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Author Topic: Story: Leigh and Joel  (Read 5746 times)

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #30 on: 05. June 2024, 15:59:26 PM »
Ch. 129 - Our Weekend Away – Part 2

 
Rebekah, Lydia, and Joel each share the stories of the pleasant evening they spent with their significant other.


Rebekah & Paul:

 
Leigh asked me to tell you about the wonderful evening Paul and I spent together...

 
After dinner, we decided to find a quiet lounge and have a few drinks. Since Paul is still getting used to wearing his Kuehnegger brace and KAFOs, I warned him not to drink too much. Just imagine if he fell and broke something, and we had to explain his braces at the ER. The nightclub across from the hotel seemed quiet, so we had a few drinks there. We got a few looks from other patrons as we crutched in, but nobody really paid any attention to us, which pleased Paul.

 
I love being the center of attention when wearing braces or casts and telling outlandish stories about them, but tonight wasn't one of those times. Paul is really insecure wearing his braces in public since he is essentially helpless, plus he doesn't crave interactions with strangers like I do. In fact, he found the short conversation with the cocktail waitress back at the hotel very embarrassing; Paul just isn't ready for his braces to be the center of attention. I'm sure as he gets more comfortable wearing them and seeing how people react to them, he will become his usual self.

 
While having drinks, Paul suggested we go see a movie, so I checked the schedule on my phone. There was a new John Wick film showing, and we decided to go see it. I purchased tickets on my phone so we wouldn't have to stand in line in our braces. I figured that Paul might be uncomfortable talking to people while waiting, since a braced couple like us would likely get a lot of attention. We finished our drinks, and before we left, we used the handicap restroom to empty each other's catheter bags. This ended up being a very unique bonding experience for us for some reason. Then we crutched several blocks to the movie house.

 
By the time we got there, Paul was very tired from crutching so far, and he was glad we didn't have to stand in the ticket line. He rested in the lobby while I got us sodas and popcorn, which an usher carried for us. While crutching to our seats, Paul quietly said he was glad he tried using a catheter. He was getting used to it and, for some reason, liked how it felt inside him. I'm glad he doesn't mind using a catheter; I relished placing it inside him, and he seemed to actually enjoy the procedure.
 
 
The seats in the theater were very comfortable and angled just right for us to have a perfect view of the screen in our braces. The movie was great, full of shoot-'em-up action and car chases. We had a great time, and we both forgot about how immobilized we were. Paul and I used to go to movies all the time while dating, but not so much anymore. The evening brought back a lot of old memories and thoughts about how great our lives together have turned out.

 
After the film, as we crutched back to the hotel, we reminisced about when we were dating. Neither of us dreamed our lives would turn out like this, with a beautiful home in the country, a successful business partnership with friends, and both of us wearing braces just for pleasure. The mood was very romantic, and I told Paul I wanted to feel him <CENSORED>. He was in an extremely amorous mood too; he had reservations because of his catheter but was willing to try.

 
The only thing we didn't have were condoms. Both Paul and I have taken measures, so we don't have to use them, but one would be necessary because of his catheter. He spotted a drugstore that was open late, and before Paul went inside, he carefully removed my headgear, and we passionately kissed. We both became intensely aroused.

 
Paul gently replaced my headgear and kissed me on the forehead, and that is when I noticed the young clerk in the store had been watching us. Paul went in to make his purchase while I waited outside. His passionate kiss got me really hot, and the cool evening breeze was very refreshing.

 
Paul got what he went in for and talked to the clerk for a minute. "She's a real hottie, man! My girlfriend wears braces just like hers," said the clerk as Paul was crutching out the door.

 
When we got to our room, we were both extremely aroused. All evening, the energy and tension had been building, and finally the release was coming. I told Paul I wanted us both to be fully braced for our encounter. We both undressed,<CENSORED>


The tension was finally released, and it was like nothing we had ever experienced before. After it was over, we cuddled and kissed, then drifted off to sleep.

 
Kathy and Lydia:

 
Hey there, it's Lydia. Leigh asked me to tell you about our evening...

 
After dinner, we thought it would be fun to explore the area surrounding the hotel. The others had been here before and knew the area well, and they said there were lots of shops and art galleries that were open late. Kathy, as usual, when doing something extreme like halo gravity traction, wanted to go out and be seen.

 
I don't usually dress the way I did today, but I really liked how I looked in a very feminine outfit. I was really turning heads, both male and female, especially since I was wearing my headgear. Not too many adults wear it these days except for Joe's patients, and it really attracts attention. Of course, Kathy was the center of attention in her halo-traction rig. That's something that most people don't even know exists.
 

We visited several little shops, and some were quite cramped without much room for Kathy's power chair. She had me disconnect her halo ring from the traction weight, and she walked around with just her halo ring on her head. Damn, she looked hot walking around with that metal ring bolted to her skull! It was amazing to see her like that, especially when she would hold onto her halo ring with her braced hand. I was so turned on! Reconnecting the weights once she got back into her wheelchair was a thrill, too. I hope she continues to wear her halo for some time to come.
 

Well, it was getting late, and we decided to head back to the hotel. Kathy and I wanted to bathe together before I strapped and bolted her into her halo vest for the night; she wants to sleep with her neck completely immobilized. During our outing, she got the attention she craves, and as we were entering the hotel, she said she hoped for one last encounter. Well, she got her wish.
 

As we approached the elevator, a young woman in her late 20s approached from the other direction. She said, "Oh wow, you're in halo gravity traction. A decade ago, I had the exact same setup for about six months, but without the fancy power wheelchair. I assume you're undergoing scoliosis treatment."

 
Kathy replied, "Hi there, I'm Kathy, and this is my partner Lydia. Yes, you are correct; I have scoliosis, and my condition has degraded as I have aged. I am trying to avoid risky surgery by being placed in halo gravity traction. Then, I'll have to wear a back brace for the rest of my life, but that is better than risking being paralyzed."

 
The girl said, "Nice to meet you ladies; I'm Lillith. Avoiding surgery was why I was in traction, and I wear a back brace, too. Oh, did you happen to see the couple around here that were both in back and leg braces? The first brace I wore for many years was like the one the man was wearing, and now I wear one like the lady had on. I should be wearing my brace now; however, my husband and I went dancing, and I can't dance while wearing it. In fact, my back is really sore, and I need to get to our room and put on my brace."

 
It was obvious that Lillith had seen Paul and Rebekah.

 
Kathy said, "Yes, we saw them, too. They looked so happy, despite their disabilities. I'll be getting a brace like the gentleman is wearing, but mine will be in a bright, pretty color. It was great to meet you, Lillith. Maybe we'll see tomorrow morning when we get coffee."

 
"Goodnight ladies, It was nice to meet you, and good luck with your treatment, Kathy," replied Lillith.

 
We all got into the elevator, and Lillith got off at her floor.

 
Kathy was in heaven after talking to this woman, and when she said she would be in a spinal brace for the rest of her life, it really hit me: my fiancee has the desire to and is in fact going to wear a spinal brace and maybe other braces for the foreseeable future and live as a handicapped woman. What an exciting future for both of us!

 
Once back in our room, Kathy took a hot bath before I placed her in her halo vest and attached it to her ring after removing the traction attachment. She said it felt great to be in traction all day and move her head and neck around, but there was something very comforting about her neck being completely immobilized once again. Kathy grabbed our bag of toys, and we had quite a pleasurable night.
 

Leigh and Joel's evening from Joel's point of view:

 
After dinner, Leigh and I talked with the concierge to see if there was anything interesting going on. There was a book signing by an author we had never heard of and an exhibit of works by local artists at a nearby gallery. We decided the art exhibit would be an enjoyable way to spend the evening.
 

When we arrived, the gallery was quite crowded, but there was plenty of room for Leigh to maneuver her sleek, sporty wheelchair. As we looked around, we were both quite taken by a painting of a wooded landscape with a creek flowing through it; it looked just like the spot where Judy's cottage is! Leigh decided to purchase the painting for Judy, so if she ever moves on, which we doubt, she can remember the lovely place she once lived.

 
I spoke with the manager of the gallery, Chloe, and she said that we would like to purchase the painting. Chloe charged my credit card and told me that she would ship it to us after the exhibition was over. I said that was great, and then Chloe asked if we wanted to meet the artist, Nikki. I said, of course, and Chloe said to meet her at the coffee bar in a few minutes, and I went to get Leigh.
 

As Leigh and I waited, I saw Chloe approaching with a young blond woman in a power wheelchair. This stunning woman has only a small nub for a left arm and no right arm at all. She also had no right leg, and her left leg was very short. She was using her bare foot, adorned with several toe rings and an anklet, to control her wheelchair. As she got closer, we could see she was wearing metal braces and Interlandi headgear with a very complicated lookign facebow, too. In each ear, she wore purple hearing aids, and her outfit was very tight-fitting. She wheeled up to our table, and Chloe sat down next to her and introduced us to Nikki.
 

We were both taken by this young woman's beauty, confidence, and poise, despite her severe disability. Nikki was very upbeat and outgoing, and she asked what drew us to her painting. Leigh got out her phone and showed Nikki a picture of Judy, fully braced and on crutches, standing on her porch with the woods and creek in the background, and said, "Your painting looks exactly like this spot on our property; it's like you were there when you painted it."

 
The parallels between her painting and the photo surprised Nikki, who said, "Wow, what a coincidence! I understand why you're both so taken by my painting. By the way, is that your daughter, Leigh? She looks just like you."

 
Leigh explained that Judy is just a close friend of ours, and we had actually given her the cottage and land it is on to help her get a start in life. Nikki said she would like to write a message to Judy on the back of the painting, so we made our way to where it was hanging. Chloe placed an uncapped pen between Nikki's toes, then took the painting from the wall. Nikki brought the pen to her mouth, gripping it with her teeth, and Chloe held the back of the painting close to her. Nikki wrote, "To Judy: A beautiful place in my mind and a beautiful place to live. Love and happiness always, Nikki."

 
We thanked Nikki, and she asked if she could come visit our property for inspiration. Leigh and I said, "Of course you can. We would love to have you visit, Nikki." The girls exchanged numbers, and we got a photo with Nikki before she went to mingle with the crowd once again. Not once was anything mentioned about Leigh's and Judy's braces or Nikki's severe disability. It was a wonderful encounter, one that Leigh and I will never forget.

 
After our wonderful encounter with such a beautiful and confident young woman, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy a romantic evening together.

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #31 on: 05. June 2024, 16:03:00 PM »
Ch. 130 - Surprises

 
After we got back from our weekend getaway, I really became acclimated to my new life as a handicapped woman. I'm always in my braces, and I usually use my manual wheelchair. I love wearing the fingerless gloves that Joel got for me; they make it so much more comfortable to propel my chair, and I think they look stylish, too.

 
I always keep crutches nearby, too. I keep a folding pair in the bag on the back of my wheelchair and forearm crutches in all our vehicles. I love hearing the locks at my knees and hips click when I stand up in my HAKFOs. Those four little clicks mean that my body is rigid from head to toe; it's a delightful feeling.

 
Recently, Judy and Collene seem to be using their wheelchairs more often, too. On warmer days, Collene sometimes doesn't even wear her leg braces or shoes to work. Her toenails are always polished, and she often wears several tasteful toe rings and often an anklet, too. Rebekah and Paul have also recently joined us in using wheelchairs when we all go out. Hers is manual like mine, and Paul's is a power chair.

 
Kathy has now transitioned from wearing her halo vest to being in halo traction, and she loves it. She keeps one of the rolling frames at the office and the other at home; the rest of the time, she is in traction in her wheelchair. Billy is working on some special halo traction brace for Kathy to wear, but I don't have the details yet. Lydia now has a pair of KAFOs and several spinal braces to wear, and the ladies plan to get married in their braces.
 
 
The painting we purchased on our trip arrived, and Judy and Jimmy love it. We never told them about it or the very special artist who painted it. Judy took it out onto the deck and compared it to the scenery around her cottage. She was amazed! When I showed her the picture of Joel and me with Nikki, she was even more amazed. Judy found Nikki's appearance to be very enchanting, and she couldn't believe that someone so disabled could paint in such detail. When I told Judy that Nikki might come visit for inspiration, she was thrilled.

 
This week, there will be several celebrations. Kathy is retiring, and it's Joel and Jimmy's birthdays on Friday. They were born on the same day, twenty years apart. With the help of Kathy and Lydia's friend Terry, Judy and I got the guys very special birthday gifts.

 
One night, just after Jimmy's arrival, Judy and I overheard Joel and him talking about their dream cars. Their taste in vehicles is like their taste in women; they like the unusual. We worked with Terry, and their vehicles will be delivered on Friday morning so they can drive them to the meet-up at Pee Dee's that evening.

  
But first comes Kathy's retirement. It's today, and the company is having a small reception for her like mine. Joel, Rebekah, Paul, and I went to be with Kathy for her last few hours at the office; Rebekah and I were on crutches for a change today, too. As we rode up in the elevator, it stopped at Judy's floor, and she wheeled in. When we got to Kathy's floor, we got off and headed to her office. My old office door was ajar, and the lights were off. I crutched inside, and everything was as I left it. Boy, what a strange feeling!

 
When we got to Kathy's office, she was in her wheelchair with her traction setup. Lydia was there, and both ladies were dressed very smartly and looked great. Kathy was in her usual business attire and was wearing her black thumb spica braces. Lydia was dressed in a well-tailored men's suit, and her hair was teased up in spikes. Her trousers had high cuffs, which showed off her red high-heeled sandals. She was wearing bright red lipstick that matched her red necktie and the straps on her cervical headgear. I really liked her androgynous look. I'll have to give it a try myself; she looked great.

 
Kathy really looked at ease among everyone who stopped to congratulate and wish her well. After having a steady stream of visitors, it was time to go to the boardroom. Kathy would be recognized for her years of dedicated service and receive a gift, which I selected.

 
When we got there, Angela Smith gave a short speech and then invited Kathy up to say a few words. Instead of just wheeling to the front of the room, she had Lydia disconnect her traction so she could walk up to the podium. When the weight was disconnected, Kathy's head and body slumped forward. I think she was just acting, but there was a sense of shock among those gathered. She and Lydia then walked to the podium.

 
Once at the podium, Lydia discreetly reached up and grasped the back of Kathy's halo ring and held her head so she was looking straight ahead. Kathy said a few words, thanking everyone for her long and successful career, which would not have been possible without her excellent team.

 
Angela then presented Kathy with the gift that I helped select: a vintage Patek Philippe pendant watch. Kathy tearfully said a few more words, and then Lydia helped her back to her wheelchair, connected the traction weight, and Kathy's spine was once again stretched straight. Angela then invited everyone to enjoy a catered lunch in the conference room. It was a quiet affair, with many tearful goodbyes. Kathy never truly realized how much everyone loved and respected her.

 
With Friday upon us, Judy and I were excited to present Joel and Jimmy with their special birthday gifts. The boys will be in complete awe at what we got them; we really went all out. Jimmy and Judy came up for breakfast as usual, and we told the guys that their birthday presents would be delivered this morning. As we were just finishing breakfast, we heard a truck coming down the driveway, and the guys were very curious. We went outside, and the truck was pulling a trailer with two vehicles on it, covered with heavy tarps. The first to be unloaded was the larger of the two.
 

Despite the heavy canvas cover, Jimmy and Joel both knew exactly what that vehicle was by its silhouette: a Humvee. But who was it for? Once the heavy canvas was off, Jimmy knew it was for him. His grandparents are from Lithuania, and the truck had Lithuanian Land Forces markings. Jimmy picked Judy up from her wheelchair, hugging and kissing her. He thanked her and asked her how she was able to find something like this. Judy replied, "I got a little help from Kathy's friend Terry. He is the one who made all this happen."
 

Jimmy's truck was unloaded, and since Judy didn't have her crutches, Jimmy helped her walk over to it. He carefully picked her up, sat her on the hood, and took several pictures, sending them to his grandparents and several friends. Now Joel was anxious to see what I had gotten him. The delivery driver carefully removed the canvas and then a regular car cover from Joel's new car, a perfectly restored black 1975 GAZ-24-24. Joel instantly knew exactly what the car was as soon as he saw it, but you probably don't unless you're Russian.
 

Joel is obsessed with Soviet-era vehicles, and the KGB employed the GAZ-24-24, nicknamed "Chaser" or "Double," for security and surveillance. It's basically a standard Volga sedan that was setup with a larger engine and better handling for its use as a chase or security car. Terry was very lucky to find this one, which had been fully restored to like-new condition. It was quickly unloaded, and we thanked the driver for his careful delivery. The guys wanted to go for a drive, so they got Judy and me into their new vehicles, and we hit the road.
 

We drove around the country roads near our house with Jimmy in the lead. Joel's Volga handled well; the ride was a bit stiff, likely due to the modified suspension. The engine was powerful, and the transmission shifted firmly yet smoothly.
 

At a wide spot in the road, Jimmy pulled over, walked back to our car, and said to Joel, "Let's swap!" The guys swapped vehicles and girls since the ground was too rough for Judy and I to walk on in our heels and braces; we never intended to be out of our wheelchairs today. Jimmy and I had a pleasant conversation on our return trip home; he's such a gentleman, and Judy is a very lucky girl.
 

Later that afternoon, Judy and Jimmy came up to our place, and both of them were extremely giddy. Judy had the biggest smile on her face, which showed off her mouthful of metal. She also had the biggest engagement right I have ever seen on her finger. The now-engaged couple came on in, and Judy was excited to tell us what transpired in the last few hours:
 

"Isn't this wonderful? Jimmy proposed! I have been waiting for this ever since he first held me in his arms the day he arrived. After we got back from our drive this morning, I packed a picnic lunch, and we went down by the creek to relax. He spread out a blanket and got me out of my wheelchair."
 

"We sat there talking and cuddling, when suddenly Jimmy reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. He got on his knee, opened the box, and said, "Miss Judy Jenkins, will you be my wife?" I began to cry and said, "Of course I will," and he placed this beautiful ring on my finger. We hugged, and I think we both bent our facebows kissing. Today is the happiest day of my life, and I love you so much, Jimmy!"
 

Jimmy was smiling the entire time Judy told her story, and then he hugged and kissed her. Jimmy said they had already spoken to Collene and Billy and planned to have a joint wedding when we all go to Kings Mountain Retreat. Joel and I congratulated the newly engaged couple and wished them a long and happy life together.
 

That evening, we got ready to go to the MV meet at Pee Dee's. We formed our little convoy with Joel in the lead in his Volga, Jimmy and Judy following in their Humvee, and Paul and Rebekah in their WC-48. When we arrived at Pee Dee's, we parked next to Lydia's M-715 and Pete's Cadillac staff car.
 

When I saw Kathy, she was in her halo vest, not in traction. I inquired why, and Kathy said that she just felt like being completely immobilized tonight. Emme was wearing her new KAFOS with her knees unlocked, along with her usual Milwaukee brace and headgear. She was walking around normally and looked great in her new braces.

 
Then I saw Sam and Millie talking with friends. Judy pushed my wheelchair over to them, showed them her engagement ring, and shared her happy news. They were both fully braced from head to toe, with their double facebows protruding from between their lips. Millie had on her carhop uniform, and Sam was in a tennis skirt and tight-fitting shirt with her Milwaukee brace on over it. Both girls had on their KAFOs with their skates attached. Their leg braces are just for fun; the girls simply like the feel and look of their braces.
 

I asked the young ladies how things were going, and Millie replied, "Things are great, Leigh. I know you have lunch with Sam and Emme quite often, so you know we're loving all our new braces. We're really looking forward to going to the mountains with everyone soon; it will be great fun. What Sam probably hasn't filled you in on are all the details about my job at Riedell. I have recruited a team of twelve exhibition skaters: six girls and six guys. One of the roller derby girls I used to skate with is the team manager. We come up with all the routines, and she accompanies the team when they travel for exhibitions and competitions."

 
"Along with choreographing routines, I mostly do marketing stuff, but I still come here on Friday and Saturday nights to skate with the girls and see my friends. I'm working on a project with some special people, too; I have formed a handicapped skating team. Remember that video that Jenny posted online with Sam and me skating in all our braces? Well, it went viral and gained quite a bit of attention, especially from management. Now, I have a skating team with all disabled people."

 
"There is one girl that was born without arms and another that had her arms amputated in an accident. They are both great skaters, and I am amazed at how well they keep their balance. There's an amputee guy who skates on one leg with crutches and does tricks and stunts. Oh, and there's the amputee couple, whose legs end just below their knees after a horrid accident. They were competitive figure skaters before their accident, and they do a routine wearing special prosthetic legs with their skates."

 
"Finally, there is an older woman, Beverly, but we call her Mom. She had a mild case of polio when she was young that left her legs weak but still usable if she wore braces. In fact, she walks pretty much normally in her braces. When she was a teenager, her dad modified an old pair of braces with skates as a way to get her out of the house for exercise. Despite a few falls, including one that badly broke her wrist, she kept at it and got quite good. She stopped skating years ago, but when she saw Jenny's video, she got in touch with me and wanted to try skating again. I got her together with Billy, and he made her braces like ours with skates attached. She's a wonderful addition to our team."

 
It was great to hear how well things were going for Millie. We were all getting hungry, so Millie got us all burgers and fries. We ate, then the girls wanted to see Joel and Jimmy's new vehicles, which they thought were really cool. It was getting late, and Joel offered the girls a ride home in his Volga, which they happily accepted.

 
It's been a day of surprises.

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #32 on: 07. June 2024, 17:35:28 PM »
Ch. 131 - Jimmy’s Visitor
 
 
Great news: Collene and Billy are our new neighbors! For some time, the property on the other side of the creek from Judy's cottage has been abandoned. Well, it finally came up for sale, and Collene and Billy were able to purchase it. The house needed some work, but the guys have spent weekends fixing it up. They even built a footbridge across the creek to Judy's and converted the barn into a guest house. Billy loves the quiet after living in an apartment for so long, and the sisters love being so close.
 
 
Everything is set up for our trip to Kings Mountain Retreat, too. We'll be the first guests to stay in the new cabins, and I think that Kathy and Lydia's wedding will be the first in the new chapel. They are still finishing things up, but everything will be ready in time for our arrival.
 
 
My life with my weak, atrophied legs is wonderful. When I walk, my legs and hips are totally relaxed in my braces, and I love how my braces feel supporting them. I get around easily on crutches; however, I prefer to use my sporty manual wheelchair and wear very high-heeled shoes with my braces most of the time. When I do walk, Joel thinks my swing-through gait looks extremely sexy, as do I. I adore being a heavily braced, handicapped girl. I love going out with my braced friends; we sure turn heads!
 
 
When Judy stopped by after work today, she said that Jimmy had an old Army buddy stop by the shop. His wife was in a bad accident, and they are moving here so she can receive the ongoing medical care she needs. He'll be staying with Jimmy and Judy for a few days, too. When Jimmy and Joel got home, Jimmy told us about his encounter with Scotty and said Joela and I would meet him in the morning.
 
 
"Well, this morning I was at the bench rebuilding some locomotive fuel injectors. Things were going well, and I was enjoying working on something different. It was then that Sam said over the intercom that there was someone here to see me, and he was waiting in my office. I wasn't expecting anyone and wondered who it was; Sam didn't say."
 
 
"When I went into my office, Master Sergeant Scott Wilson, who ran the parts depot, was standing by my desk; he was looking at some pictures on the wall. I hadn't seen him since the day he and his wife gave me a ride to the airport to come here."
 
 
J - It's so good to see you, Scotty. How's Lori doing? I know she was in a very bad car accident a few months ago.
 
 
S - We're doing OK, all things considered. I guess you know that Lori lost her left leg, and her right one is in bad shape. It's held together with an external fixator, and there is a lot of nerve damage. They thought she would lose her left arm below the elbow, but they were able to save it for now; her hand and wrist were crushed and will be useless. Like her leg, her arm is in external fixation, and I know she will end up losing her hand.
 
 
Lori's jaw was also broken, and she got a deep cut on her cheek. Her jaw healed up well, and she was recently unwired; however, her teeth are extremely crooked now. Once all her other injuries are healed, she'll need orthodontic treatment; her crooked smile seems to bother her more than losing her leg and possibly her hand.
 
 
The good news is that her fractures in her neck and back have healed, and there was no nerve damage. However, she is still in extreme pain unless she is wearing her spinal brace. It's really bulky and extremely uncomfortable, but it somewhat eases her pain, and we hope her new doctor can eliminate her pain.
 
 
J - I knew she was badly injured and was expected to pull through. I keep in touch with Corporal Snyder; he kept me updated until he was transferred a few weeks ago. So, what brings you here, Scotty?
 
 
S- I had my years in, so I retired when Lori was injured. The base hospital took great care of her, and she's in an excellent rehab center. Lori will need several specialized surgeries if she is to regain her mobility and live pain-free. A doctor in a nearby city, Ben Northridge, was highly recommended.
 
 
Even if things go well, Lori will have to wear a leg brace and a prosthetic for the one she lost. She'll likely need to wear a spinal brace, and I am sure she will lose her left hand. An excellent shop, Jameson Orthotics, was recommended, and I stopped in to talk over Lori's case. While I was in the waiting room, I noticed all the pictures they have of clients. It was then that I thought I saw Judy in one of the pictures, wearing her leg and back braces with her metal smile and headgear. I remember her well from the pictures you showed us and your video chats; she's a beauty that you just can't forget!
 
 
I asked the girl who runs the office,Collene, if the blonde in the picture is named Judy. Collene replied, "Yes, she's my little sister. Do you know her?" I said I thought I knew her but had never met her, and I asked if Judy was dating a guy named Jimmy Mekas, a friend of mine from the Army. Collene replied, "Dating? They're engaged!"
 
 
After meeting with Gary and Billy, I asked Collene how to get a hold of you. She said, "He should be at his shop. I'll give you directions." I replied. "His shop?" and she said you had started a Diesel injection shop.
 
 
As I made my way here, I got to thinking: After Lori and I get settled down here and she recovers, I would sure like to get a job. I have my military retirement, but I want to work too. Could you use any help around here, Jimmy? Remember, I used to turn wrenches before transferring to the warehouse? I think I can get back into it really quickly.
 
 
J - I'll do anything to help you and Lori out. I'll be needing some help here soon, and it would be great to work with you. So, what are your plans?
 
 
S - Well, on this trip, I hope to find a home that is handicap accessible or one that I can easily retrofit for Lori. We have been saving for a down payment, and I have my VA mortgage approved. I just need to find a place and sign the papers. Lori still requires 24-hour care, and we have an excellent facility lined up here for her. Once everything is in order, we'll be moving. I'm so glad I ran into you, Jimmy. Making a new start will be so much easier with an old friend around. Say, Jimmy, I just got into town this morning and haven't gotten a room yet. Do you know of any decent places to stay?
 
 
J - I sure do, Scotty. There is a nice little cottage in the country, and there is a room waiting for you there. Let me call Judy and let her know we'll be having a guest for a few days. You have met Billy and Collene, and I'll introduce you to some other friends of mine. You and Lori will not be alone here.
 
 
S - Thanks so much, Jimmy. This is the longest I have ever been away from Lori since her accident, and I'm having a rough time. I spend all day with her and late into the evening, only going home to get a bit of sleep and to shower. Her sisters are visiting her now, and that has really brightened her mood. I don't think she will miss me too much, but I already miss her.
 
 
J - You are welcome to stay as long as you need to, Scotty. However, I wish it were under happier circumstances.
 
 
S - Me too, Jimmy. So let me ask you something. You told me all about Judy and why she wears her braces. It's bizarre, but I accept it; she's such a nice girl. But let me ask you a question: The girls in the office here are wearing braces like Judy's and also have complicated-looking stuff on their teeth. What's the deal with that? It seems like there are a lot of handicapped ladies around here.
 
 
J - Well, you know about Judy, and there are many men and women like her—more than you would think. It seems like I know all of them in our community. They wear their braces for multiple reasons, almost all of them for pleasure, but several, like Sam, Rebekah, and Emme, have actual minor spinal problems and need their braces.
 
 
There's another lady, Leigh, who is exactly like Judy and has allowed her legs to become useless, requiring her to wear leg braces. She also wears a back brace for scoliosis and kyphosis. I know it is all very strange, but it's the lifestyle they enjoy. To be completely honest, I only need basic orthodontic braces for my teeth. My headgear and expanders are only there because Judy likes how I look with them, and she loves my lisp.
 
 
S - So you're into it too, Jimmy? I'm good with it all, and I think Lori will be, too. One of her councilors explained to her about pretenders and devotees. I guess that's what you and your friends are?
 
 
J - Yes, that's right; those are the terms. I hope that Lori will be OK with our lifestyles and not be offended. I think she will really like Leigh, Rebekah, and all the other girls.
 
 
S - I'm sure she will. Lori is very accepting and knows all about Judy; she really wants to meet her. She is quite lonely since many of her friends have been transferred recently, and people she thought were friends abandoned her after her injury. Lori really needs to make some new, true friends. That's always hard when living the military life, as you know.
 
 
Being around other ladies who are truly handicapped or just wearing braces will be comforting, I think. Oh, look at the time, Jimmy. I need to get to the rehab facility and sign some papers. We can all have a video chat with Lori this evening. I'm sure she will love talking to you and Judy. The news of your engagement will brighten her mood, too. So, where is your place, Jimmy? I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening.
 
 
J - It's at 5262 County Road 2A. Where the driveway splits, stay to the left. Go another quarter mile, and you'll see our cottage.
 
 
S - OK, I'll see you and Judy later. I'm having dinner at the rehab facility with the director. It's a very high-end facility, and they say the food is excellent since they cater to younger patients who demand excellence.
 
 
J - Sounds good, Scotty. We'll see you this evening.
 
 
Around eight in the evening, Joel was outside enjoying a cigar when he saw a car coming down the driveway. When he came inside, he said that he thought Scotty had arrived, and we talked about Lori and her accident; we're worried that she won't accept our lifestyles. We also talked about how Sam and Millie actually enjoyed their accident recovery once their pain diminished.
 
 
We also got the impression that Lori has accepted her situation and simply wants to live as normal a life as possible. Joel and I were both anxious to meet Scott in the morning and maybe even talk to Lori. It was getting late; time for bed. Joel helped me bathe, then placed me in my full-body brace for the night, and I drifted off to sleep.
 
 
In the morning, Joel got me out of my brace. I'll be going to work with Judy today to present the new employee welfare program, and I wanted a bold look for the day. Joel placed a diaper on me and then helped me get into my red HKAFO-Milwaukee brace with red high-heeled wedge booties. My white blouse with a black skirt and jacket contrasted with the red of my braces. Bright red lipstick, glasses, facebows, and Interlandi straps with my hair in a ponytail looked great! I transferred to my manual wheelchair and headed to the kitchen.
 
 
Judy, Jimmy, and Scott arrived just as Joel had breakfast ready. Judy was dressed in her typical office attire and was sitting in her manual wheelchair. They all seemed upbeat, and Jimmy introduced us to Scotty. He's a real gentleman who seems very kind and caring. Scotty said that he had a long conversation with Lori yesterday afternoon in which he explained more about the reason we are wearing our braces. He said she was very accepting, had lots of questions for us, and hoped we could give her advice on living with her handicap.
 
 
We enjoyed conversation over breakfast, and as we were finishing, Jimmy suggested we have dinner at Harry's Grill tonight and that we should invite Emme, Pete, Rebekah, and Paul so Scott could meet some of our friends. As Judy and I were getting ready to leave for work, Scotty's phone rang. It was a video call from Lori. After talking with her for a few minutes, he turned the phone so Lori could see Judy and me in our braces, headgear, and wheelchairs and said, "That's Leigh there with Judy; they are getting ready to go to the office.
 
 
We waved and said hi, and Lori replied, "What pretty ladies! When I talked to Judy last night, she told me all about you, Leigh. I really want to get to know you and meet all your unique friends. Please give Scotty your contact information so we can be in touch. For the first time since my accident, I'm looking forward to something: moving out west, making a new start with lasting friends, and getting the medical care I need to get back on my feet. Oh, I mean foot. Please keep in touch, and I can't wait to meet you both."
 
 
Judy and I talked to Lori for a few minutes, but we had to be on our way. We said we were anxious to meet her and wished her well before saying goodbye. Joel and Jimmy kissed us, and we were off to work.
 
 
On the way to work, Judy told me about her long chat with Lori last night and how accepting she is of the way we all live. It will be great to be friends with someone who might benefit from what we've learned by voluntarily becoming crippled.
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #33 on: 07. June 2024, 17:36:24 PM »
Ch. 132 - Lori's Arrival
 
 
Jimmy's friend Scott found a very nice house not too far from ours that is handicap accessible and even has a swimming pool. It's ideal for him and Lori, and he got it at a great price since it needs a little work, and Lydia's contractor friend took care of everything. The house is almost ready, and Lori's room at the rehab center is waiting for her. Pete has even arranged transportation on a private medical transport jet a friend owns. This will make things much more comfortable for Lori. She can travel lying down since sitting causes her to experience extreme pain in her neck and back.
 
 
Scott and Lori's cross-country trip went well, and they have now settled in. Lori quite likes the rehab center she'll be living in until she's able to come home. It's a high-end place, and the rooms remind you of a hotel suite, not a medical facility. Each room has a small bedroom with an attached bath for a guest to use, too. The rooms are tastefully decorated and nicely furnished, with a couch and two power recliners.
 
 
After Lori got settled, she had her first appointment with Ben. Ben and Jackie made a house call and stayed with us for the weekend. It was great having them visit, but not under these circumstances. After a trip to the hospital for X-rays and an MRI, Ben was able to come up with a plan to treat Lori's injuries and give her a good quality of life, though it will be vastly different than before her accident and she will require several surgeries.
 
 
Lori wanted to meet all of us girls and asked us to come as a group on a day she felt fairly good. We all got a text this morning asking if we could come visit; she wanted to meet us before having the external fixator removed from her right leg tomorrow. Myself, Judy, Collene, Emme, and Rebekah met for a late breakfast and then paid Lori a visit.
 
 
We had all talked to Lori on the phone and had video chats with her, but had yet to meet her in person. In the video chats, we had only seen her face and the part of her very bulky CTLSO that surrounded it. We could also see that her teeth were very crooked from her multiple jaw fractures that had recently healed. In addition, Lori has a sizable scar on her left cheek that her CTLSO partially conceals. What we hadn't seen was the rest of her badly broken body.
 
 
When we arrived, Lori was overjoyed to have visitors, and we were all taken aback when we saw Lori for the first time. She was lying flat in bed, the most comfortable position for her, with her right leg in its external fixator in a sling. The blankets prevented us from seeing exactly where her left leg ended. Her left arm and hand were in an external fixator. Collene, Emme, and Rebekah were on crutches today and sat on the couch while Judy and I positioned our wheelchairs within Lori's limited view. Lori asked about our braces and why we wear them.
 
 
Collene explained that she contracted polio as a child and is paralyzed, but her braces allow her mobility and relieve her back pain. Then Judy and I told our stories, as did Emme and Rebekah. We all wanted to start our relationship with Lori knowing the truth about all of us; there would be no guilt like Rebekah and I felt from not telling Collene the truth when we first met her. Lori was very accepting and curious, especially about what Judy and I had done. She didn't seem taken aback by anything we told her. It was like what we all do is a normal everyday thing to Lori. Everything went great, and after a couple of hours, Lori seemed to be much more upbeat, often smiling with her very crooked smile.
 
 
Lori was very intrigued by all of our stories, and after many questions, she said, "I'm so glad you all came to visit me, and it's great to make new friends here so soon. I have only told a few people about my accident, and I have never talked to anyone about my treatment or recovery except for Scotty. However, I think that now is the time, and I want you all to know what happened to me and what my future holds.
 
 
"It was twilight, and I was coming home from my job at the child care center. Scott and I never had kids because we moved so often and didn't want to bring them up in that life. My dad retired as a colonel from the Air Force, and we moved all the time when I was a kid. It was hard for me. Scott agreed, and so we chose not to have children. However, I like kids, so I got a job working with them."
 
 
"I was stopped at a red light, and when it turned green, a car at high speed ran his red light and sped right in front of me. After he passed, I pulled out, and the car that was racing the first one slammed into the driver's door of my car. The side of my car was caved in, and when I came to while firemen were cutting me out, I was on the passenger side; my car was only half as wide as it was before the impact. My left leg and hand were really torn up, as was my right leg. My jaw was broken in multiple places, and my back and neck had fractures, too. The least of my injuries was a broken right arm and wrist."
 
 
"Once at the hospital, it was determined right away that my left leg couldn't be saved. The bones were in too many pieces to put back together. The decision was made to amputate above the knee. It's all bandaged up again since I had revision surgery before I moved here. I'll be getting fitted for a prosthetic sometime in the future."
 
 
"About my right leg, it could be saved, and you can see the fixator they put me in. Just look at all those pins and rods sticking out of my leg—I can't believe it's not more painful than it is. The good news is that the bones are healing, and Ben will remove all that hardware tomorrow and put me in a cast. There's a lot of nerve damage in my leg, and I won't find out how bad it is until I'm out of my cast. Ben says that with a prosthetic left leg and my right one in a brace, I'll eventually be able to walk with a single crutch or possibly without a crutch at all. I can't wait to be able to walk again, even if I have to wear a brace and prosthetic."
 
 
"As you can see, my left hand is a mess, with only my thumb and pinkie finger remaining. I have no feeling in it and can't move it at all; the nerves were severed. At least the medics found my ring finger in the wreckage, still with my wedding and engagement rings on it, and I wear them on my right hand now. If everything goes well with getting my right leg into a cast, in a week or so, Ben will amputate my left hand just above the wrist. It is so ugly and useless, and I'll be relieved to get rid of it! I wanted a simple hook, but that won't work with my spinal issues, so I'll be getting some high-tech myopelectric hand."
 
 
"As to my spine, we thought the fractures had healed, but this ended up not being the case. Dr. Ben Northridge was recommended to me, and after looking at X-rays and scans, he discovered two more unhealed but stable fractures; there is no risk of paralysis. My old doctors just kept me in this big brace and said I would have pain for the rest of my life. Ben said that he will do surgery to remove some bone spurs and treat the remaining fractures, along with several bulging disks. It's a simple surgery for an expert like him, and I should not worry about anything; he has done it hundreds of times without any complications. He'll be doing surgery on my spine once I recover a bit from my arm amputation. I'll have to be in a brace called a Halo CTLSO for several months after my surgery, but he says it will be more comfortable than this monstrosity I'm in now, plus I'll be pain-free. Ben also says I have scoliosis, and it will be treated once my back is completely healed. He's such a kind man, and I have complete trust in him."
 
 
"Both my jaw and right arm were broken in several places, too. I was in a long arm cast for six weeks, and things healed up just fine. My jaw really needed surgery, but with all my other trauma, they simply wired it shut for twelve weeks, and it was slow to heal since the bones were not perfectly aligned. I hated it at first and could hardly speak; my lips were dry and cracked all the time. Once I got used to my wires, it wasn't so bad. But look at my smile; it's so crooked now, and it was perfect before except for the little gap between my front teeth. I loved my little gap; it looked so cute, but now it's gone and my teeth overlap. I'll have to get braces like all you girls have, likely when I'm well enough to get my scoliosis sorted out. I wonder if the orthodontist can restore my little gap. It may seem silly that after losing my leg and soon my hand, along with my back pain, my messed-up smile bothers me the most."
 
 
From written words, you might think Lori told her story coldly and matter-of-factly. This was not the case. She told her story with warmth and hope. Lori never seemed sad at any time except when talking about her teeth. Knowing that Lori would be wearing several braces as part of her recovery and new life, we talked about those things. Rebekah showed her a picture of us in our halo CTLSOs. Lori said that the picture that Ben showed of the brace she would be wearing was a picture of me, but with my face blacked out. We talked about what life in such a brace is like, and Emme recounted the car accident when she was in high school that took the life of her best friend. Emme opened the locket with the blood-stained photo of her and Jasmine and began to cry. She crutched over to Lori to show her the photo, and Lori broke down in tears, too.
 
 
After Lori and Emme regained their composure, we talked about our leg braces. Lori said the ones we're wearing looked much nicer than what she had seen other people wearing, and we had cute shoes instead of heavy boots. Collene explained that our braces were made in the shop where she works by her fiance, Billy. Lori asked if Billy would be making her braces and prosthetics, and Collene said yes. Lori liked the variety of colors of leather on our braces and the different finishes on the metal. She is really looking forward to getting her KAFO and prosthetics. It was a wonderful visit, and Lori is such a kind and accepting person.
 
 
A few days later, I stopped in with Kathy to introduce her to Lori. Her fixator had been removed from her right leg, and in its place was a hot pink long leg cast with a lime green spiral. It was really bright and cheery, and so was Lori's mood. She was very happy to be out of her fixator and, for the first time, felt she was on the road to recovery.
 
 
Kathy and Lori quickly became friends, and Kathy called her friend Pat to see if he had time for a video chat. He did, and Pat and Lori chatted for quite a while, discussing amputee life and the upcoming amputation of her left hand. They exchanged numbers, and Pat told Lori to call anytime she wanted to talk or needed advice.
 
 
We chatted with Lori about our upcoming trip to Kings Mountain Retreat. Lori was sad she couldn't join us; she would be recovering from her hand amputation and spinal surgery then. Kathy told her not to worry; we plan to visit the retreat quite often in the future. I then suggested that she and Scott make a trip there together when she is well enough to travel.
 
 
Lori told us that Ben said that what remained of her left leg was healing nicely and that she should have no trouble using a prosthetic leg, which was excellent news. Her recovery is going great, and she is actually excited to have what remains of her left hand amputated next week because it will never be of any use. The only thing that really seemed to bother Lori was her smile. She had shown us some pictures of her and Scott, and she had the most beautiful smile. I gave her Dr. Joe's number and told her to call and say that she was a friend of ours. The rehab center is near his home, and I was sure he would stop in and take a look at her teeth. Hopefully, he can reassure her that her smile will once again be perfect and that he can restore her cute little gap.
 
 
The next week, we all got a group text from Jimmy relaying a message from Scott:
 
 
"The amputation of Lori's left hand went well. She is resting comfortably and will return to the rehab center tomorrow evening. Lori is looking forward to visitors in a few days, and she really feels that her life will soon be as normal as possible. I wanted to thank all of you for taking the time to get to know Lori and me and becoming our friends. Despite her injuries and the long road ahead of her, I have not seen Lori this happy in years. Military life was always hard on her, and making and keeping friends was almost impossible for her. Now that we are settling down, Lori has never been happier; I never realized what a toll our lifestyle was taking on her. Thank you, and we love you all very much. Scotty"
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #34 on: 07. June 2024, 17:37:10 PM »
Ch. 133 - Lori's Recovery
 
 
I rode to the office with Judy today for my consulting work. It was the first time people saw me in my new brace and walking with my unique gait. I was asked a lot of questions, and it was great telling my old colleagues about my HAKFO-Milwaukee brace. Judy and I enjoyed our commute together, and on the way home, I called Lori to see if she was up to having visitors. She cheerfully invited us to stop by.
 
 
When we arrived at Lori's room, Scott was telling her that he would be working for Jimmy, and she said, "That's great, Scotty. I want to get a job when I recover. One of the therapists told me that there is a child care center for disabled children and that I would make a welcomed addition to the staff."
 
 
Lori was doing quite well today. Her left arm was sore but well protected in a LAC that ended in a bulb shape at her wrist. It was the same colors as her leg cast, too. Lori said everything is going well, and Ben will perform her spinal surgery before we go on our trip. However, she needs to have her halo CTLSO brace fabricated first. Lori has an appointment to get scanned for her brace on Tuesday and asked me if I would accompany her. I said yes and that we would stop by over the weekend to explain the procedure. Lori's nurse interrupted us at that point and asked if we wanted to stay for dinner. Judy and I accepted the offer.
 
 
When Scott saw Lori reach for the control to incline her bed, he got up, put his hand on her right arm, and kissed her. She pressed the button, and as the bed raised, tears came to Lori's eyes, and she let out whimpers of pain. Once she was in a position to eat, Scott kissed her again and said, "Ben is confident he can fix you back. Have faith in his skilled hands."
 
 
Lori sat quietly with her eyes closed as Scott held her hand. I've never seen her sit up before, and now I understand why she always lays flat in bed; sitting up causes her severe pain. After she regained her composure, Scott moved the rolling table in front of her just as an orderly brought our meals. Scotty said grace, and we had a wonderful meal together.
 
 
After a dinner of baked chicken and roasted potatoes, which was excellent, we had apple pie for dessert. As we were all leaving, Lori said, "It was great to have a meal with friends, something we haven't done for a long time." We all said our goodbyes and reminded Lori that we would stop by over the weekend to tell her what it would be like to get scanned for her brace.
 
 
It's now Saturday, and Judy and I are going to visit Lori. Since Ben had only shown her pictures of a halo CTLSO, I thought she might want to see one in person, so I decided to bring mine along on our visit today. Joel made soft-tipped pins for all our halos so we could wear them just for fun, too. I thought Lori might want to see me wearing it and how I move with it on, despite it not being pinned to my skull. I stowed it in a large duffel bag, and Joel put it in the trunk of the car. I'll only bring it in if Lori wants to see it.
 
 
When we arrived, Scott was just leaving. Since we'll be spending the day with Lori, he and Jimmy are going on a hike to get some fresh air and relax. Lori, despite her situation, was cheerful and happy to see us as usual. We sat down to talk, and Lori said she had good news. First, everything was on track for her spinal surgery, and she was looking forward to being scanned for her new brace. However, she was a bit apprehensive and hoped our conversation today would ease her fears. Second, both her residual limbs are healing nicely, and Ben is confident she will have no issues wearing prosthetics. Finally, Joe had stopped by to look at Lori's teeth. He told her that she definitely needs braces and several appliances to fix her smile and that he could give her back the little gap between her front teeth that she loved so much.
 
 
Both her right leg and left arm had new casts—bright yellow this time. The cast on her left arm didn't seem as bulky as her old one, where her arm ends. She said that, other than her back, she wasn't in much pain anymore. Lori then asked Judy and me what she would be experiencing when she got scanned for her halo CTLSO. Judy explained the procedure and said that it would likely be very painful for her to be put in traction with her injury. I said that the procedure is quick and that from unbuckling her brace to strapping her back in, it should only take a few minutes. Billy and Rita work very efficiently, despite Rita wearing braces. Lori asked about Rita's braces, and we told Rita's story. Lori was, as always, very accepting, understanding, and quite curious; she said:
 
 
"Maybe being handicapped won't be so bad after all. You two have chosen to make your legs useless, forcing yourselves to really need your leg braces, and you are both so happy. Even Collene, who is paralyzed, doesn't let her disability stop her from doing anything. She even told me that if, somehow, she didn't need her braces anymore, she would continue to wear them. Talking with Pat has been comforting, too. Meeting all of you has been inspiring, and knowing people who choose to live how I will be forced to is strange but yet comforting. I know that Scotty and I will have a great life once I'm home and not in pain anymore, and we will enjoy life with you all."
 
 
Judy then asked Lori if she would like to see me in my halo CTLSO. Lori replied that she had already seen pictures of Rebekah and me in our braces and even some videos. Judy said, "No, not pictures or videos. Would you like to see Leigh's brace here and now, and even see her wearing it? We brought it with us, and Leigh can put it on if you like!" "How is that possible?" Lori questioned, "It has to be pinned to her skull; Ben explained it all to me. But, yes, I would like to see her brace."
 
 
Judy got up and said, "I'll go get it. Leigh, why don't you tell Lori what it's like to wear a halo? I wish I knew, but I have not gotten to experience that yet, but I want to."
 
 
While Judy was getting my brace, I explained to Lori what the 3D scanning was all about. I also told Lori that she's lucky; her halo would be applied during surgery, and I told her how painful it was getting mine placed when I was awake. Then I warned Lori about the constant pressure from the pins and the pain when they are re-torqued, but with all she's been through, it would be nothing. I explained how my brace fit my body extremely well and was quite comfortable to wear, and hers would be, too. Soon, Judy returned with my brace, and Lori called the nurses station to ask that we not be disturbed for the next few hours.
 
 
We got my brace out of the bag, and despite the pain of changing positions, Lori inclined her bed so she could better see things. Judy brought it over to Lori so she could examine it. She was impressed with the softness of the lining and the thin yet extremely rigid plastic shell. Lori asked how it would be attached to my skull if I tried it on, and I pointed out the padded pins that Joel made. She asked me several more questions, which I answered in detail. Lori then asked me to put on my brace, which had been my constant companion for almost a year.
 
 
I knew Lori would like to see me wearing my brace, and I dressed so putting it on would be easy. I removed my skirt and blouse, then Judy removed the hinges that connect my KAFOs to my Milwaukee brace. Lori watched intently; I don't think she knew that my leg braces are connected to my back brace. Once the hinges were removed, I took off the Milwaukee part of my brace. Then, with the padded pins fully retracted, Judy helped me into my halo CTLSO, pulling the straps extremely tight. I tilted my head back slightly, and Judy tightened the silicone-padded pins against my head, being careful not to pull my hair. She tightened the lockouts, and I was now once again in my halo brace, and I wished it was really pinned to my skull. Once I was secured in my brace, I grabbed my crutches, stood up, and carefully, with my weak hips, walked around the room. Lori said:
 
 
"Wow, Leigh, that's a really cool brace. You move so gracefully and easily in it, and it conforms to your body perfectly. It's far more form-fitting and seems more comfortable than the awful brace I currently wear. Plus, it doesn't press on your chin, and you can brush your hair easily, too. My chin and jaw are sore from the constant pressure; getting a halo brace will be a real relief. I'm glad my surgery is soon so I can get out of this horrible thing and into my halo brace."
 
 
I proceeded to explain to Lori how to do basic things like getting in and out of bed, taking care of her pins, and being careful not to hit her halo ring on objects. I also warned her about the looks and questions she might get when out in public. We talked for several hours with me wearing my halo CTLSO, and Judy listened intently since she plans to wear a halo recreationally very soon. Finally, the phone rang; it was the nurse's station checking on Lori.
 
 
I then had Judy help me get out of my halo CTLSO and back into my Milwaukee HKAFOs. Lori asked if I thought her leg brace would be similar to ours, and I said it likely would be. After packing up my halo, we talked for a while longer, and I told Lori that I'd see her on Tuesday. Judy suggested that she take some pain medication before the appointment, which Lori had already planned to do.
 
 
On Tuesday, I met Scott and Lori at Jameson Orthotics. They arrived in a medical transport van with Lori on a gurney. She had taken pain medications and was a bit out of it. Once inside, Billy and Rita explained the day's procedure. With Lori still on the gurney, her CTLSO was removed, and Billy and Gary got her into the traction frame. The various straps were placed, and traction was applied to Lori's spine. It was quite painful for Lori at first, but once her spine was stretched, her discomfort subsided. The scan was quickly made, and Lori asked if Scott would give her a sponge bath and brush her hair while she was in traction.
 
 
Until now, I had not noticed Lori's long, brown hair with streaks of gray. I also didn't realize the extent of the scar on her left cheek since much of it was covered by her CTLSO. It extended from behind her left ear to about the middle of her chin. We left Scott and Lori alone while he bathed her, and soon he came and asked Billy and Rita to get Lori back into her brace. The process was very painful for Lori, and she was relieved when it was over. Billy then said, "Lori, I talked to Ben, and he said we could remove your cast and make molds for your leg brace, then get you back into a new cast. Are you up for it this morning?" Lori said that she was, and Billy soon had her cast removed, plaster molds made, and a new cast applied that exactly matched her old one.
 
 
Billy said, "All done, Lori. I'll deliver your halo CTLSO to the hospital, and your leg brace will be ready for you when your cast comes off. At that time, I'll be able to cast your left leg and arm to make your prosthetics. You'll soon be walking and will have a useful left hand again." Lori and Scott thanked Billy, Rita, and Gary, and then she was taken to the awaiting transport van.
 
 
In the days before Lori's spinal surgery, she had many visitors wishing her well. Everyone was confident that Ben could free Lori of her constant pain. Late in the evening, on the day of Lori's surgery, we all got a text from Scott. Lori's spinal surgery went extremely well, and Ben found and repaired all the damage to her spine. Lori will be in the hospital for a few days, and Scott will let us know when she is back at the rehab center.
 
 
Once we got word that Lori was up to visitors, Emme and I stopped by. When we entered Lori's room, she was wearing her halo CTLSO, sitting in a power wheelchair with her right leg on the leg rest, listening to classical music. Her long gray-streaked hair was in a ponytail, and there was a small sore on her chin from her old brace. With a look of peace and serenity on her face, she warmly greeted us.
 
 
I introduced Emme; they had not yet met. Lori told us how much better she felt after her surgery, and despite the pressure from her halo pins, her new brace was extremely comfortable. Everything went as planned, and her pain has already greatly diminished. Lori then suggested we go outside and get some fresh air. Once outside, Lori said that by the time we get back from our trip, she will be able to get her KAFO fitted and a mold made for her prosthetic leg; however, her arm may need a bit longer to heal.
 
 
We talked for several hours, and I told Lori that we have a lot going on in preparation for our trip, and this would likely be our last visit until we return. Lori simply asked that we keep in touch and have a great time.
 
 
We'll miss visiting Lori, and I hope she doesn't get lonely while we're gone.

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #35 on: 11. June 2024, 17:05:29 PM »
Ch. 134 - Our Big Trip
 
 
Well, our group trip to Kings Mountain Retreat is only days away. Over the last few weeks, things have been hectic as we make final preparations. As I have mentioned, there will be several weddings, and I recently found out there will be one more; Sam and Millie plan to wed, too. Billy, Collene, Jimmy, and Judy will be having a formal joint ceremony, with Kathy and Lydia also opting for a formal affair. Annie and Charlie, Sally and Stan, along with Sam and Millie, have planned something more casual.
 
 
Judy told me that Sam and Millie plan to be on roller skates and wearing all their braces for their wedding. Collene, Judy, and Kathy picked out their gowns together, and none of us have seen them, but I do know the sisters' gowns are identical. I am going to be the matron of honor for several of the ladies, too. I haven't seen or tried on my dress, but it should fit fine since it was made from measurements for my wedding gown. The only part of me that is not the same size now are my legs; they are withered and atrophied. It's going to be a lot of fun with all the weddings.
 
 
When it comes to casts and braces, that hasn't been discussed at all. Everyone that works at the orthotics shop knows who got new braces or casts to wear, but they have not said anything. Some of us are not doing anything special, while I think others are planning orthopedic adventures of some sort. One thing I had done was to have my bite blocks removed and replaced with a thick, removable splint held in place with magnets like the other girls wear. It will be a big surprise to see what sorts of casts and braces everyone is wearing when they arrive here on Friday.
 
 
Since Pat and Terry live in the same city as Ben and Jackie, they will travel together and meet us at the resort. Speaking of traveling, the rest of us will be taking the Scenicruiser that Joel and Paul just finished restoring and modifying for a client. The bus now has a more modern engine and an automatic transmission, but it still retains all its passenger seats and Greyhound livery. It will be great fun to see the sights from the high windows in the old bus, plus there is plenty of space in the cargo area for wheelchairs, large braces, and baggage.
 
 
Joel and I were up early on Friday morning. He got me out of the body brace that I sleep in, and we took a shower together. Joel then helped me into my favorite pink and purple Milwaukee-HKAFO brace and matching double facebow interlandi headgear and glasses. Finally, he placed a catheter in me, helped me get dressed in a long purple dress, and I fixed my hair and makeup.
 
 
Joel is going to wear his brand new KAFOs with either his Kuhenegger or Milwaukee braces for the entire trip, and I helped him put his braces on. He had agreed to use a catheter for the first time ever, and he was very nervous as I inserted it into his urethra. Once it was in, he said it felt very strange; however, it didn't hurt and was only slightly uncomfortable as it went in. Joel then proceeded to get dressed in a brown kilt and polo shirt. He looked very handsome, and we took a moment for a hug and a long kiss.
 
 
Pete and Emme arrived in the Scenicruiser while it was just becoming light outside. The bus looked and sounded great as it pulled up in front of the house. The door opened, and Pete, who was not wearing any orthopedic braces or casts, carefully helped Emme step out. She stood and waited as he opened all the cargo doors for our guests to place their baggage as they arrived. Emme was wearing a long blue dress, her red KAFOs with red wedge booties, her matching Milwaukee brace, and headgear. She was holding a long white cane in her right hand and was also wearing dark glasses, despite it being barely light outside.
 
 
As the couple made their way towards our front door, Emme walked with her knees unlocked and tapped her cane on the ground in front of her while Pete guided her by the shoulder. Things finally clicked in my mind. Emme was not just pretending to be blind; somehow she was actually blind! When they greeted us, Pete's lisp was very different. His braces were gone, and he had very bulky retainers in his mouth. We all went inside, and I had a million questions for Emme.
 
 
As Pete led Emme to the den, he quickly explained that he got his braces off and got retainers, but he hates them. He plans, as soon as we get back, to get bands like his wife as a permanent retainer for as long as Emme is in her bands, which will likely be forever. Remember that Emme's bite has been corrected except for her crooked front teeth; she adores her crooked, banded smile. The guys, with Joel moving very slowly in his braces and using crutches, went to the kitchen to cook breakfast while Emme and I sat and talked. I had many questions.
 
 
Emme explained that she is wearing special contact lenses, which render her completely blind. She obtained them from the doctor that Millie gets her colored contacts from, and they are designed for long-term wear; she can safely experience blindness for up to thirty consecutive days. She also explained that she took classes on how to use her cane and how to live as a blind person. Then Emme took off her dark glasses to show me her eyes.
 
 
Once her dark glasses were removed, Emme batted her sightless eyes at me. They looked bizarre, almost grotesque. Her eyes were milky white, with a shadow of darkness in the middle, where the iris is. I asked if she could see anything at all, and Emme replied, "Nope, I can't see a thing, not even shadows. My contacts totally block my vision, and I'm completely blind when I wear them. It was really scary going out in public like this the first few times, but Pete comforted and guided me; I really enjoy it now. We have gone out many times, and I love the attention I get as a blind, braced girl. It's a thrill, Leigh; you'll have to try it someday."
 
 
I had a million questions for Emme, but they would have to wait. Rita and Gary were at our front door, and Rebekah, Paul, Judy, and Jimmy were at the back. Rita was in her KAFOs as usual, but she had an addition to her Milwaukee brace. It now had outriggers with large leather pads pushing her shoulders back. Gary was now sporting orthodontic braces, too. He just had bonded brackets; however, he also had a Herbst appliance, an upper expander, and a very strong lisp.
 
 
Judy was in her regular braces, and she was sitting in her manual wheelchair. She was dressed very smartly but casually in black tights, a denim skirt, a white blouse, and a denim jacket; she looked beautiful as she always does. Jimmy was in his Milwaukee brace and matching KAFOs. Both of them had their headgear on, too. He mentioned that he and Billy were going to wear the same braces as their girls do for the entire trip just to see what it was like. Unlike Joel, Jimmy was moving about without much difficulty, and Judy said he has been practicing using crutches for some time.
 
 
Rebekah was dressed similar to me, and she was on crutches and wearing her brown Milwaukee-HAKFOs. Paul was in his braces, which matched the ones that Joel was wearing. He looked great and was getting around much easier than the last time I saw him in his braces. Paul moved with almost the same ease as Rebekah does in her braces.
 
 
Of course, when people saw Emme's eyes, there were many questions. She told her story again, something she would do several times throughout the morning. We then heard several more cars pull up out front and hoped that everyone else had arrived.
 
 
Sam was driving Kathy's car, with Kathy in the passenger seat; Lydia and Millie were in the back. When they all got out, the younger couple was in their KAFOs, Milwaukee braces, and thumb spica braces. They were also both wearing their headgear and orthodontic splints. Lydia was wearing KAFOs and a Milwaukee brace and said that her Kuhenegger brace was in the trunk. She came over to help Kathy get out of the car. Her halo was still on her head, but it was held in place with four more pins than before. It was connected to four uprights that stretched the neck of the blouse that she was wearing. Kathy explained that it was a special traction brace that she and Billy designed, and the uprights were connected to a pelvic girdle like on a Milwaukee brace; her entire spine was in traction.
 
 
Collene was driving her car with Billy in the passenger seat. She was wearing her usual braces but didn't have her headgear on. Billy, like Jimmy, was wearing a set of braces that matched what his girl was wearing. He seemed to have no problem walking with his crutches, and he said he and Collene had gone out many times with him in his braces.
 
 
So far, nobody has done anything extreme except for Emme with her milky white, blind eyes. We all just looked like several hadicapped couples that were used to our lives wearing braces. However, that was about to change as our final guests got out of their car.
 
 
Annie, Charlie, Sally, and Stan soon arrived together, with Stan driving since there was no way the others could. Stan's orthodontic treatment had come to an end, but he had Sally place bands on all his teeth and is doing the same thing as Pete. They're large bands like those I wear with surgical hooks on the archwires. Sally was wearing the orthodontic appliance she has been wearing since her jaw was unwired. She was also wearing a hot pink Minerva cast, and she wore it well. Sally said she had always wanted to wear one since she saw me in mine all those years ago and, more recently, Judy in hers.
 
 
Both Annie and Charlie were wearing their bands and other appliances, but they were also wearing several casts. Annie was in a pair of light pink SLWCs, and so was Charlie, but his were light blue. However, there was more; both of them had shoulder spicas on their left arms that matched their leg casts! Their casts included their thumbs, too. Both of their shoulder spica casts were also Minerva casts that fit snugly around their heads. Annie and Charlie were both immobilized from their heads to their hips and all the way down their left arms to the tips of their thumbs. Annie thought shoulder spica casts would be a great way to show off their wedding bands on their outstretched, casted arms.
 
 
After everyone got a good look at each other's casts and braces and Emme explained her contacts once again, we sat down to eat breakfast. Pete took a moment to arrange Emme's place setting so she could eat her meal on her own. She needed to have everything in just the right location so she could locate her plate, silverware, and drink using muscle memory. Emme explained that if things are set up just right, she has no trouble eating on her own. It was remarkable how easily she ate, but looking across the table at her milky eyes was a bit unsettling. I wonder if Emme realizes how strange her eyes look with her contacts.
 
 
Well, just as we were finishing our meal, Kathy got a text. It was from Jose, and he asked if there was room for two more on the trip. Kathy said there were two rooms in our lodge that no one was staying in that they could have. Jose said that he and Rose would like to join us, and they would be here in a half hour. Kathy said that it would be great to have them come along. We never expected them to have an interest in a trip like this, but Rose sure seemed to enjoy her casts at the Christmas party.
 
 
Pete and Stan went out to the bus to get everyone's baggage loaded up, along with several wheelchairs and other things that we wanted to bring along. After the guys got things loaded up, we all slowly started to board the bus. Remember, this bus was built in the mid-1950s, so it is not handicap accessible, plus there are an extra set of stairs to get up to the main seating area once on board. Pete and Stan helped those of us that needed assistance getting up the steps and got us situated one at a time, so there were no accidents. Just as the last of us were getting on, Jose and Rose pulled up.
 
 
Jose popped the trunk, and Stan got their bags loaded into the bus. Jose went to the passenger door and helped Rose get out of the car. From my seat high up in the bus, I could see that Rose was wearing a pair of white SLCs with blue canvas cast shoes. They could clearly be seen since she was wearing capri pants. On both of her arms, she wore white SACs with a SOMI brace supporting her neck. Jose helped her get on the bus while Pete made final checks before we hit the road.
 
 
Once Rose and Jose were on the bus, I got a good look at her casts. They were far from perfect—the work of beginning casters—and I asked her if they were comfortable. Rose said that Jose had used extra padding, and they felt great. She then put her feet in Jose's lap, and he began to rub her exposed toes. They were both greatly enjoying her casts.
 
 
With everything checked out, Pete climbed on board, sat in the driver's seat, closed the door, cranked over the big Detroit, and we were on our way. We're going to have a wonderful time and hopefully make some new friends, too!

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #36 on: 11. June 2024, 17:06:01 PM »
Ch. 135 - Our Arrival
 
 
The trip to Kings Mountain Retreat was a real pleasure in the Scenicruiser. The Series 60 Detroit and Allison automatic the guys installed pushed the coach up the mountain passes with ease; the owner will be very pleased. I only rode a bus like this once when I was a little girl, and I vividly remember that trip. The view through the large windows, sitting high above the road, is amazing; it's like you're on a flying carpet above the traffic. On the long downgrades, the Jake brake kept speed in check, and a bit of noise is well worth the increase in safety. The ride is so smooth, and Pete said the bus handled very well, too.
 
 
Stan, who had been a bus driver for a time when he was younger, took his turn at the wheel. He said it was a great experience to drive such a historic and iconic coach. Everyone enjoyed the ride, especially the youngsters who had never traveled like this before. As we traveled, Sam and Millie were constantly telling Emme about all the things she couldn't see. They seemed to be having a great time, and Emme looks so peaceful and content wearing her contacts, which render her completely blind. Oh, the lunches, snacks, and drinks that Sam and Millie brought along for all of us were great, too.
 
 
Just as we parked in front of the main lodge and hotel building, Rebekah saw Ben and Jackie's old Mercury wagon pull up next to us. The car was riding low in the back; Rita's big power wheelchair was on a carrier mounted to the trailer hitch, and we could see Pat and Terry in the back seat. Stan and Pete helped Kathy off the bus, and she went to talk to everyone in the car before going inside the lodge to get us checked in since she had made all the arrangements.
 
 
A few minutes later, Kathy returned with two staff members. One went to Ben's car, and the other got on board the bus. His name was Steven, and he proceeded to welcome us all to Kings Mountain Retreat. He then handed out special smart phones that worked on the resort's private network and explained that we could track each other, and the phones were also the key to our cabins and shared lodge. He told us about several events that were going on this week, including the opening of their new shooting range, where Jimmy had arranged a shooting demonstration. After our orientation, which included a short discussion about pretenders and devotees and being honest with other guests, Steven said that our cabin complex was ready and that the minister would be contacting the couples that were getting married to arrange the final details of their ceremonies.
 
 
Steven then asked about the bus and said he had never seen one like this in person. Joel and Paul explained that it had just been restored in their shop for a client, and this was a shakedown trip. Steven asked if it would be possible to get a ride sometime, and Pete said, "No problem. We can even take some of the staff and even guests on a short tour of the area." Steven replied, "I'll be talking to you later on; I think that many of us would enjoy a ride. You got everyone's attention when you pulled in."
 
 
With that, Steven gave Pete instructions as to where our cabin complex is and said the roads are plenty big enough for the bus since they were designed for the fire department ladder truck. We then made the final, very short leg of our journey to our cabins.
 
 
The road to our cabins curved around the back of them, and there were tall evergreen hedges to provide privacy. We could see the cabins and lodge over them from our high vantage point, and the cabins are arranged in a semi-circle around a main, shared lodge. Millie described everything to the sightless Emme, and Millie seemed quite fascinated with Emme's situation, as were Judy and myself.
 
 
There were wide, hard-surfaced paths that led from each cabin to the central building, with many trees and hedges providing privacy for each cabin. The entire place is extremely beautiful and peaceful. We pulled up in front of the lodge, and Ben parked in front of their cabin. We all slowly and carefully got off the bus and went inside.
 
 
The enormous stone fireplace was blazing when we entered, and the aroma of freshly made cookies, hot cocoa, and coffee filled the air. While Steven was making the orientation speech, he must have had someone prepare everything. Since the lodge has a commercial kitchen, the cooks and bakers among us were going to prepare many of our meals, and they went to check it out. The pantry, refrigerator, and freezer were stocked with the items that they had requested, and I think we'll be having some great home-cooked meals while we are here.
 
 
It was then that the front door opened, and Jackie wheeled through in her big power chair, with Ben following her. She was braced from head to toe, just like when we met her on the cruise all those years ago. However, her braces were a bit different this time. Instead of thermoplastic, everything she was wearing was leather and steel, which looked aged and well worn. Jackie wasn't in a halo brace this time; instead, she was wearing a leather and steel CTLSO to immobilize her spine and neck. Attached to it were the special sensors that allow her to control her wheelchair with her magnetic tongue piercing. Jackie looked so beautiful, sitting stiffly and tightly strapped into her wheelchair in her long blue dress, unable to move any part of her body except her mouth and tongue.
 
 
Following them were Pat and Terry. Pat was in his wheelchair without his legs, but he said he had brought them along to wear for the weddings. Terry was not wearing any casts or braces, but he and Pat had brought a box of cast supplies. Judy and I had never met Terry, but we had talked to him on the phone and did video chat quite a few times when arranging to get the Humvee and Volga. It was great to meet the man who helped us get these wonderful vehicles for our guys.
 
 
Once everyone was settled in around the fire, there was much animated conversation. Emme's milky white eyes were front and center. Emme gave an in-depth explanation of her contacts and how they render her completely blind; she can't even see shadows through them. She had obtained them from the doctor from whom Millie gets her beautiful purple contacts. These contacts are made for extended wear, and Emme can safely experience blindness for up to thirty days. Emme also said that she had taken some orientation and mobility, or O&M, classes to learn how to live as a blind person.
 
 
In these classes, Emme was taught basic things like how to use a long cane to navigate her dark world. She also learned how to do basic things like feed herself without knocking over her drink by always placing things in front of her in the exact same location when she sits down to eat. Pete had also accompanied her to some of these classes, where he wore eye patches to experience the same thing as Emme. We all knew that Pete and Emme took a week-long vacation a few months ago. What we didn't know was that she was blind the entire time. Judy and I said to each other that this is definitely something we need to try.
 
 
Jackie's braces and her tongue-controlled wheelchair were the next things everyone was curious about. Only Paul, Rebekah, Joel, and I had seen her in a similar situation, and that was when we were on our honeymoon cruise. Watching her navigate around the large room in her wheelchair using nothing but the movements of her tongue captivated everyone. Joel and Pete said they were working on an improved version that would allow the user to not only control their wheelchair but also a tablet computer or phone.
 
 
One thing I have to mention is how Jackie's braces look. Billy had made them for her, and he made the leather look aged and worn. If you didn't know better, you would think Jackie had been wearing these braces for many years instead of just the last few days. They looked like they had been immobilizing and supporting Jackie's body for years. Since Billy and Collene moved to the property across the creek from Judy and Jimmy's place, Billy, with his leatherworking skills, has been repairing and restoring tack for the neighbors with horses. He is quite good at matching colors and age, making something new look old, which is what he did for Jackie's braces. Between Jackie's ability to let her body go totally limp and the look of her braces, you would swear she has been wearing them for decades.
 
 
Later on, Rebekah and I discussed what it would be like to be completely immobilized and use a system like this, and we hoped we could test the new system the guys are developing. However, we were not too sure about getting our tongues pierced. We both thought getting our little nose piercings was a bit extreme for our tastes at the time; however, we now wish we had it done sooner. We didn't know what to think about getting tongue piercings at our age, but Jackie is older than us and wears a small tongue piercing all the time which looks great.
 
 
After we had coffee, hot chocolate, snacks, and some really great conversation, we called for assistance with our baggage so we could get settled in our cabins. There will be two couples in each cabin, and we had planned it all in advance. When the attendants arrived, they helped us get everything unloaded, and we got settled in. This is how we partnered up for the week:
 
 
Joel and I are sharing a cabin with Paul and Rebekah.
 
 
Kathy and Lydia, will be with their friends Pat and Terry.
 
 
The sisters and their soon-to-be husbands are in cabin 103.
 
 
Old friends Ben, Jackie, Rita, and Gary are sharing 104.
 
 
Sam and Millie will be with Pete and Emme. The three girls can be really mischevious when in each other's company. I feel sorry for Pete; they'll probably get him drunk and cover him in fiberglass. We brought plenty of supplies.
 
 
The orthodontic-loving couples will be in cabin 106. Annie and Charlie have become very close to Sally and Stan, and they often make weekend trips together. Everyone loves Sally since she has had so much to do with what we all have in our mouths. Stan is a lucky guy; just think of marrying an orthodontic assistant.
 
 
And finally, Rose and Jose will be in the main lodge since they were latecomers to the party.
 
 
Once we had all settled into our cabins and rested, we gathered at our private lodge at six. Ben was at the bar and fixed several of us cocktails, which we enjoyed before heading to dinner. Since our group was so large, Lydia arranged for us to have one of the small, private dining rooms at the steakhouse in the main lodge. We were all looking forward to our meal after hearing how good Kathy and Lydia said the food was when they visited here before.
 
 
Over dinner, there was much conversation, and Annie asked about the halo brace that Kathy is wearing. She explained that she had been greatly enjoying being in halo traction in her wheelchair and rolling traction frame but wanted to experience it without these devices. Kathy had worked with Billy to design a special brace that is much like those that were used for scoliosis surgery years ago, but this one also applies traction. She said that all the ladies would get to see it up close when she gets dressed for her wedding on Monday.
 
 
We also discussed our weekend plans. We weren't doing any group activities; each couple was free to do as they desired. Kathy and Lydia, along with Sam and Millie, were meeting with the minister to finalize wedding plans. The other couples were doing the same on Sunday after regular church services. Judy and I were going to accompany Jimmy to the new shooting range to do some exhibition shooting for the opening of the new facility. Jimmy is a certified range safety officer and instructor, and he has volunteered to help at the facility all weekend.
 
 
Collene didn't want to shoot with us. Instead, she wants to spend time at the main lodge and maybe make some new friends, too. Pete and Emme are planning to do some exploring; she wants to explore the great outdoors blind. The rest of us don't have any plans other than to simply relax and maybe hang out by the fire together. No matter what we do, it will be fun and relaxing in a place where people in casts and braces are the norm, not the exception.
 
 
We enjoyed our dinner and then headed back to our cabins for the night. We all had full stomachs and were very tired from our day of travel. We'll all sleep very well tonight.
 
 
The next morning, we all met up at our private lodge. Jose was in the kitchen cooking breakfast, and it smelled great. We all enjoyed coffee by the fire, and Jose served a traditional Argentinian breakfast—the flavors of his family's homeland. After breakfast, Judy and I went back to our cabins to get our wheelchairs and to put on our low-profile Milwaukee braces to wear while shooting. Jimmy got our shotguns and pistols, and we all headed to the gun range. Everyone else went their separate ways to enjoy the day. We agreed to meet up at the main lodge at six for dinner.

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #37 on: 11. June 2024, 17:07:00 PM »
Ch. 136 - Having Fun
 
 
When we went inside the shooting facility, there was a plaque on the wall that said, "Many thanks to James "Jimmy" Mekas for his assistance in developing this handicapped accessible facility."
 
 
"I didn't know you were involved with this, Jimmy. Why didn't you tell us?" Judy inquired.
 
 
"I started working with the resort when I was still in the Army. It has been a fun project, and this is my first time seeing it in person. Look at the crowd that is gathering; they all want to see you ladies shoot, then try it for themselves." Jimmy feels pride.
 
 
Safety rules were discussed, and then ear and eye protection were handed out, and the basics of trap shooting were explained. For our demonstration shoot, our squad was comprised of Judy and myself, along with one of the instructors, Bill, and his wife, Beth, who was in a wheelchair and wearing leg braces. The final man on our squad was Cal, one of the resort's maintenance men.
 
 
The line went hot, and Judy and I used our old Browning Sweet Sixteens to good effect. Judy won with a perfect 25. Myself and Beth scored 24 and the guys 22 each. The gathered crowd was amazed by the abilities of us three women shooting from our wheelchairs, beating out able-bodied men. Then, we shot a fast-paced round of doubles. Judy won again, scoring 47 out of 50 with three lost birds. The rest of us scored in the low 40s. The quick shooting was a real crowd-pleaser.
 
 
By this time, both Judy and I were having quite a bit of back pain from being out of our regular braces, and we went back to our cabins to change. Joel happened to be hanging out in our cabin with Rose and Jose. Rose helped me get into my Milwaukee brace and attach it to my KAFOs. It felt good to be back in my HKAFO-Milwaukee brace; my back pain was immediately relieved. Rose had never seen my brace in its entirety and was very impressed with it. She asked many questions about my brace and what it is like to wear it, and I said:
 
 
"Years ago, when Rebekah started working for Joel at his electronics business, he offered her a special benefit package that included any braces, orthopedic or orthodontic, she wanted, and an account with the supplier we get our casting material from. I don't see why this benefit shouldn't apply to you and Jose, too. If you want to know what braces like mine are like to wear, talk to Billy or Gary and get your own made."
 
 
Rose was very excited by the prospect of getting her own braces made, and I think that the cast she got at the Christmas party made a big impression on her and Jose. She then helped me get my skirt and blouse back on and asked if she could accompany Judy and me to the range for the afternoon to watch; she couldn't shoot wearing her arm casts. We joined Jose and Joel to await Judy's arrival.
 
 
Once Judy arrived, we all made our way back to the range. When we arrived, there was a large group waiting to watch us shoot. A catered lunch was provided in the large classroom, and after our meal, Judy, Beth, and myself gave a demonstration of handgun shooting. Beth had a High Standard Olympic automatic, and Judy and I had our pre-war K-22 Masterpiece revolvers. Then we switched to our centerfire guns. Beth had a 1911 in 38 Super Automatic, with Judy and I firing our K-38 Masterpiece revolvers; we like wheel guns. Finally, Beth did a demonstration of defensive shooting from her wheelchair with her Kel-Tek P3AT.
 
 
It was a lot of fun and really showed the sporting aspect of firearm ownership. The rest of the afternoon was spent training new shooters and helping those who were shooters before their handicaps learn to shoot again. It was a really fun way to spend the day, but it was getting late, and we needed to meet everyone for dinner.
 
 
On the way to dinner, we all got a very interesting text message from Collene. It read:
 

"Sorry, but Billy, Pat, Terry, and I won't be joining you for dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow. This morning, I met a very intriguing woman and spent the day with her. Billy and Pat, then Terry, joined us, and we are going to have dinner with Sarah this evening, then see her off tomorrow. We wish we could spend more time with her, but she leaves tomorrow. I think Sarah has led a very adventurous life, but she doesn't seem willing to talk about it. We hope you are all having fun, and it has been a very interesting day for us. We'll tell you all about Sarah tomorrow evening."
 
 
We were all very curious about Collene's new friend and anxious to hear about Sarah.
 
 
As we entered the lodge for dinner, Rita noticed that Rose seemed to be limping in her casts despite walking with ease earlier. She asked Rose if her casts were uncomfortable, and Rose replied, "Yes, the cast on my right leg doesn't seem right, and the one on my left arm is a bit tight; they are becoming a bit uncomfortable. These are the first casts that Jose put me in, and I think he needs some more practice."
 
 
With a warm smile, Rita said, "Well, after dinner, Gary and I will give both of you some casting lessons and get you into more comfortable casts, Rose."
 
 
"Oh, thank you, Rita!" replied Rose.
 
 
We had dinner in one of the small rooms adjacent to the main dining room. As we made our way there, Millie thought she saw Collene and the others at a table in the back with a brunette in a wheelchair. She wanted to go see who her friends were with, but Sam held her back, saying, "Give them their privacy, Mills. I have a feeling that they don't want to be disturbed."
 
 
"Oh, OK, Sammy, but I sure would like to meet their mysterious new friend," replied Millie with disappointment in her voice.
 
 
After another wonderful meal, we ordered dessert to be delivered to our lodge and headed back for the evening. By the time all of us got there, our sweets had been delivered. We enjoyed our dessert around the fire, which they must have got going for us when our desserts were delivered. Judy, Jimmy, Joel, and I were tired from our busy day, so we retired to our cabins for the night. However, everyone else seemed to be full of energy and not close to ready for the evening to end. We all said goodnight as Gary got a large box of casting supplies out to give Rose and Jose some casting lessons, with Sally and Stan staying to watch.
 
 
The next morning, when Joel and I arrived at our lodge, the entire gang was there except for Collene and her little group. Millie, Sam, and Rebekah were in the kitchen working their mealtime magic. However, Rose and Jose would be the center of attention this morning.
 
 
Rose was in one of the small power wheelchairs we had brought along in case anyone needed it. Instead of the SLWCs and SACs she had been wearing, she was wearing an LLC on her right leg and an SLC on her left, both with toeplates and walking heels. On her left arm, she wore a LATS and a SATS on her right. All her casts were lime green, matching the polish on her nails and contrasting with her dark skin. When she smiled, her teeth were covered in metal; Rose was now sporting orthodontic braces, too!
 
 
At this point, Jose came crutching into the room wearing an LLC on his left leg. When he spoke, his metallic smile sparkled in the light, too. Joel said, "So what the hell happened here last night after we all left? Have you been bitten by the bug?"
 
 
Rose began to speak:
 
 
"We have been bitten, Joel. Jose and I always thought you were all very odd with your love of casts and braces, but we accepted it, especially with the great job opportunity you provided us. At first, we were just happy to have stability in our lives with good jobs, but as time went on, we became very curious about your lifestyles. At the Christmas party and after a few cocktails, I decided it would be fun to try wearing a cast, something I always thought required an injury."
 
 
"After Jose and I got our casts applied, we really liked how they felt and how they spiced things up, if you know what I mean. At that point, it seemed like that would be our one and only cast adventure; we simply wanted to know what it was like. Then, with all of you talking about this trip, we decided to try casting once again. We ordered supplies, and Jose put me in my casts and this neck brace we got on eBay. It was his first time applying casts; he did pretty well, but two of my casts didn't fit right."
 
 
Jose interjects:
 
 
"I felt so bad that the casts I made for Rose were uncomfortable, despite how much she enjoyed wearing them. So, as you know, we got some instructions from experts last night. Rose had her casts removed, and she and Rita applied my LLC, and I love how it feels. Then, I helped Gary get Rosie into her new casts, and they feel great, don't they, sweetie?
 
 
"Yes, they're heavenly," replied Rose. "After my casts were dry, we got talking about orthodontic braces. Jose and I have almost perfect teeth, but we wondered what we would look like wearing braces. Stan took our pictures, played around with his laptop, and modified the picture by placing brackets on our teeth; we both thought we looked great with braces. At this point, Sally spoke up and said, "If you two want to wear braces, you can, right now." Let me go get my little bag of tricks from my cabin." Jose and I were a bit tipsy at this point, and we happily agreed to have Sally apply braces to our teeth. She told us to go brush and floss while she went to get her 'bag of tricks'.
 
 
"Sally soon returned with her bag, and I sat down in a recliner and leaned back. Gary brought over a lamp, and Sally began applying the brackets to my teeth. She said they were an old style from a stash of salesman's samples she found in the storeroom. She cleaned and dried each of my teeth, applied cement, placed the bracket, and cured the cement with a blue light. Soon all my teeth had brackets on them, and she secured soft archwires to them with these cute little pink rubber bands. It took no time at all, and soon Sally was all done. I sat up and smiled at Jose, and he said, "Oh, Rosie, you look amazing with braces. I love your smile!" Since we didn't' have a mirror handy, he took my picture on his phone and showed it to me. Damn, I looked great with my metallic smile."
 
 
"With Rosie looking so good, I was anxious to get my braces applied," Jose said. "I sat down and reclined back, and the process was repeated in my mouth. I got the same brackets as Rose, but I chose blue bands. Rose took my picture so I could see my new smile, and I loved it! I got up and gave Rosie a long, passionate kiss, and we explored all the metal we now had in our mouths."
 
 
Sally then said, "Remember what I told you guys. I wasn't able to properly prepare your teeth for your brackets, so they'll probably pop loose in a few weeks. If you really like wearing braces, then make an appointment, and Joe will put them on for real and correct your minor bite problems, or you can simply have them removed. It's up to you."
 
 
Rose excitedly said, "I want to keep my braces and fix those teeth you noticed were crooked; I want to wear braces for real!"
 
 
"I think I want to be a brace face, too," said Jose. "I never realized that my bite was off since my front teeth are so straight. I don't want jaw problems later in life."
 
 
With Rose and Jose enjoying their braces, several of us decided to begin preparation for Kathy and Lydia's wedding tomorrow. Jimmy and Judy headed off to the shooting range, and all the guys and Lydia went fishing. Then us girls went to the spare room to prepare the wedding dresses.
 
 
None of us had seen the gowns that Kathy, Collene, and Judy had selected. When we unboxed them and hung them up, all I could say was that they were beautiful. The sisters have matching gowns, and Kathy's was made to fit around the uprights of her halo traction brace. We haven't seen all of her brace yet, but we will tomorrow morning when we help her get dressed.
 
 
The other couples are having very simple ceremonies, but Sam and Millie are doing something a little different. They plan to wear their braces and roller skates for their otherwise simple ceremony. They'll be quite the sight, with the girls skating down the aisle. They are both going to be brides, whereas Lydia will be Kathy's groom.
 
 
Rita had been carrying a bag with her all morning, and she finally showed us what was in it. She had crafted several pairs of white SATS braces for Kathy, Collene, and Judy. They were intricately decorated, like the ones she made for Rebekah and me for our wedding. They are absolutely beautiful, and Kathy was overjoyed. I know that Collene and Judy will love theirs, too.
 
 
Time had gotten away from us, and all of a sudden all our phones buzzed with an incoming text message. It was from Collene, and it stated, "Hi there, everyone! We just saw Sarah off on her journey back home. We're going to rest for a while, then let's meet up at our lodge at four. I have quite the story to tell!"
 
 
With that, the guys soon arrived back at the lodge, and we all went to get ready for dinner and to hear Collene's story.
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #38 on: 15. June 2024, 05:57:30 AM »
Chapter 137 A – Collene's Story
 
By: NapaCaster


Chapter 137A shows Collene telling her story. In the next chapter, it will be Sarah's point of view, in the words of her creator.
 

Collene is in the lodge, telling her story to her friends:
 

Yesterday morning, I went to the lodge to have a hot chocolate and relax by the big fireplace. After ordering my drink, I saw a woman sitting alone in a wheelchair. There was something different about the outline of her legs, and I thought she was wearing two prosthetic legs. When I approached her, she began to look nervous, even afraid. She looked at me from head to toe; maybe she was looking at my braces. I sat down opposite her and introduced myself.
 

"Hi, I'm Collene."
 

The woman looked to be around 30 years old; she was wearing a sweatshirt, and her pants had a different contour at the knees; they were definitely prosthetic legs. She had a slightly distant look and was holding a mug of hot chocolate with both hands. She extended her hand in greeting.
 

"Hello! I'm Sarah!" 
 

C - "You look a bit lonely, Sarah. Can I keep you company?
 

S - Sure, make yourself at home, Collene.
 

It seemed that, at the same time, she wanted to talk and didn't want to talk, so I said:
 

C - It's beautiful here, isn't it? Especially with the snow we got last night.
 

S - Yeah... Very beautiful.
 

C - I love it here. I'm visiting with friends and my fiancé, who will be my husband in a few days' time. We're getting married here.
 

S - How wonderful. Congratulations, Collene! I can feel your happiness. Once again, congratulations!
 

C - Thanks! So, what brings you here, Sarah?"
 

S - It was suggested by a friend and the rehabilitation center. I recently lost both of my... I'm sorry... It's still difficult for me!
 

C - It's okay, Sarah; don't feel embarrassed. When you're ready to talk, I'll listen!
 

S - Thanks!
 

C - This is a beautiful place, and I feel at home here.
 

We talked for about an hour, and Sarah seemed to open up a bit. She never talked about how she lost her legs or anything about her personal or professional life. I didn't press her; I could tell that Sarah was still dealing with a lot of emotions. I had felt so bad seeing her sitting there alone, looking helpless, and I just had to talk to her. I told her about where Billy and I work; it seems like Sarah was waiting for this moment, and she wasted no time.
 

S - If you don't mind me asking, Collene, why do you have to wear braces on your legs and back?
 

C - When I was a girl, I lived abroad and contracted polio. My younger sister was here in the United States visiting our grandparents and was spared.
 

S- Polio, someone as young as you?" That's very rare, but I've worked in places where it was still quite common.
 

C - I know. Few people my age have had it, and I've had it very badly. But that was a long time ago, and I'm used to wearing my braces. I'm even used to people asking questions and looking at me; you must know how it is. But with our good looks, we'd get stares anyway.
 

Sarah smiled, showing her perfectly aligned teeth, and then she laughed—something she hadn't done for a long time. She seemed like another different person.
 

S - It's been a long time since I've had a good laugh, Collene... I'll tell you something: will you come to lunch with me? I'm really enjoying your company.
 

I got up, and Sarah followed right behind in her wheelchair. We went to the cafe, where we had a wonderful meal together. It was just a casual chat, but it seemed like it had been a long time since Sarah had talked about anything with a friend. After lunch, we went to sit by the fire again.
 

C - So, Sarah, what are your hobbies? Billy and I spend most of our time working in the orthotics shop. However, we do find time to travel in our bus, and I do a lot of target practice at my friend Leigh's house. Her husband built her a great indoor pistol range.
 

S - I don't really have any hobbies; my job was my life before... Traveling by bus sounds amazing. Your house may be small, but your backyard is the world! I don't have much experience with firearms, but I think it would be cool.
 

C - "Cool"? You have to try it. I'm sure you'll feel lighter and more relaxed after a few shots. I'm sure you'll find it more than "cool"!
 

S- You have a magical way of talking to people, Collene. I'm in the mood now.
 

C - Someday you could visit us and we could shoot together. That would be great!
 

S - Maybe so, Collene. Someday.
 

It was then that I saw Billy walking towards us on his crutches. He was wearing his KAFOs and Milwaukee brace which are just like mine.
 

B - Hello, Collie. It looks like you've made a new friend.
 

I introduced Billy and Sarah, and she got a very curious look on her face. Seeing Billy in his braces, she asked:
 

S - So Billy, did you have polio like Collene?

 
B –No, I didn't. I don't know if Collene told you about our work, but we make braces and prostheses. I made these braces for myself, and I'm wearing them for a week to experience a bit of what Collene's life is like.
 

S - So you don't have to wear them?
 

B - That's right, Sarah. I'm just seeing what it's like for Collie. I'm 100% physically fit.
 

S -I understand, and it makes a lot of sense to me since you work with them, too. Understanding the needs, the adjustments, and knowing how to respond to someone who needs them and how they feel. But I can see a bit of satisfaction on your face; I'd say you enjoy wearing them, am I right?
 

C - You're very good at reading people; I'm impressed.
 

B - You're right about everything, Sarah. Does it bother you? I mean, me liking to wear braces and also being engaged to Collene?
 

S - Not at all, Billy; the important thing is that you're happy, and especially that Collene is happy. I can see that you two are very much in love.
 

C - We are, and thank you, Sarah. Most people don't understand our love.
 

S - In rehab, they told me about pretenders and devotees. But I still can't form any thoughts about it.
 

B - Well, maybe I am both. The first things that attracted me to Collie were her smile, her long red hair, and her leg braces. I was studying engineering at the time and knew nothing about the trade I'm in now. She didn't have braces on her teeth or her back at the time. In fact, her teeth were perfect until she got her back brace. That ruined her teeth, and now she wears orthodontic braces, too. I had mine when we met, and she thinks they're cute.
 

C - Billy is a great guy, and we're madly in love. In fact, there are two types of devotees: those who are only attracted to a girl's disability and those like Billy, where disability is just one of the many things he finds attractive. It's no different from being attracted to a girl with glasses, a specific hair color, or a certain physique. Actually, of my physical features, my long hair is what turns Billy on the most, isn't it?
 

B - Yes, it is. I love girls with long hair, and when it's red, it drives me crazy. I loved her smile, too, and I love it even more since she got braces. I love Collene for many reasons, and if, by a miracle, she didn't need her braces anymore and even if her hair fell out, I'd still love her as much as I do now!
 

S- I've never been told about this aspect of devotees. I think I understand, but there's a lot for me to try to understand these days.
 

C - We have a friend here with us with whom you have something in common. Would you like to meet him?
 

S - Well, I think so. I'd like to meet your friend."
 

I picked up the phone and called Pat. He said he was nearby and would meet us. We chatted a bit more with Sarah before Pat arrived. Pat came up to us in his wheelchair; he was not wearing his legs this afternoon. I introduced him to Sarah, and Pat introduced himself:
 

P - Nice to meet you, Sarah.
 

S - Nice to meet you, Pat. I see we're in the same... situation.
 

P - Yes, it looks like we are, Sarah. I lost my legs as a child. What's your story?
 

Suddenly, Sarah became serious, and her smile disappeared. I looked at Pat and shook my head as best I could with my Milwaukee brace. I think Sarah noticed, and Pat quickly changed the subject.
 

P - I mean, what brings you to Kings Mountain Retreat? It's a great place, and my husband,Terry, and I have been here before. What's your favorite thing to do here? On snowy or rainy nights, we love to sit by the fire and watch the snow and rain fall outside. When it's clear, we wrap up warm and go stargazing.
 

S - Sitting by the fire is all I've been doing, alone with my thoughts—so many thoughts. Ah, the other night I went out on deck and watched the meteor shower. Did you and Terry see that?
 

P - Yes, we did. We were still at home then, and it was beautiful, wasn't it, Sarah?
 

S - It was nothing like I've ever seen.
 

We all talked for a few more hours, and then Terry joined us. Sarah was interested in Terry's business and mentioned various vehicles that only he and Sarah knew about. It gave me the impression that Sarah had traveled the world, but I don't know. Even after hours of conversation, none of us really knew anything about her.
 

Often, Sarah would start to tell us something interesting and then stop abruptly. Terry suggested that we all have dinner together, and we went to the steakhouse. After dinner, we went to the lounge for a few drinks, and things got a bit heated between Pat and Sarah as we prepared to part for the evening.
 

P - If you want to talk about your, um, situation, I'm here to help you, Sarah. I volunteer at the VA hospital and have helped many people through difficult life transitions. Unlike all the social workers and councilors, I know what it's like.
 

S - No, you don't, Pat! You lost your legs as a child. You don't know what it's like at all! My career is over. I have no future. Everything is gone; I have nothing! I could walk, run, and serve my country a year ago. Now I have nothing. I'm a useless cripple!
 

P - You're right on one point, Sarah. I don't know what it's like to lose your legs as an adult with a career and a future planned. You're wrong about everything else. Your life isn't over yet, and you have a future—a bright future, if you choose to make it so.
 

S - But I'm stuck in this fucking chair. I can't do a fucking thing!
 

P - You have prosthetic legs. You can get out of that fucking chair and walk around if you want to! I bet you can walk as well as I can when I use my legs. I'll tell you what, Sarah; tomorrow morning I'll put my legs on and I'll meet you at your cabin. We'll walk to the lodge together and have breakfast, just you and me. Then we'll spend the day with Terry, Collene, and Billy before you have to leave. What do you think of that, Sarah?
 

S - I don't know, Pat. I don't know if I can do it. It's so...
 

P - Sarah, you can, and you will. You must do it! Even if you decide never to get out of that damn chair again, at least you can say you did it once! Your life isn't over; it's just beginning.
 

S - I'm sorry, Pat. I'm sorry for shouting. You're right. I'm in cabin 45, and I'll see you at seven. I hope you're an early riser.
 

P - I am, and I'll see you then, Sarah.
 

During this exchange, we just sat in silence while Pat showed tough love to a stranger, who seemed to accept it. We all accompanied Sarah to her cabin and said goodnight, and I gave her a hug. Sarah pulled away first, then pulled me tight and simply said,
 

S - Thank you, Collene, my friend!
 

C - See you tomorrow; good night, my friend!
 

The next morning, Pat met Sarah for breakfast, and she kept her word. Sarah and Pat walked together to the lodge and enjoyed their meal. Pat called Terry and me, and we met up with him and Sarah by the fire. Sarah seemed more confident and optimistic, smiling and even laughing at times. We walked her to her cabin, as she wanted to get back into her wheelchair since her stumps were sore from walking.
 

At least Sarah got up and walked with Pat, proving to herself that she could, and she did very well, even walking a short distance without her crutches. We helped her pack, then sat outside and watched the clouds drift past. Finally, it was time for Sarah to leave, and we said goodbye to her, but not before exchanging phone numbers. I hope we have the privilege of visiting with her again.
 

Sarah - Thank you!

__________
 
This and the next chapter are a collaboration with JotaBsp. You may already know Sarah from the story ‘Mission: Almost Impossible’, where she mentions her friends Pat and Collene. Otherwise, take the time to read this exciting, action-packed story.
 

 
Leigh is slow in telling her story; the events in these chapters occurred long before 'Mission:Almost Impossible', when Sarah was still recovering both physically and emotionally from the trauma of losing her legs.



Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #39 on: 15. June 2024, 06:02:22 AM »
Chapter 137 B – Sarah's Story
 
By: JotaBsp


It was a cold morning at the resort, just like the previous ones. With two blankets and a thick comforter plus the heater, Sarah started to sweat. She removed the covers and rubbed her eyes. Sarah was wearing a simple short-sleeved T-shirt and elastic shorts; her recent stumps were showing, but Sarah still refused to look at them. She sits up in bed, her hair messy, and her first thoughts of the day come without warning:


*Come on, girl, we didn't come all this way to be stuck in this cabin.*
*We have to go out; we have to meet people.*
*I hate these stupid stumps; no one will care about us.*
*Stop it; this is you now. Let's face the world.*
*Get out of this bed. Now!*
 

Right, time to meet people... Go Sarah!
 

Encouraging herself to get out of bed, Sarah transfers to her wheelchair and grabs some clothes and her towel. In the bathroom, she lets the water run hot while she sorts out her shampoo and cream kit. After a quick, invigorating shower, she dries herself off and uses the hairdryer that was available. Returning to the bedroom, she slips her panties over her stumps and puts on a bra and a white shirt. On the opposite side of the bed, she takes the prosthetic legs. First, she puts on a silicone liner and socks to protect her stumps. After putting on one prosthetic at a time, she pulls on the baggy pants and a hooded sweatshirt.
 

*Alright, we're ready to rock!*
*Calm down, girl; don't expose yourself too much; be alert.*
*You've been in worse situations; this is no time to be afraid!*
*The pants are perfect; no one will notice the prostheses.*
*Go girl!*
 

Following her train of thought, Sarah leaves her fully accessible cabin, and the cold air fills her lungs. Making her arms work, she rolls her wheelchair up to the lodge and passes several people who wish her a good morning. A boy on crutches holds the door open for Sarah to enter; she thanks him and gives him a smile, leaving the boy red-faced. There were quite a few people, maybe too many, but Sarah just focused on the hot chocolate they were serving, then rolled over to the fireplace.
 

*It seems like everyone is looking at me.*
*There are people with all types of disabilities here.*
*Don't worry, you're disabled too!*
*You should talk to them, girl!*
*We just left the cabin; that's great progress.*
 

Keeping her hand warm with the cup of hot chocolate and watching the fire, more thoughts arise:
 

*What if someone asks about my legs?*
*Relax, no one will realize they are prosthetics!*
*What if they ask personal questions—what do I do or where do I live?*
*Hey, my name is Sarah; I kill people. Now leave me alone!*
*A little rude, better not to respond like that!*
 

Sarah goes back to get another cup of hot chocolate to calm her nerves and her thoughts. She returns to the fireplace, in a spot where there is no one. Suddenly, Sarah hears the sound of crutches approaching. She turns around and sees a red-haired girl coming towards her.


*Shit, she's getting closer*
*Calm down, girl, breathe*
*What the fuck is that on her legs?*
*Be polite*
 

"Hi, I'm Collene." She extends her hand to Sarah.
 

"Hello! I'm Sarah!" They shake hands.
 

"You look a bit lonely, Sarah. Can I keep you company?" Collene smiles, showing her orthodontic braces.


*Why did she choose me?*
*Do I look so lonely?*
*Maybe she is!*
*It would be nice to talk to someone!*
 

"Sure, make yourself at home, Collene." Sarah smiles, showing her perfect white teeth without braces.
 

"It's beautiful here, isn't it? Especially with the snow we got last night." Collene brings up the subject.
 

"Yeah... Very beautiful." Sarah agrees; it was really beautiful.
 

"I love it here. I'm visiting with friends and my fiancé, who will be my husband in a few days' time. We're getting married here." Collene seemed to be very excited and anxious.
 

"How wonderful. Congratulations, Collene." Sarah smiles broadly. "I can feel your happiness! Once again, congratulations!
 

"Thanks!" Collene thanks her shyly. "So, what brings you here, Sarah?"
 

"It was suggested by a friend and the rehabilitation center. I recently lost both of my..."
 

*Fuck*
*Fuck*
*Fuck*


"...I'm sorry... It's still difficult for me!" Sarah hangs her head in shame.
 

"It's okay, Sarah; don't feel embarrassed. When you're ready to talk, I'll listen!" Collene tries to cheer Sarah up.
 

"Thanks!"
 

"This is a beautiful place, and I feel at home here." Collene tries to change the subject quickly.
 

The conversation lasted for another hour. Sarah was feeling very good with Collene; she is a very happy and intelligent young woman. Collene understood that Sarah was not yet ready to talk about her condition, so she decided not to insist. For Sarah, this was wonderful; she hated being pressured. Collene also talked about her fiancé Billy and their work, so Sarah saw an opportunity to ask a question she wanted to ask as soon as she saw Collene:
 

"If you don't mind me asking, Collene, why do you have to wear braces on your legs and back?" Sarah was curious.
 

"When I was a girl, I lived abroad and contracted polio. My younger sister was here in the United States visiting our grandparents and was spared." Collene responds, accustomed to the question.
 

"Polio, someone as young as you?" Sarah is surprised. However, she remembers missions she participated in in poor countries with scarce medical resources. "That's very rare, but I've worked in places where it was still quite common."
 

*Shit, control your tongue, girl! I don't think she understood.*
 

"I know. Few people my age have had it, and I've had it very badly. But that was a long time ago, and I'm used to wearing my braces. I'm even used to people asking questions and looking at me; you must know how it is. But with our good looks, we'd get stares anyway." Collene smiles and shows the braces on her teeth again.
 

This comment made Sarah smile and laugh a lot. Firstly, because it was true, Sarah received a lot of compliments, but her laugh had a hint of sarcasm, because now the only compliments she would receive would be out of politeness or pity.
 

*Poor girl, she's so pretty, but her legs are useless!*
*Collene is not in the best condition; she has braces on her legs and back.*
*Why are some people so curious while some who go out of their way to ignore people with disabilities?*
*Control yourself, girl; breathe.*
 

"It's been a long time since I've had a good laugh, Collene... I'll tell you something: will you come to lunch with me? I'm really enjoying your company." Sarah asks hopefully.
 

Collene accepted the invitation with joy. With great style and agility, Collene gets up, and using her crutches leads the way. Sarah was behind and observed Collene's careful and precise movements on her crutches while rolling in her wheelchair. Sarah was impressed. They had a very pleasant chat over lunch, talking about the resort, the guests, and the chalets. After lunch, they went to sit by the fire again.
 

"So, Sarah, what are your hobbies? Billy and I spend most of our time working in the orthotics shop. However, we do find time to travel in our bus, and I do a lot of target practice at my friend Leigh's house. Her husband built her a great indoor pistol range." Collene curiously says to try and learn more about Sarah.
 

*Damn, it's a trap. She's a spy; don't fall for it!*
*Be careful, girl; don't expose yourself.*
*Does she practice target shooting? I would love to see that.*
*Maybe I can put a happy face on her target.*
 

"I don't really have any hobbies; my job was my life before... Traveling by bus sounds amazing. Your house may be small, but your backyard is the world!" Sarah pauses to think about what to say about shooting. "I don't have much experience with firearms, but I think it would be cool."
 

"Cool"? You have to try it. I'm sure you'll feel lighter and more relaxed after a few shots. I'm sure you'll find it more than "cool"!" Collene looked like she wanted to go shooting at that moment.
 

"You have a magical way of talking to people, Collene. I'm in the mood now." Sarah really felt like shooting and showing off her skills.
 

*Yes, I could hit your crutches with a McMillan Tac-50 at a mile.*
*Calm down, girl! Don't draw attention, or it will be difficult to explain.*
*Shooting standing up with these prostheses, would I fall?*
*I'd better shoot sitting down!"*
 

"Someday you could visit us, and we could shoot together. That would be great!" Collene was really excited.
 

"Maybe so, Collene. Someday." Sarah responds without wanting to give hope.
 

Suddenly, Sarah hears the sound of crutches approaching. She looks to her left and notices the figure of a man next to her. He was wearing braces like Collene's; they looked very similar.
 

*Who is he?*
*Are they handing out braces?*
*Where do I get mine?*
*Be nice, girl.*
 

"Hello, Collie. It looks like you've made a new friend." Billy smiles at his fiancé. He even has braces on his teeth, too.
 

Collene introduced me to Billy, her fiancé. I won't lie, I was very curious.
 

"So, Billy, did you have polio like Collene?" Sarah asks curiously.
 

"No, I didn't. I don't know if Collene told you about our work, but we make braces and prostheses. I made these braces for myself, and I'm wearing them for a week to experience a bit of what Collene's life is like." Billy explains.
 

"So you don't have to wear them?" Sarah raises an eyebrow, and the gears in her head start to turn.
 

"That's right, Sarah. I'm just seeing what it's like for Collie. I'm 100% physically fit." Billy explains once again. Sarah's mind works hard.
 

*Why is a guy who doesn't need to use braces using them?*
*He seems to be enjoying it; suspicious.*
*I don't remember sitting in a wheelchair without needing it.*
*He seems like a nice guy; don't mess it up, girl.*
*Think, think, think.*
 

I understand, and it makes a lot of sense to me since you work with them, too. Understanding the needs, the adjustments, and knowing how to respond to someone who needs them and how they feel. But I can see a bit of satisfaction on your face; I'd say you enjoy wearing them, am I right?" Sarah does a thorough reading of Billy.
 

"You're very good at reading people; I'm impressed." Collene was really impressed.
 

"You're right about everything, Sarah. Does it bother you? I mean, me liking to wear braces and also being engaged to Collene?" Billy seemed a little worried about Sarah's response.
 

"Not at all, Billy; the important thing is that you're happy, and especially that Collene is happy. I can see that you two are very much in love." Sarah states with a big smile, reassuring the couple.
 

"We are, and thank you, Sarah. Most people don't understand our love." Collene thanks her, showing the metal bands on her teeth once again with a friendly smile.
 

*That's right, he's a pretender; I knew it!*
*Calm down; we don't know yet. Don't screw it up, girl!*
*Be subtle; calm down so you don't scare them.*
 

"In rehab, they told me about pretenders and devotees. But I still can't form any thoughts about it." Sarah was feeling good about being honest.
 

"Well, maybe I am both. The first things that attracted me to Collie were her smile, her long red hair, and her leg braces. I was studying engineering at the time and knew nothing about the trade I'm in now. She didn't have braces on her teeth or her back at the time. In fact, her teeth were perfect until she got her brack brace. That ruined her teeth, and now she wears orthodontic braces too. I had mine when we met, and she thinks they're cute." Billy explains. Sarah is surprised but doesn't show it.
 

"Billy is a great guy, and we're madly in love. In fact, there are two types of devotees: those who are only attracted to a girl's disability and those like Billy, where disability is just one of the many things he finds attractive. It's no different from being attracted to a girl with glasses, a specific hair color, or a certain physique. Actually, of my physical features, my long hair is what turns Billy on the most, isn't it?" Collene explains and smiles at Billy. Now it makes perfect sense to Sarah.
 

"Yes, it is. I love girls with long hair, and when it's red, it drives me crazy. I loved her smile, too, and I love it even more since she got braces. I love Collene for many reasons, and if, by a miracle, she didn't need her braces anymore and even if her hair fell out, I'd still love her as much as I do now!" Billy was completely in love with Collene. Sarah smiles as she remembers that she herself was like that years ago.
 

*Wow, this is awesome. They are very cool.*
*How would Billy feel if I were using the same braces as Collene?*
*Stop thinking about that girl!*
*Do they have sex with the devices on? But how?*
*STOP! Don't you dare ask that!*
 

"I've never been told about this aspect of devotees. I think I understand, but there's a lot for me to try to understand these days." Sarah was feeling grateful to understand more about devotees.
 

"We have a friend here with us with whom you have something in common. Would you like to meet him?" Collene asks, looking excited.
 

"Well, I think so. I'd like to meet your friend." Sarah was nervous for a minute about meeting more people.

 
*'Something in common,' she said.*
*Damn, we are not exclusive anymore.*
*We had a flight instructor with only one arm; is he here?*
*Is he a spy? Does he like rock n roll? SEALs?*
*Don't be anxious, girl.*

 
Collene pulled out her phone and made a call. When she hung up, she said he was close by and would meet us soon. We talked for a while, and I asked Billy more about his work and the making of braces and prosthetics. Collene asked me about my tastes in music and my favorite dishes. Suddenly, a man appeared next to Collene in his wheelchair with no legs, just two stumps covered by a pair of tailored jeans.
 

*Now I understand "something in common.*
*Damn, I'm not the only one anymore!*
 

Collene introduced us, and to my surprise, the man was very polite and friendly. The kind of person you always want around.
 

"Nice to meet you, Sarah." Pat holds out his hand.
 

"Nice to meet you, Pat. I see we're in the same... situation." Sarah stares at Pat's stumps.
 

"Yes, it looks like we are, Sarah. I lost my legs as a child. What's your story?" Pat asks curiously.
 

*Damn, why does everyone want to know?*
*Why don't you ask me if I really defused the bomb in the Eurotunnel and if it's true that the Prime Minister and even the Queen thanked me personally?*
*Only I'm seeing this, or is Collene trying to signal Pat?*

 
"I mean, what brings you to Kings Mountain Retreat? It's a great place, and my husband,Terry, and I have been here before. What's your favorite thing to do here? On snowy or rainy nights, we love to sit by the fire and watch the snow and rain fall outside. When it's clear, we wrap up warm and go stargazing." Pat changes the subject abruptly. Sarah feels relieved.

 
"Sitting by the fire is all I've been doing, alone with my thoughts—so many thoughts. Ah, the other night I went out on deck and watched the meteor shower. Did you and Terry see that?" Sarah asked, excited about what she saw.
 

"Yes, we did. We were still at home then, and it was beautiful, wasn't it, Sarah?" Pat also seemed excited.
 

"It was nothing like I've ever seen." It's been a long time since Sarah enjoyed these things—sitting back, relaxing, and appreciating the little things.
 

We chatted for a while longer, bringing Collene and Billy into the conversation. I laughed at some of Collene and Pat's stories; his high spirits were contagious. I chatted a bit more with Terry about cars and places while we watched each other curiously. I tried as hard as I could not to reveal anything about my old job or anything more personal, but I ended up saying a few things that would have been better left unsaid. I think Terry noticed, so he suggested we all have dinner together at a steakhouse. After dinner, we went to the lounge for a few drinks. Pat stopped next to me; we were almost two meters away from Terry, Collene, and Billy.
 

"If you want to talk about your, um, situation, I'm here to help you, Sarah. I volunteer at the VA hospital and have helped many people through difficult life transitions. Unlike all the social workers and councilors, I know what it's like." Pat moves closer to Sarah and extends his hand, touching Sarah's arm.
 

"No! No, you don't, Pat! You lost your legs as a child. You don't know what it's like at all! My career is over. I have no future. Everything is gone; I have nothing! I could walk, run, and serve my country a year ago. Now I have nothing. I'm a useless cripple!" Sarah releases all her accumulated emotions.
 

*Damn it!*
*Don't take your anger out on Pat; it's not his fault.*
*Damn it!*
*Stop crying now.*
 

"You're right on one point, Sarah. I don't know what it's like to lose your legs as an adult with a career and a future planned. You're wrong about everything else. Your life isn't over, and you have a future—a bright future, if you choose to make it so." Pat looks into Sarah's eyes."
 

"But I'm stuck in this fucking chair. I can't do a fucking thing!" Sarah feels her eyes burn and fill with tears.
 

"You have prosthetic legs. You can get out of that fucking chair and walk around if you want to! I bet you can walk as well as I can when I use my legs. I'll tell you what, Sarah; tomorrow morning I'll put my legs on and I'll meet you at your cabin. We'll walk to the lodge together and have breakfast, just you and me. Then we'll spend the day with Terry, Collene, and Billy before you have to leave. What do you think of that, Sarah?" Pat asks with a smile on his face.
 

"I don't know, Pat. I don't know if I can do it. It's so..." Sarah responds, depressed.
 

*Damn, we're going down.*
*Don't be a coward; Pat will help us.*
*Swallow that crying girl!*
 

"Sarah, you can, and you will. You must do it! Even if you decide never to get out of that damn chair again, at least you can say you did it once! Your life isn't over; it's just beginning." Pat encourages.
 

"I'm sorry, Pat. I'm sorry for shouting. You're right. I'm in cabin 45, and I'll see you at seven. I hope you're an early riser." Sarah still feels embarrassed.
 

"I am, and I'll see you then, Sarah." Pat smiles and gently shakes Sarah's hand.
 

I looked over, and everyone was staring at us—correction, at me! Everyone was silent, and I felt embarrassed. I wiped my tears with the end of my shirt. Pat put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a contagious smile, which made me smile too.
 

A few minutes later, everyone was walking me to my cabin, which was not far away. The night was cold, but I felt warm. Warmed by these people, who had become so important to me in such a short time. I would kill many if I had to just to keep them safe. Arriving at my cabin, Collene bent down to give me a long, strong hug. I pulled away at first, then pulled her in tightly, feeling the irons on her back. When the hug ended, I grabbed her brace to steady her as she stood up so she didn't fall as Billy handed Collene her crutches.
 

"Thank you, Collene, my friend!" Sarah thanks her with a smile and a tear running down her cheek.
 

"See you tomorrow; good night, my friend!" Collene says goodbye, wiping the tears from Sarah's face.
 

The next morning, Sarah woke up determined. After her morning routine, she stared at her prosthetic legs, then at her stumps as she massaged them.
 

*Alright stumps, you two have a chance; don't disappoint me.*
*I promise not to call you useless.*
*Damn, why am I talking to my stumps?*
*Stop; you're going to hurt them. Treat them with affection.*
*Fuck, I'm going crazy*
 

After putting on her prostheses, Sarah stands up. She staggers a little and feels dizzy, but the bad feeling passes. She hears a knock on the door, then Pat identifies himself, and Sarah walks to the door in small steps. As she opens the door, Pat gives her a wide smile, embarrassing Sarah, but she gives her another smile in response, almost as wide.
 

The walk to the lodge is slow; Pat shows no haste, and Sarah is impressed by his control and poise. Pat held Sarah a few times so she wouldn't fall. By some miracle, and thanks to Pat's help, Sarah made it to the lodge unscathed. After a small breakfast, Pat called Terry and Collene, who soon arrived to find them by the fire.
 

The group formed up again after a few hugs, and there was a lot of chatter. Everyone was excited, especially for Sarah, because they saw her making an effort to face her fears and accept herself as she is. Everyone was happy, Sarah laughed many times, and everyone admired her smile, not because it was beautiful but because it was a completely different Sarah from the day before. This was the Sarah they wanted.
 

Losing track of time, Sarah's stumps started to hurt. She asked to go back to her cabin so she could remove her sockets, massage her stumps, and sit in her wheelchair. Pat and Billy stood up promptly, and Terry helped Sarah to her feet. Collene smiled and showed off her braces, making Sarah smile and remember when she wore a small removable brace on her teeth.
 

Everyone went to cabin 45. Sarah sat in her wheelchair and took off her prostheses, then began packing her bags with Collene's help. Sarah was beginning to feel sad. Sad about leaving these incredible people. Sad about not being able to be with them anymore and sad about not smiling. But her friends were still there, and sadness gave way to hope. The hope of one day being able to meet them again.
 

Finally, it was time to leave. They exchanged phone numbers, laughed some more, and Pat challenged her to a race at their next meeting. Sarah hugged Pat as tears streamed down her face. Sarah thanked everyone and promised to see them all again.
 

"Thank you!" were Sarah's simple parting words.
 

Sarah feels stronger and more motivated, renewed, and ready to face her new life and the challenges that await her.
 
 
Sarah does, indeed, face many challenges when she accepts 'Mission:Almost Impossible'.
 
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #40 on: 19. June 2024, 06:09:32 AM »
Ch. 138 - Monday
 
This is the day that Kathy and Lydia have been waiting literally decades for; they are finally getting married. When their relationship began, two ladies getting married was an impossibility, but now it's a reality. The day is a beautiful mountain morning with a heavy dusting of snow on the ground and a bright, clear sky. The storm moved through quickly, leaving behind this winter wonderland.
 
We all began to gather in the lodge early; some of us arrived before the sun was even up. Snow did not pose a problem because the pathways are clear of snow since they are heated with geothermal energy. Everyone enjoyed coffee and pastries while chatting about Collene and Pat's new friend, Sarah. She is a mysterious young woman; we would all like to meet her someday and hopefully have her open up about her life. I bet she has seen and done more than any of us could imagine.
 
Since we had so much to do today, we had breakfast brought up from the main lodge. In fact, all the meals for today and Wednesday, when the sisters get married, will be catered. We enjoyed our meal, then it was time to get Lydia and Kathy ready to be married.
 
Sam, Millie, Pat, and Terry are going to be helping Lydia get ready, but first everyone wanted to see the extent of Kathy's special halo traction brace. We followed her to the spare room that is being used as a dressing room, and Kathy took off her baggy sweatshirt and pants, revealing her special brace. It is a magnificent piece of orthopedic artistry! There is a pelvic girdle just like on a Milwaukee brace, and it's made of heavy leather since it's meant to be worn for many, many months.
 
Extending from the pelvic girdle are four vertical uprights. They are contoured to follow the curves of Kathy's body, and at her shoulders, they extend straight up and parallel to each other. These uprights are tubular and very heavy in cross-section, with heavy reinforcements at the pelvic girdle. Kathy said that within these tubular uprights, there are very heavy coil springs that apply traction to her spine.
 
Kathy's halo ring is the one she has been wearing for well over six months now. As I think I mentioned, instead of the usual four pins, she now has a total of eight securing the ring to her skull. She said that getting all eight pins retorqued in one session is grueling, but the pain is well worth the pleasure her brace brings her and Lydia.
 
The rest of the apparatus attached to her halo ring is what you would expect, except that the vertical rods are not fixed in place in the tubes extending from her waist. They are pushed upwards by the powerful springs, applying the traction that Kathy so loves. The forces applied are at a maximum safe level, as determined by Ben, the orthopedic specialist. All of us wished we were in similar braces.
 
With everyone's curiosity about Kathy's impressive halo traction brace satisfied, it was time to get everyone dressed and ready for the wedding. Lydia and her entourage went to get her ready for the ceremony. I wonder what she will be wearing. Will it be feminine, masculine, or something in between? Even Kathy didn't know how Lydia planned to dress for their wedding. Rebekah, Emme, Rose, and I stayed with Kathy to help her get ready, and everyone else went to get ready and pass the time until the ceremony. Emme, being blind, and Rose in her casts can't do much to help, but their cheerful banter was greatly appreciated.
 
The first order of business was for Rebekah to do Kathy's nails. French tips will look great with her bespoke white patent leather SATS braces. Billy had not only made Kathy special thumb spica braces; he also made her KAFOs using the same leather with all the metal polished to a mirror-like shine. Once Kathy's nails were dry, we helped her put on her KAFOs and strappy wedge sandals that were attached to them. Then, it was on to her gown.
 
The other day, when we hung all the gowns, we really didn't pay attention to the intricate details of Kathy's gown. It's a rather modest wedding gown, about ankle-length with no train. The sleeves are the perfect length to show off her thumb spica braces, and it has a plunging neckline. Kathy could see that Rebekah and I were trying to figure out how it would fit over her halo brace. Kathy, walking in her KAFOs and wedge heels, came over and explained her specially tailored gown.
 
"Take a look here, girls," Kathy said. "See the small holes with stitching around them, and what looks like seams leading from each one to the neckline? Those are not seams, but they have Velcro and can open up to put around the uprights on my brace. I thought it was a really clever solution that the seamstress came up with, don't you?"
 
 
We were impressed with the design, and Emme got up and carefully used her cane to come over and 'look' at Kathy's gown with her hands and said, "I think I understand how this works, but I want to feel what it looks like when you're wearing it, Kathy." So, with that, Rebekah and I assisted Kathy into her beautiful wedding gown and thumb spica braces.
 
 
Kathy looked ravishing in her gown; Lydia will be very impressed. It fit perfectly around her halo brace, and the black parts of her brace starkly contrasted with the white of her gown. Emme felt the hard, cold metal where it came through the soft fabric of Kathy's gown and said she was excited to look at pictures after she regained her sight. Kathy really looked great, and she still needed her hair and makeup done, along with putting on her headgear.
 
 
Rebekah then had Kathy take a seat at the makeup table and put a smock over her lovely gown. Kathy wanted subtle makeup with a natural look, and Rebekah did a great job. The smock was removed, and Kathy's graying hair was styled with her long locks flowing down her back and her bangs curling around her halo ring. The last thing was her white facebow and headgear, which Rebekah carefully and lovingly fitted to Kathy's bands. Kathy stood up, grabbed her white crutches, and struck several poses, and I took pictures. She looked amazing!
 
 
Now it was time for me, as matron of honor, to get into my dress. The girls never let me see my dress when they were unpacking it the other day. I figured it would be pink or purple since Kathy had asked me to wear my pink and purple braces and headgear today. Rebekah got my dress out of the closet, and I was right; it was pink with purple trim to match my braces and the high, wedge-heeled Mary Janes I was wearing. The neckline was fairly low front and back to allow my Milwaukee brace to show, as Kathy knows I like my brace to be seen.
 
 
I removed my robe, and Rebekah helped me into my dress. It was the same length as Kathy's gown and fit me perfectly. Kathy was very pleased with how I looked, and I was too. Rebekah did my subtle makeup and styled my hair into a long ponytail with curly bangs. I was glad I matched my shoes, glasses, crutches, and headgear to my Milwaukee-HKAFO; everything looked great together. Kathy came over to me, and we hugged while she thanked me for being her friend. Tears of joy flowed from our eyes.
 
 
With Kathy and I all dressed and made up, Rebekah said she needed to go do Lydia's makeup. She would see us at the chapel later, but said to call if we needed anything. Kathy, Emme, Rose, and I just sat and had a quiet conversation, then we heard a knock on the door. Kathy said to come in, and it was Collene and Judy. They were very impressed with how Kathy and I looked, and they hoped they would look as ravishing in their matching gowns as Kathy does in hers. After a bit more conversation, it was time to go to the chapel, so we called for a jitney to give us a ride.
 
 
When we arrived, our friends were gathering, and everyone was in a lighthearted mood. We went to have a chat with the minister, where we were soon joined by Pat. He was wearing his legs and was going to walk Kathy down the aisle. If it weren't for his long trousers, one would never know he's a double amputee. A little while later, Terry arrived; he's Lydia's best man, and he said that everyone was here and ready for the ceremony to begin.
 
 
Kathy, Pat, and I went to take our places, and Terry went to join Lydia. We could hear the gathered crowd quieting down as Lydia made her way to the altar, followed by Terry. Then I made my way down the aisle, followed by Pat escorting Kathy. I could tell that both ladies were amazed by each others beauty and style.
 
 
Now, let me stop for a moment and tell you about Lydia. She was wearing a tuxedo with a tailcoat that was tailored for a perfect fit. Lydia was wearing all blue braces, and the collars of both her shirt and coat were not stretched or strained by her Kuehnegger brace. Her blue bow tie was also a perfect fit; nothing was too tight around her bulky spinal brace. Her pant legs ended above the bottom ankle cuff of her KAFOs, and she was wearing wedge sandals just like Kathy's but in blue to match her accessories. Her crutches, headgear, and nails were also all blue. Lydia's hair was spiky, and she wore little makeup except for her bright red lips, which contrasted with her blue facebow and headgear straps. Lydia looked amazing, and I really loved her style.
 
 
The minister said a few words, and the wedding ceremony got under way. It was short, and soon rings were being exchanged. Upon hearing the words "You may kiss the bride," the ladies quickly but carefully removed each others headgear. Kathy's was handed to me, and Lydia's to Terry, before the newlyweds kissed—a long, passionate kiss. We all knew of the challenges their relationship had faced, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house as the ladies hugged and kissed. When the kiss broke off, the ladies lovingly replaced each others headgear.
 
 
Pictures were now taken, and we went outside to take a few more. During the ceremony, it began to snow, and Lydia's outfit looked quite striking against the background of white. It was cold, so only a few pictures were taken before we got on the jitneys to take us to the main lodge for drinks and dinner.
 
 
Kathy had arranged for a private room for the reception, where we will be returning on Wednesday after the sisters get married. We were all having a great time, with some couples spending time by the big fireplace in the lobby area. As I was talking to Sam and Millie, Kathy, Lydia, Pat, and Terry approached. They wanted to tell Sam and Millie how lucky they are that they grew up in a world where love like theirs is generally accepted, and they never knew the level of oppression they faced. The girls expressed thanks for growing up in a world where their love is accepted.
 
 
Just as dinner was about to be served, there was a commotion over by the fireplace, and several of us went out to see what happened. Emme was lying on the floor, tears flowing from her milky white eyes, and she was holding her left wrist. Two men helped her to her feet and guided her to a chair so she could sit while Rebekah went to get Ben and Pete.
 
 
When Ben arrived, he asked what happened. "I think I broke my wrist, Ben," Emme tearfully said. "I was trying to go sit by the fire, following the warmth, and not using my cane properly. I tripped on something and fell, catching myself with my left hand. I think it's broken; it hurts so bad!"
 
 
Ben said, "It will be OK, Emme. I'll take you to the hospital in town; I have privileges there."
 
 
"What about my eyes and my braces? I need to take out my contacts and remove my braces; people will ask about them," a worried Emme replied.
 
 
Ben said, "Don't worry, Emme, you can wear them. No one will ask since you are with me."
 
 
"Yes, I want to keep wearing them." Emme said with a slight smile.
 
 
Millie gave Emme a bag of ice, and Jose fashioned a sling from a towel while Ben went to get his car. Pete guided the broken, blind, and braced Emme outside to await Ben.
 
 
The mood turned quite somber. All of us love wearing casts and braces, but for pleasure only; none of us wish a real injury upon anyone. We ate our dinner, and then we made our way back to our private lodge. Once there, we had a quiet conversation and awaited word for Ben, Pete, or Emme. It was past midnight, and we were all getting ready to return to our cabins when we all got a text from Pete.
 
 
"I know you're all up waiting for word on Emme; she will be just fine. X-rays revealed that she had fractured her scaphoid and ulna, and Ben placed Emme in a splint. The slight swelling is already going down, and she is not in too much pain now. Emme's spirits are high at the prospect of needing to wear a cast for the next few months. We're getting ready to get a bite to eat before heading back to the resort. Don't worry, and don't wait up for us; we'll see you all at breakfast."
 
With that news, we all congratulated Kathy and Lydia once more and were relieved that Emme's injury is relatively minor and that she will get to enjoy a medical cast for several months. We then made our way to our cabins, with Gary and Rita assisting the heavily braced Jackie.
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #41 on: 19. June 2024, 06:10:14 AM »
Ch. 139 - Tuesday
 
Joel and I were up early as usual this morning, and he released me from the body brace that I sleep in. I didn't get up, but rather just laid there in the back half of my brace while Joel went to make coffee. He soon returned with a cup of coffee for each of us and helped me sit up in bed. We enjoyed our hot drink, then Joel removed the Kuehnegger brace that he had slept in, placed me in my wheelchair, and wheeled me to the bathroom. He emptied my catheter bag, and then I brushed my teeth and cleaned my appliances before we took a shower together. I would have liked to have a soak in the tub, but that is not advised when one has a catheter.
 
After our shower, we got dried off and returned to the bedroom. Joel helped me into the braces I usually wear on a daily basis, my basic brown ones with a pair of matching Mary Janes. It was snowing again this morning, so I chose a long gray wool skirt, a white long-sleeved blouse, and a sweater to match my skirt. I placed my plain metal double facebows into my mouth, and Joel helped me with my black interlandi headgear. Then he put on his KAFOs with a pair of boots attached and his Kuehnegger brace. A black kilt and a long-sleeve flannel shirt completed his casual outfit. We heard Rebekah and Paul stirring, and we went out to join them for another cup of coffee.
 
Rebekah and Paul were dressed similarly to us. The weddings we're attending today will be short and casual, unlike the ceremony yesterday and tomorrow's joint wedding of the sisters and their wonderful fiances. Over coffee, we discussed the accident that Emme had last night, which is something we all fear: being injured while wearing casts of braces we can't remove or explain away. We were glad Ben had let us know that Emme was doing well so we could all get a restful night's sleep, free from worry about our dear friend. Paul looked at the clock and said, "It's almost eight; isn't that when Sam and Millie asked us to arrive for breakfast?" It was, so we headed to our private lodge with Rebekah and me using our manual wheelchairs and wearing the fingerless gloves that we love wearing while wheeling around.
 
When we arrived at our lodge, Sam and Millie were in the kitchen wearing their Milwaukee braces and KAFOs with their roller skates. Those crazy girls were cooking breakfast on skates! Annie, Sally, and Jose were helping in the kitchen. The aroma was wonderful, but there were several people missing. Rebekah asked Jackie, who was still in her tongue-controlled power chair and her full compliment of braces immobilizing her body, where Ben, Emme, and Pete were. Jackie replied, "They will be here soon. Pete and Emme arrived at our cabin just as we were getting ready to leave. Emme wanted Ben to check her fractured wrist; they will be here soon."
 
Well, speak of the devil. Just as those words came out of Jackie's mouth, the front door opened, and Emme walked in. She was carefully scanning the ground with her cane, still wearing all her braces and blinding contacts, but with the addition of a large splint on her left arm that was in a sling. Emme greeted us warmly, as she always does, and didn't seem to be bothered or upset about her broken wrist. Ben and Pete followed Emme, who was moving around a bit more carefully and making a wider sweep with her cane than before. Pat, who was in his wheelchair today, wheeled over and guided Emme to a chair by the fire. Emme smiled and said, "Let me tell you about everything that happened last night."
 
"OK, so it took about an hour to drive to the hospital. The ice that Millie got me kept the swelling to a minimum, and by the time we got to the hospital, the pain had greatly diminished. Since my pain wasn't too bad and there was no deformity, Ben thought I had simply sprained my wrist, but we decided it was best to get things checked out since we came all this way."
 
"Once at the ER, which was devoid of any patients, Ben went to talk to the admission nurse whom he knew. I told Pete how nervous I was to be in the emergency room wearing leg and back braces and contact lenses that rendered me blind. He told me not to worry; Ben would deal with everything, and he was right. Soon I could hear Ben approaching; his hard-soled shoes sounded like high heels. I heard him say to someone, likely the nurse, 'She has two preexisting conditions, paralytic scoliosis and Fuchs' dystrophy, but that's not why we're here. Emme took a fall and either sprained or fractured her wrist.' "
 
"Ben then introduced Pete and me to the nurse, Donna, who said, 'Hi Emme. We'll get you fixed up; everything will be OK. Ben wants some X-rays of that wrist of yours, so let's go.' I stood up, Donna helped me into a wheelchair, and she began to swiftly push me along. I couldn't see, so I had no idea of my surroundings. When we arrived at the X-ray room, a man named Dave said he would be taking care of me. He got me in position and took X-rays, then wheeled me to the cast room where Pete and Ben were waiting."
 
"Once in the cast room, Ben and another doctor, Shawn, whom he was acquainted with, took a look at the images on the computer, and Ben said, 'Well, Emme, you fractured your scaphoid and ulna, and you'll be in a series of casts for some time. Let's get you into a splint for the night, and maybe you can get a cast tomorrow evening if there is no swelling.' I knew what this meant: I would be wearing a LATS for several months, then maybe a SATS for a while longer. Most people would be upset, but I was really excited! The entire evening was exciting, especially being without my sight."
 
"Ben and Shawn then proceeded to put me into this big splint. It has a plaster slab, which was very warm as it set, that goes all the way to my armpit. At my hand, part of it goes around my thumb, and the rest is under my fingers. Then my arm, hand, and thumb were wrapped with elastic bandages, and my arm was put in a sling."
 
"Shawn then said to Ben, "Don't worry about anything. You have done so much for our trauma department, providing training and equipment. Consider tonight a professional courtesy. Say, you have better grab some plaster bandages if you plan to cast her at the resort.' Shawn packed Ben a box of supplies for my cast, and we were on our way, and my wrist felt great in it's cozy splint."
 
I think we were all jealous of Emme. She gets to wear a big plaster cast for many weeks for a real injury that is not all that painful. No, I don't think we're all jealous; I know we're all jealous!
 
With Emme's story told, we went to enjoy our breakfast. After we all ate, the couples that are getting married today went to get ready. The ceremonies today will be quick and casual, more like a civil service, but with everyone in casts, braces, or some combination thereof. Emme, with her splinted arm resting comfortably in its sling, along with Kathy, Lydia, Rebekah, and myself, are going to help Sam and Millie get ready. With the girls still wearing their KAFOs and roller skates, we made our way to their cabin to get them ready.
 
Despite the chilly air outside, the girls still wanted to wear their cute little dresses. Their dresses were simple white A-line dresses that are rather low-cut in the front and back. The girls quickly changed into their dresses, and they looked great, especially with their splints in their mouths and double facebow interlandi headgear. Their thumb spica braces only added to the allure of these very beautiful and heavily braced young ladies. We then all got bundled up in our heavy jackets and made our way to the chapel.
 
Once there, all the others came trickling in. Lydia was in her Milwaukee brace today and KAFOs with flat shoes, and she says she really loves how it feels to wear her braces. This was her first time in her Milwaukee brace other than at the fitting session, and she really likes it. Lydia sure looked good wearing it too, and I was pleased she was enjoying all her braces.
 
Finally, everyone was here, and Millie skated off to talk with the minister, along with the other two couples getting married. The room was humming with pleasant banter when the minister approached the altar, and the room became silent. Then Sally, in her hot pink Minerva cast and mouthful of metal, and Stan, with his bands glistening in the light, entered. The minister said a few words, then the ceremony began. It only lasted a few minutes before rings were exchanged and the bride was kissed. Everyone applauded, and then the newlywed couple took a seat among their friends.
 
Now, the next couple, Annie and Charlie, entered. As you recall, they are both in shoulder-spica Minerva casts, with their left arms held out in front of them. They were all smiles, and the metal on their teeth caught the light and sparkled like diamonds as they approached the minister with their heads held high and proud by their casts.
 
Their ceremony, like Sally and Stan's, was short, like a civil service. It was fun watching the couple try to place the rings on each other's fingers with both their arms and heads held firmly in place by their casts. It was a bit awkward, as was their kiss. Their large casts banged together as they embraced and kissed, bringing a bit of laughter from all of us watching.
 
Sally and Stan took a seat, and with everyone once again settled, Sam and Millie were the final couple to tie the knot today. They entered the chapel together from the back of the room and skated up to the altar, putting on a bit of a show of their braced skating abilities. With the large splints in their mouths, their speech was very lispy and slurred. You would think by now they would speak more normally, but I don't think they even try; they love their lisps.
 
The ceremony began, and during the exchange of vows, we all learned something about the girls. They used their given names, Millicent and Samularia, the meanings of which fit their personalities. The girls exchanged rings, then kissed without removing their headgear. Somehow they managed, with their facebows disappearing between their lips as Millie dipped Sam back for a long, passionate kiss. The girls then skated over to Kathy, Lydia, Pat, and Terry to thank them for all their generation had done, so a marriage like theirs is possible today. Then, the girls skated over to Annie and Charlie and pulled out the marking pens they had hidden in their thumb spica braces. They wrote "Just Married" on the fiberglass on the backs of their hands with an arrow pointing to their wedding rings.
 
Everyone mingled for a while, then Sally suggested that we all go to the main lodge and pick up where we left off last night after Emme was injured; her accident dampened the mood for Kathy and Lydia's celebration. The minister called for several jitneys to come get us, and as we waited, we got bundled up in our winter coats.
 
While waiting, Ben partially unwrapped the elastic bandage holding the splint in place on Emme's arm. He then pushed and prodded her wrist, and she let out a little cry of pain at one point. He rewrapped the bandage and said, "Everything looks good, Emme. I could put you in a cast this afternoon. However, it's going to be a plaster cast so I can mold it snugly to your arm and hand; it will need some time to dry fully. I think it's best to keep you in your splint until tomorrow morning. Tomorrow will be a laid-back day with Collene and Judy getting married, and your cast will be pretty well hardened by the time of their reception tomorrow evening. Is that OK, Emme?"
 
Emme said she is very excited to get her cast applied—a cast she really needs to wear for some time to come, not just something for fun. The jitneys arrived, and we headed to the main lodge for an afternoon and evening of fun, picking up where we left off last night.
 
We all had a wonderful evening, and we all spent a lot of time in the game room. Rebekah and I spent some time at the pool table, which is a real challenge when you're braced up like we are. Annie and Charlie had a great time dancing in their casts, and Emme enjoyed dancing with Pete despite her cumbersome splint, braces, and being completely blind. Sam and Millie put on a braced skate dance routine in the lobby, much to the enjoyment of friends and other guests alike. In a corner of the game room near the fireplace, there was a very serious poker game going on. I have never seen Joel, Paul, Stan, Ben, Gary, Lydia, and Rita looking so serious. Collene, Judy, Billy, and Jimmy were having a quiet conversation in the lounge, likely discussing their futures together.
 
All in all, it was a wonderful and relaxing evening. Everyone was enjoying great company in a beautiful location. There was an overall feeling of happiness and joy, with several very happy newlywed couples. We were all wearing the casts and braces we enjoy in a setting where we are the 'normal' ones, not the exception. The evening wound down, and we all headed back to our cabins for the night.
 
I was glad to be back in our cabin and have Joel help me get ready for bed and strap me into my full-body brace for the night. Tomorrow, I need to be up early to see Emme get her cast applied; I don't want to miss that!
 

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #42 on: 22. June 2024, 04:04:12 AM »
Ch. 140 - Wednesday

Everyone was up early in our cabin today, and just as we were sitting down for a cup of coffee, there was a knock at the door; it was Sam and Millie. The girls were without their headgear and thumb spica braces but were wearing their KAFOs and Milwaukee braces, crutching with their knees locked. The girls said their legs were tired from being on skates yesterday, and complete immobilization and support felt good. They joined us for coffee, and then all of us girls did morning exercises, something we had neglected for the last few days. While exercising, Millie said that Emme was very excited about getting her cast applied.
 
After exercising, Rebekah, Sam, Millie, and myself headed to our lodge; this is where Ben would apply Emme's cast. When we arrived, Emme was sitting in one of the recliners wearing all her braces and blinding contacts, supporting her splinted arm with her right hand. Emme heard us come in and was happy to 'see' us and expressed her excitement about getting her cast. Soon Ben arrived with a box of supplies, and he asked Sam and Millie to assist him with Emme's cast.
 
Sam had Emme stand up, and she placed plastic on the chair, then Emme sat back down. Millie spread a tarp on the floor while Sam, using only one crutch, went to fill a small pail with water. Ben arranged all the supplies on a table and said, "Are you ready for your cast, Emme?" Emme smiled widely, and with her facebow and bands glistening in the light from the fireplace, she replied, "Yes, I am, Ben! This will be fun; I get to wear a cast I actually need instead of one that's just for fun. The best thing is that I'm going to need to wear it for a long time. Getting a cast applied while blind will be a real thrill!"
 
"OK, Emme, let's get your arm in plaster. Remember what I said your cast will be like—a little different than what's the norm these days? I think the old ways are often better, and I want the best result for you." Ben said it with a warm smile on his face.
 
The first thing Ben did was carefully unwrap the elastic bandages from Emme's arm and remove her splint. Then Ben had Sam gently hold Emme's arm and hand, preventing them from moving, while he used several anti-bacterial wipes to clean Emme's arm. He said this helps prevent some of the itching that comes with wearing a cast. Cotton stockinette was gently placed on Emme's arm with a smaller-diameter piece on her thumb. Then, another piece of small stockinette was placed over Emme's index and middle fingers; evidently, they would be casted too.
 
As he worked, Ben explained, "The way we used to cast for scaphoid fractures was not only a long arm thumb spica, but we also included the index and middle fingers, too. This, along with carefully molded plaster and minimal padding, provides the best immobilization and the greatest chance of healing without complications. Nowadays, they often just apply a SATS, and the fracture doesn't heal properly, making surgery later necessary. I prefer the old way when a patient will accept this type of cast, and I know you will love your cast, Emme."
 
With that explanation, Ben then started to apply cotton padding. Like he said, he didn't use a lot but was careful to ensure the cast wouldn't be uncomfortable. Now, with Millie opening the packages of plaster and dipping them in water, Ben began to apply many rolls of plaster to Emme's arm. The cast came high up her arm and was very carefully molded around her wrist, palm, thumb,and fingers.
 
He then trimmed the stockinette, pulled it back over the ends of her cast, and applied several more rolls of plaster before rubbing her cast smooth. Finally, Emme's carefully molded and highly immobilizing cast was finished; it was extremely smooth and looked rather heavy. Ben and Sam helped Emme put on her sling and place her freshly cased arm in it. Ben then said, "Now, be careful, Emme. Your cast will take a day or two to completely dry. Use your sling for at least three days, and don't put any stress on your cast." Emme had a broad smile on her face and looked content as her cast warmed and hardened.
 
Millie, Sam, and myself helped to clean up the mess. I couldn't do too much to help with my braces, and Rebekah could do even less. This is really her first time wearing her HKAFOs, and unlike me, she is not really used to wearing them. Once the mess was cleaned up, we returned to our cabins, with Emme leading the way with her cane. We all needed to get ready for today's big event.
 
Rebekah and I went back to our cabin, ate breakfast with our husbands, and then got ready for the day. I was once again matron of honor, this time for Judy, and she wanted me in the same dress and braces as I had worn for Kathy and Lydia's wedding. Joel helped me get dressed, and Rebekah did my hair and makeup. Then we went to our lodge to help the sisters get ready. When we arrived, all the girls were there, and the lodge was buzzing with activity.
 
Collene and Judy were anxious to get into their gowns and get their hair and makeup done. The sisters were already wearing the braces and shoes they chose for the wedding: white braces with the metal polished to a mirror-like shine and matching low-heeled granny boots on their feet with lace trim. We went to the dressing room and got the girls into their gowns.
 
Their gowns are beautiful, long, and flowing, with long, loose sleeves. The necklines were somewhat low but still very modest; Judy and Collene are rather conservative when it comes to style, and they looked so beautiful in their matching gowns and braces.
 
Judy had let her blonde hair grow out quite a bit, and it was now almost as long as Collene's red locks. The girls put on their headgear, just their upper facebows with cervical straps, all in white. Rebekah brushed their long hair and applied a bit of makeup, but not too much. Collene and Judy picked up their white crutches and went to get their pictures taken by the fireplace, while several of us helped Emme into her dress. She is Collene's matron of honor.
 
Sally, Rita, and myself helped Emme change into her pink braces and then into her dress. Her dress is exactly like mine, and she looked great in it, with her black sling really standing out. Rebekah did her hair, which was a bit of a mess, and then her makeup. As we were getting Emme dressed, she kept asking how she looked since she couldn't see. We assured her that she was beautiful, especially her white, blind eyes. Initially, when we saw Emme's eyes, the look was quite disturbing, but now we are used to them and admire how they look. I know I am going to have to get a pair of these contacts for myself, and I think Judy plans to do the same.
 
With all of us ladies ready, we called Joel to see how Jimmy and Billy were getting along. He said all was well and the boys were ready and looked great on crutches in their tuxedos, Milwaukee braces, KAFOs, and headgear. Joel then said that he and Gary still needed to finish getting dressed for their dual roles in the wedding. It will be wonderful to see Joel in his KAFOs, Kuhenegger, and tuxedo while on crutches. I just adore observing him move about with the limitations of his braces.
 
It's time to go to the chapel, and just after we called for a ride, Gary called and said that we needed to get moving. The jitneys arrived, and we were on our way for Collene and Judy's big day.
 
Once at the chapel, everyone took their seats, and Emme and I accompanied Collene and Judy to meet up with Joel and Gary. Now let me explain the dual roles of these men. Not only are they going to walk the brides down the aisle, Gary with Collene and Joel with Judy, but Joel is also Jimmy's best man, and Gary is Billy's. Joel and I have grown to be very close to Judy and Jimmy, with Judy being like our daughter. The same goes for Gary and Rita with Collene and Billy. In fact, they have grown so close that Gary and Rita call Collene by the nickname Judy gave her when they were kids, Collie. She has never let anyone but Judy call her that in the past.
 
With everyone ready, the double ceremony began. The minister, Emme and I, and the grooms made our way to the altar. Then Pat began playing the wedding march on the organ as the brides made their way to the altar, with Gary and Joel escorting them; they all looked so happy and joyful. With the exception of Gary, everyone was using crutches, and Joel looked so sexy in his braces. Once at the altar, the girls took their places with Emme and me, and the guys joined the grooms.
 
Following the minister's short remarks, the brides and grooms each said a few words. Vows were exchanged, and since there was no ring bearer, Emme and I presented the girls with the rings for their new husbands, and the guys did the same for the grooms. Emme had a bit of trouble with the ring being blind and in her big cast. She dropped it, but Collene caught it just as it began to fall. Rings were exchanged, headgear was taken off, and the brides received kisses from their new husbands. Photographs were taken, and then we went to the main lodge for the reception and dinner. It was a short but very beautiful ceremony.
 
More pictures were taken once we got to the lodge, some inside and some outside in the snow. I was a bit tired from being on my feet so much today, so I sat down to rest. Joel soon joined me, and I asked him what it was like for him to be wearing his new braces. He said:
 
J - Well, Leigh, you know this is my first time wearing them, and I have been in my KAFOs whenever I'm up and my Kuehnegger for at least 23 hours a day. It was hard at first; I really didn't like wearing them. However, I persevered for you, knowing how much you wanted to see me living my life wearing them. After a couple of days, I got very used to them. Now, other than slowing me down quite a bit, I love wearing them.
 
L - Oh, that's great, Joel. I was hoping you would like wearing them. It will be so much fun going out together in our braces. All the other braced couples look so cute in their braces, too. You're so sexy on crutches and move along with perfect posture and stiff legs; I bet there is another thing that is stiff, too.
 
J - There is, Leigh. You will have to take care of it for me later, my dear.
 
L - You packed your Milwaukee brace, too, didn't you, Joel? You should wear it the rest of our time here so you can be a bit more active. After being in your Kuhenegger, a Milwaukee brace will seem like nothing.
 
J - I did, and that sounds great. There are a few things I want to do that I can't do wearing this brace. It will be fun to wear the Milwaukee; I only tried it on when I picked it up from Billy. Speaking of Billy, look over there. Gary and Rita have a bunch of papers spread out in front of Billy and Collene.
 
L - I wonder what that's about. They definitely wouldn't be talking business just after the kids got married. I'm going to go see what's up.
 
J - OK, Leigh. I'm going to go try playing pool with some of the guys. It will be a challenge in my braces.
 
Joel gave me a kiss, and I crutched over to Billy and Collene. As I approached, they all got up and began hugging each other, with Rita and Collene shedding tears of joy and Billy and Gary shaking hands. Collene saw me coming and said, "Oh Leigh, this is wonderful! I can't believe it; Gary and Rita made us partners in their business!"
 
Gary said, "Believe it, Collie; you and Billy are our partners now, and someday the entire business will be yours, too. Rita and I are grateful that after we retire, which won't be anytime soon, you and Billy will continue the business we worked so hard to build. However, you may not see us as often anymore. We are having a bus converted into an RV and plan to do a bit of traveling."
 
I congratulated both couples and said that I knew this day would come. After a few more kind words and several hugs, I went to tell Joel. I shared the news of the new partnership with everyone in the game room, which lightened the already upbeat mood even more. I took Jimmy's place at the pool table so he could tell Judy the news and go congratulate Billy and Collene. I played pool with the guys for a little while, which was quite difficult on crutches; if I were in my wheelchair, it would have been much easier.
 
It was time for dinner, and we all got seated in the dining room to enjoy another excellent meal. After dinner, Joel and I slow danced, which was fun but hard with both of us braced. I loved running my hands along his back brace; it was so sensual for both of us. Rebekah, in her HKAFOs and Milwaukee, wanted to try some of their usual dance routines with Joel. They couldn't do it in their braces, and they ended up just leaning against each other, laughing.
 
It was getting late, and Joel and I wanted to spend some time alone, so we headed back to our cabin. Once in our bedroom, I wired Joel's jaw shut, and he did the same for me. In his braces, he clumsily got me into my body brace for the night.
 
We had quite a romantic evening...

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #43 on: 22. June 2024, 04:08:48 AM »
Ch. 141 – Thursday

  
Well, Joel and I had quite the evening last night. It was pretty awkward for both of us, but a lot of fun; we were both left quite satisfied. With me in my body brace, it was up to Joel to figure out what would work, and he was quite motivated to do so. Although it wasn't quite as wonderful as when I was in my double-hip spica Minerva cast, it was still very intense, especially with our jaws wired shut.
 
 
Joel once again slept in his Kuehnegger brace, but will wear his Milwaukee brace today. He got out of bed and removed his brace before helping me out of mine. He placed me in my wheelchair for our usual morning routine, and we unwired each others jaws. After showering and brushing our teeth and appliances, Joel helped me into my braces, and I did the same for him. Joel is wearing his Milwaukee brace for the first time today with his KAFOs, and it looks good on him. He says he really likes it and the freedom of movement it gives him compared to his Kuehnegger. Joel said he could live his life wearing his Milwaukee brace with no problems at all. I was glad to hear this, as I would like to see him wearing his braces as much as possible.
 
 
Today is just a casual day; nothing has been planned. However, I do want to talk to Emme about her special contact lenses and how she is coping with, oh, I mean enjoying, the big cast on her fractured wrist. I also want to talk to Rose; she and Jose seem to be enjoying the braces that Sally placed on their teeth the other night, and I want to find out what their plans are. Maybe I'll catch up with some of the others, too. I have a feeling that Annie will wear her shoulder spica Minerva cast for a full term.
 
 
I dressed casually for the cold, snowy weather. Warm thigh-high black stockings went on my legs before Joel strapped me in my brown HKAFOs with a pair of red block-heeled booties. A long red wool skirt, white blouse, and black sweater, along with my red double-facebow interlandi headgear and red glasses, rounded out my look for the day. We could hear Rebekah and Paul stirring, and we went out to have coffee with them.
 
 
Rebekah was dressed a lot like me for the cold weather, and Paul, like Joel, was in his Milwaukee brace this morning. Over coffee, Paul said the party last night was still going strong when they left with Lydia and Kathy at around ten. Rebekah speculated that there would be many hangovers being nursed this morning. We were hungry and decided to go to the main lodge for breakfast, knowing all the others were not likely up yet. Rebekah and I stood up from our wheelchairs and put on our heavy winter coats and our gloves—full-finger wheelchair gloves. The guys put on their coats, grabbed their crutches, and we were on our way.
 
 
Once on the main path, we saw Kathy and Lydia ahead of us about fifty yards and hollered for them to hold up. Just then, from behind, we heard Pete say the same to us. We looked back and saw Emme leading the way with her cane, with Pete following along with Sam and Millie in their braces and on crutches. We waited up for them, then caught up with Kathy and Lydia. Once at the lodge, we took off our heavy coats and hung them on the rack, got hot chocolate, and sat by the fire to warm up and talk before breakfast.
 
 
Pete asked Kathy what her plans were regarding her halo brace, and she replied:
 
 
"Well, Pete, I really enjoy this traction setup that Billy crafted for me. He put a lot of work into it, so I plan to wear it for quite a while. After a few weeks, I've grown to adore the way it feels—the unceasing pull on my spine is utterly enthralling. The only downside is getting my pins retorqued. With eight of them now, the procedure is quite grueling."
 
 
"I have always had twinges of back and neck pain over the years, and sometimes they get pretty bad to the point where I just want to stay in bed for a few days. No doctor has ever been able to figure out what causes it. However, those pains have completely gone away since I have been in my halo. I think that after I'm done with traction, I'll wear my halo CTLSO for another few months, then a Kuehnegger brace for the rest of my life. With my mouthful of orthodontic appliances, my spinal brace, and my husband Lydia at my side, I couldn't be happier."
 
 
Lydia leans over and gives Kathy a hug. They embraced and shed a few tears of happiness, while Sam and Emme did the same. The last few days have been so emotional for these ladies, with Kathy and Lydia believing for so long that they would never be able to marry and Sam and Millie recognizing the fight that the older generation put up to make it so easy for them. The warm embraces broke off, and Kathy said, "Let's eat! I need something in my stomach after all that drinking last night."
 
 
Just as we were being seated, Billy, Collene, Judy, and Jimmy came in. The girls were fully braced in their wheelchairs, and the guys were on crutches in their braces. Everyone had their headgear on, too, with the girls wearing their double facebows today. We welcomed the newlyweds to enjoy our meal with us, and they happily accepted.
 
 
Over breakfast, congratulations were once again given to the newlywed couples, along with wishes of long, happy, and healthy lives together. Sam asked Emme how her wrist was feeling and how she was doing with her big cast. Emme replied:
 
 
"Oh, I love my cast, Sam. When I had the splint and I moved my fingers the slightest, it really hurt. Now, wearing this wonderful plaster cast, I have no pain at all. Ben really made it fit snug, but it's not at all uncomfortable, and I can't move my wrist, thumb, or my two fingers at all. I love how snugly it fits and wish I had one on my other arm, too."
 
 
"Pete and I will be going home with Ben and Jackie, and Pat and Terry are going to spend a week with Kathy and Lydia. They are excited to ride the bus with the rest of you. You know that the guys are getting braces on their teeth, and Pat's getting new legs, too."
 
 
"Pete and I are going home with Ben and Jackie since he wants another set of X-rays of my wrist. He plans to replace this cast with another plaster one in six weeks, and I'll be in a cast like this for a total of twelve weeks. Then I'll get either a SATS or LATS in fiberglass for another six to eight weeks if all goes well. If I don't heal quickly, then I'll be in a cast like this one for at least another two or three more months. I hope things don't go well and I have to wear a cast for a very long time."
 
 
"Let me tell you what the most intense thing about my cast is; I have no idea what it looks like or how I look wearing it. I put my contacts in last Wednesday and haven't seen a thing since! From how it feels and 'looking' at it with my right hand, I know it's a big, thick, heavy cast. It goes really high up my arm, and just the tip of my thumb is exposed. All of my index finger is covered in plaster, and like my thumb, just the tip of my middle finger is exposed. There is also some sort of material that keeps my ring finger from rubbing directly on the smooth plaster. I don't know how I look wearing it, but I can say with confidence that I probably look pretty damn sexy in it with all my braces, headgear, blind eyes, and white cane."
 
 
We all agreed that Emme did look extremely sexy in her cast and all her braces.
 
 
Then I asked what it's like for her to be blind and reliant on her cane to get around:
 
 
"Oh, I love being sightless. Of course, I wouldn't want to be blind for real, but pretending is a lot of fun. When I got my contacts and put them in for the first time, it was really scary, and after Pete took a quick picture, I took them out. He showed me the picture, and I didn't know what to think; my eyes were just milky white with faded outlines of an iris and dilated pupils. I looked really strange, even ghoulish. I didn't wear them again for a few days, then one night Pete asked me to try them again, and we went for a walk. He held my hand and guided me along. It was a lot of fun for both of us. My senses of smell and hearing came alive, and I noticed things that I never would have paid any attention to in the past."
 
 
"I began to wear them more often and got used to them. Then I decided to take some classes on how to live as a blind person. When I enrolled, I used the excuse that an old friend was visiting who recently lost her sight, and I wanted to know what life was like for her. Evidently, this is not an uncommon reason for taking O&M—that's orientation and mobility—classes. In class, those like me wore eye patches to experience being sightless. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. I get along with no problems at all. Well, maybe one problem that scored me this really cool cast. I brought along a box of eye patches if any of you would like to try them. Pete took me for a walk in the forest the other day, and the sounds and smells were wonderful. Any of you want to try it? It's a lot of fun."
 
 
We all looked at each other in silence, then Judy finally said, "I'm game, Emme. It sounds like an interesting thing to experience. How about you, Leigh? You're pretty adventurous; let's do it together." Before I could answer, Millie said, "Sam and I will be your escorts. We'll push your wheelchairs and use them for support, too. It stopped snowing; we can go after we finish eating. Sammy and I wanted to take a walk in the forest anyway, and there are so many lovely little paths to follow."
 
 
It did sound like something interesting to experience, so I agreed to do it. Emme and Judy were very excited, and Emme insisted we would have a great time. We finished breakfast, the guys decided to go fishing, and all us girls went back to Emme's cabin so Judy and I could be blinded for a few hours.
 
 
Things were very quiet around our cabins; everyone partied late last night. We went inside, and Emme told Millie where the eye patches were. Emme explained how to gently place the eye patches, which sort of looked like large oval-shaped band-aids. Judy had hers applied first and said, "Wow! I can't see anything now; I'm totally blind. It's really scary, but I'll be OK." Then, Sam applied patches over my eyes, rendering my world dark too. I agreed; this is a bit scary but also very thrilling. 
 
 
Kathy then said, "That looks like fun, Lydia. Would you please guide me along despite your braces and crutches if I were blind too?" Lydia said, "Of course I will guide my blind, halo brace-wearing wife." Sam then applied patches over Kathy's eyes; her world went dark too.
 
 
Emme led the way out of the cabin, with Sam pushing my wheelchair and Millie pushing Judy's. Lydia held a crutch in one hand and Kathy's hand in the other as we made our way to the many paths through the forest.
 
 
As we went along, Emme told us about what her cane was telling her about the paths we were on. She explains that there are different textures in the concrete that let her know where she is and where she is going. I don't think any of us paid attention; we were just soaking up the sounds of the forest and the smell of the cool mountain air.
 
 
It was amazing how my other senses came to life with the loss of my sight. It was really quite a thrill. At one point, we stopped to rest at some benches that overlooked the lake so those not in wheelchairs could sit and rest. The sound of the water that would soon be frozen lapping at the shore sounded wonderful. Every so often, those who were blind noticed the smell of bread being baked at the main lodge, something those with their sight didn't immediately notice.
 
 
We continued to explore the woods, with those with sight describing many things. A great time was being had by all, and finally I asked what time it was; I thought it was getting to be late afternoon. Sam checked her watch, and sure enough, it was four in the evening. We had spent six hours out in the woods exploring, so we headed back to our lodge.
 
 
When we got near the lodge, we could hear conversation and smell food being cooked as we approached. Once inside, everyone was there and having a good time. We were asked about our eye patches and explained we were experiencing what Emme has been experiencing for over a week. We decided to keep our eye patches on until we went to bed that evening.
 
 
Dinner was a challenge since we didn't have the training that Emme had, but with a few pointers, we did OK. After dinner and dessert, we all just talked and relaxed. One thing that was decided was that instead of leaving on Saturday, we would not go until Monday. There were still things we wanted to do, and Jimmy wanted us girls to do another shooting demonstration on Saturday.
 
 
Unlike last night, there wasn't much drinking, and everyone headed to their cabins for the night rather early. Tomorrow will be another day of fun with friends.

Offline napacaster

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Re: Story: Leigh and Joel
« Reply #44 on: 22. June 2024, 04:10:59 AM »
And now we meet Blakely, who will soon have her orthodontics 'upgraded' and some issues found with her spine and legs...

Ch. 142 - Friday

 
Waking up blind in my body brace this morning was quite exhilarating. At one point, while we were enjoying my situation last evening, I felt quite claustrophobic and reached up to remove my eye patches. Joel took my hands, spoke comforting words, and then placed my arms in my 3D-printed LATS casts, which I am still wearing.
 
 
During the night, I had several dreams, not about being blind but about Emme's cast. At one point, I woke and found myself clutching my left wrist and feeling both intense jealousy and empathy towards Emme's situation, and I knew how the feelings must be dealt with.
 
 
Joel got me out of my body brace and 3D-printed LATS casts, and after a shower, he brushed my teeth and appliances. Then, I asked Joel to place me in a cast like Emme's. He was more than willing and went to get not only the box of cast supplies but also my compact power chair. I can't use my manual chair while in a cast, and we didn't bring platform crutches. Joel used fiberglass for my cast so it would be strong right away, but he did make the final wraps with the few rolls of plaster we had, so it looked like Emme's cast and had a bit of extra weight. I have worn many LATS before, but this was the first time I wore one with several of my fingers immobilized, too. It felt great and made my hand and arm completely useless. I think that during Emme's recovery, I'll wear casts identical to hers.
 
 
I then got into my HKAFO-Milwaukee brace with much assistance from Joel. Without a cast and eye patches, I can get myself into my brace all by myself, but in my current situation, it was all up to Joel. With the weather being clear but very cold, we will be taking the bus trip that was planned earlier in the week, so Joel dressed me in some of my warmest clothes. Joel wore his KAFOs and his Milwaukee brace with loose jeans over his leg braces. He wants to get very used to wearing them and plans to wear them as much as possible. After Joel got me ready, which was a real thrill without my sight, he removed my eye patches, and I saw my new cast for the first time; it looked great. We then went to the kitchen for coffee and to visit with Paul and Rebekah.
 
 
Well, lo and behold, Rebekah must have been having the same feelings as me; she was in a cast identical to mine. She was also sitting in her power chair, dressed for the cold weather. Paul, like Joel, was in his less restrictive spinal brace, and both men were moving around well with their knees unlocked and without crutches. It doesn't take long to get used to wearing braces like these if you are motivated to learn to live with them. After coffee, we went to our lodge for breakfast.
 
 
When we got to the lodge, almost everyone was there. Several couples were in the kitchen cooking, with Annie and Charlie making fresh donuts despite their shoulder-spica Minerva casts. Emme was sitting by the fire with Pete caressing her casted arm, which was not in a sling.
 
 
Rebekah and I wheeled over, and before we said anything, Emme said, "Good morning ladies, how are you doing today?" Rebekah said we were well and asked how she knew it was us and how her wrist was feeling. Emme replied, "My wrist feels good; there is no pain, just a slight, dull ache. My cast is great, and it's really immobilizing. I absolutely love it. Oh, I knew it was you girls by the sound of your wheelchairs; you're both in power chairs today. Why not your manual chairs, which you love so much?" Rebekah replied, "Well, Leigh and I can't use crutches or our manual chairs right now, Emme. We have something to show you.
 
 
With that, Emme instinctively held out her right hand to be guided to what Rebekah wanted her to 'see'. Rebekah took Emme's hand and placed it on her cast, and she felt the extent of Rebekah's cast.

 
"Wow, you are in a cast like mine, Rebekah, plaster and all. That's so cool!"
 
 
Rebekah then took Emme's hand and placed it on my cast.
 
 
"You too, Leigh. Now I understand why you're using your power chairs."
 
 
We explained to Emme that we plan to wear the same casts as she does for the entire duration of her recovery. Rebekah said ours were fiberglass with plaster on top, but when we get home, we'll both get thick, heavy plaster casts like hers.
 
 
Emme replied, "Oh, thank you for joining me on this long journey. From what Ben says, I could be in a series of casts for many months to come, and so will you, my friends. This is so cool; it's great to have friends like you!"
 
 
Finally, Kathy, Lydia, Pat, and Terry arrived. Lydia was in her Milwaukee brace and KAFOS, and Kathy was in her halo and KAFOs, while Pat was in his wheelchair without his legs. We enjoyed fresh donuts with our coffee, then a wonderful breakfast prepared by Sam, Millie, and Jose. I think we have cooked more meals for each other than we have had in the dining room. Everyone is enjoying spending time in the kitchen together, having fun, and sharing recipes. 
 
 
After we ate, Pete, Joel, and Paul went to get the Scenicruiser checked out and warmed up for our trip today. Our entire group, along with several resort employees and guests, are visiting the ghost town of Gold Peak. Gold was discovered there in the late 1800s, and a town sprung up. It thrived for years, with the mines going deeper and deeper until ill fate struck. Gold prices dropped, and there was a cholera outbreak. The town was abandoned in days, with people leaving everything behind. A few years later, mining resumed on the other side of the ridge. Nothing happened with the abandoned town until a few years ago, when Kings Mountain Retreat was built. Gold Peak Mining got a grant to open the old town as a historical site that is fully handicap accessible. It should be a fun day.
 
 
We all heard the bus start up, and Rebekah and I looked out the window to see Paul and Joel checking the tires, not at all inhibited by their braces. With their knees unlocked and wearing trousers, you wouldn't even know they were wearing leg braces. All we noticed was their stiff upper bodies, and we were both glad to see them getting along so well. They climbed on board, and the bus began to move, then it pulled up in front of our lodge. We went to get on board, with Terry lifting Pat from his wheelchair and carrying him to his seat. Then Pat and Pete helped the rest of us get on. Pete now drove us to the main lodge.
 
 
When we got there, the man we met the first day, Steven, was there with a group of guests and some employees who were coming along to not only enjoy the trip but also assist guests. Once everyone was on board, Steven addressed the passengers:
 
 
"Good morning. This is a special day for all of us. Not only is the resort having its first 'field trip', we are taking it on this wonderfully restored Scenicruiser. I think most of you know Ron and Romy by now; they have assisted most of you during your stay. If you need anything, just seek them out. There are several other team members that are with us today for pleasure only. However, if you need anything, don't hesitate to ask them for assistance."
 
 
Steven then went on to introduce the staff that was simply along for the ride. We already knew Bill, his wife Beth, and Cal from our day of shooting. We didn't know Len and Shirley, who work in the kitchen, and their twin boys, Harry and Barry. Finally, there was a young woman that we all found quite interesting.
 
 
She was wearing a beanie pulled down to just above her eyes and a scarf wrapped around her mouth—all, of this under the hood of a heavy jacket. She kept her head down, hardly ever looking up. When Steven introduced Blakely, the young woman in her mid-20's, she gave a gentle wave and only slightly raised her head. When she did, the sharp-eyed could see the vertical bars of reverse-pull headgear running alongside her face. She was obviously embarrassed about her orthodontics, but finally did take a long look at all of us in our braces and headgear. She actually stopped in the aisle for a moment and stared at Rita, who was proudly wearing her hot pink reverse pull headgear. Blakely took a window seat across from Rita without saying a word and kept her head down.
 
 
Just as Pete released the parking brake, Rita got up and took the seat next to Blakely, extended her hand, and said, "Good morning, Blakely. We have something in common; do you want to talk?" Blakely turned to Rita, shook her hand, and said with a very strong lisp, "Nice to meet you, Rita; we do have something in common, and I would like someone to talk to. Getting braces and headgear has been so hard, but I had to get them; my jaw pain is so bad. I'm supposed to return to work tomorrow, but I don't think I can. This is the first time I have left my house since getting my braces and headgear over a week ago."

 
R: It's good you decided to go with us today, Blakely. Have you ever seen a bus like this, let alone ridden on one?

 
B: I have seen pictures from trips my grandparents took in the 1950s. Other than the train, the bus was the only way to travel; I never knew how nice these old coaches are.

 
R: This one is like brand new; my friends restored it, and I'm glad you decided to come take a ride with us today.

 
B: Me too, Rita. I need to stop hiding from the world and just face the fact that I have to wear all these appliances and horrid headgear. It's just like yours, Rita—a cage on my face. I hate it, but I have to get my teeth fixed. What's it been like for you to wear your appliances?

 
R: Well, Blakely, I want to be honest with you. All my braces, including the ones on my teeth, are just for my pleasure. I love how I look wearing them and how they feel. I have actually worn my leg and back braces for so long that I can't get along without them anymore. I got braces and headgear simply because I like how they look.

 
B: When I got hired here, they taught me about pretenders and devotees, but not about someone wearing orthodontic braces for pleasure. You're crazy, Rita, but I like you; I can talk to you. You do look great, as do your friends. Maybe I'm just blowing this all out of proportion.

 
R: I bet you look beautiful with your braces and headgear. Want to show me what you have going on, Blakely?


B: Yes, I'll show you. You'll be the first person to see everything other than Stevie.
 

I was listening to the entire conversation, and Rita seemed to put the young woman at ease. Blakely lowered her hood and took off her coat, beanie, and scarf. She's absolutely beautiful, with long black hair like Rita's, bright blue eyes, a few freckles, and cute little dimples. Her reverse pull headgear is bright pink like Rita's and was attached to her braces with thick, heavy elastics. Her bangs hung over the forehead pad, almost hiding it. Blakely smiled, revealing large brackets on very crooked and crowded teeth and thick archwires with pink ligature bands. Blakely then opened her mouth to show Rita her upper and lower expanders and tongue crib—the same appliances that many of us are wearing.

 
R: Oh Blakely, you are a beautiful young thing, braces or no braces. Please don't hide your pretty face from the world. You're so cute, and you remind me of how I looked when I was young and beautiful.

 
B: That's sweet of you to say, Rita. You are still very beautiful, and your braces and headgear make you look so young, too.

 
R: Thank you for the compliment, Blakely. Oh, I think we're almost there. Pete is turning off the main road. Would you like to spend the day with me and my husband, Gary?
 
 
B: Yes, I would, Rita. Thanks for chatting with me and boosting my spirits. I think I'm ready to face guests tomorrow at the front desk wearing my braces and headgear. But my lisp is really bad; I hope people can understand me. Oh, could you introduce me to all your friends, too, Rita?

 
R: Of course I will, Blakely; you will like them very much. I'm glad you seem to be a very understanding person, since they will probably share some very interesting stories with you. You are welcome to spend the evening with us at our lodge if you want. We even have a spare room if you would like to stay the night.

 
B: That would be great, Rita. Thanks!

 
We all enjoyed our visit to Gold Peak. Sam and Millie were Emme's eyes, describing her surroundings in detail. Blakely stayed close to Rita and seemed to be coming out of her shell, with her speech improving slightly since she was talking so much. The refreshments that Steven brought along for us were great and kept us going all afternoon. However, it was getting late, and we needed to get back to the resort.

 
On the way back, Blakely sat next to Emme, and they seemed to enjoy each others company with much laughter and smiles. The ride was pleasant, with the sun setting in the distance. When we pulled up in front of the main lodge, Steven came back and said to Blakely, "Why don't you take the next few days off with pay to spend with your new friends, Blake? I know you are having a rough time with your braces and headgear, and being with them seems to have made you feel better."

 
Blakely replied, "Thanks so much, Stevie! That's so kind. Let me get my bag from my car; I always have a few days of clothes in case I get snowed in. I really want to get to know Rita and her friends; they're very interesting and kind people!"