I guess it all began with
my mother...she was born in North
Carolina on December 1935. She was the second born of four
children, and the only one with a birth defect...her right leg was deformed. She
was about five years old when her leg was amputated at the knee.
At that time,
her family had moved to Maryland.
I don't suppose it was that big of a deal, at that time, that a child was born
with a defect. No one else in the
family had been born with a defect. Her leg was amputated at the knee at Johns
Hopkins Hospital. She was fitted with an artificial
leg and she lived her life. When she was twenty years old I was born, and
that changed everything....
Much to everyone's
surprise, 'both' of my legs were affected . Now began the mystery. Why did
this happen? Will this happen with all of her children? What of her sibling's
children? My birth raised a lot of questions.
My hospital stays began at about two months old. They attempted to
straighten my leg and see what they could do. The beginning months are so
important in the bonding process between a mother and a child. I never bonded
with my mother, and she never bonded with me. I spent a great deal of time in
the hospital for the first five years of my life. I am so glad I don't have a
conscience memory of seeing my loved ones walk out of my hospital ward and go
home. How painful and frightening that must have been. And
people wonder why I have such abandonment issues!!
But, I have some
happy pictures, too. I spent a lot of time with my mom-mom...my biological
father's mother. One of the nick-names she had for me was 'Apple
dumpling'. She'd sit me up on her kitchen table so I could watch her
cook. I also got along real well with the parakeet they had.
One of my favorite
pictures is of me being potty-trained. You can get a better look at how my legs
were. At about two and a half years old I had to go back into the hospital
again. They put both legs in a cast. And in order to keep me still, they put me
in what they called a 'body cast'. It went up to about my waist. My mom told me
that they would come in several times a day and flip me over. I'm glad I don't
remember what it must have been like to have been an active child and forced to
lay on my back like that for months at a time and try to keep myself occupied. I
have always been able to make wise use of my time and keep myself occupied. It's
no mystery to me where I got that skill. I made the best of what I had to work
with. I'm like that to this day.
I do have a few memories of
my hospital stays...I remember that some children died and the nurses explained
that they were in heaven. I didn't understand what that meant. I only knew that
I didn't see those children anymore, and there would always be a new friend in
the bed beside me. One of those times, it was my own sister. Cindy and I
actually met and bonded while in the hospital at the same time.
time I was used as a model for a new stretcher for the hospital. This is the
newspaper article that was written, and a copy of the picture that was used in
the article. I think that this was my last visit to the hospital and marked the
last of my leg surgeries. I do remember the very last time I 'walked'
out of the hospital. And I remember knowing that it would be the last
time. However, right at the doorway, I slipped and fell and busted my chin open.
They kept me over-night and I had to have five stitches put in my chin.
is a picture of my mother, my sister Cindy, myself, and my brother Alan, all
together. This picture was taken before Cindy had her leg partially amputated.
She went through many more surgeries than I did, not to mention the surgeries on
her hand. The other picture is of me.
March 9, 1956 -
At two months old I went into the hospital to have a cast put on one of my
legs in an attempt to straighten it. I was there for two months and wore a cast
for seven months.
March 13, 1958
- At twenty-six months old I had an operation on my left
leg. The actual surgery date was March 20, 1958.
July 1958 -
At two and a half years old I had another operation.
September 11, 1958
- An operation on my left ankle.
December 11, 1958
- My right leg was finally amputated at the knee.
When I was three years and
two months old, I had an artificial leg on my right leg, and a brace to support
my left leg...and I walked for the first time.
September 29, 1960
- I had to have my left leg amputated at the knee.
January 1961 -
Right after I turned five years old, I received my artificial legs so I could
learn to walk again. This time there was no brace...just two wooden legs. I
began school on September 4, 1962 and on September 11, 1962 I had to get a new
pair of legs. As I grew, I had to get new legs.
November 22, 2007
- I fell and broke my right femur in half. I had to have surgery to repair the
break. During surgery the doctor, while attaching the metal rods, plates, pins,
and screws, accidentally broke the the OTHER half of my leg, just lower down
that same leg. So, I was healing TWO fractures.
more to this story about how I broke my leg on my Latest
Scoop page. I have updates, etc.
went to a public school and led as normal life as possible. Children, in my
personal opinion, are the cruelest creatures on the earth. Being an amputee
wasn't the biggest challenge I had to face, back then, it was the other kids at
school...and the way they made me feel about myself. There were no handicapped
slopes and special parking or hand-rails in the bathroom. The schools I went to
didn't have an elevator or even air-conditioning. You can't believe how hot two
wooden legs can get when you have to climb stairs to your classes all day.
So, life for an amputee,
back then, wasn't like it is today. The first couple of years of school I wasn't
even allowed out for recess with the other kids...the teachers were afraid I'd
hurt myself. I had to stay in the classroom with the children who were being
punished. I wasn't allowed to talk to them or play with them because, well, they
were being punished...and I felt like I was being punished, too.
people and things could be...it made me stronger. I do love a good challenge.
And I fought so hard to prove I was normal that, in some cases, I ended up
accomplishing more than the kids with two good legs....at least I got to go to
Europe when I was sixteen years old and see Paris,
France, and other places in France, and Zurich, Switzerland.
Whoops! Am I gloating? Darn right, I am.
I very recently found out
what the name of my birth defect is, as far as I know. I want to do more
research on this and provide better information on a separate page. This will
take some time....but I will do it. Here is what I do know so far.....
Paraxial Tibial Hemimelia
- distal end of femur is hypoplastic, tibia is absent,
dislocation of fibular head;
- incidence is 1 in 1 million.
- has a familial inheritance;
- tibial hemimelia may be terminal or intercalary,
complete or incomplete.
- 30% percent of cases are bilateral
of all the 'fake' letters I receive from people who 'pretend' to need advice and
discuss a supposed birth defect, I am no longer answering questions or letters
from anyone about my legs.
You can thank the
game-playing devotees for this.
Another thing I got tired
of was spending my time writing back to people who 'ask' for help or advice and
then I never hear from them again, not even so much as a thank you for the time
I spent answering them. I am a very busy person and don't have time for the
games or ungratefulness.