posts, resulting in the addition of a neat little disclaimer in the "About this Blog" section of the site.

Needless to say, I'll have to be a bit more cautious with how I word my posts in the future.

That aside, in the last few months I've been traveling a lot for work and have managed to see some very interesting and remote places. I also have a few good personal travel stories to catch up on; no excuses there! I'll back-post a few of them to fill in the blanks.

My biggest news is that on Friday, I finally received my new definitive leg after months of working with several different agencies.

The new leg is much lighter than my old one (by roughly one kilo / two pounds) and a lot more responsive. It also fits! Imagine that...

As you can see from the photo below, the new leg is a continuous blade of carbon fibre that extends from the socket through to the toe. No moving parts this time! My old model had a separate foot strapped to a pylon with an air shock. This made the height ever changing and difficult to predict as the air pressure changed due to heat, etc.

My old model also required a suspension liner be worn over my knee, greatly reducing my mobility whereas the new model uses a "seal in" liner instead, freeing up my knee.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Racing Bike

If you're an amputee and a motorcycle enthusiast, check out the June issue of "Bike" magazine, a British racing bike publication about an amputee named Martin Culverhouse.

Martin's racing bike is outfitted with a right-footed gear shifter rather than the standard left. The rear brakes are operated by a thumb lever.

Contact me (via the comments option) if you'd like to learn more!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Chicken and the Egg

The next time someone says "you know, it's like the chicken and the egg thing", referring to that "classic circular reference" of which came first, do me a favour and answer "EGG!" then give them a good hard slap.

Alternatively, answer "FISH!". It's about as relevant in terms of evolution and far more entertaining in terms of a reaction. Don't forget the slap.

There's really no question about which one came first. The egg pre-dates the chicken by millions of years. The fossil record shows that egg-laying fish pre-date birds by roughly 30 million years. The egg even pre-dates the first vertebrates by about 100 million years.

Yep, I think it's time we put that little chestnut to bed.

Strange topic for this blog? Believe me, it's more than topical.

That singularly annoying phrase has been uttered ad-nauseam to me lately as progress for my private-industry prosthesis seems to have been stalled by a lack of philosophical alignment between my care providers.

1) my old doctors won't send my file until new treatment has begun but my new doctors won't begin treatment until they've reviewed my file.

2) neither the insurer nor the prosthetist will begin a case with me until a prescription has been written for a new leg but the doctors require an assessment from both before they'll write the prescription.

3) once I get the prescription, my prosthetist won't begin work until payment has been received from the insurer... but the insurer won't release funds for payment until the work has been completed (and a patient in my circumstance is not allowed to pay directly).

In speaking with them, trying to find a resolution, they invariably laugh it up and say the same thing, as if it will somehow absolve them of their own absurdity: "it's a problem for sure... but you know, it's like the chicken and the egg thing!"

Chicken and egg. Right. Somehow I think even chickens roll their eyes at that one.

Not to worry, I have a plan: "EGG! (slap) now get to work!"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

French Riviera

Life is hard sometimes.

For example, this week I had to go visit a customer site on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in the French Riviera.

I was forced to enjoy the perfect weather, drink wine, toast a Pastisse and eat gourmet French food in the harbour of Cassis at sunset.

After having to put up with a trip like that, it was comforting to return to my homebase at the foot of the French Alps.

I'm not sure I'll recover from this terrible imposition on my quality of life. Please, send gifts and cookies...

Side note: today I'm whizzing over the French countryside on the TGV high speed train from Lyon, bound for Paris. I made a mistake when boarding so I'm "stuck" in first class on my second class ticket!

Meandering through the countryside has its charms... but ripping along at 400km/hr, scaring stunned looking cows and leaving a veritable sonic boom in my wake is far more my style! Have to go, my chocolate mousse just arrived.

-- Mobile post

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland

My weekend wasn't ALL "nerding it up" at CERN, I also "nerded up" by visiting the United Nations, the International Red Cross and strolling the shores of Lake Geneva.

Geneva is home to the headquarters of many UN agencies as well as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. It is perhaps most famous for the signing of the Geneva Convention which outlined the treatment of prisoners of war.

That said, no one laughed when I said "I'm here for the Convention..." so it must not be very topical with the locals anymore!

Here's a summary of my weekend in photos:

Lion statue, Brunswick Monument, Geneva.

The United Nations, Geneva.

Broken chair, symbol of the UN campaign to rid the world of landmines and cluster bombs as per the Ottawa Treaty of 1997, in front of the UN.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum at the founding headquarters, Geneva.

Rhone river crossing, Geneva.

Near my hotel on the shore of Lake Geneva.

Panormic shot of the shores of Lake Geneva (click to enlarge).

The Rolex-friendly neighbourhood.

The Jet d'Eau (water jet), spewing water 135m in the air! (click to enlarge)

A village on the border of France and Switzerland on the train ride back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

CERN and the Big Bang

I had some free time this weekend which is a nice change of pace from the norm on these trips.

So where does a nerd like me go on vacation? The Large Hadron Collider at the particle physics research laboratory at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, of course!

CERN was founded by some of Europe's leading scientists shortly after the bomb was dropped in WWII as a Nuclear research laboratory with the aim of "doing some good" with the "terrible knowledge".

Over the years, CERN has written the book on particle physics with wide reaching applications for mankind. Everything from PET Scans (Positron Emission Tomography: used alongside CT scans to help doctors evaluate how well organs are functioning) to the creation of superconductors in ultra-high voltage motors, oil and gas production, etc.

CERN even made this blog post possible. When Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 as a means of sharing information with other scientists around the world, his invention was called "vague.. but exciting". On April 30, 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone, with no fees due, changing the way we learn about and see the world around us.

Their latest effort is called "the Grid": thousands upon thousands of computers working cooperatively in tandem to crunch about 10 Petabytes (1 petabyte=1000Tb) of data every year, instantly sharing the results with the international community. To put that in perspective, that's the equivalent of 15 million CD's worth of data, a line that would stretch 15 km long when stacked on their THIN side!

After admiring the computer that was used as the world's first "web" server, I was allowed to enter the "Atlas" particle detection unit of the Large Hadron Collider!

The LHC is a huge proton accelerator that stretches 26 kms around and is burried 100m below the surface of the earth. Particles are accelerated in opposite directions to near light-speed by huge magnets in the tubes. Once the particles reach the appropriate speed, they are put onto a collision course with one another.

The resulting catastrophe yields particles that haven't been created since the big bang itself, allowing scientists to observe Quarks, Gluons, Muons and Bozon particles (ie. the particles that make up atoms) via huge arrays of particle detectors in the collision chambers.

The LHC came online with some controversy as theories abounded that microscopic black holes could be produced during the collisions, instantly consuming the earth. Not to worry, if Einstein's theory of relativity is correct, we have nothing to worry about. If he forgot to "carry the one", well... so far, he appears to have been right!

This is the control room of the Atlas chamber of the LHC. The software they're using looks suspiciously familiar to what my company produces. Sure hope they had reeeeeeeally solid commissioning standards and UAT!

A section of the LHC outside the Atlas experiment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grenoble, France

walk signals in GrenobleI've arrived in Grenoble, France, home of the 1968 Winter Olympics.

Nestled at the base of the French Alps, Grenoble is probably the most "European" city I've ever been to. The winding little pedestrian streets draw you in and entice you deeper and deeper into the heart of the city, where people roam from cafe to shop with no fear of being run down by cars.

Even the "walk / don't walk" signs have a great nonchalance to them (as shown)!

Grenoble has the feel of a tiny village at the base of the snow-capped mountains and yet 158,552 people call it home. I honestly don't know where they put them all because I'd have estimated it at around 10,000 people.

One great thing is that it stays light until 9pm! After living in Australia where it's dark by 6pm year round, that's become a huge novelty to me. The shops and cafes all stay open and people mill about the streets with a great sense of community.

Here's a look (in classic low quality grainy phone photos):

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Silver

I just landed in Singapore and I'm always blown away by the sheer number of ships in the bay.

I'm excited because I'm just a few kilometers away from being upgraded to a Silver card frequent flyer! I know many gold and platinum members but I've never been one myself. This last leg brought me to the crux, the next leg puts me over!

By my estimation, I should be passing over Dubai (in about 8 hours) when they'll have to pull the airplane over so the pilot can come back and issue me my new card. I expect they'll have dancers and a pyro-technics show, but I'm keeping my expectations in check.

From now on, it's a life of priority check-in lines, lounge access, premium seats and one extra item of carry-on luggage. I'll look all snooty and self important as I board before the other passengers while flight attendants call me by name, passing me wine and caviar in the boarding bridge.

Life is good! It's clearly the little things that keep me going.

-- Mobile post

Monday, May 3, 2010

Travel Tips Part 5: Packing with Purpose

This last one is for everyone, even bi-peds.

I had planned to leave this series of posts at four until I read an article from an in-flight magazine on the way to Melbourne this weekend.

The article made an impact on me so I'm going to shamelessly paraphrase it here:

Next time you fly somewhere, you'll likely leave a little spare room in your suitcase for souvenirs or anything else you might pick up along the way.

You can put that extra room to very good use thanks to an organization called

If you're travelling to a developing community, consider packing school supplies for children such as crayons, pencils, pens and board games. Some areas may even benefit from basic over-the-counter medicines and analgesics. has country-by-country lists of supplies needed in each region as well as lists of hotels, airlines, etc who participate in the program as drop-off locations. It's easy, convenient and makes a world of difference.

Before you fly again, check out!

-- Mobile post

Friday, April 30, 2010

Travel Tips Part 4: Adventure Travel

Some of the more interesting challenges with prosthetic limb travel happen outside the normal hotel stay situation.

Take for example the outdoor tree shower in the Mopito tented camp on the Serengeti. There were no handy hotel chairs or bathtub sides to rely on there! Lucky for me, the pressure was so weak that I could leave my prosthesis within arms reach and still not get it wet.

For the most part, there's nothing that you can't adapt easily to, however, a few handy items in your pack can make a world of difference.

Wet Launching: Canoes, Kayaks and Zodiacs

Most prosthetic legs have a content of metal in them however small it may be. In fresh water this isn't really an issue, however, being in the salt can quickly corrode those metal components. To be honest, I'm not all that bothered by this; bolts are cheap and carbon fibre doesn't rust; but when I can, I do try to take measures to protect it.

I have a few things in my bag of tricks for this one: a large plastic bag, a "Skins" compression sock and a bit of waterproof tape. I slip the leg into the bag, tape the open end shut against the socket and cover the whole lot with the compression sock (for pure sex-appeal).

(click to enlarge)

When I return from the day, I thoroughly rinse everything in fresh water, especially the silicon bits that invariably must get wet.

SCUBA Diving

When I SCUBA dive, I like to take a few handy items: a child's snorkeling fin and long strips of double-sided velcro. I shove the small fin down the leg of my wet suit and fold up the excess material, strapping both to the end of my leg with the velcro strips.

It's not that I couldn't swim without the fin but diving is all about conserving your air so you can stay down there longer and see more stuff. The fin means I use far less energy to propel myself through the water. Less energy = more oxygen in the tank.

Bungee Jumping (and other intellectual pursuits)

Laying in my hospital bed, I was particularly worried I'd never be able to bungee jump, skydive or throw myself off anything fun ever again. I clearly wasn't the first! I was excited to learn that most bungee companies have switched from using ankle-only harnesses, opting in to the much more secure full body chest harnesses. A quick call to the operators will confirm whether or not they have this option available.

In this case, I still recommend taking a long nylon strap with you. This is more for making the operators comfortable than for any practical purpose. I know in my case, I could hang upside down from my prosthesis all day and the suspension wouldn't fail... when it's fitting right... however, the operators may not be so confident and they're definitely going to notice the leg when they check your harness.

Tie one end of the nylon to the ankle and the other end to the leg strap of the harness. This ensures that if the leg did manage to come off (unlikely) it would simply dangle from the end of a long strap rather than plummet to the ground.


Sleeping outdoors in a tent is no different for me now than before the operation, with a few very minor differences:
1) keeping the OTHER foot warm (going solo is cold)
2) getting the leg on in a tent

The first one is easily solved by packing the bottom of the sleeping bag with extra insulating materials, typically my thickest sweater or a small neck pillow. Extra socks don't cut it. Alternatively, I suppose one could bring a hot water bottle but I'd but I'd be curious to see if that stays warm until morning.

The second one, getting the leg on, is just free entertainment for anyone nearby. All I can say for this one is twist, push, pull and get used to looking like an overturned turtle struggling to right itself!

Manual transmission vehicles

Believe it or not, manual transmissions aren't out of the question for me. As long as the clutch is more of a knee-driven pedal than an ankle driven pedal, I'm fine to take it for a spin.

I only mention this here because many amputees never bother trying. I'm here to tell you, it's worth a try.

If you can't drive, you can always use your leg as a cup-holder on the passenger side!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Travel Tips Part 3: Hotels and Homes

Let me start this post by putting you in the right frame of shoe.

It's often a bit intimidating for new amputees to leave the safety (and fantastic bedside table service) of the hospital in order to venture home and begin adapting to independent life again. This is quite normal.

There's a LOT to figure out; how to carry a cup of coffee on crutches for example or how to go up and down a winding staircase. It takes practice to navigate the most familiar of environments, let alone one that's entirely foreign.

Now imagine what it's like to be asked to spend the night in a hotel room or someone else's home for the first time (post surgically). How about camping? In a tent? On the side of a rocky mountain somewhere?

Hey, no problem!

Those pesky midnight trips to the bathroom:

In the past I tried traveling with collapsible hiking poles in lieu of crutches to get me around the room in the dark after I'd taken my leg off.

I thought it made sense; poles are light, compact and easy to pack in a suit case or strap to the outside of a backpack and might provide a little stability to my hopping in the middle of the night.

This proved to be quite dangerous. More than once, I very nearly took a header into the wall having a false sense of stability and the poles themselves would trip me up on unexpected lamps or desk chairs.

Solo hopping was no better and using a cane didn't work either. I didn't exactly have the best balance at 3am and the cardio woke me up a little too much.

I eventually came to the realization that, as much of a pain as it can be in the middle of the night, I just had to get used to putting that prosthesis on.

Do it a thousand times a day, in the dark, upside down in a tent, under water, in zero gravity and buried in a snowdrift until it becomes ultra-fast and completely second nature. It's really the best way to be safe and stable and let's face it, when you're camping you really don't have a choice.

I also find it helpful to keep a small flashlight/headlamp next to the bed. I'm less likely to run into an unexpected suitcase or lamp and the first few steps on a hastily donned leg aren't always completely stable.

Tricky shower configurations:

The "lip" on the bottom of a shower door can be a real challenge. Sometimes it can be 6 inches high and made of brick, a difficult obstacle to shimmy over on a wet surface. Recessed showers are even worse.

Probably the easiest and safest method with any shower is to leave the leg on until the last minute. I release the suspension and keep my leg in the socket until I'm ready to step out of it, having used my good leg to step in to the shower stall or tub.

(click to enlarge)

Believe it or not, in all the assessments I had from care advisers, not a single person said "umm.. it's not hard dude, just keep your leg on until you're inside" so this was revolutionary to me when I figured out how to do it safely.

The real trouble comes when it's just not practical to do this. Sometimes a tub side is far too wide and the stance gets unsafe. Other times, having the leg that close to the water would mean all the fabric parts of my liner and suspension would get wet, making for an uncomfortable day.

Tub configurations with wide sides can be tricky but as long as it's easy to reach both tub sides without getting off balance, I can usually just sit on the edge and twist in.

The real trick comes in getting out when you're soaked. The sides can be treacherous and there's very little friction so using a few dry hair towels for grip is a handy trick.

(click to enlarge)

This still leaves recessed showers, large bricked in stalls (common in campgrounds & airports) and other tricky configurations where the liner or suspension would get wet.

To solve the problem, I use the desk chair from the hotel room and push that up to the shower door. I walk or crutch to the chair, sit down, put my crutches or prosthesis aside, place my foot inside the shower stall and stand up. Easy and safe.

So there you have it!

You really don't need anything special (mobility tools, shower aids, etc) when staying somewhere new. In fact, forming a reliance on them at home may cause stress when they're unavailable. Just arm yourself with a few extra ideas for adaptation and figure out what works for you.

Then again, maybe I'm the wrong person to ask about "disability aids". I like to believe that I could survive indefinitely, hundreds of miles from civilization (if such a place even exists anymore) with nothing but a makeshift knife and fantastic looking beard...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Perth & Margaret River

After being in Australia for two and half years, it was high time to get across the country to Perth, in Western Australia!

Perth, in my opinion, is Australia's most beautiful city. The city skyline is classy, not cluttered and the whole city has that "new car" feel to it. It has miles of white sandy beaches without any of the rowdy drunken backpackers of the Gold Coast.

More importantly, Perth is home to two fellow Canadians, Kara and Lach. I won't dare tell you how good they are at hosting guests, lest they not be available the next time!

After having a night of fantastic wine and some of the best home-cooked food in the Southern hemisphere, we left Perth and toured down south to the Margaret River wine region taking in in all the sites. The area is absolutely gorgeous and the weather couldn't have been better!

Here's a small taste of what we saw:

Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at nearly 2km.

The beer sampler from the Colonial brewery near Margaret River.

The precise location where the Southern Ocean (or Antarctic Ocean) meets the Indian Ocean. They tasted the same to me...

A Blue Tongue lizard giving us attitude near Meelup Beach, WA.

This was so cool! This is NOT a bird sanctuary, this is a regular old city park in Perth. The birds will fly down and land all over you if you bring them some bird seed!

Kara and Lach, our Canuck counterparts to the West! Thanks guys and Happy Birthday Kara!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Travel Tips Part 2: Airports and Airlines

Approaching airport security with enough metal in your leg to build a small jungle gym without speaking the local language can lead to some difficult discussions on the other side of the metal detector. Nervously reaching down to your ankle to expose the leg after the fact in front of a high-strung guard may lead to a flying tackle while someone yells "GUN"!

This leads me to my first tip: zip-away convertible pants are your friend, especially when you don't speak the local language. Just drop the pant-leg from the knee and let the prosthesis speak for itself. Wearing shorts is also an option, but unless you have another pair of pants to throw on after security it can get cold on long overnight international flights.

Security screening from this point forward is always awkward and you can expect the full treatment, but I've never been asked to remove my leg. Don't be nervous, normally it's just a quick pass over with the wand and a sympathetic "have a nice day" smile.

Flying domestically in the USA was perhaps my most inconvenient experience. On leaving Nashville I was taken to a small private room where the screener did a full physical pat down, swabbed my leg and hands with three different pads for testing then spent about 5 minutes with the metal detecting wand. Lucky I wasn't in a hurry.

Seating assignments on the aircraft are perhaps the most important part of being comfortable. Because my prosthesis is on my left leg, I prefer to book a window seat on the left side of the plane in any row but the first one. Window seats have a small gap between the wall of the aircraft and the seat in front; a perfect spot to rest my leg. A window seat also means not having to get up for any small-bladdered fliers once my leg is off.

The prosthetic leg itself can make a really comfortable leg rest if you flip it upside down. The rubber on the bottom of the shoe is more comfortable than the sharp edges of the socket -- sort of your own mini travel ottoman. My right leg actually seems to get jealous of the fully stretched knee of my left side.

I've been told by many prosthetists not to take my leg off in flight. To that I say "yeah right". Clearly these people have never tried to wear one, especially not for that long in a stationary position. The socket gets mighty uncomfortable when sitting for 15 hours straight without getting to bend or flex the knee.

The medical concern is that the leg will swell up and it will be impossible to get the socket to fit after. This can easily be solved by wearing a shrinker sock or the liner on its own, although I prefer the shrinker as it lets the skin breath. I usually add a second sock for warmth over top then cover the whole thing with a blanket.

This brings me to my "seat kit". On the outside, it looks like a standard, run-of-the-mill leather portfolio for the regular business traveller. The difference comes on the inside. The following is my list of essential items and still leaves room for a magazine:

The real advantage of this kit is its slim profile. I can slip this down against the wall of the aircraft, wedging it against the prosthesis. This eliminates the need for keeping a larger, more foot-room-restricting bag under the seat in front of me. You might laugh here that I'm still trying to maximize space for my one remaining leg, however, the extra space allows me sleep fully turned on my side during long flights. That's right, neener-neener two-leggers!

One last point: many people pack extra socks, among other things, for long flights. I'm no exception to this with one small difference: no need to pack extra socks in the carry-on. The one on my left side stays fresh and clean, waiting to be swapped over just before landing!