Friday, June 28, 2013

Prosthetic Limbs…I’ve Made a Few.

One day I was working at the tattoo shop and this guy rolls in…I immediately think to myself, it’s one of the Super Mario Brothers. He had a large puffy mustache and a big smile. Well it wasn't. It was a guy wanting his entire back tattooed. He told me what he wanted and asked if I could draw him something. I hesitated a little bit as I always did when somebody who didn't have any tattoos asks me to draw up something that big and detailed. A tattoo that size can take 20 hours to tattoo and at $100 per hour…not many go through with it. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and did it. He liked what I drew for him so we sat down for our first session and started chatting.

He told me that he owned an orthotics and prosthetics practice. Upon hearing that, I was immediately intrigued. I have always been fascinated with the human body. It amazes me how every part of our bodies has a purpose or function. It’s truly a masterpiece.  I was really into collecting old medical devices and instruments at that time. I was like “Hey dude, do you have any legs or body parts laying around that you aren’t going to use?” He said yes and agreed to give me an old leg as a tip when I finished his back piece. I was pumped! Then he asked me if I would be interested in working for him part time. It was perfect timing because just a couple weeks before that, my car was totaled while it was parked on the street in front of my house. It still blows my mind to this day that I didn’t hear a thing. I walked out to go to work and the back seat of my car was now in the front seat. My car was now half the length it used to be and I didn't hear shit. The bastard hit it so hard that it pushed my car in front of my mailbox. My heartless mailman refused to get his lazy ass out of his truck to deliver my mail for weeks. I probably didn't catch on for a week. Kept checking my mail…and nothing. I’m super smart.

Anyway, I needed money to buy another $500 car to impress the ladies with, so I said yes. My job was to cast the feet of diabetic patients who had big sores on them. I would pour plaster into the cast and then build an orthotic that would allow their sore to drain. Pretty sexy eh???  One day at the tattoo shop, my boss told me she was selling the shop.  So my boss at the prosthetic practice offered me a full time position and I accepted. We made all sorts of things there. We made arms and legs, braces and we installed Halos on people that had broken their necks. A Halo consists of a vest connected to a metal ring that is worn around the head and attached by screws that are inserted into the skull. This helps stabilize the bone and allow it to mend. We would go to the hospital and sit there and watch them do some sort of surgery on somebody’s neck .Then we would go in and install the Halo. It is a crazy feeling to put screws into somebody’s head. I kinda freaked out the first time I did it because as I twisted the screw in, this guy’s eye started to open. I literally jumped out of my skin until I realized he wasn't waking up, it was the skin twisting around the screw that was pulling his eye open.

When we built a leg, we would first cast the stump…whatever they had left of their leg. We would pour plaster in the cast and stick a pipe in it and wait for it to dry. We would then build the leg around that plaster cast. We did everything in house except carve the foam that went around the pipe into a calf like shape. One day my boss decided that since I was an artist, I could save him some money by doing it there. I was like…” I got this shit, no problemo!” So we had this grinder that was just a long pipe with a cone on the end of it that was sticking out of the wall. We would use for all sorts of stuff. So I rolled up to that bitch with this leg in my hand ready to get my grind on. I passed the leg under the grinder a few times and it was cutting through it like butter. Everything was going real smooth like until the grinder caught the lip of the foam. That fuckin’ foot flew up and kicked my square in the eye. It knocked my sorry ass across the room. I blacked out for a few seconds and came to, with my boss standing over me. At first he was concerned, then he laughed, then he took a picture. That would have been my exact reaction in that moment. I was feeling really cool as they sent me to the home for the day with an ice pack and a big black eye.

It just so happened that I was supposed to be walking in a fashion show that night called Unraveled. I really didn't want to do it, so I thought,  at least I can get out of that shit….wrong again. The girl that designed my outfit BEGGED me to still do it. She said, “Just get creative with your makeup.” So I basically did a bluish purple line that started under my eyes and faded down to my cheeks. It was very Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans. The picture above was taken before the accident in question. We sent the legs out to get shaped from that day forward. And I got that leg back by stomping on it’s toes when my boss wasn't looking. I think the leg learned it’s lesson.

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