J.C. Bailey will never forget the day he lost his leg. He doesn’t see how people could forget something like that. It was March 3, 1998, and he was doing what he loves best – hunting. That spring day, he had been hunting for wild boar with a group of men. They decided to go into town for something to eat when J.C. saw a jackrabbit. He got out of the car and aimed his 40-caliber Baretta, but he missed. "I was sure I put it on de-cock when I got back in the car. But then I went over a bump and heard the shot and felt the bullet in my leg."
The group drove him to a truck stop and called for help. He had to be Medi Flighted to Pecos, TX, where he had four surgeries to try to save his leg. "I’ve never felt bitter or angry about losing my leg. I’m sure spending 20 years in the infantry had something to do with that." J.C. believes that everyone should spend four years in the infantry. "After that everything’s a piece of cake!" he adds. "But most people don’t think about those two good legs they have or those two good arms."
To J.C. losing a leg was an inconvenience. "It’s not on my mind," he says. "Unless of course, I’m out hunting and spending the night. Putting that cold socket on in the morning is tough. I try to warm it up in my sleeping bag but it’s still really cold."
J.C. wore a hydraulic leg for almost four years. Today he wears a C-Leg. "I fell a lot and really had to concentrate on walking," he reports. "I don’t even think about it any more unless someone asks about it. I can walk on uneven surfaces and forget all about it." He says, "It’s like fuel-injection versus a carburetor," he continues. "A great leap forward in prosthetics."
Prosthetist Trey Martin says that the C-Leg mimics a normal gait and allows for normal hip flexion while walking. "It’s definitely beneficial for older amputees who need the stability it offers," he adds.
"What else is there besides hunting or fishing … well, there’s cooking. And I’m pretty good at it!" Some of the staff around Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research have sampled his famous salsa. He has just returned from elk hunting in Utah and is getting ready for deer hunting. "You have to have something to look forward to, or you really get in a rut." Today he stands tall and walks proudly.
Carmen Christian was stunned when she discovered she was pregnant seven years after the birth of her first child. She had been told she would have no more children. But as the pregnancy progressed, she sensed something was wrong. "Mother’s intuition," she says. So when her daughter D’Ann was born without a left hand, she cried and was angry with God. "But the day after she was born, I decided I was going to get a new hand for her." But every prosthetist and doctor she saw told her to wait until the child was six-years-old.
The young mother finally found a doctor who would help the six-month-old baby girl and D’Ann was fitted with a tiny hand. Since children weren’t usually fitted until the age of six, occupational therapists didn’t know how to help. So Carmen sat on the floor with D’Ann every day and taught her how to use her new arm. "I couldn’t shelter her; I knew that would be bad for her." And throughout her childhood her parents continued to challenge her.
Carmen’s tenacity and determination rubbed off on her daughter. D’Ann was fitted with her first Otto Bock hand while she was in junior high school. She was a cheerleader in junior high and high school and she took gymnastics and ballet. "There was nothing she couldn’t do," Carmen says proudly. "Cartwheels, jumping rope, you name it! And through high school she was a model. I never told D’Ann she couldn’t do anything. She had to prove to herself and others that she could."
Today, D’Ann is married and a mom herself of two little boys. She is an environmental engineer for the State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board.
To parents facing similar challenges, Carmen advises, "Never, never give up! It’s up to the parents to show the child the way. If the parents withdraw into themselves, then the child will too. My theory is there are no handicapped children – only handicapped parents."