Thanks to all the fillies for having me here today. My current release from Love Inspired, Rocky Mountain Cowboy, features a hero with a prosthetic arm. Amputations and prosthetic devices have come a long way since the days of the Wild West.
As far back as the Civil War, amputations were done for injury, infection and even compound fractures (where the bone was protruding through the skin.). The caveat is that there was no anesthetic, so just like the old films, the patient might be fortunate to be unconscious or be liquored up or receive a dose of tincture of laudanum (which contains opium), but they were most often awake and conscious. Laudanum was considered a miracle drug of its day and was used for everything from coughs, pain, and diarrhea. Until the early 1900’s it was easily obtained.
Medicine in the Old West by Jeremy Agnew. http://amzn.to/2iejNx2%5B/caption%5D
The term “bite the bullet,” comes from using a bullet to bite down on during medical procedures such as amputation when no wooden block or leather was available to bite on.
Per Agnew’s book, physicians were valued for their speed, and operating room assistants were chosen for their “brawn rather than their brains.” Surgery consisted of a tourniquet, a circular cut and sawing through the flesh and bone in mere minutes. A flap was created using overlapping skin, to cover the amputated site.
Prosthetic devices have been around since 600 BC. By the 1800’s they were made of wood, metal and leather. Wooden legs were strapped to the body with leather or metal clamps, and were dressed with socks and shoes for a natural appearance.
For more information and pictures of these early prosthetic devices you can check out the following articles:
- The Perfect, 3,000-Year-Old Toe: A Brief History of Prosthetic Limbs-The Atlantic http://theatln.tc/2i4reWM
- Crude Prosthetic Limbs From The Past Were Horrifying Yet Oddly Beautiful-Viral Nova http://bit.ly/2hKZjrT
- A Brief History of Prosthetics -Amputee Coalition http://bit.ly/2hKXR98
You can even purchase these antique prosthetic devices on EBay! http://ebay.to/2iATPEr
Needless to say, technology has come a very long way. Amputee Coalition’s InMotion Magazine November/December magazine stats tell us the following:
- Currently, 2.1 million people live with limb loss. By the year 2050 3.6 million people will be living with limb loss.
- 185 thousand people have an amputation each year.
- 507 People lose a limb each day.
You can find this magazine online here. http://bit.ly/2io8zTT
With this information in mind, isn’t it totally appropriate that we should be writing more and more heroes, heroines and secondary characters in our novels as amputees? There is no limit to what our amputee characters can do. Don’t limit yourself by false myths about amputees. Do consider an amputee in your stories.
Have you checked out the Paralympic site to see possibilities for these Alpha heroes and heroines as you create your fictional worlds? http://www.paralympic.org/sports
My own hero, Joe Gallagher, a cowboy and rancher, in Rocky Mountain Cowboy utilizes a Michelangelo. This multi-articulating prosthetic device is for his transradial amputation. Joe lost his arm from below the elbow when a tractor fell on him. The character of Joe was inspired by amputee cowboy and roper and a hero to me, Barry Landry. Here’s a llink to Barry with his Michelangelo (scroll to bottom). http://armdynamics.com/pages/michelangelo
Beyond the Michelangelo, newer prosthetic devices are becoming popular such as the Bebionic, “a multi-articulating myoelectric hand made by Steeper. It features 14 different grip patterns and hand positions, including the unique mouse grip for using a computer mouse; trigger grip for using spray bottles; and precision grip for securely handling small items.” More information here. http://bebionic.com/the_hand
Now think really advanced prosthesis and check out these amazing heroes and heroines at The Alternative Limb Project! http://www.thealternativelimbproject.com/
And finally, I’d like to introduce you to another hero, Travis Mills.
“Never give up. Never quit.”- Travis Mills, retired United States Army Staff Sergeant and recalibrated warrior. http://www.travismills.org/
I hope I’ve provided you with information to aid you in considering an amputee for your next hero. What are your thoughts? Can you recommend any other books with amputee heroes and heroines or secondary characters?
I’m giving away two copies of Rocky Mountain Cowboy to commenters. Print or ebook, winner’s choice. International readers welcome.
Rocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe
The last person cowboy Joe Gallagher thought he’d see on his ranch was high school sweetheart Rebecca Anshaw Simpson. Twelve years after she married another man, she’s back as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot.
There’s much the single mom would rather forget, but Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. She has only a few weeks to make peace with her past. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love.