where wheelchair users and BIID/transabled unite!

Losing a Life

Introduction: The title, “Losing A Life” is not literal, it is an opposite of the admonition to “Get a Life”. This new story is about a girl who loves knee braces and acquires a HKAFO through meeting a handicapped girl who wanted to merely dump them and go on with life without them so she wouldn’t attract attention. The main character doesn’t care about the consequences the braces would bring, as she always wanted a pair to wear forever. So here we go with the story, based loosely on The ILUVBraces website story’s character Josie:

Chapter 1

Josie meandered through the large expanse of New York’s streets. She was a fairly young teenager about 15 years old and made the trip into the huge city by herself, against her mother’s warnings about going there alone. But she had to unwind after an especially torturous day of teasing by her high school classmates. She made the remark about wishing she was handicapped like some people who always needed leg braces and crutches or a wheelchair. The kids, not understanding her, started calling her a freak, and since she was somewhat of a pushover, one of the girls, named Cindy, offered to make her one by breaking her neck for her and started to tackle her. Some friendly boys rescued her from big Cindy, who was huge and very moody due to her own mother’s long term disability so she took her frustration out on Josie, especially after hearing what Josie said. How could anyone want to be crippled like Cindy’s poor mom with all her pain and depression?

As Josie wandered around, she came closer to the main area of the park again, near 5th Avenue. A very well dressed young teenage girl, about Josie’s age and apparently exactly Josie’s size, both height and weight, was on forearm crutches, with long stainless steel leg braces that went above her knees, as revealed by her striking, expensive miniskirt , above which was a very expensive fur coat. As Josie approached, she noticed the girl was crying. Not exactly the shy type, and not intimidated by the other girl’s apparent wealth, Josie immediately went and asked her why she was crying. The other girl, whose name was Amanda, explained to Josie, after they introduced each other, that she couldn’t stand wearing the leg braces, even though her legs were essentially useless from Cerebral Palsy, and she wanted to just look like other girls, even if she just had to sit in a wheelchair. Seeing the opportunity, Josie then asked Amanda what she intended to do with the braces.
“Well, who in hell would want them? I’m putting them in the trash whether my parents like it or not!”
Josie countered,” I’ll take them if you are going to throw them out! After all, today is October 15 and I still need to get my Halloween costume together. Please forgive me, but I do want to find out what it’s like to be handicapped and need braces! I’d appreciate it so much if I can buy them from you.”
Amanda smiled and replied “I don’t need the money! My dad’s a billionaire and he gives me over $10,000 to live on each week. Here’ let me take them off and I’ll mail the crutches to you, or, walk me over to that limousine over there”, she said; pointing over to a beautiful, brand new stretch Cadillac limousine. “My driver has the wheelchair that I use.”
Josie walked over and happily took the braces which were fairly heavy and the crutches. “These are awfully heavy. I’ll collapse for sure if I carry these home!” Josie exclaimed.
Amanda then said drily, “If you want to learn what it’s like to be handicapped, why not put them on now and start to experience it!” Josie then asked Amanda to help her put them on. Josie had then put on by Amanda, who showed her how to adjust the straps and hinges (with a hexagon wrench). The driver, as instructed by Amanda, drove to a different part of the city, nearer to the Penn Central Station so it would look more normal for a girl to be stepping out of a limo with braces, rather than be seen by people who had just seen the same girl walking normally just moments before, plus Josie was closer to the commuter rail to upstate New York, anticipating difficulties from walking for the first time with the braces and crutches.

Chapter 2

Upon entering the commuter rail station at Penn Central, Josie was immediately greeted by an attendant of Amtrak. He appeared unusually friendly and willing to help, as Josie, even though she was only 15 years old, had rode Amtrak many times before with her friends or family, back and forth from Tarrytown and all she had ever seen from the Amtrak attendance was surliness or at best, indifference. Then she remembered, this guy must either be feeling sorry, thinking I am a cripple with these braces or thinks I am all the more attractive with them on. So, trying to not appear too obvious, Josie tried to get more of a glimpse of his eyes and body language, as he helped her put her knapsack onto the awaiting train. Sure enough, she saw the telltale signs of guys who were “devotees” as she had found out about them on the internet. He didn’t look at her eyes frequently as a man who felt sorry for her would, but seemed to stare unceasingly at her leg braces! Then she gulped, these braces WERE now HER’S, and from now on, if anyone saw her, regardless of who they were, even her own family, they would have to regard her as a CRIPPLE, or in today’s politically correct speech, “physically challenged”.

Josie uneasily crutched the few additional feet and stumbled into her chair, which the railroad attendant fortunately gave her nearest the exit door. Noticing that, she thought to herself “well, that’s ONE benefit of being handicapped! I might as well enjoy it!” The train went its distance and within the hour, it arrived at Tarrytown. Josie tried as casually as she could to crutch out of the train but since she had not practiced much, she looked very awkward and apparently new to the situation as anyone who observed her would think. She was rehearsing in her mind to take a taxi the short distance home and sneak the braces off her legs and make it appear that nothing happened. As reality gripped her as she stopped her mental rehearsal/daydream, she looked up and her heart went into her mouth! There stood Mom, with a look of horror on her face! And Dad stood next to her, looking as if someone had died! They both cried out in unison
“Omigod!!!What happened to you, little Josie!!!!!!!!”
Josie was not a brilliant person, but she somehow had the knack for thinking on her feet, so she said in a quickly thought up lie ‘” My legs were hurting me, so I secretly went to an orthopedic doctor who told me I had a degenerative disease of my knee joints. He had a spare pair of braces from a similarly sized girl who just had new ones made, so he gave me these for the meanwhile until I got more permanent ones made up”. With this explanation, Josie knew she was stuck forever as a brace wearer, but as she thought earlier, she wanted to be a cripple, and didn’t care what others thought. Her parents accepted her explanation but wanted to know at least what doctor she was seeing so they could at least talk to them. Josie was stymied and she suddenly came up with, “these braces were so hard to walk in, I stumbled and the envelope I was carrying fell out of my hand and into the train tracks, so I lost it. I kind of remember his name, but can’t think of it I know he works at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Her mother, being very patient and understanding, came and hugged her and said, I know, Josie, you’re under a lot of stress . Just try to get some sleep and maybe tomorrow you’ll get the doctor’s name right.

Josie pretended to go to sleep and a little later on, went on the internet, onto a chat room with devotees, and asked if anyone knew orthopedic doctors at that same hospital in New York. As luck would have it, a person online happened to be one of the doctors at the hospital and he was a devotee of casts and braces! He said he would willingly give her a letter and his name and number but NEVER to let it slip that he was a devotee and doing this because he could lose his job and license! She wrote the name and number on a piece of paper and he was already prepared when Josie’s parents called as he had several patients with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and he easily had excerpts from their files adapted to Josie’s case with phony copies of x-rays to be seen as her own that he later showed them.

Within a short time, another exact pair of braces were officially made for Josie using cast made of her legs by a certified orthotist that the cooperative doctor knew, and her life as an officially handicapped person finally began!

Chapter 3

As each day went by, Josie loved her HKAFO’s (Hip-Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis) more and more. She got a thrill from the thought of how they felt so firm and unforgiving on her legs and how they prevented every movement that would have come naturally. Of course, as she went about her daily life, as she told more and more people around her, such as her everyday friends and acquaintances and especially relatives that she had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and that it was progressive and that the doctor had prescribed the braces, she was bound more and more to live the lie that she told. She knew the price would be heavy, and because she and the hospital doctor were aware of this, she signed a waiver of liability so that the doctor would be protected from a malpractice lawsuit because of the imminent atrophy that would eventually make her once shapely and athletic legs useless and spindly but she had been aware of that consequence and intended to deal with it as her choice in life.

It came about later in the year, in school, as Josie was using her new wheelchair with elevating leg rests, and had both legs put in long leg casts for 3 months, that Josie was eating her favorite lunch, her peanut butter and strawberry preserves sandwich, that she heard a sweet melodic female voice asking,
“can I sit here?”. Josie looked up and saw a pretty blonde girl, dressed in a schoolgirl uniform consisting of an above knee plaid skirt, and ankle sox and white shirt adorned with a bandana around the neck area. The girl smiled and extended what Josie was expecting would be a hand but, in her peripheral vision, saw instead a hook!

Josie instinctively went to shake the girl’s hand and the other girl introduced herself as Kathy. As Kathy said her name, she saw the tray that Kathy was grasping and noticed that Kathy had not one hook but two! It jolted Josie somewhat to see this as she had become used to wearing braces herself but never quite got used to others in casts, braces or with artificial limbs. Josie wriggled around somewhat in her wheelchair to make herself more comfortable. Kathy asked if she could sign one or both of Josie’s leg casts and Josie exclaimed “How?” never expecting someone appearing so disabled could do anything for themselves, let alone write!

Josie pulled out one of many thick markers she kept just for cast signings and handed it to Kathy. Kathy grappled it in her pincer-like hooks and speedily and very neatly wrote “get well” and some other expressions and drawings in the best handwriting Josie had ever seen, even for a fully abled person! They exchanged stories and Kathy told hers, each one thinking to themselves to “better make up a lie and tell the truth, after all, I don’t want to be seen as nuts by such a nice person!”

Kathy said she was helping her aunt in a farm in upstate New York with a tree shredder and her arms were caught in it and she had them amputated just below her elbows when she was 12 years old. Josie felt sorry for her and Kathy felt the same way for poor Josie’s arthritis and their friendship grew so that they became best friends and went everywhere together. Josie always was in braces or casts and in a wheelchair or on forearm crutches and Kathy, of course, always had the hooks on.

Chapter 4

As they both realized that their secrets were exposed, Kathy and Josie both said again to each other “I thought you were handicapped”. Josie felt extremely guilty about deceiving Kathy, but felt betrayed about Kathy’s deception of the hooks, but still wanted Kathy’s friendship, so she took the initiative to apologize.
“I’m so sorry Kathy about lying to you. I always wanted to be like a handicapped person so I took it upon myself to see an orthopedic doctor I met on the Internet and we kept a mutual secret. I wouldn’t reveal his identity if he would kindly make braces for me with medical notes to say I’m disabled with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, cast me from time to time and he in turn can have a fantasy “patient” in the flesh to practice his fantasies on, especially after I turn 18 years old an no longer under my parents authority!”

Kathy was astonished at this revelation and was therefore compelled to tell her incredible truth about her secret. “I always was fascinated with hook prosthetics, ever since I saw a teenage girl with 2 hooks on when I was entering elementary school and was going back-to-school shopping with my mom at the mall for the first time. Being so young, I asked her whatever I could and she told me the story I told you, about the tree cutting machine that pulled in her arms and severed them. Her story was true, mine was false, but it was the same story recycled. I kept on drawing prosthetic hooks on people and my parents became concerned and took me to a psychiatrist, who in turn found nothing wrong with me but only saw a normal school girl’s crush or admiration for someone else. He suggested that my parent have a fake pair make for me and that once I grew tired of it like a toy, I would no longer want it.

Since my parents were fairly wealthy and still are, after they got a second opinion and the other psychiatrist agreed somewhat, they went ahead and had a pair of prosthetics made for me at a local orthotist-prostheticist, which he made by casting my lower arms to make a mold over which he made the sleeves and lower components. I was given the strict orders NEVER to use them in public, only in private. After a while, I was using the hooks to do everything in the house and just HAD to use them outside. One day, when my parents went away on vacation and had me stay with an aunt out of town during summer, I took the hooks out with me and wore them outside on a trip to the store. They looked realistic enough that about 10 people stopped me and asked me how I lost my arms. I told them the story, enjoying the attention and the loss of normal ability and how so many guys were willing to help a pretty blonde girl like me! This was just before High School and I threatened my parents that I would run away unless they would let me wear the hooks all the time, and here I am, wearing these hooks! The prostheticist who made the latest pair hired me as a trainer for his patients since I had the experience of wearing them in public and doing tasks with them, so he makes me new ones and fixes then for FREE! This is how things came about with him”

Kathy turned reddish purple with embarrassment as she realized that Josie saw her real hands, exposed and even though they were a bit stiff from disuse, otherwise they were very healthy hands of flesh. Likewise, Josie turned a dark red, upon knowing that Kathy now new the Rheumatoid Arthritis was a made up story. Both felt betrayed also and started accusing the other of lying and mutually saying “how could you do this to me”. After a minute of anger, their hostility faded quickly as each of both came to her own senses and realized they only had each other for friends who really understood themselves and each other.
Kathy apologized first and said, “You know, Josie, I should have told you all along but I didn’t want to have you think that I took being handicapped in a light-hearted way. I always admired handicapped people and felt sorry for their disability but at the same time, I always wanted to know what it FELT like to be handicapped without having an actual physical condition!”
Josie, said in return “Oh,Kathy! I couldn’t have said my feelings any better! How did you get those hooks though, really! I think are SO COOL!” Kathy replied, I went to work for a summer job with a local prostheticist, y’know, those guys who make artificial arms and legs! So one day, I said to him, ‘could you show me how you make those?’

He was more than happy to do so, as we had a mutual crush on each other, so I spent the week in his lab as his “intern” He offered to make a pair of demonstrator hooks when I asked if I could help him train patients initially with their hooks or other prosthetics but I needed to know how it “felt” to where them. He was struck by my sensitivity, which he said was very rare for a girl of my age of 16, so he offered to make them for me free of charge as long as I stuck to my promise of working to help patients. He took plaster bandages and made molds of my hands and forearms with my hands held in a knuckle with my thumbs tucked under my fingers. The sockets of course had to be much larger than that of an actual forearm amputee but the shape was that of a straight tube with an increased circumference as you go higher up the forearm, as you can see for more realism! He made an upper portion with a tight hinge to restrict my wrist rotation to make it even more realistic for me. Everyone here knows me as “Kathy that hook girl” so I have to wear these full time now ever here since I moved!”

Josie told her story to her, about the doctor who was a brace and cast enthusiast and who fashioned the HKAFO’s that she had nearby, and put them on promptly, saying how everyone knew her as “Josie the Leg brace girl”. Both giggled at each others nicknames and Josie then helped Kathy put her hooks on with the shoulder harnesses.
Josie asked Kathy enthusiastically, “Could you show me how these totally cool things are made?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Absolutely, replied Kathy.”I had gone to that local prostheticist that I told you about and asked him if I could help him in his office, but I’d like to know more about how the patients feel in their various situations, that way I could help him better! He was more than happy to hire me, so, since we had a mutual crush on each other, he allowed me to spend the week in his lab as his “intern” Being struck by my sensitivity, he offered to make a pair of demonstrator hooks when I asked if I could help him train patients initially with their hooks or other prosthetics which would definitely give me what I needed to know how it “felt” to be one of the patients. He said my sensitivity was very rare for a girl of my age of 16, so he offered to make them for me free of charge as long as I stuck to my promise of working to help patients. He took plaster bandages and made molds of my hands and forearms with my hands held in a knuckle with my thumbs tucked under my fingers. The sockets of course had to be much larger than that of an actual forearm amputee but the shape was that of a straight tube with an increased circumference as you go higher up the forearm, as you can see for more realism! He made an upper portion with a tight hinge to restrict my wrist rotation to make it even more realistic for me. Everyone here knows me as “Kathy that hook girl” so I have to wear these full time now ever here since I moved!”

Josie told her story to her, about the doctor who was a brace and cast enthusiast and who fashioned the HKAFO’s that she had nearby, and put them on promptly, saying how everyone knew her as “Josie the Leg brace girl”. Both giggled at each others nicknames and Josie then helped Kathy put her hooks on with the shoulder harnesses.

When I told Dad that I was soon going to make as much income wearing these as he was making in his job, he quickly gave in and said, “Whatever you want, honey!” When Josie finished her story, she looked over at Kathy, who grinned and the two girls said to each other, well let’s live the life of gimps! , Kathy walked out with Josie and crossed the street and went to the bus stop discussing their plans for the next few weeks.

Chapter 5

Josie and Kathy strode down the road, alternately giggling and talking as they talked about each others experiences and how people reacted to them when they saw how “crippled” they were. Josie offered to take Kathy to see how casts were made, for orthopedic patients and how much she wanted to wear the casts again, which she had been out of for 8 weeks now. Josie called for an appointment, and Dr Bigbee, her regular orthopedist made one for after hours so there would be less attention. They prepared by going to Josie’s house for the wheelchair, and Josie told her parents how her legs were in excruciating pain and she probably would need to have casts put on again as that was the only way to relieve her joint pain. Josie’s mother drove with the two girls to the hospital and since it was only 5:00 the doctor told Josie’s mother that her had some extra time tonight and wanted to make sure that Josie, his favorite patient, was comfortable. The wheelchair was already taken into the clinic, and it was the standard Everest and Jennings model with elevating leg rests. Josie’s mother helped her onto the casting table after Josie removed her pants and after putting on the stockinet and cast padding from her toes all the way to her groin on both legs, Dr Bigbee asked Josie what kind of cast bandage did she want on her legs. Josie picked a new fiberglass bandage that featured a New York Mets logo on it since she loved the Mets and was especially a fan of Mike Piazza who was their catcher, and whom she thought was a cute guy. So the doctor cheerfully rolled the Mets fiberglass bandages very smoothly on both legs and molded it with the knees slightly bent. The bandages hardened in no time and Josie felt the warm feeling of the water in the bandages evaporating and the rapid gradual stiffness in her ankles and knees. After twenty minutes the bandages were fully hardened and Josie’s mother and Dr Bigbee helped Josie into the wheelchair. The doctor gave paperwork restricting Josie to the wheelchair with no weight bearing for 10 weeks, and Josie meekly complied, startling her mother who thought that Josie, being a 16 year old, would complain like other girls who might want to dance or show their shapely legs in bathing suits on the beach. But Josie of course was a different breed of girl who certainly would wear a sexy bathing suit on the beach, but not to show her tanned legs, but to show her fully casted legs, while seated in her favorite wheelchair. After all, she knew she would get as much, if not more attention from cute guys with the casts on her legs, than without them!

Chapter 6

Both girls felt relieved to finally reveal their secret, but Kathy didn’t realize how much further she would have to go in revealing her secret, not just to Josie but to the entire school! As they left the school together, Kathy walked, looking down at Josie as she chatted, never seeing the high curb they were approaching. Josie noticed it and even with her two casts on, she applied just enough pressure on the wheelchair to get past the curb. Unfortunately for Kathy, that never happened. Her left foot hit the foot-high curb in mid stride at full waking speed and the momentum of her body in walking motion kept her going forward. Before she could even react, she was heading face forward toward the hard sidewalk. Instinctively, she threw her uncovered hands forward, as Josie had the prosthetics in a bag on her lap at Kathy’s request, as no one was going to be at school to see her for the first time without the hooks. Her arms outstretched, the force and subsequent impact of the sidewalk shattered the navicular and distal radiuses in Kathy’s weakened wrists, and she fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Josie took her new cell phone out and called 911 for an ambulance, which came within 10 minutes and brought Kathy, with Josie accompanying her, to the nearest hospital.

After X-rays were taken, fractures were also seen just below the elbows and on 3 fingers. The female doctor advised Kathy that her arms would have to be put in long arm casts which would go from just below her armpits to the midpoint of her fingers and would cover both thumbs as well. Still numb from the shock of the trauma of the fractures, Kathy didn’t think of the consequences until her mom, who came to the hospital after being notified about the accident, was driving the two girls’ home. Everyone was sitting quietly in the car, saying nothing until the sudden realization about what the casts were going to do hit her. As the thought came to Kathy, she suddenly gave a blood-curdling scream. The surprise of the scream nearly caused her mother to lose control of the car!
Josie and Kathy’s mother thought something terrible had happened but then Kathy explained, ” I just realized I can’t go to school!!!. School starts in one week, I have to wear these casts for 8 weeks and everyone knows me as an amputee!

Chapter 7

Since Kathy was in a crisis and they knew they had to hide the fact of Kathy’s hands to save her from embarrassment, Josie lobbied her orthopedic doctor and Kathy her prostheticist for help. The two professionals, who coincidentally were communicating though instant messaging on the internet, finally met each other fact to face and recognized each other as the subject matter seemed very oddly familiar to both, who were each recreational bracing and casting enthusiasts, since the discussion was not delivered in a professional way. The 2 agreed to help the girls go away for 6 weeks on a “rehabilitation trip” to the Virgin Islands for the length of time that Kathy was to wear her long arm casts. Josie would have her two long leg casts removed then reapplied on her legs upon arrival, so that she could assist Kathy while on the island of St. Thomas. The parents of Kathy were advised of the problem and they understood even though they realized that they were assisting in the general deception. They bought the airline tickets for 3 so that Kathy’s mother could go with the 2 girls.

They all left the following day for the airport and within a couple of hours, after passing through security at the airport and having their luggage processed; they boarded the airplane at JFK Airport and shortly took off. The flight only took about 4 hours, including the usual delays of runway congestion and after the airplane landed, all 3 were in some discomfort due to the change in air pressure which affected their ears. Because of their blocked ears, they were all shouting toward each other when talking, so, thinking the 3 women were hard of hearing, the valet crew assisting Kathy with her luggage which she could not carry because of her casted arms were yelling as well! Finally, their ears “popped” and they were able to hear and talk normally, and when the valets realized they were yelling for no good reason, they came to their senses and started talking normally as well. They checked into the hotel and Josie and Kathy’s mom Renee helped Kathy change into her bedclothes and they went to bed to get fresh and ready for the next day, which would fatefully change everyone’s life, especially Kathy.

Chapter 8

At 7:45 Renee woke up her daughter so all 3 could go into the shopping district of town. Josie was still wobbly on her feet due to the weakened condition of her atrophied legs from prolonged immobilization by either the casts or braces, so she had to wear her KAFO’s today, and Kathy would be assisted by her mother while having her arms fully casted in long arm casts. Since the temperature was well into the 80’s all 3 women would be wearing their summer garb, which meant Kathy had her favorite tank top shirt which enabled her to easily get her arms in and out of her outfit, and shorts that were medium length as Kathy wasn’t much of a show-off. Josie loved wearing flashier outfits so she wore a bright t-shirt from an Eagle’s concert with short shorts and Nike sneakers which of course allowed her to show off her braces covering her legs. Kathy’s mom Renee, being one who graduated from high school in the early 1980’s was still into short shorts as well, wearing them with a t-shirt promoting Led Zeppelin, and although she was in her early 40’s, she retained her girlish figure and well-toned legs to match. As they made their way to the shopping district in St. Thomas, a young man who was about 30 years old spotted Josie with her forearm crutches and KAFO’s came over and started talking to Josie. He made her an offer, which was to restore cosmetically the tone of her legs free of charge, if she would model for him also free of charge, with her crutches and braces, and perhaps, wearing casts if she would feel comfortable doing so. He had only made the offer after Josie had somehow slipped and told him how much she enjoyed wearing the braces and how she was now “paying the price for it”. He had set her mind so at ease she had let her guard down, but since he assured her he had the proper credentials and she checked them out at his behest using her cell phone, she gave tentative approval, as long as her own mother would agree once they went stateside again.

Kathy, while entering a contest with her mother’s help, proved to be a winner as the contest drawing was held later that day in the same store, and she won a trip to Disneyland in California. Kathy was really excited because it would be 6 months from now when her arms were fully healed and she would be able to wear her more familiar hook prosthetics again. Nothing else exciting occurred during the other 5 weeks that they were on the island and they all flew back to JFK airport where Josie’s mother agreed to pick up the 3 weary traveling women. Kathy was fed up with wearing her arm casts and arranged to have them removed and have the hook prosthetics modified by her prostheticist so her arms would still be as effectively immobilized but she could then wear her hooks in which she felt more comfortable, so a brace attachment was made that fully restricted movement of her elbows in both extension and rotation. Josie, on the other hand, wanted to have long leg casts put back on so her orthopedist friend complied and put the long leg fiberglass casts on that very afternoon and gave her the paperwork which restricted her to a wheelchair for 3 months.

Chapter 9

Kathy was delighted to have the new prosthetic hooks on her arms but at the same time knew that she was going to have to undergo extensive physical therapy as a matter of course for her multiple arm fractures. She knew there would be questions by the physical therapist as to why there would be so little progress in restoring function to her hands, wrists and elbows but she knew that she HAD to keep wearing the hook prosthetics as everyone in school knew her as “Kathy the hook girl” and she had absolutely no motion in her hands as the prosthetics were molded exactly to her forearms and served the same way as casts would, so essentially, she was committing herself to wearing what was for all intent and purpose, casts for the next 2 remaining years of high school and into college, as all of her school records cited her as being “Handicapped”.

Josie was in the same predicament with the braces, but the atrophy had set in so extensively that she had zero muscle tone in her calves, and at this point after wearing long leg casts and braces for the past 2 years, she couldn’t voluntarily bend her ankles or knees without doing it manually with her hands. So, after her most recent pair of leg casts were finally removed, Josie was sunning herself at a local beach when a man passed by, staring at her as though she were the most beautiful woman in the world. Now, Josie, felt comfortable and confident about her appearance, and usually wore high hemmed skirts or short shorts to show off the maximum amount of her casts or braces, but she hardly felt she was that good looking. She looked at the man with a quizzical look, almost suspicious look and the man, though someone with less confidence would have been deterred, introduced himself anyway.

“Hello, young lady, my name is Jeff Ables, and I’m the Owner of Ables Restorative and Cosmetic Surgery Products. I don’t mean to be intrusive, but I noticed that you are a KAFO user and have muscle loss in your legs. If I could help you restore at least the appearance of your legs, at no charge, would you be able to help me?”

Josie wondered to herself, how could I possible help this man, as I am virtually as crippled as I have appeared to be and soon will need a wheelchair? She then remembered that her legs’ appearance had been nagging her and was contemplating just wearing long pants over the braces and not be such a showoff anymore, in contrast to her true nature as a person who loves flaunting what she felt she was proud of. She said, with that last thought in mind, “how could I help you, I can hardly walk, and need these crutches all the time nowadays!”

He replied “If you authorize it or your parents do if you are under 18 years of age, I can pay for the entire charge of silicone implants in your legs as well as joint replacement surgery for your knees and ankles if it’s related to arthritic degeneration.

All you would need to agree to do in return is to model for me, in before and after shots, which would be in video and still promotionals, serving as a testimonial, to promote my company’s products!

Josie was still skeptical, but she tentatively agreed, as long as Mr Ables would consult with her mother. He agreed and they all met 2 days later. After a lengthy discussion, where Josie’s mother verified his credentials, thay all agreed to have the procedure done, after Josie did the initial shooting of her crutching around and in her wheelchair, showing her wholesome looking face and pleasant upper body physique, in contrast to her very thin, spindly legs. She had to explain that the atrophy had occurred from years of being immobilized in casts and braces and she had decided to have her appearance corrected as it was affecting her self esteem and confidence.

Shortly after that, surgery was performed on both of her legs, with silicone implants which were rather hard being inserted where her atrophied calf muscles were, as well as above her knees, to restore some fullness to her thighs, which, when completed, gave her legs the appearance of being like a Playboy model’s long shapely legs. Function could not be restored because of her age and extensive joint erosion and bone loss, so the joint procedures were not bone, but now Josie could be confident she could wear long leg casts or KAFO’s as often as she wanted, without worrying about any more atrophy. She bought herself a new lightweight wheelchair, with the remaining money from the modeling fees for her birthday, and used the wheelchair now more than her forearm crutches.

Chapter 10

Kathy meanwhile used her hook prosthetics full time, as she had no choice as everyone knew her as Kathy the hook girl plus she had to have some form of immobilization of her arms as the fractures healed. She was even sleeping with them and she only took them off every other day in order to clean them. As school finally started, Kathy was eating lunch with her inseparable girlfriend Josie, when a tall handsome boy walked over. She was too busy looking at his flawless face, to notice that she had something in common with him. She noticed it very quickly after they introduced himself, still a little shyly after she introduced herself. The boy introduced himself as Neil, and they both stuck her right hands out, or, actually, hooks and both of their jaws dropped a mile. They said to each other, simultaneously, “you mean you’re an arm amputee and hook wearer too???!!!”. Kathy said yes and told him her made up story about losing her hands in a farm equipment accident.

Neil explained that he was born with seriously deformed hands and his parents, rather than letting him grow up with hands that would be useless forever, elected to have both arms amputated between the wrists and elbows when he was still a baby, so he grew up that way and was as used to it being that way, just as one is used to the nose on their face. They took a liking one another and Neil became one of the “crew” always hanging out with Kathy. He like Kathy more as a friend because of their “mutual handicap” but was more attracted to Josie as his girlfriend because of her looks and interests, and became more intimate with her. A few months later, Neil was walking into Josie’s house, and Kathy happened to be helping in the kitchen, as Josie’s mother was sick with the flu and had to stay in bed. He walked over to Kathy to ask her how she managed dishes with the hooks as his were too slippery for a lot of thinks. A look of panic ensued on Kathy’s face and Neil happened to look down, and to his utter astonishment, saw 2 hands, which were a little frail looking but were certainly not hooks and were certainly not cosmetic prosthetics, which were largely non-functional. Kathy turned white with terror for being found out, and lacked an explanation. Neil said, “Are you Kathy’s twin sister?”, still not believing it could be Kathy, who handled her prosthetics as naturally as any amputee. Kathy explained, sheepishly and very timidly, that she was Kathy, indeed, and was very sorry about misleading him. She made him promise to never, ever tell anyone except Josie about this. She explained further that it was an interest that grew from her working for the local prostheticist and how she wanted to see how actual amputees felt wearing the prosthesis into a fulltime attachment for her. She still worked for the prostheticist, training and mentoring the arm amputees, she certainly did feel sympathy for the real amputees. She wanted to appear that way full time but occasionally did let her hands have some exercise so they would not become totally useless.

Neil accepted her explanation and continued to be a very close friend. Sometime around Christmas, Kathy was walking down the street, and wanted to mail a letter. She noticed that a large bicycle was blocking the door to the mailbox, because the owner had chained it with the front tire up in the air. Kathy tried to move it out of the way, with her hooks, not noticing that the mailbox was situated on top of a manhole cover, and it just so happened that the manhole cover had become electrically charge due to a faulty high voltage wire beneath it. As soon as Kathy touched the mailbox, the current went through her hooks, which were made of stainless steel and up her arms. The current burned her arms with 3rd degree and 4th degree burns up to her elbows and Kathy passed out and suffered cardiac arrest. Luckily, a man with a wooden crutch was able to pull Kathy away from the mailbox and do CPR on her.

An ambulance came and took her away to the hospital. She was on the danger list for a few days, and her family was summoned. The doctor told her parents that her arms would have to be amputated above the elbows but were also asked why she was wearing hook prosthetics as she did appear to have hands beneath them. They had to explain the bizarre story and the surgeon, although totally flummoxed, accepted the explanation. The amputations were now done for real, midway between the shoulders and elbows. Kathy would not know about this until she awoke from her coma 3 weeks later.

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One Response to Losing a Life

  1. Shannon says:

    Awesome story I wish