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We take so much for granted, and don’t realize how fortunate we are until something or someone is taken from us.

Good Health starts from the very infancy. It is here that protection and care is needed, so that each organ functions well, each organ develops naturally, and there are no deformities, disabilities and diseases but often the health of children remain neglected, with the result that they grow unhealthily and that affects their education as well. A healthy child develops into a healthy adult. In case the child does not grow properly, and he remains handicapped in some way, his ill-health spoils his adult life. He cannot join any active service; he cannot be a successful professional, nor can he live his life happily.

Health is real wealth. A healthy person is an asset to himself, to his family and to his community. On the other hand an ailing person is a burden on all. He is a danger for coming generations because heredity plays an important part in this respect. Health is the pivot upon which a man’s whole personality and its well-being depend. An ailing and aching body saps the enthusiasm for pursuit. Unwholesome feelings and sensations retard the pace of functional activity, economic development and spiritual uplift.

Health cannot be achieved merely by taking one or two pills every day or by observing a few restrictions. It can be achieved only by understanding what health is, on what it depends and then applying this knowledge in every-day life.

The care of the body regarding food, cleanliness, exercise, rest and protection against disease, are essential for the preservation of sound health. Life is for living. Without health, life is deprived of not only much of its usefulness but also its joys and pleasures.

The stream of life will be rich and lasting in proportion to the sources which nourish it. These sources belong to every person. They are food, exercise, and proper posture, care of bodily functions, avoidance of alcohol and tobacco and wholesome mental and emotional attitudes.     If we ignore even the smallest of issues, get in to a doctor right away. Don’t think it will go away overnight; it could be something serious and lead to other issues.

Why is there a need to have an amputation?   Can’t the limb be saved?   Is there a reason why this American woman has an interest in such a topic?     Do we personally know anyone who has had an amputation?   I personally know what this all about especially after spending 5 ½ weeks in the hospital due to a serious infection in one of my limbs which ultimately resulted in the amputation of part of the limb. In time I will be getting a prosthetic limb and am learning how to do things in a new manner and more.

In the US, the majority of new amputations occur due to complications of the vascular system (the blood vessels), especially from diabetes. But there are many in the military that have lost limbs as a result of injuries sustained in war, so the numbers of amputees has substantially increased.     I understand the situation so very well with the loss of a limb and the need to relearn how to do even the basic tasks and things we routinely take for granted and do out of habit.

Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma, prolonged constriction, or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene. In some cases, it is carried out on individuals as a preventative surgery for such problems. A special case is that of congenital amputation, a congenital disorder, where fetal limbs have been cut off by constrictive bands. In some countries, amputation of the hands, feet or other body parts is or was used as a form of punishment for people who committed crimes. Amputation has also been used as a tactic in war and acts of terrorism; it may also occur as a war injury. In some cultures and religions, minor amputations or mutilations are considered a ritual accomplishment. Unlike some non-mammalian animals (such as lizards that shed their tails, salamanders that can regrow many missing body parts, and hydras, flatworms and starfish that can regrow entire bodies from small fragments), once removed, human extremities do not grow back, unlike portions of some organs, such as the liver. A transplant or prosthesis is the only options for recovering the loss.

In the US, the majority of new amputations occur due to complications of the vascular system (the blood vessels), especially from diabetes. Between 1988 and 1996, there was an average of 133,735 hospital discharges for amputation per year in the US.

Reasons for Amputation. Amputation is the surgical removal of all or part of a limb or extremity such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, toe, or finger. About 1.8 million Americans are living with amputations. Amputation of the leg — either above or below the knee — is the most common amputation surgery. The amputation I had is below the knee, so I am fortunate that it did not spread further and that I still have the knee, bone, tendons, muscles, nerves and other parts of the leg which will make things easier for me when I get my prosthetic limb.

There are many reasons an amputation may be necessary. The most common is poor circulation because of damage or narrowing of the arteries, called peripheral arterial disease. Without adequate blood flow, the body’s cells cannot get oxygen and nutrients they need from the bloodstream. As a result, the affected tissue begins to die and infection may set in.

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Other causes for amputation may include: (1) Severe injury (from a vehicle accident or serious burn, for example); (2) Cancerous tumor in the bone or muscle of the limb; (3) Serious infection that does not get better with antibiotics or other treatment; (4) Thickening of nerve tissue, called a neuroma; and (5) Frostbite

An amputation usually requires a hospital stay of five to 14 days or more, depending on the surgery and complications. The procedure itself may vary, depending on the limb or extremity being amputated and the patient’s general health.

Amputation may be done under general anesthesia (meaning the patient is asleep) or with spinal anesthesia, which numbs the body from the waist down. When performing an amputation, the surgeon removes all damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible.

A doctor may use several methods to determine where to cut and how much tissue to remove. These include: (1) Checking for a pulse close to where the surgeon is planning to cut; (2) Comparing skin temperatures of the affected limb with those of a healthy limb; (3) Looking for areas of reddened skin; and (4) Checking to see if the skin near the site where the surgeon is planning to cut is still sensitive to touch.

During the procedure itself, the surgeon will: (a) Remove the diseased tissue and any crushed bone; (b) Smooth uneven areas of bone; (c) Seal off blood vessels and nerves; and (d) Cut and shape muscles so that the stump, or end of the limb, will be able to have an artificial limb (prosthesis) attached to it.

The surgeon may choose to close the wound right away by sewing the skin flaps (called a closed amputation) (this was done in my case). Or the surgeon may leave the site open for several days in case there’s a need to remove additional tissue.

The surgical team then places a sterile dressing on the wound and may place a stocking over the stump to hold drainage tubes (if necessary) or bandages. The doctor may place the limb in traction, in which a device holds it in position, or may use a splint.

Recovery from amputation depends on the type of procedure and anesthesia used. It is important to have a positive outlook during the entire process, and have an excellent support team. Faith and trust are also important.

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In the hospital, the staff changes the dressings on the wound or teaches the patient to change them. The doctor monitors wound healing and any conditions that might interfere with healing, such as diabetes or hardening of the arteries. The doctor prescribes medications to ease pain and help prevent infection.

If the patient has problems with phantom pain (a sense of pain in the amputated limb) or grief over the lost limb, the doctor will prescribe medication and/or counseling, as necessary.

Physical therapy, beginning with gentle, stretching exercises, often begins soon after surgery. Practice with the artificial limb may begin as soon as 10 to 14 days after surgery.

Ideally, the wound should fully heal in about four to eight weeks. But the physical and emotional adjustment to losing a limb can be a long process. Long-term recovery and rehabilitation will include: (a) Exercises to improve muscle strength and control; (b) Activities to help restore the ability to carry out daily activities and promote independence; (c) Use of artificial limbs and assistive devices; and (d) Emotional support, including counseling, to help with grief over the loss of the limb and adjustment to the new body image..

 Kathy Kiefer


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