Tina Radcliffe – My Heroes Have Always Been Amputees

Tina Radcliffe

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:

  • Crude Prosthetic Limbs From The Past Were Horrifying Yet Oddly Beautiful-Viral Nova http://bit.ly/2hKZjrT

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.

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70 thoughts on “Tina Radcliffe – My Heroes Have Always Been Amputees”

  1. Thank you for sharing this fascinating post, Tina. Prosthetics certainly have come a long way! I don’t recall reading a story with an amputee hero or heroine. I am eager to read Joe and Becca’s story and appreciate the giveaway opportunity.

    • Thanks, Britney, delighted to “meet” you.

      Okay, so why is it I had this blog on my SIX calendars and still I forgot to get here earlier. Sheesh. Slacker. I’m going to give away another book to make up for it! So sorry.

  2. Hi Tina. Thank you for this great post. When I worked in the Operating Room as a surgical tech, we had to assist on amputations and they were always difficult procedures to do. You always wondered how the person was going to be able to function later. This post was so enlightening and the video of Travis Mills is so inspiring so thank you for sharing that as well.

    May you have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W. 🙂

      • Yes, I worked as a surgical tech for almost seven years but my knees and one foot couldn’t deal with standing in one place for sometimes up to six hours for one case. I loved being a surgical tech and miss it, but I still have the memories and it was a career on my bucket list and I fulfilled it so I was blessed.

  3. Actually there are quite a few heroes with amputations or prosthetics if you read about the military. There it is more acceptable to imagine your hero or heroine being a wounded warrior. From there you can imagine or write whatever may consist making our warrior wounded in a myriad of ways including losing a limb or more.
    I am so glad that medical science has advanced so greatly in that we are now more able to give back to someone who has suffered physically and emotionally a better life for recovery. Prosthetics are now science fact not fiction but because of that sci find vision of what the future might be it is now here in truth. Maybe not exactly as first envisioned as prototypes but hopefully now as better machines, advances and medical research is making what you may not have anymore yet still have a possibility of being more normal again with bionics, cybernetics and more. As you have shown us in this post we have come far from the Civil War in fact our major technological advances are usually made in times of war due to necessity. In fact our advances in the last 150 years is astounding and can we even imagine what the next 50 years will bring us? Maybe what is our science fiction now will again be more science fact, but can we even guess which most might be will be interesting. Cloning, body part replacement, and who knows what. I am now going to check out all your articles on here to see just how truly advanced we are as yet and yes we need many more wounded heroes in our stories because they can do amazing things and are awesome in reality as well. I would love to see more and more of them in our literature since we had some in history of course but maybe we need to bring them back into the light and showcase their endeavors and triumphs more for the public to note. I am sure we will have amazing stories to read today in reaction to today’s blog. Thank you Tina for bringing us this wonderful subject. I had a stepfather who had lost an eye as a child in a gun incident in England and he had a glass eye in the 70’s when he was in his 50’s my mom married him. So prosthetics have been around a long time, and I bet everyone has someone has at least 1 person with one. I had an in law whose son had an artificial leg from a motorcycle accident in his 20’s. Unfortunately some don’t always live a long life after for whatever reason be it medical, physical or emotional. But we are getting better there too, more make it and can accept and get on to live long lives if they are strong enough. Sorry I had to throw that in since even with a prosthetic many choose not to want to continue to live permanently and physically changed for life. So I give a big kudos to those that do and embrace their changed lives and continue to move forward and go on with their lives.

    • Wow, Elaine, thanks for those great comments. I was in the Army and did not see any amputees. I’d like to see more stories of amputees being utilized by the military and not discharged.

      I like stories where the amputation is not the whole story. The external and internal conflict is even bigger.

  4. I have read some books with a hero as am amputee. We need more heroines. My daughter is an amputee and does wonderfully. The legs have changed rather dramatically in the past few years.

    • Kudos to your daughter, DebraG. Drop me a line. Maybe she and I can come up with a story with her as my resource of information.

      RaeAnne Thayne did a heroine with an amputation. Dancing in the Moonligh.

  5. What a great post. I have read a few books on amputees. I love books like this. I would love to read this one. Thanks for the chance.

  6. Tina, thank you so much for this very interesting post. Prosthetics have changed dramatically over time and are amazing, as are the people who wear them.

  7. This was very interesting. Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine having surgery or an amputation without anesthetic. I would love to win a copy of your book.

  8. Hi Tina! Until I read Joe’s story, the only hero I knew of as an amputee was Admiral Nelson. His right arm was According to the surgeon’s medical journal, Nelson had a compound fracture above the elbow. The surgeon amputated the right arm and Nelson was in command and giving orders within half an hour (!)

    Don’t enter me in the drawing. “Rocky Mountain Cowboy” was a wonderful read – both times 🙂

    Nancy C

  9. Hi Tina! Welcome to Wildflower Junction! What a fascinating post! You certainly found a wide range of sites for research for your story. Thank you for sharing them! The statistics you quoted blew my mind. I had no idea there were so many people living with a prosthetic of some sort. Rocky Mountain Cowboy sounds like a wonderful story.

  10. Great post, Tina! I’ve talked to many people after their amputations and emotions range from anger, sadness or relief to still be alive.

    I’m reading Rocky Mountain Cowboy now, and it’s a great story. Thanks for sharing about prosthetics and thanks for the great links!

    • Jackie!!! Thanks for the tweet. I think I was asleep at the wheel. Or the keyboard. I was up at 3 am working on my WIP and a Woman’s World story. Thanks so much for tweeting and stopping by to cheer!@

  11. I am so looking forward to reading your book, Tina! And thanks for sharing all these resources about amputees and prosthetics. I wrote about an amputee hero in my post-WWI historical romance series, so it was quite interesting to research how he would have managed with a prosthetic leg in the 1920s.

  12. What an interesting read, Tina. Loved Rocky Mountain Cowboy – found it both entertaining and educational. Thanks for sharing more about the history of prosthetics.

  13. Tina, what an informative post, thank you! I’ve read a romance with a paraplegic hero after the Iraq war and it was fantastic. More amputees as heros and heroines is a great idea. Must put on my Imaginators Hat! If I win in the draw you can send me an ebook as I’m an international fan. 🙂

  14. Yes, Laurie ebook or Book Depository mails international free. So happy to do so. Thanks for stopping by. When you think of the name of that book, let me know. I’m interested in reading it.

  15. Love this post, Tina. I’ve read a couple books where the hero was an amputee and I’ve really enjoyed it. I appreciate so much their sacrifice and definitely think they deserve a Happily Ever After too! Thanks!

  16. Thank you, Tina, for your post and your book with an amputee hero.

    My father was a WWII amputee with an amazing story. He was a forward observer, hit by friendly fire, and taken prisoner by the Germans and had his leg amputated in a German hospital. Many people were inspired by his ability to live life to the fullest and to forgive his captors. He believed he would have bled to death if not for two enemy soldiers who crawled out of a bunker to help him. He felt God had saved him in order for him to give back. He lived the rest of his life as a faith-filled man, encouraging others. He spoke to school groups about forgiveness. He was not about his disability….he was about living life for God’s purpose. I do intend to write about his experiences.

    I truly LOVED Rocky Mountain Cowboy…..for many reasons. Excellent book! Thank you, Tina!

  17. This is so interesting. I didn’t know they had prosthetic devices that long ago. Even watching Dancing with the Stars viewers have seen how incredibly far science and technology has come. You’re doing a great job, Tina!

  18. Love the idea that there all kinds of heroes. A loss of a limb doesn’t make you any less of a person. Can’t wait to read this.

  19. Such an interesting article about devices that they had back than to help people who lost their limbs. Thanks for sharing.

  20. We are volunteers at the local VA hospital and several veteran support organizations. We have met many men and women who are dealing with the loss of limbs. I think back 30 years ago or so to those I met who had artificial limbs and am amazed at the improvements that have been made. Stiff plastic replicas or metal grip devices were about the only option. The devices shown on The Alternative Limb Project are so very different from what we are used to seeing even in modern designs. The women’s designs are beautiful. The bejeweled ones wouldn’t be practical for everyday use, but certainly would make a fashion statement at dressy events. At the moment I can’t think of an amputee as a lead character in a book. Most deal with blindness or PTSD as a result of war or accident.

  21. You are so right, Patricia B. PTSD is a big issue in books at the moment. As it should be. And yes, today’s artificial limbs are AMAZING!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  22. I so admire that you wrote a main character that is an amputee. My husband works for the Medal of Honor Foundation and he’s had the chance to meet some heroes who are amputees. There is a woman about my age (mid-thirties) I’m friends with at church who was born without her left forearm, and she is one of the strongest, most capable people I know.

    I read a novella sometime this past year that featured a soldier who was home and struggling with PTSD and getting used to his prosthesis. It was a great story with lots of emotion and a sweet romance too 🙂 I’ll have to find it on my Goodreads list and let you know which one it is. Now I won’t rest until I figure it out!

  23. Tina, have you seen the movie, “The Best Years of Our Lives”? It won the Academy Award for best picture in 1947. There is a double arm amputee in the movie, played by Harold Russell, who was a WWII veteran that lost both arms in the war. He also was a “non” actor and won the academy award for best supporting actor. I thought they did a magnificent job is showing what an amputee goes through. If you haven’t seen this film it is a must see.

  24. Tina, I am so happy to see a happy ending for an amputee! No matter what happens to you and what experiences you endure, you can still be that person you were born to be.

    So inspiring. Congrats in your success in Love Inspired.

    • Exactly, Laura! Your destiny should be fulfilled no matter the obstacles. And Joe Gallagher realizes there is no normal in life. Only life and living it to the fullest.

  25. I’m reading Roxanne Rustand’s “An Aspen Creek Christmas” that features the character Ethan Williams who has a prostetic hand. Amazing!!!

  26. Thank you for sharing this insightful information with us Tina. I think characters who are unique in their own way add depth to a story and a different perspective for readers. The son of one of our church members just had a below the knee amputation so he will be in all our prayers as he gets adjusted to his new normal. After 13 operations he made this brave decision. Joe sounds like he has a great outlook and zest for life. I would love to read your book.

  27. Wonderful post Tina! I think it’s great you introduced us to an amputee as a hero. There are so many young men and women who have lost limbs in wars that I think we need to see them as heroes and heroines – not just amputees. I appreciate all the great links.

  28. I am just so glad that everyone is being much more realistic about our heroes and heroines in books, movies, stage and television these days. There are so many people now who have had injuries, illnesses or who knows what that make it so they are missing a partial if not at least a whole limb and maybe even two or more depending on the cause. Most have to live with those missing limbs daily unless they are lucky enough to be able to get prosthetics at some point and time. But some may never fully accept the use of them whereas others incorporate their prosthetics as a daily regimen and use them religiously in some form or another with interchangeable parts on them for different reasons and uses. Be it cosmetic, functional or athletic, prosthetics have come a long way and will continue to be developed as long as people need them. Yesterday I talked to a friend and fellow resident in a bldg where we both live. I brought up the subject of my still slight limp from my stroke and when balanced don’t really limp especially if I am carrying something while walking and keeping me balanced negates the limp mostly. He then got the idea and said he was ready for his next leg. This was his first but it was to train him but that he would need another better leg down the road. He lost his lower left leg from illness I believe. So we both have lower limb injuries where mine is most likely temporary. He said he now needs a better weighted and balanced limb so he too could walk better balanced and easier with his prosthetic. So seeing amputees is now normal for me especially since I went to rehab after my stroke for 6-7 weeks to learn to walk, talk, eat, write and use my dominant left side of the body as normal again which I have successfully recovered at least 85% with that slight limp that really shows up on uneven ground or spaces only. I will never do anything like the Paralympic Games but I give credit for all that do. We all must overcome some physical limitations in our lives at some point or other. Luckily losing a limb doesn’t have to have a stigma about it like it used to. My 34 year old niece just had reconstructive surgery last month due to breast cancer and yes if the take a breast in a mastectomy then they replace it with a prosthetic one or two for double mastectomy so not all prosthetics are for all to see and recognize as such. All women with breast cancer have that in common with our men and women in combat that lose body parts to war, illness or injury. I wonder what % is of our population has or will have body parts replaced in the next 25 years. No matter what body part you have lost it is still traumatic and PTSD can be found in millions daily and not just those in the military but for a myriad of other reasons. Thank you again for bring this subject up because it is quite relevant today as well. Just think, normal people can be amputees for so many reasons and prosthetics help them fit in and feel more normal so they can get on with everyday life, no matter what body part is missing, we may never know if they want no one to know. Amazing what medical and scientific advances have been made and care still evolving. Everyone has a right to a normal life if at all possible so why should someone with a prosthetic be singled out or different because of something artificial?

  29. Thank YOU, Elaine, for your very insightful comments. You are correct, not all amputations visible. Treating everyone like we want to be treated goes a very long way in connecting with our neighbors.

  30. What an interesting post today, have never read a book that had someone needing this. Thanks for sharing about this and your books…Should I win -I only read print books.

  31. I loved this book, Tina. You had the best mix of love story with personal struggle and so much knowledge of this prosthetic advice…and you eased that info into the book so gracefully.

    A brilliant, fun read.

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