One Foot Two Foot Red Foot Blue Foot

Some people are preoccupied with having shoes for every outfit. For myself, I have dedicated a fair amount of thought to the question “have I got a foot (or leg) for that?”

I long for a day when I have a leg for just about every function: every-day blundering, yoga, a few for climbing, sticky-waterproof for surfing, cleated for cycling, and maybe a Johnny-5 type leg for more formal occasions. However, these days I make do with two – an every-day leg and a sports leg. The latter I end up wearing most of the times, and as a result it really takes a licking.

My choice of leg is usually dictated by function. The lower half of my every-day leg is covered in high-density foam, which means it’ll pass as normal in a pair of pants. But the deal with Plain Jane Leg is like the deal with your iPhone – you can’t get it wet, and its foot component can’t be changed out regularly. So, for surfing, I’m on to Sporty Leg.

“So why not just always…?” Because. I tend to break the toes off of the foot shell on Ol’ Sport when practicing yoga. Yoga has to happen on Jane.

There are times I opt for No Leg. I’m fortunate in that I can tolerate a prosthetic for long periods, and therefore rarely “have” to take it off.  There are times, though, when I can’t be bothered to put it on, and here I’m fortunate once again – 20 years as a monopod has given me great balance on my right leg. I can hop, and I do hop pretty much daily. Like when I have to get up in the middle of the night. (…except when camping because it’s hard not to pee on oneself squatting on two feet, let alone one.) And in the shower, because ‘little foot’ needs a proper bath and a wet leg is uncomfortable. And when sleeping, because it’s uncomfortable to lie in, little foot’s skin needs a break, and bedmates don’t like getting wacked with the hardware in the middle of the night.

The rest of the time, I’m pretty much a leg-on kinda girl. It’s not the same for everyone, though. Take climbing – I always went leg-on because it seemed most logical and was logistically straightforward. Plus, I wanted to build strength and improve balance on my left side. But check out Urko Carmona. His amputation is very high and as a result I’m pretty sure he can’t wear a leg. His brilliant solution is three points of contact. Watching him climb I wonder if he could crack walnuts with his trunk muscles. Arm amputees will often rock climb without a prosthetic, I assume this is because it’s all fun and games until you pull down on your arm and it comes off, at which point you’re stuck on some rock face without an arm you’re used to climbing with and a belayer who’s just taken a hunk of plastic and metal to the head*. With- or without-prosthetic, it all requires a bit of creativity, and an expanded idea of what is possible.

*Never seen it happen. But I have seen an ice-climbing foot come off and go flying into a canyon. Think ice-climbing crampon without boot, hurtling groundward at Mach speed. Not cool.

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