The Catt Box

'About My Legs 2'

Message to devotees

 

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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.

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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!!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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. 

 

newspaper_article.jpg (40928 bytes)origional_picture.jpg (25393 bytes)One 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. 

 

mom_and_us_kids.jpg (27213 bytes)studio_portrait.jpg (14860 bytes)Here 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.

 

 

Surgery Information

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.

There's more to this story about how I broke my leg on my Latest Scoop page. I have updates, etc.

 

 

  graduation_picture.jpg (21375 bytes)I 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.

 However cruel 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, & proximal
       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

http://www.medmedia.com/o2/296.htm

 

~Notice ~

Because 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.

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