Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When your foot breaks's Tuba players to the rescue!!

It has come clear to me that the prosthetics I am wearing/have worn, are designed for people who live a more sedentary lifestyle. I happen to be one of those people who likes to jump off cliffs into freezing cold water, go on a three hour shopping spree at the local mall, and climb vertically across rocks 20 feet above ground. Is it to much to ask for a dependable fake leg?

I was fifteen and had a fake leg for two years. High school band practice had started for the summer. I had to wear a knee brace for awhile because the way my real leg had been, the ligaments in my knee were stretched to the right. After getting my prosthetic, my knee was forced in to the "normal" straight position, so now my ligaments were loose making my knee wobbly. It's a little more complicated than that but that's the best way I can explain it. The brace was actually attached to my prosthetic with two metal bars on each side of my knee. Apparently, all the extra activity caused the metal to break. I was walking to the band practice field one afternoon, and the metal just snapped. I remember thinking, how can metal just break like that. Am I really that fat?? My mom explained that the metal must have been brittle when it was formed, thus poorly made. (Mom knows a lot about metal)This made me feel a little better.

After I had a new leg brace made, I continued to test the endurance of my prosthesis. I learned why it is not a good idea to swim with a fake leg. I had swam that summer with it on. I thought everything was fine. I didn't understand why other amputees took off their leg when they went swimming. I had no problems at all...

The band practice field was located on the south side of the campus, across the street from the public library. The directors could be heard all over town with their headset microphones. We were practicing formations for our halftime show and we had all just sat down with our instruments to listen to the instructor rant about something we did wrong. The band was scattered from one end of the field to the other. I was with the rest of the saxophone players, creating a curve on the upper east side of the field. The band director bellowed for us to stand up. As I moved to stand, my foot broke. Horrified, I looked down to see it connected to my leg only by the white sock I was wearing. I sat back down and pushed down the sock to see that the bolt that connected the foot to the leg had crystallized and snapped cleanly in half. Chris, a senior who was behind me asked if I was okay. I said "No, my foot broke off." Part of me thought this was hilarious, the other part wanted to sink through the ground and disappear. I heard Ms. E. scream through her mic for everyone to sit down. Everyone started looking around. I could feel my face burning. Mr. R., the assistant band director, reached me first and asked if I was okay. I told him yeah, I just needed to get up. He told me not to move and called for the tuba players to rush over and carry me off the field. There is nothing like seeing a wall of six teenage males carrying the largest of brass instruments wrapped around their middles like silver metal boas, come charging to your rescue. I started repeating in an increasingly shrill voice that I was fine. I didn't want their help. Somehow having them attempt to carry me would have been more humiliating. Would it really take all 6 to get me off the field? (These were the things that were running through my crazy mind) I stood and put my foot under my arm. I was able to limp off the field. It was like walking with one four inch heel on my right leg and no shoe on my left. Chris held my other hand,(I didn't want him to do that either) and escorted me off the field. The tuba players followed. While I slowly hobbled off, Ms. E. must have had an aneurysm and yelled for everyone to sit down again making it very noticeable that something happened to me and I was moving off the field. I made it to a tree close to the sidelines and slumped to the ground underneath it. I had them call my grandma to come get me. I can't remember if they continued to practice after that or not. My brain was in protective mode, shutting down what it thought was the worst of my embarrassing spectacle.

Later that evening, my mom was looking at my prosthetic and she could tell that the bolt had been moving back and forth inside the wood. Apparently, water that I had accumulated from my swimming and cliff diving adventures had soaked through and caused the material the prosthetic is made of to break down. The motion of my foot moving back and forth caused the bolt to hollow out the inside of the leg. This friction caused the bolt to break. I guess the manufactures of these bolts and other prosthetic parts, believed they were creating a device that was to be worn by people who generally sit in front of their TV for 12 hours, moving only to feed their 20+ cats, or to yell at the paper boy for missing the front step.

I will admit, my newest leg has been working beautifully. Of course, I haven't been jumping off cliffs or canoeing in rivers that are quick to overturn me into the raging waters. I guess I need to give my fake leg the ultimate test and go sky diving with my friend in Siloam Springs, who has been hounding me to go with him. I will let you know if my leg survives. (If it doesn't..chances are...neither did I)


  1. Loved this story, I would of probably freaked out if someone told me that their foot had snapped off, of course I would imagine some horrific gory scene with blood spurting out, a far cry from broken metal.

  2. Most people didnt even know what happend. They just thought I hurt my ankle.

  3. Holly! OMGosh If I didnt know you so well I would be mortified at this story, instead I am here laughing so hard tears rolling down my face, of course not at your horrible experiences, but at the shear determination that you have. You have such an awesome way of turning things around. You know I still remember us going hiking up the mountains in New Mexico and you were kicking my butt! Oh sooo would love to go "sporting" with you, although I dont have the guts to jump off high cliffs or out of planes. I can almost picture you popping the leg off and swinging it at someone for trying to assist you as if you were unable to do anything for yourself. You are one of the most capable, strong and wonderful people I know. I have been blessed to be part of your life. I look forward to more of your stories. And hoping you dont take offense at my giggles. I do believe it was you this past year that took care of me one night when I couldnt walk...strait that is lol.