Last night we got home super late from Claremont. So late that I quickly brushed my teeth and crawled into bed without plugging in my leg.
You see, each night I plug in my prosthetic leg into a wall socket so the battery in my robotic knee will be all ‘charged up’ for the next day. Charging takes about two hours, so it makes sense to plug in at night–the charging cord is only 2 ft long so it’s unwieldly to get my juice at any other time of day (while I am actually wearing the leg).
So first thing when I got up this morning, I plugged in and headed for the shower. I figured I could get at least half of a charge (about 12 hours-worth) during the time it would take me to get ready for church. I would put my leg on last thing and should have enough juice to make it through the day.
All went as planned. Until I put my leg on. And then I realized that in my haste to get to bed the night before I had neglected to replace the valve that completes the suction on my leg and I couldn’t find it anywhere. The valve is kind of hard to decribe, but basically it’s a small metal disk that screws in on the inside of leg socket. I remove the valve to ‘break’ the suction of my socket when donning or doffing my leg. Without the valve I can’t complete the suction that holds my leg on. So when the valve went missing this morning I realized I was sunk. No valve, no suction. No suction, no wearing the leg. No wearing the leg meant crutches. Ugh.
Fortunately I was able to riffle through a basket of spare parts and found an old leaky valve that fit my current leg. I knew that it would be annoying to wear a leaky valve–meaning that it would’t provide perfect suction and let a slow stream of air leak into the socket (uncomfortable), but I figured it would work well enough until I found my real valve. Which it did–I found the right one, with E’s help, under the sewing table after we returned from church.
So…as I plugged in, searched for a valve, etc this morning, I was stuck by how dependent I am on technology, and how vulnerable I am because of this dependence. Without electricity I can’t use my prosthesis. Without that small metal valve, my leg is no good, either. As much as I feel that I am in control of my life, so much of what I do depends on the metal parts and the microprocessor that facilitate my mobility. As much as I resent the way I must depend on such technology, I am so glad to have it. It allows me to be me.