Feb. 29 - 2016: MOB III Has Begun

DH on our 30th Anniversary Cruise
July 2005
My husband lost his legs one at a time, approximately a year apart, in November, as was his wont.  By that I mean that during the Lost Decade (the last 10 years of his life), his medical crises tended to occur in his birth month, November.  We never could figure out why.

The left leg went first.  It began with an injury to his left foot in the winter of 1997, a winter full of ice: streets thus sprinkled with salt and tiny bits of gravel, one of which we think must have wandered into his left boot and cut the flesh just beneath the toes.

Although he massaged his feet with cream nightly, he didn't examine them closely -- or perhaps couldn't see well enough the discolouration over time.  I didn't participate in this because he was very independent about his own care...I had to be careful about offering help lest it be construed as "interference".  One night at bed-time he asked me to check his left foot -- because he was actually feeling pain (loss of feeling in the feet is common, due to neuropathy).  Sure enough, there was a patch on the ball of his foot about 1 1/2" across, discoloured and pulpy like the skin of a mouldy orange.

That foot healed after two years of diligent treatment by the best "foot doctor" in the province (in Calgary); 'healing' included the loss of his pinky toe and a small bone on the side of the foot.  Alas, it was not to last, and the T1D got the better of the foot...and the leg was amputated below the knee in November 2001.

Some months later, coming out of the hospital after his dialysis treatment, Howard stepped down hard off the curb and heard a "pop".  Again, we don't exactly know what it was...but something burst inside the heel of his right leg.  Over time there was discolouration and then deterioration.  During those months, he was in horrendous pain -- to the point where I had the Palliative Care Pain Management team brought in on a consultation to manage it.

While he stubbornly fought the loss of his second leg, toxins spread into his body and damaged the discs in  his lower spine.  The crisis came (again) in November 2002...and the leg was amputated below the knee on November 23.  He had two cardiac arrests near the end of the surgery, and almost didn't survive to see his fiftieth birthday (November 29).

A few years afterward, the idea came to me to make stump socks for the times when Howard wasn't wearing his artificial legs -- rather like slippers that are comfy to wear around the house, saving one's 'best' shoes (legs) for going out.  I designed my own pattern, and made him two pair from a lovely soft cotton/elastic blend called "Esprit" from  the Elann Collection at elann.com.  Howard loved them, and enjoyed them a lot.  He even wore them out on occasion (to his dialysis treatments) and got envious comments.

After he died, I gave his legs back to Alberta Artificial Limb -- they could recycle the parts.  When I asked if they could find a home for Howard's stump socks, the company rep's eyes lit up.  Could they?!  You betcha!

Sometime later, in my grief, I got rid of my hand-made pattern...or at least I think I did.  All I know is that I cannot find it now.

And I wanted one now, because for the third part of this installation that is going to be the Mark on the Body Project (i.e., MOB III), I want to create nine (9) stump socks...hanging like a nine-patch.  (I mentioned this in passing in an earlier post HERE.)

Lacking my own pattern, I turned to Ravelry and found one.  The pattern's title went the "politically correct" route: "Residual Limb Covers".  Sigh.  Such feeble attempts we make to shield ourselves from the reality of loss...

So...I found an alternative pattern on Google, one bearing a title that told it like it is: "Knitted Stump Sock".

I cast on last evening, finished the cuff this morning and have started down the leg.  Each sock will be made from this yarn, likely as a mixture of pairs and singles -- again, to try to reflect reality.
Stump Sock #1 - Cuff 

Now, I'm well prepared to make all nine of these on my own, but if any of you Gentle Readers can knit and want to join me, I'll be happy to send you some yarn and the link to the pattern.  Just e-mail me...margblank@xplornet.ca.  

Meanwhile, there's been the usual daily progress on MOB I...and I await a few returns from MOB II.  Again, volunteers for the latter are appreciated...the deadline for both MOB II and III is June 30...

Till next month...thank you for your support!

Feb. 29-2016: Abdomen "injection" sites

Feb. 29-2016: "Pre-diagnosis" blue
above an upper arm

Feb. 29-2016 - Hand - "testing blood sugar"


  1. Margret
    If you send me some patches I will get stitching.
    My grandma and two uncles as well as cousins have all suffered due to diabetes.
    What a wonderful project you are doing.

  2. Martha, thank you for this post. I've never known someone with Type 1 diabetes in a way that would make the reality of living with it so concrete. You and Howard went through so much trauma together. Congratulations on getting an exhibit that honors him and others who suffer with this awful disease. I'm sure he's very proud of you - for so many things!