Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prosthetics, Part One!

I tried to think of a clever title to this post, but Prosthetics pretty much sums it allllll up!! :)

When born with a missing limb, the first thing someone wants to do is 'fix' if it is broken. Truth is, it's not. Really. Shocker, I know. It is easier to adapt to situations with the limbs we are born with, without the use of a prosthetic limb. I was a patient of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children from birth until they kicked me out at the age of eighteen. Sad, sad day! But, at the age of 6 months I was fitted with my first prosthesis. My Mom and Dad wanted me to have the option of using a 'bionic' arm versus my 'real' arm. Let me just tell you how that went down over the next several years.

I was a loving, quiet little girl throughout my childhood, but when I wanted something I made it known. I am sure my Mom would like to re-write this blog in her own words, but I will tell you the one-arm version. Much. More. Funny. (to me)

So my first arm I remember wearing fit my right arm, of course, and had a sling around my shoulders and when I reached, the fingers would open. I hated it. I cried when I had to wear the thing. There is no feeling, so it's like trying to win a teddy-bear out of one of those claw machines at Cici's. me!! But, they insisted I 'try' to get used to it. So, I used my advantage. When we would go to Walmart, like most 4-5 year old child, I would find a toy I had to have. When my Mom gave me the, "Bri, I'm not buying you the toy" line, I would come back with, "I'm gonna pop my arm off!" If any of you are parents, you know how embarrassing it is when your kid throws a fit in public. I didn't throw fits. I popped my arm off and let it dangle behind me. You want to know how long it took her to say, "Bri, put your arm back on and you can have the toy"? Not long. My poor Mother was given looks you wouldn't believe, but sweet little Bri got what she wanted. A toy and NO.MORE.ARM!!! She did not think it was funny, but I thought it was quite clever. I mean, how many kids can pop their arm off to get what they want? It takes talent.

When I went to Kindergarten, I think the only thing special I used were scissors made for me by TSRHC. Again, like the silverware, they were a hit. Everyone wanted to play with my scissors. By the end of the year, I used real scissors, and the 'cool' ones were no longer needed. But the fun had yet to begin. At the age of four or five I was learning to ride my bike with no training wheels. The arm attached to the handle bars and my arm just popped into it. A simple, but very helpful device. It made it to where I was level with my other arm and could balance myself on the bike. I admit, I loved this arm. I mastered the bike with no training wheels in no time and was all over town on two-wheels. If you don't know, I grew up in a very small town. The kind where you leave your keys in your ignition, your doors unlocked, and your arms on your bike. There wasn't alot of crime, but my sisters bike got stolen a couple times off our porch. Mine wasn't touched. I'm not sure if it was because it was barbie and had strings dangling from the handle bars or because there was an arm attached to the handle bars. My vote is for the latter, but I'll never know. I did not use the arm for more than a couple of years, I still had many body slides across pavement, but again, very helpful.

By the second grade, I had a myo-electric. Back then, it was the new 'bionic' arm. It had a sensor that open the fingers when my nerves hit a certain spot. Annoyed the hell out of me. Took me five minutes to get the pencil to stay in, then when I wrote it would tilt it was not worth the trouble. Kind of fun to wear when you didn't need to do anything, but useless to me when I actually needed to perform. At 8 years old, I didn't stay still long, so it got to hang out in my desk all day. I had a gymnastic arm, so I could do cartwheels like Jessica. And, I did. There was also the claw that I could screw onto it so I could pinch my sister back. My latest prosthetic was the golf arm in high school. Absolutely the best thing ever...for everyones sake. I wanted to play golf with my Dad so bad, but because when I swung, the club went further than the ball, I had to use an arm. It felt amazing to be able to actually hit a ball as far as everyone else. My Mom carted me an hour away twice a week for golf lessons with a professional golfer just so I could have the experience. To this day, I still like to play. Do I play well? No. Do I want to play a round? No. I just like to hit the ball and know that I was able to, even if it meant wearing the arm. I will tell you the contraption I have to get into the make it happen is almost as funny as watching someone swing and miss (not that I ever do), but to know I'm not going to kill anyone when I play, makes it all worth it.

The arms sit and collected dust until Halloween time when they got farmed out for props in neighbors yards. I am pretty sure between El Fenix and Magnolia St., my arms and silverware are still playing roles in very different ways than TSRHC doctors anticipated. But, each one tells a very different story.

So, while you may think it's easierto function with ten fingers and ten toes, it depends who you ask, and what you're trying to accomplish. But, don't think I won't try something just because I don't look able-bodied....because if you know me, you know I will!!

Love to All,



  1. Loved it! You are an excellent writer, can't wait for the next one.
    Love ya,

  2. These are so true, I could write a book on you!