New leg would change life

RICHARD MAYS
Last updated 11:13 28/11/2012
amputee
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
AS CLOSE TO THE POOL AS IT GETS: Bryna Dassler wants an aqua-limb for Christmas so she can take her daughter Sarah swimming, and get back into her nursing studies.
AMPUTEE
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
Bryna Dassler wants an aqua-limb for Christmas so she can take her daughter Sarah swimming, and get back into her nursing studies.

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Summer - sun, sand, sea, surf . . . unfortunately for Bryna Dassler and her 2-year-old daughter Sarah, the "sand, sea and surf" part is, for the moment, out of the question.

In fact, a small ankle-high plastic paddling pool is about as close as Bryna can get to the water without risking her standard issue prosthetic leg. Even showering can be awkward.

"I can't walk on a beach or go near the ocean because water will compromise the limb's integrity. I'm not sure how it affects it, I've just been told not to get it wet."

If the limb is compromised, it means she will need to be refitted for a new one, while getting around would mean either crutches or back in the wheelchair until the refitting process is over.

So, no; not going to risk it.

However, it means that Bryna can't take her daughter swimming. not even at the pool.

"I can go for a swim all right. I just take my leg off, but I can't manage Sarah without it."

It's all a question of balance.

"When I take the leg off I have no platform to hold on to her."

There is an answer, however, and that is to get herself an aqua-limb.

"An aqua-limb is totally waterproof and has an anti-slip foot."

Sounds perfect, except an aqua-limb costs around $5000, and if Bryna wants one, she'll have to finance it herself.

Bryna has investigated the options and fundraising is something she is quite prepared to do. As soon as her vehicle comes back from being modified at Enable, she will be able to get out of the house to chase up some more opportunities and hold some sausage sizzles and raffles to get the extra money.

At the moment though, the solo mum is somewhat confined to quarters and is getting by with help and support from family and friends, and a couple of other amputees who were in hospital at the same time.

An aqua-limb would also enable Bryna to go back to her UCOL Bachelor of Nursing studies, and then when qualified, get herself off the benefit.

"I started nursing in 2005, but had to stop. My condition meant I couldn't do the hours on the ward."

For six years, Bryna had suffered with a muscular neuropathy problem. The muscles in her lower leg involuntarily pulled tight, making her foot twist back toward the ankle.

Finally, sick and tired of being disabled and in pain, and with no cure in sight, she opted for a below-the-knee amputation.

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Bryna underwent the operation in March this year, receiving her prosthesis on May 21. She's been learning to drive her new accessory ever since.

"I can now walk further than I could eight months ago," she says proudly, "and I'm off all pain medications and I'll be walking without aids in a month, but I haven't had a car since the operation."

She hopes the car problem will be sorted in a few weeks and in the meantime she has set up a donation page for her water-friendly artificial limb at givealittle.co.nz/cause/ swimmingleg.

All contributions gratefully accepted.

- Manawatu Standard

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