This is follow-up (of sorts) to another post about What-if, as in what if I could bend and straighten my left leg with weight on it... Last time I did that was 1975. Then it was stiff and painful; then it was useless and painful; then it was stiff and bent and pain-free for thirty-odd years while I stomped on it until my foot/ankle/hip/back couldn't take it.
Now that my left knee is hydraulic, it looks hi-tech, but (sadly) is only interesting as that kind of mechanical joint...called a...(my engineer-cousin spotted & correctly named this type of hinge the first time we walked into the prosthetist's office...but now the word is gone. Sorry, Scotty.)
Let me just say that (a la Larry Craig) I Love My Knee. Let the record show that I have NO COMPLAINTS (mostly. Ahem.) about the hydraulic leg my insurance has deemed fit to pay for. This type of knee (the **Otto Bock 3R60**!! msrp around $5K) allows me to tramp around in fine form from woods to airports to oh, say for instance, the Richard Dawkins Foundation's panel at the American Humanist Association's national conference a few weeks ago where (let the record show) I did not fall down even while dancing on the party boat. (Do those Humanists know how to have a good time or what??)
However. My happy hydraulic knee folds like a cheap suit, like a tent, like a map, like a hinge, all at the speed of gravity when bent with my weight on it. Which brings me to How Liz Clicked On A Facebook Button. Long story short: "You too can TRY a COMPUTERIZED LEG!!"
The computerized legs have a little brain that makes something like 50 to 100 decisions a second depending on how it figures its amputee is moving. It's programmed with a Bluetooth and a laptop, and apparently takes a certain amount of getting used to.
Of course I wouldn't even be allowed to try one and I knew it: my insurance wouldn't tolerate it. My insurance (through the ever-loving State of New York) is Computerized-knee Intolerant, & breaks out in hives at the very thought, let alone the $40-90K (yes K, 40 to 90 THOUSAND DOLLARS price tag.) Sure enough, as the Facebook Offer-ed steps played themselves out, my prosthetist (who is a wonderful person) called to say A) It couldn't happen due to some secret anti-alliance with Prosthetic Powers That Be, BUT 2) he was going to facilitate it happening so that I could try a (hush!!)...computerized leg anyway.
More long story short: I met him and the salesman in an undisclosed location a couple months ago, where (cue sound effects: WHHEEEEOOOoooo...) said leg refused to work. (See "CHECK ENGINE LIGHT" stayed on.)
Week or so ago I was back, and tried out the...computerized knee... Conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hey...it's slow! It's holding me back!...wait...What do you mean, Walk normally?? I haven't walked normally since 1975!!..OK, I won't look in the mirror, I'll look up...YES I'm holding on to the parallel bars...Hey, cool!...whoops...But that was a good step! Yeah! See? It's figuring me out...or vice versa..." Etc.
Fifteen or twenty minutes & some adjustments later: "Hey! Cool! Yeah, it's got some resistance!...Yeah, I can walk backwards...and sideways!...Look at this, step over step!!"
By then I was making plans on skipping out the door so I could call that wonderful guy in my life & going dancing, oh yeah. And by then the prosthetist & the sales rep were saying, "OK--hold it, that's good--now take it easy--EASY!!"
And that's when I realized I was just shy of a certain emotional (for me) movie clip of a certain fictional paralyzed character turned loose in a tall, blue body with perfect legs. And I heard myself say, "No, I'm OK, this is great!!"
Well. At the end of forty-five minutes I spent back moving back and forth between the parallel bars like a shark in a small tank, my prosthetist said, "It'll be rough when you have to put your old knee on again." He and the sales rep agreed I'd adapted extremely quickly to the...see-leg...
Because, yeah. I saw.
I knew it could be hard going back, like the way bouncing on a trampoline makes the ground seem especially unforgiving. Maybe I was hoping to be disappointed, so I could say, Ah, I don't want one of those stupid knees anyway...
Not true: **WANT**!!!! as I've learned to say from Facebook, that fiendish thing that got me into this mess, if-you-want-it-it-will-come, I can only hope, whatever, I don't care. It was an amazing three-quarters of an hour. And to everyone who commented (or just responded in spirit!) to my blue-feet post about that reaction to the movie: psssst....the science is working.
What we need is the right to avail ourselves of it. Because I had a glimpse. And it was amazing.