Hello! My 76 year old cousin had a bka ten days ago. He is in rehab now.
My cousin has no kidney function and is on full time dialysis. He also has heart failure and bad circulation in his legs. Last year the vascular surgeon tried three surgeries to save the really bad leg. None of it worked and he developed gangrene. Initially he refused the amputation and planned to let the gangrene kill him. Two months later he decided to have the amputation. He still has a lot of strength is his upper body and his "good leg". The surgeon seems positive my cousin will be able to walk with a prosthesis.
Prior to the surgery I read quite a bit on this forum. I have been surprised by the fact that my cousin has required round the clock narcotics for the past ten days. I am wondering how long it will be until his pain level can be managed without narcotics.
From reading here previously I was under the impression that the usual process is a week or two in the hospital and maybe another six weeks in rehab before he could go home using a prosthesis. But today I read some posts that make me think he will be lucky if he is able to just start working with a prosthesis in two months!
I know people can't predict the future and I've read that various complications can cause set backs. But it would help me to hear about how long it took others to get from surgery to actually walking on the prosthetic.
Hi, cindyloo, and welcome! You may have already encountered this statement while exploring here, but I'm going to say it anyway: every amputee is different. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but it's the truth...there are rough guidelines for what "normal progress" can be for amputees, but there are so many variables involved that those rough guidelines are very rough indeed.
On the plus side, you say your cousin has good upper body strength and a sound remaining leg. On the minus, though, he's older and has been through a battle with gangrene. It's possible that any pain pre-amputation is contributing to the pain he's in now...but round-the-clock narcotics for 10 days sounds excessive to me. you may want to ask his doctor about this...and possibly encourage your cousin to work at tapering off or changing meds to something less heavy-duty. Just being "dopey" can make you feel unsteady when trying to break in a prosthetic leg, which can make using that leg more difficult.
You also should check with his medical staff (and prosthetist, if he has one) to get an idea on the state of his post-op swelling. How well his incision has healed and whether or not he's still badly swollen will impact how quickly he can start prosthetic fittings. In some people, that may all come together in a couple of moths...in others it can take much longer. In my case, my incision healed quickly but I was badly swollen and it took a full five months before my stump had calmed down to the point where we could start work on my first prosthesis. Casting a prosthetic socket is a complicated and highly personalized process and can take quite a few days to even begin to "get it right." But the more time spent on "getting it right," the easier it will be for him to walk. Socket fit is basically THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of a prosthesis, so it's worth taking time in the beginning to get a socket that fits properly.
Keep checking out the info on the threads here, and don't be afraid to ask an¥ and all questions that come to mind...everything you can learn to help your cousin adjust to this new life will be helpful!