I’ve never been fitted for a prosthetic socket, but what I’ve heard about it reminds me of dating. Both involve the long, uncertain search for a counterpart that suits you to a tee.
An ideal companion—whether for your limb or for your heart—will tolerate your hard spots and go easy on your soft ones. They give support when you need it, but they’re able to yield as appropriate. They make you look and feel good at all types of affairs, from backyard barbecues to ballroom galas. And in either case, they can’t be hurried along. The Supremes’ old adage—“you just have to wait”—rings truer than ever when insurance bureaucrats, overworked prosthetists, and out-of-state fabrication units stand between you and the object of your affections.
Both quests require a lot of guesswork and fine shades of distinction. And, almost inevitably, they break your heart along the way. You’ll find a candidate that feels right in nearly every respect, but there’s still something off—a pressure point or source of friction that you’re not sure you can live with. You try talking yourself into it—it isn’t that bad; no relationship is perfect. Perhaps you bargain with yourself, thinking you can make it work if you give up a small (or not so small) part of your identity. You start to wonder: Am I the problem here? Do I just have unrealistic expectations?
Diana Theobald doesn’t explicitly make the socket-soulmate analogy in her lively first article for Amplitude, “The Single Life on a Single Leg.” But she hilariously portrays the aches and pains of dating, no matter how many limbs you have. The accident that led to Theobald’s amputation actually happened on a date, yet she fearlessly returned to the matchmaking apps before she had relearned to walk. No date could possibly be more awful than one that leads to multiple surgeries and an amputation . . . could it? You’ll have to decide for yourself after reading Theobald’s account, which begins on page 12.
Elsewhere in this issue: 3D printing can’t take any of the awkwardness out of dating, but it might be able to ease the discomforts of socket fitting. We explore that possibility—and bust some myths surrounding 3-D printed prosthetics—in “Fit to Print,” beginning on page 24.
In “World War Zzzzzzz,” Chris Prange-Morgan fills in some of the blanks related to amputees and sleep. There’s a growing body of evidence to demonstrate that sleep plays a central role in physical, mental, and emotional health. Yet the impact of limb loss on sleep—in particular, the interruptions caused by limb-loss-related pain, stress, and cognitive overload—has barely been studied. Turn to page 18 to find out what we know, and what questions remain to be answered.
You’ll find much more inside as we ring in 2023. Thanks for reading!