Sixteen years ago today I went under the knife for my first leg lengthening procedure. I was just 11 years old.
(Here I’m getting hoisted by mechanical chair into a therapy pool. This is a pretty good view of the apparatus used to lengthen my leg back then.)
They say pictures are worth a thousand words so just take a look at some of these. There’s a big difference in the methods used now and close to 20 years ago. In 1996, the best technology available was an external fixator (or ilizarov) which used halos and pins. Although that way of lengthening is still around and used frequently, there is another option. The method I’m using this time is called the PRECISE nail. Although it’s pretty much the same idea – the key is it’s completely internal which makes it so much more comfortable and less painful.
(I’m not sure, but this may be the first time I got into my wheelchair and was taken out of my room. I don’t look too happy.)
(This is me and my brother before school one day.)
I had to attend most of 6th grade in a wheelchair. When I went out into public, we covered up my leg. An ilizarov is not an easy thing to look at especially if you’re squeemish or not prepared! The picture above would have probably been taken somewhere around 4 months after my surgery. To give you an idea of the difference, check out the next picture taken recently, less than 2 months after THIS surgery.
(This picture was taken at my friend Kacey’s bridal shower.)
How wonderful not to have a giant metal cage hanging from my leg! Not only for me, but for others who don’t have to look at it! I’m so thankful for advances in medical science. Of course I don’t regret having the first surgery and I wouldn’t tell someone who had to have an external fixator not to do it. But I’m excited for people like me who can have an easier time lengthening with this new device. What will they think of next?