MAAF's Laughs

Humorous Experiences of MAAF Members

by John Seymour

  Raiders' football crowds have a boistrous reputation. It took Jean Arce to silence part of the crowd.

  "My husband, Ray, and I went to a Raiders' game," Jean, a left BKamputee, said. "I had the old-type prosthesis then--the kind that bucklesabove the knee. We were sitting on the end of the row," she said. "Youknow how people are back and forth going to the bathroom or forrefreshments. A couple of times they almost took my leg off."

 "I took it off and put it in my lap. I sat there holding it between my legs. I told my husband to ignore me if it embarrassed him--to act like he didn'tknow me," said Jean, who lives in Westchester. "Nobody said anything. . . . "

That wasn't her only humorous adventure since becoming an amputee 16 years ago.

  "One time my prosthesis broke," said Jean. "It snapped going out theoffice door." She was in high heels and a dress. "I held onto the door andsank to a sitting position. Someone said I looked silly sitting on the floor."

  She asked for some scissors, then cut off her panty hose "and took offmy prosthesis."

  A young woman saw the unattached limb and became hysterical. "Oh,my God! Oh, my God! What can I do?" the young lady blurted. "First calm down," Jean said, "then call my husband."

  Several men offered to help. A friend watching the escapade said it really got funny when she asked them to carry her prosthesis. As shehanded it to them, "every man looked like he would faint!"   With their help, Jean got to her car and drove home, where her husbandwas waiting in the driveway with her wheelchair.

  Jean said those were her "most outrageous memories," adding, "Amillion things have happened over the years."

  Lynn Nattress has some stories to share, too. An amputee for 23years, Lynn and her husband, Lee, live in Angeles Oaks, "on the back roadto Big Bear." When they moved into their cabin three years ago, "a bearcame and moved in for a few nights."

  It's a far cry from New York City for Lynn, whose left leg is amputatedabove the knee and whose right leg is paralyzed from the knee down ("Iwear a brace.")

  "I really believe that humor is part of an attitude. I use it to mybenefit," said Lynn. "It helps people to relax."

  Lynn, who frequently goes without a prosthesis, remembers riding thebus in New York City. "Someone would offer me a hand--'may I give you ahand?' I'd say,'Thank you, but I could really use a leg.'"

  Lynn pointed to the natural curiosity of children. "Sometimes they'vegone right under my skirt to see where the other leg is, or they'll just goahead and ask about it. It's the parents who'll be anxious and pull themaway."

  When Lynn has been in a wheelchair with Lee pushing, she reports that,frequently, people will act as though she's unable to respond. "People willtalk to Lee and ask, 'what happened to her?'"

  Lynn remembered being at a retreat for young people, lined up forbreakfast, wearing her prosthesis. "I took an awful lot of food. I said I'dhave 16 pancakes, four pieces of toast, seven eggs. . . ."

  A big, tall, brawny guy behind me said, "My God! You're going to eat allof that? You must have a hollow leg."

  Lee pounded on her prosthesis and said, "She does!" The young manturned white. "I told him he could borrow it any time he'd like," added Lynn.

  Another time, Lynn was crossing 5th Avenue in Manhattan during rushhour. "It was a hot, sweaty day and, suddenly, the suction let go. The legcame off and flew across the street. Someone retrieved it. Fortunately, apolice car came by. They put me in a taxi. . . with my leg."

  Lynn said lots of times her leg would slip inside her prosthesis and itwould make a "distinctive and embarrassing sound. Then I'm the onewho'd be embarrassed," she admitted. "I'd say, 'It's my leg!' People wouldlook at me as if to say, 'Sure . . !'"

  Above-the-knee amputee, Rose Petra, who lives in Santa Monica withher husband, Eric, has an amputee friend who lives in Texas.

  "She was in the kitchen one day cooking dinner when her ten-year-oldson came in with nine or ten other boys. They trooped into the kitchenand he said, 'See? I told you so!'"

  Rose says she prefers to use crutches, since "My prosthesis has fallen offso many times I can't remember. I only use it as a plant vase now." Shesaid her prosthesis is "the latest kind. It looks great! Too bad it doesn'tperform as well."

  Lee Green, who lives in Burbank, is philosophical when responding toquestions. "I say when I'm thinking of things to do, 'I really don't have aleg to stand on.'"

  Lee, a right AK amputee, said, "About three months after getting a newprosthesis my wife, Ille, and I were entering a seafood restaurant in DanaPoint when the screw in the bottom of the foot loostened and the footturned backward."

  A woman and a little girl witnessed the event. The little girl said,"Mommy, what's he doing? Is he trying to do the splits?"

  Lee, who has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who've allexperienced helping him put on his prosthesis, remembered anotheradventure in La Jolla.

  "The bolt and nut fell onto the ground while I was crossing the street.My wife told me to come to the sidewalk, but I couldn't until she pickedthem up and screwed me together."   As a relatively new below-knee amputee, I've already had my ownhumorous experiences. Before I got my prosthesis, church members toldme about a widow who used a prosthesis and didn't socialize much. Oneevening, a gentleman asked her to go to dinner and she accepted. Gettinginto his car, her prosthesis fell off into the gutter. He picked it up andhanded it to her, saying with a straight face, "Here's your leg."

  One day, I rolled my wheelchair into the amputee clinic of the UCIMedical Center in Orange and signed in. "Thank you," said the receptionist."Have a seat."

  When I was wheeling along in church one Sunday, the lady in thenursery asked me if I'd come in and watch the little folks for a few minutes.Several of them crowded aroung me to see my stump more closely.

  One little boy asked. "What happened to your leg?"

 "It got sick, so the doctor had to take it off," I explained.

 "Is he going to give it back?" he asked.

 The bottom line is, laughing is a lot more fun than crying. As someone once observed, "Laughter is a great tranqualizer with no side effects!"

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