About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Socket Art

A few days ago I was contacted by a reporter from CNN who was researching a story about prosthetics. Specifically, she was interested in learning more about the socket art trend that seems to be growing in the amputee community. I answered her questions and provided some photos of my newly decorated socket which I admit is understated by most standards.

When I first became an amputee, I distinctly remember telling my Mom and Scott that I wanted a cosmetic cover. I didn't want anybody to know that I was an amputee. More important than components, which I didn't understand, it was paramount that my prosthesis looked like a "normal leg." I didn't want anybody to know that I was an amputee for fear of being viewed as disabled or handicapped.

My first leg had a hand carved foam cover and a flesh toned skin. From a distance it looked like I had a matching pair, and It was only if somebody really stared that it was apparent that I was using a prosthesis.  The flesh skin was nearly impossible to clean and, unbeknownst to me at the time, did not tan. My right leg had a healthy glow while my prosthetic simply turned to a bleached out, dingy shade of orange. My quest to fit in resulted in my standing out because of my mismatched legs.

I recall the moment that I decided to get rid of the cover and to stop trying to camouflage my prosthetic almost as clearly as I remember insisting that I have the cosmetic cover.  It was late August and I was wearing a pair of shorts. I looked down to adjust my sandal when I realized the grime and stains that had accumulated in the fabric. It had become downright ugly.

Staring at the stains while trying to come up with a cleaning solution, I had an epiphany. It may sound obvious, but in that moment I accepted that my prosthetic is not my biological leg. I needed to stop trying to make it look like one. It was a prosthetic, manufactured with carbon fiber and titanium. It wasn't flesh and bone, but it was still beautiful because it enabled me to be independent. I rummaged through the junk drawer in our kitchen, found the box cutter and began to cut away the cover.

Many amputees have fabric laminated into their socket. I have never been able to find a pattern that I could commit to wearing everyday for several years. In lieu of fabric, I've always opted for black carbon fiber. I love that I can dress the socket with sticker embellishments or decorate it for holidays using Colorforms.

A few months ago while in my prosthetist's office, I finally saw a socket design I knew I would be happy wearing for years. It is not created by laminating fabric over the socket but involves dipping paper in chemicals. I'm not really sure of the specifics of the application process, but I do know that I love the look.  I jumped at the opportunity to have my socket tricked out in this manner. My current leg is shiny silver and covered with black rain drops and I couldn't be happier. It looks both clean and modern.

My evolution to becoming a confident amputee woman can be traced through my sockets. I have gone from "I don't want anybody to know that I'm different" to "Hey, check out this cool leg" in a relatively few years. Who knows what my next socket will look like!


  1. Hey, could we get a pix of the silver bullet with raindrops? Would love to see it!

  2. when my son was first getting his legs, I would opt for the foam cover, the prostitist (not sure of the spelling) who had been creating legs for years sorta gave me a look like it's a waist of time. But I wanted my baby to not be stared at or made fun of by the other kids so I pushed forward with a man who was just starting out creating legs and had no idea. Well we tried the foam and it looked amazing but as you pointed out the coloring doesn't match... then there is the fact that a two year old does not stay clean, does not stop from trying to crawl around on the floor dragging the leg across the floor... then came the awsome day I walked in when he had taken a nap and found foam pieces all over the floor... he had found a nick and started picking it apart. So we went back and were told to use stockings to cover the tear and to match the color better--sounds good in theory but not on a child--run's in the stockings happened in5 min after putting one on. It was then that we found out about putting fabric on the socket and a disney movie about robots came out. I took him to a fabric store to find his favorite character which at that time was blue's clues... and kept of the foam and he went to pre-k a very popular little guy. Many wanted a 'robot leg' just like his with their own blue the dog all over it. So far we have get a new leg every year since he is a child and we go each time to the fabric store to pick out the next cool material. I like the new idea you have because soon he will have to make a choice that will last for years, but I don't know if my guy does that yet, is it something they all do now?