©2017 BY ANNE AND KATHLEEN

Life of a pirate girl: the evolution of the peg leg

July 19, 2017

Thanks to Timehop, I got to see a photo I posted two years ago. Although, the photo brings forth more than one memory...it's filled with a lifetime worth.

 

The actual photo was taken the day I brought home the last prosthetic in the photo. It's the one I still wear today. It's the last leg I got before I lost my parents' insurance. I like to think of it as the last leg before adulthood. I was extremely nestalgic that day; walking through the house finding all my old legs and laying them out in order. Just trying to figure out which leg came before the other all the way until I got to my earliest prosthesis. 

 

If you look at the first one, it has a ledge for my real foot to rest on and the straps to hold my leg in place. I got it before my foot was amputated when I started walking. It made my legs even in length while I waited to have the amputation at 13 months. 

 

My mom kept the very first ones in a chest with all my other baby things she couldn't part with. When I was little I didn't understand why she would keep these. Why she wanted them. What was the point? And now, as an adult, not only do I appreciate looking back on what I went through but also, as someone who is interested and invested in the prosthetic field, I love to see how quickly the technology and the mechanics have changed just in the last 20-some years. 

 

Two years ago, I tagged the photo "An evolution of Suzie" (yes, I named my leg), but, really, it's an evolution of me -- who I was, who I am, what I have gone through, the struggles, the triumphs, the mini milestones and the big ones. There at least three legs missing from this bunch and possibly four...I've lost count through the years. One missing is my all-time favorite leg with a picture of Mickey on it. One is a leg with Bears on bicycles on it. And the last one I can actually remember missing is my least favorite leg I ever had, so I guess I'm not really missing it all that much. Those three missing legs belong between the third and fourth.

 

I always loved that Mickey Mouse leg, and I didn't hate the bears one, but during my trip down memeory lane, You can totally see when I started getting self conscious. After the bears on bikes leg, most of my legs are nude in color. They match my skin tone and were worn with the intention of blending in as much as possible. I've wrote about this before -- trying to stay under the radar, trying to be as normal as possible, trying to be someone I wasn't...or maybe who I was at the time, but a lesser version of who I am now.

 

And then when I was in my early 20s I started to believe in myself. I stopped hanging out with people who were dampening my spirit. I got really interested in writing and being creative anyway I could. I just stopped giving a fuck. 

 

If people were going to stare, I gave them a real reason to stare. If they were going to look, I gave them something to look at. If they were going to point it out, I wanted to feel in control of it. If I stopped hiding from it, and really started to embrace it, I knew I could be happier and healthier. And so I reminded my doctor of my missing Mickey leg and asked him if something similar was a posibility. He told me to pick out any fabric I wanted and he would make it happen. I wanted to make a splash. Pink cheetah print was the first thing that came to mind.

 

And I don't think I will ever go back to nude again.

 

I have so many memories with each leg and each stage of life I was in when I wore them. Not only are they a part of me physically because I need them, but they are a part of who I am and what makes me me. I never understood the people who say their disability doesn't define them. I disagree. Mine is a huge definition of who I am because if the situation were different , my life lessons, my experiences, my misfortunes and fortunes, would probably look nothing like they do as an amputee.

 

I can't look back at those legs and say they aren't who I am. That they don't affect my daily life for better or for worse. I can't look at all those legs and not remember different things about each one and not have an appreciation for the impact they have had on my life. They are a part of me, they make me me, and I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without them and as crazy as it sounds...it's comforting to see my progress and see the progress the industry has made. It's comforting to know there is so much more change and growth to come...

 

 

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