Monday, December 12, 2011

Going Out On A Limb (Part 3)

As unbelievable as this might sound, when I went back down to our home's heart of darkness to look for a box containing pictures I needed for this blog post I stumbled across two more of David's outgrown legs. I decided I better do an updated "growth chart" picture before continuing with the interview.

As soon as you came to Canada you were enrolled in the War Amps CHAMP program. Most Canadians are aware of the War Amps, but readers in other parts of the world might not be familiar with them. Who are the War Amps, and what is the CHAMP program?
The War Amps is a non-profit organization that started after WW1 for the Vets who lost their limbs. The CHAMP program helps kids and teens with amputations get through everyday life by providing limbs.
Can you describe what it is like to go to one of the multiple amputee seminars put on by the War Amps? 
The seminars that are hosted by the War Amps are a fun-filled 3 days. You meet and get to know other kids with amputations, share stories and experiences, and start up friendships that last for a lifetime.
I could write a series of blog posts just about these seminars. In a word they are amazing. The War Amps hold these get-togethers every year and a half for the multiple amputee kids (Super Champs) enrolled in their program. The kids get a chance to be around other amputees, sharing stories and experiences. It is a whole weekend where amputees are in the majority. If you show up at the pool WITH limbs you are going to be the odd one out! 

David and Morgan using their swim arms

One of the favourite times at the seminars, aside from the time spent in the hotle pool, is when the Champs get to go up on stage and demonstrate their different limbs and devices. Here is David with two of his Champ friends, Blaike and Morgan.
Blaike, David and Morgan demonstrating their sports devices

That friendship has continued through the years. This picture was taken a few years ago at a Multiple Amputee Seminar in Ottawa. 

David, Blaike and Morgan - all grown up!

Since this blog interview was prompted by my encounter with the box of limbs in the storage room, let’s discuss prosthetics. Can you list the limbs you currently use?

The limbs I am using currently are my hockey arm, tennis arm, swim leg and sport leg. With ski season coming up I’ll also be using my ski pole arms very soon.

#1 sports limb
Our family skiing at Sun Peaks last winter - David is third from the left 

There have been many other limbs, particularly sports limbs, that you have had over the  years. Can you take a trip down memory lane and list some of your retired limbs for my readers?
Oh, the limbs I’ve retired is an almost endless list. I no longer use my hooks or myoelectric arms, baseball bat or glove adaption, basketball arm, bike arms and swim arms.
Prosthetic limbs are very expensive, and this has been another area where the War Amps have been terrific over the years. They pick up the cost of any limb not covered by our provincial medical plan. 
Can you tell me how much your current leg cost, and also your hockey arm? 
My current leg cost around $7000. The spring in the foot alone is priced at $6000. This year I recently upgraded the spring in my foot because the old spring ($4000) kept on breaking - I went through 3 springs in one year. My hockey arm only costs $900 or so because it has no special pieces to it, just the materials to make it and the labour costs.
Do you have some final thoughts to share?
I was glad to share my side of life with my disabilities, and hopefully you learned something from what was said.

David practicing his stick handling (it always ends up being about hockey when you live North of 49).


  1. Thank you David & Kristie for this series of interviews. I've enjoyed reading them and, David, I can see why your mom is so proud of you.

  2. @Tana - I am glad you have enjoyed the interviews!

  3. Kristie,

    I didn't know there are so many kinds of devices according to needs. And I'm very impressed with those Canadian government programs. Because those legs and arms are very expensive, can they be transferred to other people in needs such as people in underdeveloped nations? I thought maybe they can be adjusted in some way. They are functional and beautiful pieces of arts.

  4. These interviews are great! They make me think that most of us have some kind of "disability" to live with. Mine is depression. It generally can't be seen because I have some marvelous little white pills for "prosthetic". I'm so grateful for SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). They have made such a difference to my life. The difference between you, David, and me is that my "prosthetic" requires no effort on my part to learn to use and to actually use. Yours requires effort, skill and determination. We've both had the support of loving families. I imagine that you are as grateful to yours as I am to mine.

  5. Kristie and David, thank you! Great interviews, very interesting. I had not heard of War Amps, it's an amazing organization.

    David should get used to being admired for who he is.

  6. @keiko - David is a very active, athletic guy so he probably has had more devices than the average amputee! Your idea of being able to send the used limbs along to someone in an underdeveloped nation is a great one. I am going to talk to David's prosthetist about that very thing. Some of those feet definitely have more life in them. Unfortunately the legs are very specific to the person they were designed for and would not be of use to anyone else. And I should have made this part clear in the post. The War Amps program is a private program and receives no money from the government at all. They are very proud of that fact, and they do an amazing job.

    @Anonymous - I am sorry you struggle with depression. I think maybe the "invisible disabilities" are even more difficult for people to understand than the more visible ones like my son's amputations. I am thinking about doing a series of blog posts on this very thing, if I can get my youngest daughter to agree to be interviewed (she has a GI disease). I am glad to hear you have the support of your family.

    @Ric - Glad you enjoyed the interviews. I think your stories about close calls and potential stalkers make for far more exciting reads though!

  7. Not sure I agree, but either way, your posts are more meaningful and of more value.