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Weathereye: Cyborg or Terminator?

April 15, 2009

I’ve mentioned this before, both here and in podcasts, but I’ll just lay it all out for you today: I am mildly disabled.

Not that you’d notice right away; but after a while, people tend to pick up on the fact that I walk with a limp, and have trouble with stairs and skates. Strangely, I can ride a bike just fine, and hiking is okay as long as I wear sturdy boots and carry a walking stick. Endurance wasn’t affected, just balance.

I broke both legs in many places, most of my ribs, and my two front teeth. Also, a piece of random metal fired itself through my left shoulder, resulting in a scar so nasty I can never model underwear. I think I had a cold that day, too.

Basically, my right leg is useless from the shin down. The foot was severed and reattached, and the nerves never really took hold. So it just kind of hangs there, connected by surgical steel and teflon. I can walk on it. But I can’t stand on it. My left leg, meanwhile is held together by pins and bolts and a long strip of steel.

This is all the result of a car accident almost a decade ago. The bones in my right ankle were ground to powder, the foot almost completely severed. Regular healing was not an option. I had to be rebuilt with artificial parts, in a procedure called arthroplasty. If I had been awake, I would have asked for built-in roller skates or maybe a rocket booster, but no. I got the plain model. That’s Canadian health-care for you.

When I woke up several days after the accident, a device called an external fixator had been screwed into my leg. Basically, it’s a series of halos, a huge iron (real iron) device with pins and screws running through my foot and leg, anchored at either end. It’s meant to hold the foot immobile while everything knits. My leg looked like one of the ships at the tail end of the fleet on Galactica. That thing, all 50 pounds of it, stayed on for four months. When it finally came off, I would have taken anything.

A decade of pain is what I got. After years of walking with a cane, I got stronger, but things are starting to slip again. This is just a result of age and, osteomyelitis and arthritis. Luckily, you can buy some pretty sweet-looking canes these days.

I won’t show you photos, because my right foot looks like Arnold at the end of the Terminator movies, to this day. I’m missing most of the muscles and tendons, so it’s a metal plate, bolts and toes that don’t work.

The kids like it, though. They like to tap my ankle and feel the steel. It’s skin over metal, like a Terminator. So that begs the question: Am I now a machine covered in humanity, or humanity augmented? You know how much I loved the Six Million Dollar Man as a kid, and Cyborg was always my favourite New Teen Titan. Hmm. Let’s examine my powers:

  • I can run fast enough to overtake a fleeing toddler.
  • I can jump down a step in the dark.
  • I have the ability to kick balloons out of the way during birthday parties.
  • I set off airport metal detectors, and the security system at the Rexall pharmacy.

I don’t think these count. But if anyone has any ideas for a secret identity, let me know. And no, I’m not considering Ankle Saxon. That’s not me.

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