Gramp's Old Leg
am ED, a user of the best prosthetic devices available as of today.
Both of my legs consist of a socket, a knee unit, a bit of simulated
calf for height, a mechanical ankle and artificial feet. I am a
functioning bilateral above knee amputee. By this I mean, I am “up”,
getting around, able to do most basic functions in life and still
unable to do some others.
My sockets are designed
to fit the remnants of my legs, as close as they can be. They have
to hit certain areas of my skeleton in order to hold me up without
my remaining leg bones ripping through what is left of me. These
sockets are made of today’s laminates and are very strong.
I have been fitted
with computerised knee units which are extremely expensive. The
units contain precision valves, strain gauges in the shank and heel,
lateral rotators to simulate ankle movements and microprocessors
whose job is to measure where I am in relation to the knee angle
and then adjust the precision valves accordingly. My simulated feet
flex back and forth and have a split in the middle for side movement.
They are made of the best of today’s composites.
Yep, I have it all.
I also had a grandfather who lost a leg above the knee in a saw
mill many years ago. I have been shown pictures of him from when
he was younger. He was known as a “bear of a man” in
his youth and it is said that he did well with his artificial leg
(“always used a cane though, always”). There’s
one picture of him standing solely on his real leg, a pail of water
in each hand and another pail hung over his stump! He even used
his leg when riding his motorcycle.
How could this be?
I have the best of today’s technology and I’m still
struggling. I knew that a couple of “Grampy’s”
old legs were in the family dump. I asked a relative to retrieve
them for me prior to an upcoming visit, which he did. We figure
that they are from sometime around 1939. My first impression was
how light they were to what I wear today. What’s with that?
They are made out of aluminum, hand beaten in some factory elsewhere.
Flakes of pink and yellow paint still adhered to them.
I am told that the
equivalent to my socket of today was ordered from the factory based
on general measurements of the individual. Then the knee, calf and
ankle were ordered separately based on the height that was required.
The two parts were then riveted together as a final adjustment by
his prosthetist. The foot was a carved wooden one with a separated
toe area and of the required size. Most striking to me though, was
that the leg looked like a human leg in shape, perfectly smooth
and without a flaw. Not like mine that resemble shades of Star Wars.
After studying this leg and comparing it to mine, I came to a conclusion.
As an amputee, your success is not based on what leg you have or
the technologies available to you.
Your success is
solely based on how much of a “bear” you are in overcoming