Transtibial Prosthesis? What Transtibial Prosthesis?
Copyright 2023 by Lily Finch
Photo by Richard Loller, 2016.
uncle unpacks his choppy-lake silver rod, reel, and five-weight line
that holds a pattern when he casts: a Griffith's Gnat, dressed
specifically to attract fish as it sinks into deep hollows cast from
the boat. He heads to the gravel bar at his private hole. The change
in depth allows the line to stretch out, letting the loops fall
gently: It's not long before he feels a jolt, a snag with a run, and
then the strike that bites back against his concentrated reeling.
rod pulls hard to the right; the line sounds like 'bzzt,' ripping
further out. Uncle Bob thought. He plays with tension on the line,
lets it out, then back in. The fish tires first in their game of give
releases all but three fish: The keepers—fifteen inches long,
slender, and iridescent pink, with a red line down the silvery sides.
A greenish tinge—all had greyish-unripe olive underbellies
contrasting the black spots on the dark blue of their backs, the most
valiant of foes.
slimy, clear-eyed, cold-blooded vertebrates have no odour. Uncle
Bob’s gutting and snipping off the heads and tails were as
natural to him as a knife cutting through butter. He stores the fish
in a cooler bag inside the boat: tonight's dinner for the entire
family. Thrilled with the filets, he leaves the fish heads and tails
on the rocks for turtles or birds.
with his catches of the day, his wife Mary set out to batter and fry
the fish. There were enough for two pieces each. There was nothing
like fresh fish from the lake. As soon as he ate and had his tea,
Uncle Bob headed to bed: The fireflies danced in the pitch-black
night sky, lighting up like a Christmas tree with lights blinking on
a two-three second timer.
for two and then off for two. And then on for two and then out for
two for a whole three seconds. By the time Uncle Bob was in the land
of slumber, those fireflies had found their mates and their lights
were out for good.
am came early; Uncle Bob wanted to hit the placidity of the lake as
early as he could, to catch those fish feeding at the surface on the
swimming bugs all around the lake's periphery.
annual vacations were not lost on her when it came to Uncle Bob and
his fishing; Wendy would see Uncle Bob go out in his boat with one of
his boys or Uncle Dode and always return with fish. According to
Uncle Bob, the net was the star performer pulling the fish into the
boat to remove the hook from their mouths. Wendy listened every year,
wondering when her chance would come to experience some of the
fishing excitement Uncle Bob spoke of when fishing.
years the cottage was where anything went, from waterskiing to cliff
jumping, and afternoon boat tours were Wendy's favourite one-time
excursions at the cottage in the summertime.
this year, the men were yacking it up about the derby going on for
prizes. The most gigantic small-mouthed and large-mouthed bass caught
out of one of the five lakes marked on the derby map would win the
derby: People came with boats and hi-tech fishing gear from all over,
hoping to win the competition.
Wendy watched the men leave to fish early in the morning only to
return with meal fish but not competition fish. Then she would watch
the same men go back out the same evening to fish for the winner some
more. It was definitely the kind of behaviour of dedicated fishermen,
fraught with clothing, gear and boats, but regardless, so far, for
Uncle Bob and the boys; it was not working.
they repeated the pattern daily, evening after evening, hoping that
one day might pay out large, much like a gambler waiting for his
cards to payout.
was nine. She did what the other kids did at the cottage, but nobody
noticed her that much since they were all older and had their own
interests. So, it wasn't long before everyone—except for Wendy
and Robbie—was off somewhere sleeping, fishing, or elsewhere
with other kids from around who were their age.
loved fishing but was a talkaholic, busy, and an ADHD child without
medication or guidance. Needless to say, Uncle Bob shooed her away
from fishing with him since he liked his fishing to be peaceful and
filled her with anger and sadness, which she harnassed for the best
path for her. First, Wendy found a selection of fishing rods in the
boathouse. Wendy strictly chose the rod because she saw it had a lure
on its line, and she liked how it looked. She didn't have to use
someone's lures from the tackle boxes because she would be frightened
about what would happen if they fell off or the fish took them away.
had seen her uncle talking to his son about his technique for using
his lures in the water when he ran out of live bait. Wendy didn't
know how that came to her or why she even had it in her repertoire to
pull from, but she felt the pull of a fish at the end of her line.
for a fight, she called out, "HELP! I think I've got something!"
Her younger cousin was watching as he hopped around as he knew it was
a big fish. He hollered: Oh boy! It's a doozy!"
seeing what to do when a person catches a fish and having heard her
Uncles talk about it, she struggled with every step after she felt
the first quick tug on her line. Wendy's pulse quickened, and sweat
formed on her brow and ran down her back. Call it instinct, luck or
divine intervention, but Wendy's stars aligned that day for her for
an ambitious twelve-year-old niece—who never got the
opportunity to fish where she lived—saw the magic in the jumpy,
erratic fishing pole as a fish hooked onto the other end of the line
and felt the adrenaline rush. Right when she first felt the tug, she
saw the bend in her rod as the top of the line moved toward that
first snag, the fish directing the line away from the boat.
to the unsuspecting young girl, Wendy, that the struggle was real.
This fight was going to be the fight of a lifetime. She fought for
recognition as much as the fish fought for its life.
cried out, "Oh my god! It's a fish! On my line!" The bite
on the line sent a jolt through the pole and into her hands. She
almost lost her step. She would later write in her diary: I
imagined we were one unit once I felt that jolt supercharging me to
invite the fish to accompany me, using my forefinger to entice it. It
appeared energetically, enthused about receiving my request to join
was the first time I totally forgot about my TP. It was insane once I
realized I had done this while fighting with a fish. I wondered about
other sports and my leg: would that be the case for those sports too?
her muscles flex as she drew on the line while reeling. Letting it
out, reeling in, playing a tug-of-war game with her feisty opponent.
The fish, indeed in trauma mode by now in the time spent back and
forth on the fishing line, twisted and curved its body frantically.
Swimming against hope, realizing its life was at stake.
excitement and naivety about how difficult it was to reel in a fish
from atop the dock without assistance and on her transtibial
prosthesis left leg. Wendy was mid-fishing when she realized she was
fishing without using any particular reel of significance or line of
any specific weight—or she thought.
suddenly wondered: am
I working so
hard just to discover, in the end, that the fish is gonna break the
line or wiggle off the hook before I can get it out of the water? She
forgot all about her leg and her transtibial prosthesis. She was
engrossed in catching a fish because she had drive and determination.
She was not a quitter, and her leg was not a barrier to her success.
near muscle exhaustion, she quickly turned the reel, bringing the
line tightly in but simultaneously allowing for some line release.
Trying to imitate what she had only heard about what her Uncles had
done when they caught fish.
meanwhile, had run into the boathouse and fetched a net. He lay faced
down on the deck and stretched his arms as far as possible to net the
fish. According to her Uncle Bob, one of the largest torpedo-shaped
smallmouth basses that lived in the lake's dark waters—on the
end of her line, as she reeled it in: Wendy bellowed in a half squeal
with excitement and astonishment. Once he captured it in the net,
Robbie placed it at her feet. Wendy put enough water in the bucket
for the fish; then called Uncle Bob.
Wendy's got a big one on her line! We need your help to take it off
the hook. It's not going to stay in the bucket, I don't think."
The second call to the cottage above brought attention to the dock
below. The children's exhilaration had risen to the ears of the
adults up top, who were now on the balcony to see what all the fuss
this little beggar ate
if it was that strong. I am so much larger, and it gave me a run for
my money; how was that possible? The sweat drenched my body, and the
fish looked cool as a cucumber. I watched many fishing shows, and
they never showed fish fighting like that!"
after the fish gave Wendy what was its last-ditch effort to remain
free to roam the underwater side of the lake. Wendy pulled back on
the rod and reeled like crazy, meeting with resistance at every turn.
The fish came forward. The fish veered to its left, and Wendy reached
right, allowing the fish to believe it was free. She didn't have time
to smile or relax. Her ADHD seemingly disappeared since she had the
challenge to meet.
imagined the fish having nerves—like almost every living
creature—as she looked at it inside the pail on the dock. Their
fight with all their mighty resistance and full power while facing
fishermen's lures and nets isn't just an automatic response.
likely, a conscious reaction to their pain when a hook pierces their
lips, jaws, or body. And that's when it dawned on Wendy that hooked
fish endure physical pain and terror! As Wendy removed the mighty
fighter from its natural environment, she knew it would suffocate if
it stayed too long out of water. The best-tasting fish dinners were
those when they killed the fish before filleting.
looked down at it. She moved from foot to transtibial prosthesis
foot, jumping, bouncing, and getting fidgety. Wendy squealed
high-pitched sounds. She looked into the pail to be sure the fish
remained there. Her disbelief grew, and Wendy stayed skeptical that
the fish would still be there later. How
could she have done something so well, and everyone missed it?
evening Wendy thought more about the fish. Suddenly Wendy visualized
what she'd experience if she were trapped underwater, and the fish
snagged her with a hook and net. Pulling her under as she fought to
remain in the air. But it got ridiculous, so Wendy began to think
about how many fights it had within it to keep itself in its natural
extrapolated that to humans. Wendy thought philosophically about why
humans fought world wars: Was it to keep themselves in their natural
habitats too? Then she thought about her predicament with her
transtibial prosthesis. It was a fight for Wendy then too. Her nerves
were all overstimulated, and she fought for her life.
related to the fish. But she wanted to win and show Uncle Bob the
size of the fish she caught with Rob. Putting it back into a fish
perspective, she ripped the smallmouth bass out of its natural
habitat to win a derby and eat: Yes, Wendy ate it too!
even if she decided not to, there were many other people in the
cottage who would have since the cottagers were all fish-eating
people. She did say, "There was some satisfaction in knowing
that I didn't fish just for the sake of winning a derby."
uncle would tell her years after he sent her the trophy that she was
an impressive girl who deserved the award. Wendy remembers that more
than eating the damn fish!
had always dreamed of fishing with her uncles and having an enjoyable
time with them. Some things were never meant to be. Wendy proved
anyone with a netter, which she found in her cousin Robbie could
catch a fish.
fact that she had a transtibial prosthesis had no bearing on whether
she could catch a winning fish. None of this story would've happened
if she had to go it alone.
story would have been so different: Fish? What M*T%$R%U@K&N%
fish? And the plot? Hmmm, it'd be something to do with Wendy and Rob.
After all, she
so much bigger than him. perhaps they would remain children forever?
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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