What is an Emergency to a Fake-Leg Doctor?

Each time I call my prosthetic provider the answering service is clear in stating, “If this is an emergency call the after-hours hotline”. I have always wondered what exactly would be considered an emergency to a Prosthetist? It’s not like you can be physically in danger using a fake leg…but then again all those warning labels we see are for something so I finally resolved that an emergency would be considered when a fake leg completely broke after hours. After such pondering it was only inevitable that the day came when I received a new leg and needed pants to fit it. (Nearly every time I get a new leg I need to buy new pants because each leg makes my waist line a different size since I am fitted at hip-level.) It was a dreary day when I headed to the store and on my way out of the store the floor was wet and I wiped out. Now when I say I “wiped out” I do not mean a pretty little slip-around where I was able to appear to be speed-skating and still manage to hold my purse and salvage my dignity. No, no, I mean a flat-on-my-back-purse-goes-soaring-rolling-and-flailing while screaming, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” kind of wipe out. Right there in front of everyone.  Really, I couldn’t get back up because my new leg had a new hip joint and knee and I couldn’t figure out how to get them to work together so I kept catapulting forwards and backwards as one would bend and the other would straighten like a broken jack-in-the-box. This display was truly the closest thing to a flopping seal Seaworld expo you would find in Pennsylvania.

Eventually, (I’m convinced it was half an hour but more than likely was somewhere between five and ten seconds) I decided to play possum and wait for someone to come and check my pulse before helping me up. After making it to the car and leaving management with their own half-convinced smiles that I would not come back with a lawsuit I headed home in my state of shame wondering (based on the dirty state of my clothing) how they could have sent me away without at least a gift certificate to the dry cleaner or new pair of jeans. It was on my drive home that I realized how badly messed up my fake leg was from the fall. It was completely askew. Foot pointing one way, hip pointing another, immediately the “crooked little lady” nursery rhyme started playing in my head on repeat. After several hours of my husband and father working on my crooked piece of equipment I decided this would definitely be constituted as an emergency for a prosthetist. I mean hello…if you break your real leg that is an emergency to the real-body doctor so when you break your fake leg that should be an emergency to the fake-leg doctor, right? I was a woman with no leg and now filthy clothes. I had just sprawled out in a very public place and was more crooked than a bank robber! I needed to make the call!

Fixing my leg...A FAIL I might add!
Fixing my leg…A FAIL I might add!

Calling the hotline I was curtly informed by the on-call doctor (and to this day I am sure I heard thumping music and smelled grilling through the phone) that if I felt I was hurt I should call 911 and that a crooked leg was not an emergency, “Feel better and call the office on Monday for an appointmen…” I was instructed as the voice on the other end dissipated before even getting out the “t”.

Four years later I was recently reminded of this incident. I asked my doctor’s office what exactly is an emergency to a prosthetic provider? “There have been several cases where a patient cannot get their leg off, this can be bad news and counts as an emergency,” I was told. That’s it? If my wedding ring is stuck on and I call 911 I’m sure they will laugh and tell me to try soap and water or baby oil. Sorry to say this but I definitely feel if a stuck leg can be an emergency then my embarrassing, crooked, and broken tragedy should definitely count to the fake-leg doctor. You don’t need to get the Jaws of Life out to work a leg loose for crying out loud! Shaking my head I resigned myself to the fact that here, like all insurance claims, justice can be a fleeting thought…  

*This article is meant as a piece of humor and in no way aims to poke fun or laugh at those that have had their legs or arms stuck on. I have had that happen too and agree it’s no fun. It can be scary but I do advise you try some baby oil and laugh along with me…

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