Brandy is an exceptional work in the genre. It contains several hot features in one character: High myopia, hearing aids, braces, wheelchair pretending, wannabe desire, injury, fulfillment, everything. However, it is not overloaded with all the fetishistic stuff. The story runs smooth and well, continually graduates and finishes with rather american but quite natural happy-end. I like the story as it belongs to the best in the genre. 
I added the contents to help you get oriented.
Enjoy. Bobby 

Brandy by BobD

This story may be copied and put on other sites, provided they are NOT sites that charge for viewing and this header is included. This story is copyrighted. (c) bobd@techie.com

Contents:

Chapter 1 Brandy - An Introduction

Chapter 2 Brandy - Pretender to wannabe

Chapter 3 Brandy - The Trip as a Pretender - Part 1

Chapter 4 Brandy - The Trip as a Pretender - Part 2

Chapter 5 Brandy - Back to School - My Junior Year

Chapter 6 Brandy - The Accident

Chapter 7 Brandy - More about Tandy

Chapter 8 Brandy - Mom's story

Chapter 9 Brandy - Back to School - My Senior Year

Chapter 10 Brandy - Getting Settled in Our New Home

Chapter 11 Brandy - Sam Goes Permanent

Chapter 12 Brandy - Sam Gets Her Braces

Chapter 13 Brandy - School Girls Again

Chapter 14 Brandy - Randy and Tina

Chapter 15 Brandy - Med School, Internships, Residency's and Dissertations

Chapter 16 Tandy Loses Her Leg

Chapter 17 Brandy - Mom & Dad's Surprise Announcement

Chapter 18 Brandy - The Wedding(s)

Chapter 19 Brandy - The Honeymoon(s)

Chapter 20 Brandy - Twin Orthopedics

Chapter 21 Brandy - Swan Song

 

Chapter 1 Brandy - An Introduction

I guess I should start by introducing myself; my name is Brandy. I'm 5' 8" tall, blonde and blue eyed. I wear very thick glasses because I am a congenital myope, which means that I am very nearsighted and can't see anything more that an inch or so from my nose without my glasses.

My story is that of a successful leg brace pretender/wannabe whose success came through no effort of her own. Typical of so many wannabes, my interest in leg braces began when I was very young and grew more involved as I got older. I believe that my interest in leg braces was substantially heightened by the fact that my aunt Ellie has worn braces for as long as I can remember. Since that is a large part of the main theme of my story, I'll fill you in on the details as we move along.

I am not only a leg brace pretender/wannabe; I have an eyeglasses fetish probably as a result of my own poor eyesight. For those of your who are interested in glasses, my latest prescription is -21.75, -1.75X105 in my left eye and -23.25, -2.25X90 in the right and an add of +2.75 for reading. When I was a freshman in high school he prescribed bifocals with a +1.25 add because I was having some problems switching from things at a distance to something close; it seemed to take a few seconds for me to focus on the close item. I also would get headaches and my eyes would get tired if I read for very long or worked at the computer for more than a few minutes. I have three pairs of glasses; in one of them I have lenses made with the latest high index polycarbonate material, which are really thin considering my strong prescription. In my second pair I have lenses called myodiscs which have the prescription only in a disk like area in the center of the lens, they are kind of neat looking but I don't have my reading prescription in them so I generally only wear them when I am participating in sports, exercising and sometimes when I go to the mall or I'm just hanging around. My third pair, which are my favorites and I only got because I said they would be for backup, are made from the old original plastic material which I think is called a CR39 plastic lens or some such thing. The lenses in these glasses are almost an inch thick; they require special frames which have the hinges set back so they will fold down over the lenses and the lenses are set a little forward in the frames so that they won't hit my face when I am wearing them. Except for school, these are the glasses I wear the most because I get the most pleasure from them and I get the most admiring looks when wearing these as opposed to either of the others. I have had three pairs of glasses like these since I was about a sophomore in high school, each time I get a new prescription I get all three pairs replaced. I do update the frames every year or two depending on how much I like the particular frame. No matter which pair I am wearing, I have a spare pair in my purse at all times just in case something happens to the ones I have on my nose. Myopia seems to run in my family, especially among the women. My mom and grandmother are both very nearsighted and have worn glasses all their lives. My mom's sisters also are quit myopic, especially aunt Ellie who you'll hear about in just a moment. Some of the men also wear glasses, but none of theirs are nearly as strong as the women's.

I enjoy looking at people who like me wear extremely strong thick glasses, primarily those that are for the correction of myopia like myself, but also for correction of the hyperopic (far sightedness) condition to a lesser degree. I am also intrigued by people who wear hearing aids, especially if they are close to my age because their deafness is not an age related thing, and if I really own up to it I'm a bit of a hearing impairment wannabe as well. This is probably because of my best friend Sam who I'll tell you about in a moment. Later in the story you will see that I also become a successful wannabe because I become quite deaf, to the point that I can't hear anything without very strong hearing aids.

First let me tell you about my Aunt Ellie, she is my mom's youngest sister, she was born when mom was twenty and already married to my dad. Aunt Ellie had polio when she was a toddler and has worn long leg braces to be able to walk ever since; she really likes wearing very high spiked heels so she sometimes uses her wheel chair so she can wear her heels and cross her legs (it's really hard to cross your legs while wearing leg braces). I know you are thinking that this doesn't make sense since the polio vaccine has been around since the 50's. Well the story is that my grand father was an agricultural attaché in the US Foreign Service and was stationed overseas at the time. They went overseas when she was only a few months old, she had not yet had the vaccine and apparently it was not available where they were living in a very poor area of a very poor country the name of which escapes me at the moment. Luckily, she didn't have a terribly severe case of polio and after all was said and done it only affected her legs. She was flown to the US as soon as the diagnosis was confirmed to be near good medical and rehabilitation facilities so that she could get the best care possible. Granddad resigned his job and moved the family back to their farm here in the US as soon as possible so that the family could be together.

Aunt Ellie is only a couple of years older than I and after she came home from the hospital, we became as close as sisters while growing up. Her other siblings were several years older than she was, and lived at some distance away, so I was much closer to her in age. She only lived a couple of miles down the lane from us so I would ride my bike over to spend time with her at my grand parents farm, which was next to ours. I often stayed over at my grand parents with her and then at her apartment once she had moved out. Aunt Ellie is the only one of my mom's sibling that is a congenital myope; her glasses are very similar to mine in their strength and thickness. We have swapped glasses most of our lives, our prescriptions are so close that we can both see pretty well with the other's glasses. Her bifocals are not quite as strong as mine so although I can read with her glasses my eyes get tired if I do so for very long.

Her braces really intrigued me and I asked her lots of questions about them, I would sit in her wheel chair and pretend that I had to move my legs with my hands as I had seen her doing and of course had more questions about that. When I was about four or five, I asked her if I could wear her braces. She said it was OK with her so she sat on her bed to take them off so I could put them on; they were a little long for me and a bit uncomfortable. She pulled herself across the bed and transferred to her wheel chair, she rolled out the back door to a storage room attached to the back of the house where it turns out granddad had her old braces stored. She got a pair of braces out of the storeroom telling me that these were the braces she had been wearing until she got the ones that I now had on; we went back to her room and I took off the ones I had on and put on the ones from the storeroom, they were almost perfect so Aunt Ellie put hers back on and her old ones became mine to use at will. As we grew up, when Aunt Ellie got new braces because she had outgrown the ones she was wearing, she gave the old ones to me to wear. Granddad continued to store her old braces in the storeroom at the back of the house, what he didn't know was that Aunt Ellie would give him the pair that I had been wearing to put in the storeroom. Her right leg is just a little shorter than her left, and each time she got a new set of braces the shoes would be built up just a little more because her right leg was not growing as fast as her left. I don't think that the difference ever exceeded an inch or so, which never seemed to be much of a problem for Sam or me. Of course at that time we weren't going very far in them anyway.

It was really thrilling for me when I had the braces on and walked in them using crutches as my aunt Ellie did; she seemed to enjoy my imitating her as much as I did. Most of the time we were together and alone at her house, I was a paraplegic just like she was. If I didn't have the braces on, she would insist that I move my legs just like she had to so that my pretending would be more realistic. She even had an old wheel chair that granddad had gotten from the storeroom one day saying that I could sit in it if I wanted to; I would pull myself from her bed or a couch into the wheel chair just as she did and place each of my feet on the foot rests with my hands, it was such a thrill. I used the wheel chair around their house any time I wanted to, but only wore the braces if my grand parents weren't in the house. If they had gone to town or were off in the fields, we would go out in the back yard so I could really get the feel of wearing the braces. One day they caught me in aunt Ellie's new braces that she had just gotten that day, I wanted to see what her new ones felt like. Granddad had not yet taken the braces that were being replaced to the storeroom, so he suggested that I try them on because they might fit me better; I put the old braces on as he suggested and of course they fit very well. Granddad said he would leave them in aunt Ellie's room in case I wanted to wear them sometime; I now had permission to wear the braces any time I was at their house, which of course I did. I enjoyed wearing the braces so much that I eventually realized that I wanted to be just like aunt Ellie and have to wear braces or use a wheel chair to get around. I kept this secret from aunt Ellie for a long time, or at least I thought I did, I'll tell you about how she let on that she knew my secret in another chapter.

The only person who originally knew about my braces pretending other than aunt Ellie was my best friend Samantha or Sam, as she preferred to be called. Sam and I were the exact same age, our mothers met at the hospital when we were born and we have grown up together. We are and always have been best friends. Our moms often dressed us as twins, they got the idea because we were born 22 minutes apart and we even have a slight resemblance since we are both blond, blue eyed and almost the same size. The twins story really caught on and all through school we were referred to as the twins from different mothers.

I told Sam about wearing aunt Ellie's braces probably after the first or second time I had worn them. She thought that sounded like fun and asked if she could do it too. When I asked aunt Ellie she said she saw no reason why not and told me that the next time Sam was over she could wear "my" braces if she wanted. When Sam put on the braces, she was just as excited as I was, she didn't want to take them off when it was time to go; that day I had to be in the wheel chair the whole time. She constantly asked if she could go back and do it again, of course she went with me most of time since we were almost always together anyway. Sometimes we would get another pair of braces from the storeroom so that all three of us could wear them at the same time. The older ones were not as comfortable but they worked OK so we were happy, but most of the time either Sam or I would be in the wheel chair.

When Sam was eight years old, she got some kind of virus, which made her very sick. Her temperature went up really high and the doctors were afraid she would have some brain damage. Luckily, it turned out she didn't have any brain damage, but her hearing was damaged quit severely. In fact she is almost totally deaf; she was fitted with some pretty powerful hearing aids with which she was able to hear pretty well in most circumstances. When Sam does not have her hearing aids on she has to use sign language or reads lips since you would have to yell really loud for her to even hear the noise. Since she and I were always together, I learned to sign so that I could talk to her when she didn't have her aids in. Her hearing aids are the kind that go behind the ears and have a piece that fits into the ear that is called an ear mold, over time her hearing has gotten a little worse and she has gotten stronger aids; it is possible that eventually she could become be totally deaf.

When Sam had first gotten her hearing aids, she didn't want to wear them, never mind that she could hear practically nothing without them. She said that they were ugly and besides I didn't have to wear them so why should she; after all, we both had to wear glasses so she wasn't wearing hearing aids if I didn't wear them.

Sam's mom talked to her audiologist about this problem, the audiologist asked her a lot of questions about Sam and her lifestyle. When her mom told her about me, and our twins story, she said she thought she knew how to fix the problem. She asked Sam's mom to ask my mom to stop by and visit with her. The audiologist asked my mom if she would let her fit me with hearing aids. They would be very weak so that all they would do was amplify sounds enough to overcome the loss of sound created by putting the ear molds in my ears. Mom of course said yes if it would help Sam she was certainly willing to agree. Within a week I had hearing aids and Sam has not complained about wearing them since; even though I didn't wear them all the time as she had to, I did wear them most of the time we were together other than at school. Mom felt that I shouldn't wear them for school for reasons I can't remember any more so I only wore them when I was not in school.

Over the years, Sam's audiologist has given me other hearing aids and made new molds for me, as I grew older. When she gave me the last pair that was while I was in high school, she told me that she was giving me hearing aids that had been turned in by patients who needed stronger aids so these didn't work for them any longer. She cautioned me to be careful not to turn them up too high, these were apparently pretty powerful aids, so that I wouldn't damage my hearing and end up having to wear them for real. Somehow I think that she suspected my interest in hearing aids, I also have an idea that she is a devotee and perhaps wannabe. She always gets me into conversations about hearing loss and hearing aids when I am in her office. She also talks about how sexy or exciting hearing aid wearers are, especially if they are of her age range. She has even modeled some hearing aids she has for herself, which she tells most of her clients are dummies for her to demonstrate with; however she has admitted to me that they are real hearing aids and she wears them out in public quit often. Seems, as the world may be full of devotees and wannabes, who would know. I still wore my hearing aids quite a lot and by the time I got to college, I was finding it more and more difficult to hear conversations especially if I was in a noisy area so I have started wearing my aids almost all the time. I finally did go to an ENT and an audiologist while in college, I'll tell you that story later.

As is I mentioned above, Sam is also nearsighted, her sight has never been as bad as mine; however, she now wears very strong glasses but they are not nearly as strong as mine. She has worn her glasses most of the time we were together, even when she first got them and didn't really need to wear them all the time. I think she did this because I had to and this would make us more alike. When we were old enough to get contacts, I attempted to wear them but couldn't but she was able to wear them as long as she doesn't wear them too long. As a result, she wears her glasses, which she now needs all the time, most of the time. Sam also managed a pair of glasses with CR39 lenses, with her -14.75 correction in both eyes her lenses are also pretty thick. She wears these glasses as much as she can; she thinks they are pretty cool also.

Sam often wears her hair up; she learned to fix it in lots of different styles. Whenever it is up her hearing aids are in full view, she has never been bothered by anyone knowing she is deaf and is wearing hearing aids since I first got mine and she agreed to wear hers. I have a tendency to do the same thing so I sometimes get questions when I am not wearing them. I just answer that my hearing isn't so bad yet that I can't function without the aids, I just can't hear as well if I'm not wearing them. Then as the conversation progresses, I'll ask for statements to be repeated or I'll sign a question to Sam who will start signing the conversation for me, knowing that I can actually hear most of the conversation but helping me keep up appearances. Because I sometimes really do miss things that are said in conversation I know my hearing is deteriorating; I didn't say anything to my parents until sometime after I saw the audiologist in college.

I also have a brother and sister who are younger than I. My brother Randy is three years young than I am and my sister Tandy is two years younger than he is. I never have gotten the straight story from my parents regarding how they came up with our names. Every time I ask I get a different story so I have given up on that one. I don't know at this point if my brother ever developed an interest in braces or any other kind of fetish, he and I were never all that close growing up since I was a girl he didn't want anything more to do with me that was absolutely required of him and then only under duress. Tandy on the other hand did show some interest but only after my accident and I was back at home. I guess I was kind of her idol, I remember her saying when she was just a toddler that she wanted glasses like mine. I still had some of my very first glasses in a drawer in my room; I showed her were they were and she was soon wearing different pairs of them around the house. Mom was not too excited about that idea but figured it wouldn't last long as she would soon have glasses of her own. That came about one day when Tandy said to mom, "Mommy, I see those trees better with my glasses." "Time for the eye doctor," said mom. Sure enough, Tandy is a congenital myope like me but not quit as bad. I'll tell you more about Tandy at another time.

My parents gave me a computer for Christmas my freshman year in high school. I was allowed to put it in my room since they already had one of their own. As soon as I learned how to use the Internet I began searching to see if there was any information on leg braces, glasses and hearing aids; as a matter of fact, this is where I learned that nuts like Sam and I have names, we are of course referred to as devotees and wannabes. Maybe nuts is not the best word, but to some folks I know we would be considered to be a bit off center at least. I must say that I had no idea there were so many devotees and wannabes out there, nor would I have guessed that they existed for so many types of disabilities and the like. It was actually a comfort for us to know that there were others like us.

Sam and I visited all of the sites quit often, reading the stories and posts and occasionally corresponding with some of the posters. Our favorites are the ones that deal with people wearing leg braces, many of them pretenders like us but also some real disabled people who understand the devotees and wannabes and register on these sites as well. There are a number of great stories about people who pretend to need braces and wear them for the thrill and satisfaction that it brings them, some have even worn them to the extreme and become dependent on them as their legs have atrophied from lack of use. We can certainly relate to the feelings they get when wearing braces because they are the same as the feelings we get when we wear them ourselves.

There is even a site called Eye Scene that deals with the glasses fetish, some of the people who are members of that group even wear strong contacts then wear compensating glasses over the contacts. They call this GOC, glasses over contacts, which lets them wear the glasses they so admire on others but don't really need for themselves.

So now we know what we are and have a better understanding of ourselves thanks to the Internet and all of the sites we found. The personal stories as told by the devotees and wannabes are very much the same as ours, no surprise... Having said all of that, I'll tell you more of the details about our stories in the following chapters.

Chapter 2 Brandy - Pretender to wannabe

Soon after graduating from high school, aunt Ellie moved to an apartment and I would visit her there for weekends as often as I could, Sam would go with me whenever possible. By this time we were sophomores, about to be juniors in high school and developing into tall young ladies with pretty nice figures. It turns out aunt Ellie is almost as tall as we are so her spare leg braces fit us fairly well. Of course she hasn't grown is several years but she got a new pair of braces so that she would have a spare set for whenever she needed to have repairs made to ones she normally wears; actually, she had the orthotist make the length of her spare braces adjustable so that Sam and I would be more comfortable when wearing them. At the same time, she had a couple of pairs of shoes modified to fit the braces but didn't have the right shoes built up so that it would be easier for us to walk, the adjustability of her spare braces allows us to lengthen the right brace to the actual length of our leg. Even though the buildup was less than an inch and a half it caused us to be thrown slightly off balance. She seldom uses the spare braces; she really got them for Sam and I to wear, so they generally stay in her spare bedroom setup for us. The fact is that she enjoys our pretending almost as much as we do so she does everything she can to help us have the necessary "toys" for our pretending. Since she only has two sets of braces, someone would end up in a wheel chair when the three of us were together, when one of us was to be in a wheel chair, aunt Ellie would offer to be the one since as she says she can't cheat and move her legs as we can. Since I now had my driver's license and an old car that dad had gotten for me I would drive myself to aunt Ellie's apartment, which is in a small town a few miles from home or ride with Sam in her car.

On one of the first weekends I was with aunt Ellie at her apartment, we planned for the two of us to go out for the day to shop and just spend time together. She suggested that I put on the spare braces, which she had just picked up that week, for our trip that day. I had only worn braces at her apartment or at my grand parents house so I was really excited about the prospect of going out in public in them. We put both of her wheel chairs in the car in case we decided to go somewhere that we felt would be too much walking and chose to ride instead. Aunt Ellie decided that it would be best if we didn't do this too near to home where someone might recognize me so we drove into a large city, which was about 80 miles from the apartment. I can't tell you how much fun I had; we went to a mall first and both walked around the mall and did some shopping.

I had worn braces enough in the past that it was not a problem for me to walk in them and appear to be disabled and really need them since aunt Ellie had insisted on my pretending being as realistic as possible. As we meandered through the mall, I noticed some of the looks we were getting. I asked aunt Ellie if she had noticed them and she giggled and said that of course she had seen them, some of them were pity or sympathy; however, there had been a few that were special looks. I replied, "Yes, I noticed those too. They are the same ones that I get occasionally from people who look at my strong glasses. I get them the most when I am wearing these really thick ones. This just proves that the comments we have seen on the Internet are true. I guess they are devotees." "Yes" she responded, "you are right about that, I get these looks all the time when I'm out in public; I actually think I get even more of the admiring looks when I'm wearing my glasses as I am today. As I understand it, for these people the leg braces, wheel chairs, missing legs or arms, very strong glasses, etc. add to the beauty and attractiveness of the person. I have experienced that most of them are not interested in the person only for the disability but rather feel that the disability makes them even more desirable. From my point of view I am OK with devotees as long as they don't push themselves on me; I have concluded that if it wasn't for devotees there would not be many men interested in me with all of the hardware I am dependent on. At least the devotees can see past the hardware and see the real person that I am."

Then aunt Ellie dropped a bombshell, "Brandy, I really think you are a devotee yourself and I also suspect that you are a wannabe and would be happiest if you had to wear braces as I do." I started to object to aunt Ellie's statements but she stopped me and pointed to my legs and said "Come on now Brandy, what are those things on your legs and do you really need them to be able to walk? You are at least a pretender and I've noticed that you get really excited whenever you are wearing them, more so that just some fun thing to do". Touché, she had me so I owned up to it. I really am obviously a pretender and in fact a wannabe as well, I had often wished that my legs were paralyzed just like aunt Ellie so that I could wear braces like the ones I had on right then all the time. I was a little shaken up by this whole conversation; I suspect that it was mostly because my little secret was out. We talked about it at length while we were eating lunch in the food court and aunt Ellie told me that there was nothing for me to be ashamed of, as a matter of fact she took it as a compliment since I wanted to be like her. It was all right as long as I didn't go out and try to do bodily harm to myself to achieve the paralysis that I dreamed of. Her concern was that a person attempting to injure themselves to achieve paralysis could and probably would do much more serious damage to themselves, including causing their own death. She went on to say that if there was a way to have a surgeon render a person paralyzed, she was OK with that since the risk of additional severe damage was virtually non-existent in her view. She also had heard of people wearing braces for so long that their legs atrophied to a point where they were effectively paralyzed since their legs would no longer support them and they had to have the braces to be able to walk. She told me that she was OK with this since it appeared there was no harm beyond the loss of use of ones legs when doing this.

After shopping and lunch we went to a large park on the far side of town where there are paved paths on which folks jog, bike, roller-blade or just plain walk. Most of these trails are pretty long so aunt Ellie suggested that we take the chairs, did we ever have fun that afternoon. I was really tired when we got back to aunt Ellie's apartment about 4:00 PM; I kept the braces on the rest of the evening alternating between walking with the crutches and using the wheel chair. I finally took the braces off when I was getting ready for bed; I had wheeled into the spare bedroom and transferred to the bed to take the braces off. After getting undressed I started to get up and go to the bathroom to take a shower; I pushed myself up off the bed and got about half way up when my knees buckled under me and I fell on the floor. I was startled and a bit scared by the suddenness of this occurrence. Aunt Ellie was just outside of the door and heard me fall, she rolled into the bedroom laughing at the quizzical look on my face. "You have not used your legs all day," she said, "they are weak, kind of like when your leg goes to sleep, they'll be fine once you use them again. You should probably use the chair for now or let me get the crutches for you." "Never mind," I said, "I'll just use the chair since it is right here." I decided that I would play the pretend game to the hilt so I pulled myself into the chair and went into the bathroom, which is completely handicap accessible. Since I was pretending to be a paraplegic I wasn't able to stand, so I filled the tub and transferred into it for my bath. When I was done, I pulled myself up on the side of the tub, put the toilet seat down and put a towel over it. I transferred to the toilet and dried myself off, put my nightie on and transferred back to the wheel chair. I rolled back into the bedroom and transferred to the bed, I pulled my legs into the bed and straightened them out in front of me and laid back and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I transferred myself to the chair and went to use the bathroom and do my makeup, and then I put the braces and got dressed. Through all of this I had remained true to my pretending and had not used my legs at all, it was such a thrill. When I went into the kitchen aunt Ellie said that it was OK to wear the braces for a while during the day but that I would have to take them off by mid-afternoon so that I could walk around and get my legs back into shape before it was time to go home that night.

I took the braces off about 3 in the afternoon; I had to use the crutches for the first hour because I could not stand unaided. After a while I was as good as new, walking around as I had before wearing the braces. As I was about to leave aunt Ellie said that we would have to do this again soon as she had really enjoyed going out with another disabled girl.

A couple of weeks later, Sam and I were at aunt Ellie's for the weekend. As soon as we got there on Friday we both put braces on, aunt Ellie was in her wheel chair when we got there and said that she was planning to use the chair all weekend so we could use the braces. I used her regular braces with the built up shoe, I had to be very careful when I was walking not to trip myself up and fall.

Sam was of course wearing her hearing aids, and I, as was my habit was also wearing mine. We had been around aunt Ellie so much growing up that she had learned to sign pretty well herself so for the weekend, she was the only hearing one among us. Sam had her aids turned way down so that she could hear practically nothing. I have found that if I pack some cotton way down in my ear I can simulate a good bit of deafness; however, if I take about half of one of those rubber ear plugs that you compress and put in your ear and let it expand and push it down against my eardrum I become much more deaf; when I do this I can hear very little without the aids and have to turn them way up to hear with them. This is what I did before putting my hearing aids in, and then I left the volume turned way down so that I was almost as deaf as Sam. When we were out in the mall, aunt Ellie would talk to anyone who we needed to communicate with and sign for us because we really couldn't hear the conversations. Talk about some looks, we really got them on this outing and others where we did the same thing. We'd really get them when we were crutching down the mall and would suddenly stop and sign for a few moments then crutch on.

We did these outings several times and included Sam when she was able to be along. Aunt Ellie and I even took a trip for week during which I lived as a paralyzed girl for the entire time. It was on the way home from one of these weekends shortly after the following New Year that I had my accident.

Chapter 3 Brandy - The Trip as a Pretender - Part 1

The summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school, aunt Ellie asked my mom if I could take a trip with her. She was going to be on vacation for a week and wanted to drive up to Seattle, she didn't want to go alone since it would be a lot of driving. She said that since I now had my driver's license I would be able to help her with the driving. She of course didn't tell mom that she planned for me to take the vacation as a paralyzed girl in braces and/or a wheel chair.

Mom of course said yes, she thought that it would be a great trip and that she was sure I would enjoy it; little did she know. When aunt Ellie told me about the trip she said that she really wanted me to wear her spare braces and go as a paralyzed girl. She had really been enjoying our outings on the weekends and thought that this would really be a lot of fun. I of course agreed and could not wait to get started.

It was decided that we would leave first thing on a Saturday morning and that I would leave my car at aunt Ellie's apartment complex. I drove over to her apartment on Friday evening after she got home from work. I had already put my plugs way down in my ears and was wearing my hearing aids, I had decided that for the trip I was also going to be deaf the entire time. The first thing aunt Ellie said was for me to put on the braces and that I should plan to not walk unaided until we got back to her apartment from the trip. We would actually get back on Saturday evening so that I would have all day Sunday to learn to walk again as we called it when I took the braces off and hobbled around till my legs would work right again. She had told my mom that I would be home on Sunday afternoon before dark.

I went into aunt Ellie's spare bedroom to put on the braces and she followed me in, she said that she had a surprise for me. She told me that she had been taking some training in hypnosis and would hypnotize me and give me instructions while I was under that my legs were paralyzed and that I could not move them. She said that she would not take away the feeling in my legs because she didn't want to take a chance on my hurting myself somehow and not knowing it, and besides she had feeling in her legs so she wanted me to be the same as she was. She asked me if I wanted to do this and of course I said yes. She proceeded to put me in a hypnotic trance and give me the instructions, when she brought me out I found that I could not move my legs at all. This was really neat; I pinched my legs and could feel it; it was a strange sensation to be able to feel them but not move them. I held my right leg out straight and tried as had as I could to hold it there, then I let it go and it fell to the floor with a thud. "This is so cool!" I said. I dragged myself up onto the bed; my legs just flopped around as they were pulled onto the bed. "Cool! I really like this." She also told me to let her know if at any time I was regaining movement in my legs so she could hypnotize me again, she didn't know how long the instructions she gave me would last.

Now it was necessary for me to either put on the braces or transfer to the wheel chair that was parked next to the bed. I asked Aunt Ellie what we would be doing for the rest of the evening so I could decide which I wanted to do; she said she thought we'd go somewhere and get a bite to eat, perhaps take-out since I probably shouldn't be seen in town with the braces on.

She asked me to please stop calling her aunt Ellie, just plain Ellie was fine since we were only a couple of years apart in age. She said that especially for the trip, where we would just be two crippled girls on a vacation together. I told her it would be weird to just call her Ellie but would do so if she wished. I decided that I would wear the braces to get a little practice in them with my newly "dead" legs, I put them on and we went to pickup our dinners.

When I put the braces on and went to stand up from the bed, I realized how much I had been using my legs to stand up while pretending. Now that they were really not working it was an entirely different matter and I had to practice getting up without using them. After a couple of tries with Ellie coaching me I had it down pat. We headed out to get dinner, when I got into the passenger side of the car I found out that I had not been totally lifting my legs with my hands in the past either; apparently I had been using my leg muscles for this exercise as well. I was surprise to find out how much my legs in braces really weighed.

When we returned home, I took off the braces and transferred to the wheel chair to be sure that I new how to do that as well. I didn't want to get caught not knowing how to do the simple things I would need to do. We had decided that if anyone got suspicious we would say that I had been paralyzed only recently and that this was my first trip since my accident. I was still learning how to live as a paraplegic, thus I was having trouble with some of my mobility tasks. This was not really a lie since I really was newly paralyzed, the event having taken place only this evening.

Bright and early Saturday morning we set out for Seattle. It would take two days of driving time but we decided that we would take it easy and stop and sight see whenever there was something we wanted to see. Ellie had suggested that we not wear our braces in the car, as they would get uncomfortable after the long hours in the car, thus we both used wheel chairs whenever we stopped. This was turning out to be the most exhilarating experience of my life, I really got excited every time we stopped and I had to transfer myself from the car to the wheel chair then pickup my legs and place them on the foot rests. Since both Ellie and I liked wearing high heels we had decided to travel in short skirts, hose and heels. When not wearing braces, I almost exclusively wear clogs or sandals and slides that don't have backs or back straps on them. I love these types of shoes and the ability to just slide my feet in and out of the shoe. Ellie had suggested that I bring some heels along for the trip, not knowing that she was going to paralyze my legs, I only brought high heeled slides, no pumps or sandals with straps to keep the shoes on limp paralyzed feet. Ellie offered me the use of some of her heels but I decided I wanted to try mine to see how they worked, I could always switch to a pair of hers if I needed to. When I slipped the shoes on my feet, I made sure that I put them on as snuggly as I could, hoping that they wouldn't fall off. They did fall off a couple of times but that didn't turn out to be a problem because there always seemed to be some nice guy intently watching us that I could ask to pickup my shoe for me, what a gas! I had crossed my legs as I situated myself in my chair; apparently, I didn't do a very good job of getting one leg completely over the other and as I rolled along down a bumpy path, my crossed leg fell off of the other and was left just hanging over the edge of the footrest. Thank goodness the shoe fell off the foot and my foot didn't reach the ground or I might have hurt my ankle. When this happened, I noticed a guy intently watching my legs. I was glad I had put shorts on under my skirt, or I really would have given him a show for my legs had separated considerably when my crossed leg departed its mate. I stopped my chair, smiled at the guy, and crossed my leg again making sure that I put it completely over the other. I looked up at the intent devotee(?) and asked him if he would be so kind as to retrieve my lost shoe, he jumped at the opportunity and was handing it to me in less than a heart beat, what service. I leaned over and replaced the shoe on my foot, thanked him for his kindness and rolled on down the path. You would have thought that I'd have learned from that experience; but noooo, I did it again at another stop.

When we stopped for the day late the first afternoon, we asked the bellman if he could unload our suitcases from the trunk for us, he said of course and began doing so. The poor boy almost broke his neck when he tripped over the curb with our suitcases in tow. He was so busy watching Ellie and me that he was not looking where he was going and didn't pickup his foot when he approached the curb, this of course didn't work very well and he ended up sprawled and red faced on the walkway. Ellie suspected that he was a devotee and decided to have some fun with him.

We proceeded to the desk and checked in, the hotel was equipped with handicapped rooms so we were in business. We headed for our room with the hapless bellman in tow. When he had deposited all of our bags in our room, Ellie rolled over to the big duffle, which contained our braces and crutches saying to the lad that if he was mechanically inclined she had a small job for him. She said that she wanted to swap shoes on her braces but had been having trouble getting one of the shoes off of the braces and would he be able to help. He said of course he would be glad to help in any way he could.

Ellie made a big production of getting the braces out of the duffle bag, and then she could not remember which brace it was that was giving her the problem. She released both shoes from the braces with no problem at all. All of this time the poor bellman was turning redder and sweating faster as he watched her pull the braces out of the bag and fiddle with them. When Ellie turned around and looked at the fellow she knew that she had proven him to be a devotee so she said that she couldn't determine which one it was since both shoes had released like they should, she told him that she'd call him later if she needed any help. The poor boy couldn't get out of the room fast enough to suit him, he almost ran into the door jam on his way out. Ellie and I laughed till our sides hurt. When we had calmed down we talked about what had just happened and decided that we probably should not do that again since it was not a very nice thing to do to a poor guy like him.

I checked out the bathroom facilities and had to admire the hotel for their completeness. There were grab bars around the raised handicapped toilet, space to get a wheel chair next to it, low counters and mirrors and grab bars in the tub. There was even a trapeze over the tub to facilitate transfer into and out of it.

The next order of business was to go for a swim in the hotel's pool. That of course meant that we had to change into our swimsuits. As I had experienced the night before and this morning, it is very different attempting to dress or undress when you don't have a set of working legs. They are always in the wrong place, at the wrong angle and won't stay where you place them for more than a few seconds. I was slowly becoming seasoned at dressing myself, Ellie would offer suggestions as I went so that made it a whole lot easier to learn the tricks of the trade as it were. I decided to wear a bikini since the bottom was easier to get on. All I had to do was roll over and get it between my legs then tie the sides and I was done. Besides, I happen to have the necessary equipment to fill out a bikini top rather well, if you consider a "D" cup bust in a skimpy top well filled out that is. I took my hearing aids out and put some very tight waterproof plugs in my ears, with these I was almost totally deaf and would have to depend on Ellie to sign for me if we met anyone at the pool. She would explain that I had been susceptible to very severe ear infections since I was a child, that in fact it was those infections that had caused my deafness and that I wore the ear plugs to keep water out to try and avoid infection.

Once changed, we caught an elevator down to the ground floor and headed for the pool. There were only a few guests at the pool, which was just fine with me. I had never gotten out of a wheel chair and entered the water as a para; I had no idea how I was going to pull this off. As I put a strap on my glasses I asked Ellie how I should go about getting into the pool. She said that she generally would put her chair near the edge of the pool and lock the wheels, and then raise the foot rests and place her feet very near the edge of the pool. She would then slide herself to the edge of her seat and shove herself out of the chair and into the water. I told her thanks a lot for the suggestion; however, if I tried that I would probably loose my glasses and I certainly didn't need to do that. She said that if I shoved myself off the seat and grabbed hold of my glasses until I had surfaced that I should have no problem at all, as a matter of fact this is how she does it so watch and learn. Well I guess there is a first time for everything so I followed Ellie's lead and lobbed myself into the pool, grabbing frantically for my glasses which stayed right where they were supposed to.

Swimming was very different without the use of my legs, I had taken swimming lessons and of course tried to kick when I swam but nothing happened. I also found that since my legs were so relaxed they just floated along behind me and I was able to stroke without kick and got around the pool pretty well. To be able to really swim I started to take my glasses off but realized that being as deaf and blind as I was I couldn't take a chance of getting confused about my location in the pool because I would not be able to hear directions from Ellie. I proceeded to swim around the pool with my glasses on vowing to myself that I would have to get those swim goggles with my prescription that I had been thinking about for some time now. After swimming around for a while I stopped and started to bob around the shallow end of the pool for a bit, when I got to the point where my feet hung down straight and touched the bottom I found that I could stand up as long as my knees were locked back. I thought I would try to move my leg forward with my hip and take a step but guess what; it didn't work because the leg kind of flopped around in the water and collapsed as soon as I tried to move my weight to it. I was really getting a good education on what it was like to be a real para.

There were a couple of guys about our age at the pool, after a while they got up enough nerve to come over and talk with us. They had seen us arrive at the pool in the chairs so they new we were paras. They had not seen Ellie and I signing so when they began talking I didn't even realize they were talking to us. Ellie told me later that at first they kind of stumbled over their words but eventually settled down and we had a nice conversation with them, Ellie of course had gotten my attention and was signing for me. We exchanged the standard where are you from and where are you going information as we chatted. Ellie decided to sit on the side of the pool and attempted to push herself up with her arms but could not quite get there. She asked one of the guys if he thought he could help her out with her problem, he was most obliging and lifted her by her waist and sat her on the side of the pool. As he was doing this, Ellie noticed that he was so excited that he nearly had an accident all over himself. I noticed her little grin and knew that something had happened which she was probably expecting as a result of having asked the guy for help. She signed to me that she was convinced that he was a devotee and was going to watch for a chance to prove it, but the opportunity didn't materialize as she had hoped.

My next challenge came when it was time to get out of the water and back into the chair. I knew that I would not be able to pull my self up to the side as Ellie had attempted to do if she had not succeeded. I signed to her to ask one of the guys if I could enlist his assistance to get back into my chair. He was most obliging and picked me up and carried me out of the pool, over to my chair and carefully sat me down in it, he even offered to put my feet on the foot rests which were still in the up position from my earlier entry into the water. Since I had felt some firmness on my butt while he was carrying me, I think he thought I had no sensation below the waist, I decided to let him have his fun and allowed him to do it. He too was on the verge of the same accident his buddy almost suffered when helping Ellie earlier. Ellie being far more practiced at getting into a chair from the ground had herself in the chair in a snap and made it look so easy I knew I would have to practice that move a bunch before I would be able to accomplish it in public as she did.

The guys wanted us to go to dinner with them but we declined the invitation. We were both tired and wanted to get to bed early so we could make an early start in the morning. We ordered takeout from a Mexican restaurant and ate in our room then turned in for a good nights sleep. This had been perhaps the most exciting day of my life and I had a bit of trouble going to sleep, I even found out that tossing and turning was not easily accomplished without the use of ones legs.

When I woke up the next morning, I found that I could move my legs just a bit. I decided that I would get Ellie to re-hypnotize me before I got up so I called to her to see if she was awake. She had woken up just a few minutes ago and was about to wake me up when I called to her. She transferred to her chair and came over to my bed and proceeded to hypnotize me again, just like the first time I couldn't use of my legs when she was done. I told her I would like to find out if there was a self-hypnosis method that I could use to hypnotize my self whenever I wanted to and was by myself. I was thinking that when I went away to college I might want to do this sometime when she was not around. She said that she new that there was such a thing as self-hypnosis but didn't know if it would work for this or not. She suggested that I look into some of the meditation methods since she had heard that one could put parts of their body into a sleep like mode in which the body parts didn't react to stimulus and couldn't be moved. She understood that once the meditation session was over if the body part had not been awakened it would remain that way for quit some time. I decided that I really needed to learn to mediate since it was such a wonderful and relaxing thing to do anyway. Ha! I new that if it was possible to put part of your body into that kind of mode that I would become an expert at it.

We got dressed and called for a bellman to take our bags down; fortunately the poor fellow from the day before was not the one that came. We checked out and headed for the open road for another day of traveling. We stopped several times during the day and had a really great time. I was really getting good at transferring to the chair and back to the car with all this practice.

Ellie had gotten a list of ADA compliant hotels along our route; we picked another nice hotel from the list for our second nights lodging. This list was to be our hotel guide for the entire trip. Instead of going swimming we decided to go out to eat at a nice restaurant. We both put our braces on and went down to the lobby and asked about good restaurants near by. There were a couple of guys checking in as we were talking to the desk clerk about restaurants, they apparently overheard our conversation because no sooner than we arrived at the restaurant and gave the hostess our names than they appeared in the door. As we waited to be seated, we introduced ourselves and chatted about the trips we were taking. As it happened, they were going to Seattle as well for a few days of vacation. They mentioned that they were hopping to find some girls once they had arrived but lo and behold, they had found us even before they arrived in Seattle. Ellie and I decided that we would have dinner with them and see if we thought they would be OK to hang out with in Seattle. We didn't want to jump to any conclusions; we knew that they were aware that we were both in braces since they both seen us walking and continuously glanced at our legs.

We were seated for dinner and continued the conversation. They eventually asked how two beautiful disabled girls had gotten to know each other and decided to take a trip like this together. Ellie told them that she was my aunt but that we were only a couple of years apart but had been raised like sisters. She told them that she had had polio as a child and that I had been in an automobile accident a few months ago. We also told them we didn't mind talking about our disabilities so feel free to ask any questions they wished. They of course had lots of questions including some rather personal ones that we answered very carefully. All in all, they seemed to be pretty nice guys so we told them that we would probably agree to see them in Seattle. After dinner we all went back to the hotel, the guys wanted to sit out on the patio by the bar and have a couple of drinks so we said that we would meet them there in a little while. We had decided to take the braces off to see if they were as attracted to us as before.

We met them by the bar and they asked what we wanted to drink. Ellie said that neither of us drank, we didn't tell them that neither of us was 21, so we would have a soda. I mentioned that considering our disabilities it was best that we not drink alcohol, as the results could be unpredictable. They bought that and ordered the drinks. They really were nice and didn't push themselves on us, which endeared them to us considerably. That is not to say that I wasn't wondering what it would be like to be with a man in my current condition, I am not promiscuous but neither am I a virgin. I had had a steady boyfriend for a while but he and I had broken up earlier in the summer because he was smothering me too much and was too demanding. They seemed to be just as attracted to us in the chairs as in braces, which we thought was a good sign. I decided to see if they were also attracted to the strong glasses we were wearing so I took mine off and laid them on the table, I made a comment about being blind without them as I looked around the room. Phil who was sitting on my right kind of looked at them and commented that they sure did look strong, he asked if I minded if he took a closer look at them to which I replied that I didn't mind if he promised not to run off with them. He laughed and said that he doubted that he would be able to run very far with them since he could probably not see very well with them. He picked them up and examined them closely, and then he took off his own fairly weak glasses and compared the lenses. "These really are thick lenses, aren't they really heavy? Couldn't you get them in much thinner lenses?" I replied, "Yes and yes; however, I like the thick lenses. I think they are cool looking so that is why I wear them even though I have some thinner ones. Actually, they aren't that heavy and since I wear them a lot I am used to them and they don't bother me." Phil then put my glasses on and looked around. "I can't focus on anything with your glasses," he said, "but I agree that they really are cool looking glasses, in fact I really like the thick lenses and wish mine were thicker than they are."

"Oh," I said, "You wouldn't happen to have an eye glasses fetish would you? And might you not also be a devotee of disabled women?" "Busted," he answered as he handed me my glasses, "I don't think I can get away with trying to deny it." I put my glasses on and looked over at Jim who had a sheepish look on his face, "I guess I have to own up to it also" he said. Jim continued "We really hope that you aren't upset with us because of our interests in you" "That depends," said Ellie, "is your attraction to us only because we are disabled and/or wear strong glasses, not to mention Brandy being deaf; or would you be attracted to us anyway and the disabilities only add to the attraction?" They both admitted that they were certainly attracted to us because we were disabled, they didn't care if we were in braces or chairs and that they were also both attracted to the strong glasses. Phil added that my deafness was also an attraction for him. They further said that they were really interested in us as people that the disabilities simply added mystique to us, which heightened their interest. We told them that we had suspected them and wanted to find out for sure before spending any further time with them. That if they had only been interested in our disabilities then we would not want to see them again; additionally, we made it clear that if we found out that they had not been honest with us we would ditch them in a heart-beat.

We shortly decided to call it a night and rolled off to the elevator and our room. After getting changed and into bed I told Ellie that it had now been two full days since I used my legs at all and I was having the time of my life. She said that she rather expected that since I had admitted to her that I was a wannabe. She said that she really didn't mind her disability, that as a matter of fact even though there were some inconveniences she rather enjoyed the attention she got because of it. She said that she didn't think she would get that kind of attention if she were not handicapped. I fully agreed with her. I asked her if there were a way in which she could get back the use of her legs would she do it. After some thought she said that she couldn't remember not being disabled and that she had accepted and become comfortable with her disability so she didn't think she would want to be any different. She then mentioned that she thought that part of the issue was a certain fear of the unknown, she didn't know what it would be like to not be disabled so that was an unknown. I replied that I could understand her fear; however, in my case since I had experienced life in braces and a wheel chair I had no fear of being disabled so there was no unknown for me. Ellie commented that my interest in her paralysis and her braces as we grew up had been a big part of her acceptance of her condition and becoming comfortable with it. She said that she had thought about my pretending and had wondered if she would be a pretender if she were not already disabled; her conclusion was that she probably would be if she had the opportunity. She said that she came to that conclusion when she realized how much she enjoyed my pretending and felt that in a way she was pretending whenever I was because she was such a part of my pretender games.

Chapter 4 Brandy - The Trip as a Pretender - Part 2

The next morning after dressing and packing our stuff, we met Phil and Jim in the lobby. We had agreed that we would travel together to Seattle giving us some time to get to know each other better. None of us was really hungry yet so we set out intending to have breakfast a little later on. Phil asked me if I would like to ride in his car with him for a while and allow Jim to ride with Ellie. Before I had a chance to answer, Ellie asked Jim if he had ever driven a car with hand controls. He responded that he had not but was game to try anything once so he and Ellie headed for her car and Phil pushed me toward his.

Phil was very accommodating; he asked if he could help me get into the car. I told him I really preferred to do it myself, but that he could hold the chair for me and then put it in the back seat. I gracefully transferred myself into the front seat then made a bit of a production of lifting my legs in. Phil's eyes were glued to my every move, I had to tell him that I was completely in the car and he could put the chair in the back seat. He turned a bit red faced and hurried to comply. When he had gotten in the car, I told him that he needn't be embarrassed about watching me do things like transfer into the car. He needed to know that I really liked the fact that he was interested enough to watch and that I would gladly put on a show for him any time, within the limits of modesty of course.

Phil's car has a bench seat so after a while I slid myself over closer to him then crossed my right leg over my left, placing my foot on the hump close to his foot on the gas pedal. He kind of watched that not too sure what he should do next other than watch. A little later he had his right hand resting on his leg, he moved it over and put it on my leg very gently. I looked over at him and smiled, he blushed a bit and asked if I had any feeling at all in my legs. I told him that I was an incomplete paraplegic and had fairly normal feeling from my injury point down. I mentioned that I considered myself very lucky that for all intent and purposes I had only lost the use of my legs as a result of my injury. He then grinned and looked at me and asked "By the way, would you like me to move my hand or is it OK where it is?" "Why don't you just leave it where it is; however, if it gets up too high I may have to take some action to remove it, like maybe an elbow to the ribs. Phil grinned again as he began to rub my thigh, it was a real turn-on to have him rubbing my useless legs. I was rather excited at this point, much more so than at any point in the past while playing cripple. I was getting so excited that I was about to have an orgasm and would have if Phil had moved his hand up much higher on my leg; however, he was being very discreet and didn't move his had above the bottom of my mini-skirt which gave him plenty of thigh to work on.

It was about 9:30 AM and we had been on the road for a couple of hours when we decided to grab some breakfast. Jim and Ellie had been in the lead so we passed them up and pulled off on an exit and into a Denny's Restaurant. When we got into the restaurant, I signed to Ellie that I was going to the restroom and would she like to go as well. Even us disabled girls like to have company when we go to the restroom so off we went. We had to take turns since there was only one disabled stall; this gave us plenty of time to talk over what had been going on in each of the cars. We signed the whole time we were in the restroom because there were other ladies there and we didn't want to share our story with them; knowing sign language certainly comes in handy at times. Ellie's story was not very much different than mine except that since her car has hand controls Jim couldn't get his hand off of the wheel to put it on her leg very often. He did manage to use the cruise control, which allowed him to drive with one hand for a little while, but he was not very comfortable with that so he didn't play with her legs nearly as much as Phil did with mine. We were both pretty excited about having met up with Phil and Jim, our plans for the week had been designed to have fun but this was not in the plans and lots more fun. After breakfast we got back on the road and headed on. We made several stops that day for sight seeing opportunities; this part of the US is just as beautiful as I had heard that it was. The stops allowed us to change drivers often and Ellie and I each took a turn at driving as well; however, we had to be in her car for our turn behind the wheel, as we both needed the hand controls to drive. Phil enjoyed it when I was driving, since I was not using my legs they became fair game for him to play with; believe me, I loved every minute of it.

We knew we would not make it to Seattle that day so we decided to stop early and finish the trip the next day. As we were checking in we noticed the beautiful pool and surrounding gardens, it was immediately decided that we'd visit the pool before going out to dinner. As we departed to our rooms, we agreed to meet at the pool in 30 minutes.

It actually took Ellie and me a bit longer than expected to change and get back to the pool, the guys were they're waiting for us. A little suspense did them no harm. I was of course deaf again so Ellie had to sign for guys to communicate with me. Phil asked if we would need help getting into the pool or preferred to do it ourselves. We both accepted assistance and were lifted gently by Phil and Jim and carried down the steps into the pool. I have never had such assistance in anything I've done as I got that afternoon. A girl could easily get accustomed to living like this; at least I know I could! The water was great and the company exquisite; we swam and had lots of fun. I even dared to remove my glasses and take a few turns around the pool, this time Phil was right alongside of me so I didn't need any directions to find my glasses when we were done.

We all changed and met for dinner, since Ellie and I were wearing braces we decided to use Phil's car since it was a 4-door sedan, which would allow Ellie or I to get into the back seat. We had a terrific dinner and returned to the hotel to sit outside and have sodas again. Phil and I decided to take a walk around the hotel's grounds; they had some beautiful gardens, which we both enjoyed. Phil mentioned, as we walked that he was glad I had my hearing aids back in because he had no clue how to sign so all we would be able to have was a one way conversation; him listening to me! As we were returning from our walk, Phil suggested that we might go to my room and have some private time together; I thought this to be a stupendous idea but didn't see Ellie and Jim where we had left them. I mentioned to Phil that it appeared that Ellie and Jim had gone in and that she would be in our room, he replied that he doubted she would be. I gave him a funny look and he explained that he and Jim had agreed that Jim would make every effort to take Ellie to their room leaving our room available for Phil and me. Sure enough, Ellie wasn't in the room but her wheel chair was gone. Phil mentioned that Jim would escort Ellie back to the room at mid-night so we had almost 3 hours to ourselves.

I'll not go into details of what happened in the room that night, save to say that Phil took my braces off for me and we had a blast. When Jim brought Ellie back to the room, Phil and I were sitting on the couch waiting for their arrival. Ellie came in with her braces in her lap and Jim pushing her chair. They were both sporting big smiles so I presumed that had a good time together as well. Before they left Phil brought my chair over to the couch so that I could transfer to it and get ready for bed, I am totally convinced that as a disabled woman I would have no problems finding men who would be interested in me and want to spend time with me.

We arrived in Seattle the next day. We spent the remaining time sight seeing and having a wonderful time. Phil and Jim of course escorted us everywhere. It was very obvious that they were equally attracted to us regardless of our mode of travel, braces or chairs kept their attention throughout the week. We headed home on Friday morning, since we were not planning to stop and sight see we had no problems arriving back home late Saturday afternoon. Since Phil and Jim had to go through our town to get back home, they live several hundred miles from us, they stayed with us all the way home. I decided not to tell Phil that I was a pretender and that Ellie had used hypnosis to paralyze my legs for the trip. I figured that there would be little if any chance of him seeing me walking so why tell him now. If by some chance we were to get together again I would tell him then.

As we unpacked and got ready for bed, Ellie said that she would remove the hypnotic suggestions first thing on Sunday morning after which I would need to spend most of the day on my feet to get my legs back in shape before returning to my parent's house that night. It was interesting to me that she had to renew the hypnotic suggestions on Sunday then not again until Wednesday evening. Her suggestions seem to last longer each time for some reason.

I had had so much fun on this vacation as a para that I reaffirmed my commitment to look into forms of meditation and self-hypnosis. I expected that when I went to college I would not have Ellie around to hypnotize me whenever I wanted to simulate as a paraplegic. I figured that since I would be a good distance from home I would want to be able to simulate as a para whenever I chose to. I had decided that I would somehow get myself a wheel chair and be able to take a drive to some town away from school. This was of course before I came up with a way to get a wheel chair for my own use; I'll share more about that in the next chapter. I also knew that Sam would be more than willing to participate in these games with me.

First thing on Sunday morning, Ellie removed the hypnotic suggestions. When she had done so, I fond that I could move my legs with some effort but they would not hold me up at all without the use of crutches. Learning to walk was an all day process this time, when I left for home I was able to walk without the crutches but with some difficulty. I decided that if mom asked what was wrong, I'd say that I had sat on my legs most of the day in the car and they would be fine in the morning. She didn't ask so I had nothing to say about it. When our pictures came back she did ask why of all of the pictures we had taken on the trip there were none of either of us, I just replied that I guessed we just didn't think to take any of each other. We actually had taken quite a few but Ellie had kept them since they showed me in braces, a wheel chair or both.

Chapter 5 Brandy - Back to School - My Junior Year

Wow, what a summer I had. After the trip with Ellie, I spent several more weekends with her. Sam was with us every weekend. Ellie continued to perfect her hypnosis skills; the next time Sam and I were there she hypnotized both of us sitting on the bed in the spare bedroom. I had told Sam all about the trip and what an exhilarating event it had been to live the entire week as a para. Sam was jealous and couldn't wait until the next time I was going to Ellie's so she could go along. When Ellie hypnotized us this time, she not only told us that our legs didn't work, but also that we would not feel any pain unless it was a very sharp and severe one, when Ellie brought us out of the hypnotic trance and Sam realized that her legs were paralyzed she let out a scream of glee, "This is so cool," she said. She picked up one of her legs, her foot just drooped down then she straightened it out and let it drop; it fell to the floor with a thud, "This is so cool," she said again. She started to try and stand up but Ellie stopped her. "You can't do that," she said, "your legs are paralyzed and you'll fall and could hurt yourself." "Oh yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. I was going to get in the wheel chair and see how it felt to roll around in it as a para."

Ellie suggested that Sam wear a pair of the braces and asked me if I wanted braces or the chair. "I'll use the chair," I said, "since I've had the experience with the braces already I agree that Sam should use them this weekend. Ellie said that as soon as Sam put the braces on we would go out to get some dinner; she then rolled out of the room to go put her braces back on and freshen up; she said that either she or I should be in braces to demonstrate for Sam. Before she left the room, Ellie had moved the wheel chair closer to the bed so that I could transfer to it. I had decided to wear a very short mini-skirt and a tank top, thigh-hi stockings and a pair of high-heeled slides with no back on them. Once in the chair I picked up my left leg and placed it on the right footrest, then I picked up the right leg and crossed it over my left. My right foot drooped down and the high-heeled slide just hung from my toes, Sam thought that it was a really sexy look.

Ellie told me that she would like for me to drive since I wasn't wearing braces and it would be easier for me to get into the driver's seat. Sam managed to drag herself into the back with some difficulty, she said that she hopped there were no guys watching as she didn't think her entry into the car had been very lady like. Ellie then mentioned to Sam that she would often wear a pair of short shorts under her skirts, especially a mini since she sometimes could not help but pull her legs apart and flash anyone who happened to be watching. Sam thought that to be good advice, which she would heed in the future. I knew about the shorts but had forgotten to mention them to Sam. I had put on shorts under my skirt when I got dressed at home, since I didn't dress at Ellie's Sam had not notice I was wearing them.

The rest of the evening was un-eventful; Sam did very well in the braces for her first time with her legs paralyzed. When we returned home and began getting ready for bed, Ellie told us that we should plan what we needed to do, as we would only have one wheel chair between us. We both giggled, hope we don't both have to go to the restroom at the same time as that could present a real problem. Since I was already in the chair, I went into the bathroom and did what I needed to do while Sam removed the braces. By the time I came back into the bedroom she had them off and was ready for the chair. I transferred to the bed so that she could have the chair, that's when the fun started. Sam slid over to the side of the bed and grabbed the chair as she had seen me do and proceeded to swing herself into it. Without realizing it, she swung herself a bit too far and toppled the chair and herself to the floor. She was startled at first and had a very surprised look on her face. "Are you OK," I asked? She started laughing and said, "I guess I got over anxious or something, what happened?" "Apparently you swung your butt too far over and caused the chair to topple, we'll have to get it back on it's wheels then you will have to pull yourself into it."

About that time Ellie wheeled into the room with only one brace still on, "I heard a noise, what happened?" She then chuckled as she saw Sam on the floor and the wheel chair lying on its side. "So we got a bit over zealous transferring to the chair did we?" "Yeah," said Sam, "as usual I was in too big a hurry and over did the swing from the bed to the chair." "Well, that is one of the things that happens to us cripples if we aren't careful what we are doing. We always have to be careful when using a chair because it is easy to tip it over or slide out of it if we are too close to the edge, when this happens we are susceptible to hurting ourselves." She then asked, "Do you feel any pain in your legs? You should have enough feeling that if something was really hurt you would feel it, although the pain would not seem to be as severe as if the feeling in your legs were not reduced." "I can't feel a thing in my legs," said Sam, "so I think all is well. So what is the easiest way for me to get up off the floor? Obviously I can't just stand up and sit in the chair as I could the last time we were doing this."

"Right you are," said Ellie as she began to un-strap her remaining brace, "first get the chair back on its wheels, then turn yourself around so that you are facing the same direction as the chair and to one side of it. Sam did that and Ellie said, "good, now take your right leg and lay it over your left. Now turn yourself over to the left and push yourself back so that you end up on your knees. Brandy, roll the chair toward her; Sam, you need to reach up and lock the wheels. OK, now o reach up and grab the chair and pull yourself up onto it, and then you turn over and sit in it. This sometimes takes a while to learn to do." "OK, I sure am glad I hadn't taken my hearing aids out so that I can hear the instructions." She had been doing each thing as Ellie told her too and now began to try and pull herself into the chair. She was not getting very far with this, she would get up on the chair but when she tried to turn over she fell back out of it. Finally Ellie told her to stop and watch how she did it as she lowered herself to the floor. She turned herself over and pushed up to her knees, reached up and grabbed chair and began to pull herself up into it, "you have to realize that I have had to do this many times in my life so I probably make it look easy but I know it isn't." After watching this feat, Sam tried it again and finally managed to get herself up onto the chair and turned into a sitting position. "Wow, I had no idea that you had such hard things to do as a para," she said to Ellie. "Not so hard with a little practice, it's just embarrassing when you have to do it in public and you are wearing a short skirt. Sometimes a kindly person will offer to assist you, if you have not displayed yourself too badly in the fall then they can really help to minimize the embarrassment.

We finally got into bed and started talking about the evening; it was then that Sam admitted to me that she too was a wannabe. She had known for some time that I was one since I had told her. She said that she really suspected that she was until tonight, when after having had the experience of being paralyzed her feelings were confirmed. "We need to figure out how we can live our lives this way in the future," she said. "I know," I replied, "I've been thinking about that since Ellie hypnotized me the first time for the trip. I have gone to the library and checked out a couple of books on meditation and self-hypnosis; I'm trying to learn how to do this to my self whenever I want to. Then maybe some time in the future I can paralyze myself and just forget to undo it. I think it would become permanent after a while because of not using my legs because the muscles would be too weak for me to walk then I would have to use a chair or braces." We continued to talk for a while, mainly about college after high school and what we would study. We hit on the idea of becoming physical therapists or even orthopedic nurses or doctors. We both had really good grades in high school so we could probably get into any major we wanted to in college. We decided to apply for schools that were a long way away from home so that we would not be expected to come home for weekends nor would our parents be visiting us very often. This would give us the ability to play our games whenever we wanted to. Little did we know that at least for me the games were not going to continue for very much longer.

On a couple of weekends when Ellie was not able to have us over for the weekend, she offered to let us use her "toys". We would go to her apartment on Saturday morning to prepare ourselves for a day at the mall. If she were at home, she would hypnotize us before we left; otherwise, since I now had a key for her apartment she had offered to let us come over and help ourselves. If she was not going to need her wheel chair, she'd leave the one from her car in the apartment, so we would both be in wheel chairs. Other times one of us would wear braces and the other use a chair. A couple of times Ellie had not worn her braces and had taken only her chair so both of us would be able to wear braces. You can't imagine how much fun we had doing this. We would go back to Ellie's apartment and leave the "toys" before going back home

I had been working on my meditation techniques and was starting to get pretty good at it. I would practice it every night when I went to my room to study and then go to bed. Since Ellie had started coming over and staying with us on some weekends that I didn't go to her apartment, I had talked my parents into letting me buy a used lightweight wheel chair that I found in the paper. I had a part time job after school and had some money of my own that I could use for this. I told my parents that since Ellie was so good to me I felt that the least I could do was make it easier for her when she was here by having a wheel chair available, they bought my logic and I bought the chair and kept it in my room. I even told mom that since I needed to replace the broken desk chair at my desk where I studied, I would just use the wheel chair for studying for a while until I had an opportunity to pick up another.

When I started using the chair in my room, I would put myself into a meditation trance in which I would put my body to sleep then wake up only the upper half leaving myself a para. As time when on, I would even wheel out of my room to the kitchen to get a drink of water or a snack telling mom that I was feeling lazy so I decided to use the chair. A couple of times I asked my mom if she would reach me a glass because I couldn't reach it from the chair, she chuckled and said, "you really are being realistic while sitting in that chair aren't your?" Little did she know that I couldn't stand up if I wanted to right then, I was temporarily a paraplegic so standing was out of the question. Eventually, my parents never saw me out of the chair after I had gone to my room for the night, I told them that it was kind of fun rolling around in the chair and I was enjoying the opportunity to experience some of what Ellie lived with. They thought that was kind of cute and didn't say anything when I started using the chair more and more around the house. They never realized that I was a temporary para anytime they saw me in the chair and really needed it at that time. I knew that I could wake up my legs almost instantly if the need arose so I go pretty bold with my temporary para state. I would even stay in the chair when Sam would come over to study with me; although, a few times Sam would use the chair and be temporarily paralyzed instead of me. Sam had become just as good at the meditation techniques as I had, she was doing it at home every night just like I did but didn't have the benefit of a chair so she was not able to do it for as long as I did. She would paralyze herself while she sat and studied, then would roll her desk chair over to her bed, transfer to the bed and push the chair back over to her desk. She would remain paralyzed until she woke up in the morning, sometimes even dragging herself from her bed to the bathroom to take a bath before waking her legs up.

One Friday evening Ellie arrived at our house to find me in the chair. Mom said to me, "Brandy, you really shouldn't use that chair around Ellie. That is being disrespectful to her." "No," replied Ellie, "I don't see it as disrespectful at all, rather to me it is a compliment. You know they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, that's how I see Brandy in that chair. Obviously she wants to understand what my life is like and I appreciate that." Of course Ellie knew that I was in my temporary para mode and gave me a big smile. I stayed paralyzed the whole weekend because we didn't go anywhere. At one point, mom said to me "I guess the next thing you are going to do is borrow Ellie's braces and wear them around here." "You know," I said, "that might be fun to do. Ellie would you mind if I did that, I know our legs are about the same size since we wear each others pants." "No," she said, "I wouldn't mind a bit. As a matter of fact that would give you a better understanding of my paralysis. The only requirement is that you have to put them on like I do, that is you have to move your legs with your hands and not use your leg muscles." She of course knew that I couldn't move my leg muscles but this satisfied mom when she saw me appearing very paralyzed transfer to the couch next to Ellie and begin putting the braces on. When I had them on and stood with Ellie's crutches I made sure to appear a bit unsure of myself. I kept myself a little off balance as I traveled around the room. Mom remarked that I was cute in my short-shorts, halter-top and braces. That statement excited me no end, I knew from that statement that mom thought it was OK for me to be wearing Ellie's braces. I knew that anytime Ellie was there I could wear the braces without concern that mom would say anything, and I did.

On one occasion, Ellie was at the house for the day and I had her braces on and she was in the chair, we were to go to my grandparents for the afternoon and dinner so I went wearing the braces. Mom had apparently told them about me wearing Ellie's braces so nothing was said other than how cute I looked in them. Granddad even went out to the storeroom and brought out Ellie's prior set of braces that were stored there. "I bet we could adjust these enough for you to be able to wear them," he said as he walked over to the couch where I was sitting. "Why don't you take those braces off and let me see what I can do." I took the braces off and he proceeded to adjust them to fit me as I new he would be able to because those were the braces that I had last worn there at the house. Ellie had changed the adjustment before putting them back in the storeroom just in case something like this happened. I put the old braces on and granddad said that I should take them home with me in case I wanted to wear them around the house. I did take them home of course and wore them there any time I wanted to. Because granddad had given them to me, mom & dad didn't say anything about my wearing them. One weekend that Sam and I were going to Ellie's I put on the braces and was sitting in my chair waiting for her to pick me up, mom asked why I was wearing the braces and I told her that Ellie liked me to wear them around her because she liked being with another girl in braces. This way she didn't feel so different from everyone else. Mom smiled and said that this made sense and that she thought it was very considerate of me to be willing to do that for Ellie. She asked if I was going to go out in public this way, I told her that I really didn't know but thought it might be possible. I said that if we did I would ask Ellie to go to the mall in the city so that I wouldn't be where someone could recognize me. After that I would take them to Ellie's sometime so that we could have three pairs of braces and chairs when Sam was there.

Being as accommodating as she is, mom started to leave a glass on the counter for me when she was done in the kitchen. As I continued to use the meditation techniques I got better and better at it. I would paralyze my lower body when I went to my room to study and stay that way until the next morning. At first, when I woke up my legs were working again, but as I got more experience I would wake up still paralyzed. This was really getting to be fun and exciting. I started to paralyze myself on weekends with Ellie and eventually got to where I could stay that way until I woke up my lower body before getting ready to go home on Sunday. Sam of course was doing the same thing as I was and I as I mentioned previously was just as good at it as I was.

Ellie had received an inheritance when she celebrated her 21st birthday; she used some of that money to buy herself a van with a lift. She felt that when she traveled she always did so without her braces, so the van and lift would make traveling much easier for her. Of course she liked to travel whenever she had a chance and took me, and Sam whenever possible, along with her. The van lift would make it much easier to get in and out of the van than transferring into the car and taking the wheels off the chair and collapsing it before putting it all in the back seat. It was setup so that she could just wheel up to the steering wheel, secure her chair and drive in her chair. In total she had requested four sets of chair tie-downs in the van so that she could travel with three chairs besides her own. All the seats were collapsible so that they could be easily moved out of the way for the chairs. Whenever Sam and I went to the mall without Ellie, she would let us take either her car, which she had kept for use locally, or the van depending on which one she was using or on whether we were in braces or chairs. I think my parents had figured out that I was doing some pretending when I was with Ellie, but I don't think they wanted to know too much.

Over thanksgiving, Ellie invited both Sam and me to accompany her on a trip over the holidays. Sam's parents agreed that it would be OK for her to go and of course my parents were accustomed to Ellie taking me on trips with her so of course there was no problem with them agreeing. Mom was not too sure what to say when I took my wheel chair and braces out to the car. "Now why do you need that?" she asked. "Ellie said that she would like to not be the only disabled one among us the whole weekend, she asked me if I mind using the wheel chair and/or braces some on the trip so she could be more comfortable. I said that I would not mind doing that for her." "Ok, I guess that makes sense," mom said, "go ahead but please don't make too much of a habit of this." "Sure mom, that's no problem" I responded.

So off we went for the weekend, all three of us in wheel chairs. Sam and I paralyzed ourselves as soon as we got to Ellie's apartment and were able to stay that way until we returned home on Sunday. We didn't actually take any braces with us for this trip, it was decided just before we left that this would be a wheel chair only trip. Sam and I were twin sisters to anyone, who asked, and Ellie was of course our friend or aunt as the mood struck us. Of course I wore my hearing aids the entire trip as I had done in the past, some of the looks we would get, especially form some of the older people who must have been thinking what a shame, those two sisters and their friend the poor things are so badly disabled; the two sisters are even both deaf. I decided when we got back that I would go home in my braces, if mom asked I would tell her that I had had them on that day in the van and just didn't bother to take them off. I woke up my right leg once I was in the car so I could drive the put it right back to sleep when I drove into our yard. Mom said, "must have been wearing them today and were too lazy to take them off, huh?" I nodded my head "yes" and nothing more was said. I kept the braces on until I was getting ready for bed when I transferred to the chair after taking the braces off. I woke my legs up the next morning and was a bit wobbly for a while, as I was getting ready for school; I was OK by the time I went to the kitchen for breakfast. Of course Sam had to learn to walk again before going home, it didn't take her long at all because she did it at home so much her legs came back pretty quickly.

I continued my pretending through the rest of the year; over the Christmas holidays I spent a great amount of time in the braces and the chair. I told mom that I wanted to see what it was like to have to live like this all the time as Ellie did. I even borrowed Ellie's car for part of the time so that I could go back and forth to her apartment safely in my braces. Dad quipped that it looked like he was going to have to put hand controls in my car if this kept up much longer, if we only knew!

Chapter 6 Brandy - The Accident

The second weekend of the New Year, I was on the way back home from a visit with Ellie when I was in a horrible accident. As I was driving along, a large truck was approaching the highway on a side road to my left. Apparently the driver was DUI and missed seeing the stop sign completely, he came right out onto the highway broad siding my car. He actually hit my car right on the front edge of the driver's door, collapsing the door and dash right onto my legs and pelvis badly smashing them. My legs were both broken in several places, as was my pelvis. Somewhere in there the nerves that control movement and sensory perception in my legs got unplugged. Actually, the nerves were badly pinched on both sides of my hips just where the joints are. This damage paralyzed both of my legs from the hip joints down. I have no feeling in both legs nor can I move my legs below my hips. Thankfully, I have fairly good use of my hip muscles; enough that I can get around in leg braces just fine and all of my bodily functions are in tact.

After the truck had hit me, I realized that I was pinned in the car. I felt excruciating pain in my pelvic area but nothing below that point. From the little I could see of my legs, my glasses were not on my face and I couldn't find them by feeling around, it seemed that they were bent in odd directions and were probably broken; however, I could feel no pain at all. At this point I knew that something was really wrong with my legs and about that time I blacked out. I seemed to float in and out of consciousness as I remember the emergency rescue guys telling me that everything was going to be OK and they would have me out of the car in short order. The paramedic who was checking me out asked me during one of my semi-lucid moments where it hurt, I told her the only pain I was feeling was in my pelvic area. I guess when she heard that she got concerned and called for the helicopter to come to the scene so that I could be transported to the trauma center at a large hospital in the major city an hour or so away, the chopper could make the flight in about 30 minutes. I vaguely remember being loaded on the chopper but nothing else until I woke up in the recovery room after the doctors had operated on my legs and pelvis trying to put them back together. The doctor told me later that they came within an inch of taking both legs off at the hip as they were so badly damaged; however, a few metal plates and screws later I still have my legs. He also told me about the nerves being pinched and that he held out little hope for any improvement in my paralysis. He told me that since I had some use of my hips that I should be able to walk with braces. It was at this point that I realized that I had become a successful wannabe.

The steering wheel and column had come down across my right leg, smashing both the thigh and lower leg bones so badly the when the doctors finally got that leg back together they had a few pieces of bone left over, not a comforting thought. They had even had to shorten the bones in a couple of places to be able to put them together with screws and plates with some hope of them growing back together. The end result is that my right leg is almost 2.5" shorter than my left requiring a built up shoe similar to Ellie's only higher.

After two months in a body cast from my chest to my toes, the cast came off and I went back to surgery so that some of the hardware installed in my body could be removed. They were not able to remove all of the plates and screws, the bones in my right leg were still not considered strong enough for the removal. The doctors said that they would probably leave the plates and screws in that leg because due to lack of use the bones would become brittle; the plates would help prevent further damage to the areas they protected.

One result of the plate and screws in my right leg is that I setoff the airport metal detectors like you would not believe. When I fly I don't wear my braces, as they don't do well in the small isles of airplanes so I use my wheel chair. Of course I can't go through the regular detector so they hand scan me in my chair and the scanner goes nuts when they run it down my right leg. I had one security agent who was not going to let me board the plane because the scanner was going off on my leg. I was wearing a very short skirt and hose so it was pretty obvious I was not concealing anything on my leg, must have been inside? He had to ask his supervisor what he should do, when the super heard the story he gave the guard the dirtiest look I have ever seen and then asked him what he thought I was hiding inside my leg. It was a scream; he let me through right away. I actually have a card that I carry that describes the injury to that leg and the plates that have been left there.

Again I digress, anyway back to the part about my rehab. I had lots of physical therapy after the cast was removed and I had healed from the surgery before I was fitted for my very own long leg braces. What an exciting time this was, as I knew that this was the way I was going to be for the rest of my life just as I had wanted it. I was totally comfortable with being an incomplete paraplegic, actually perhaps, more so than when I was able bodied. My physical therapist was amazed at how quickly I learned how to get around in my braces, she kept mumbling something about it looking like I was experienced at this. I kept my mouth shut and didn't let on anything about my little secret.

When I first got my braces, they had a pelvic band attached to them. I asked the doctor about that and he explained that it was to help me stand up and build up the strength in my hip muscles; once they were strong enough the pelvic band could be removed. As a matter of fact the pelvic band was designed to be easily put on or taken off, he explained that once my muscles were getting strong enough for me to be able to walk without the pelvic band that I could take it off for a while but that I would have to put it back on after a while as my muscles tired or I would have to use my wheel chair instead. He also mentioned that in the future if I did a lot of walking and my hip muscles were bothering me that he would recommend that I wear it for a day or so until the muscles had ceased to hurt.

Ellie visited me often in the hospital; thankfully my physical therapist never saw her when she was there. We talked about how we would go shopping and trolling for guys in our braces or wheel chairs once I had gotten out of the hospital. We compared our paralysis and discovered that we were much the same except for the complete loss of feeling that I had suffered. I told her how strange it was to not be able to feel your legs at all, it was kind of like they were someone else's legs not mine but placed where mine should have been. Really strange! When I had been in temporary para mode I didn't have feeling in my legs; however, I always knew that it was a temporary think so is seems that was different. In this case I know that there will be no change and I'll never have feeling in my legs again. I'm not complaining; I had wanted to be paralyzed just as I am so if I got a bit more than I had been wanting, I can live with that.

While I was in the hospital, my family's lawyer came by to visit with me. He told me about the driver being DUI and that it was not the first time he had had an accident while being impaired. He had spoken with the company's insurance agents and with a manager at the trucking company regarding a monetary settlement for me. He had told them that he would see them in court if that was necessary and promised to make a really big splash about how their driver had paralyzed a young and very active high school girl. To make a long story short, the trucking company and their insurers didn't want to have this story all over the papers so they agreed to a very generous settlement. As our attorney told me, I was a very rich young lady since the number was multiple seven figures in size. They also bought me a really nice new 2-door car, so that I could easily get a wheel chair in the back seat, with all the accessories a girl would want and were having it outfitted with hand controls so that I would be able to drive it. I couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and take to the roads.

While I was in the hospital I was put in a program by the school for homebound kids; so as soon as I was able to a teacher would come by regularly to keep me up with my studies. Sam also helped in any way she could so between the two I stayed on track with my class and passed my junior year with flying colors. Sam and I had both been on track to achieve valedictorian honors. I think it was thought that one of us would be valedictorian and the other salutatorian. After completing my junior year, nothing had changed in that respect.

In the early summer I was released from the hospital. My new car was ready for me when I got home. Mom said she thought I should take it easy for the summer and mostly hang around the house. I had different ideas and the doctor said that it was OK for me to be out and about. He told mom that actually it was probably better for me to go out and get used to my new disability, I would need to become accustomed to the comments that people would have as well as the looks of pity that I would get. It would probably be best for me to get this behind me before I started my senior year in school. Mom finally agreed and cut me loose with very few restrictions, none of which applied to my spending time with Ellie and Sam.

Since I had gotten braces of my own and a new wheel chair, I took my old chair and braces over to Sam's house one day. I asked her mom if I could give them to Sam to use kind of like when I got hearing aids to help her become accustomed to wearing hers. I told her that I felt it would help me if she was wearing the braces or using the chair sometimes when we were together. Her mom said that of course I could give them to her and that it would be OK for her to use them if that would help me. Now Sam had a green light to wear braces and use the chair at home so she could start being a temporary para at home as I had been doing the prior year. She progressed to a point as I had of being a temporary para at home as much as she wanted, she told her mom that she was using the chair and braces a lot at home so she could get a better understanding of what I was living with now. You go girl!

Over the summer we took a couple of trips with Ellie, Sam was paralyzed for the entire trip and had the best time just as I had done the previous summer. Things were coming along well for both of us, I was a permanent para and Sam was an acting para as much as she possibly could be.

Something I probably haven't told you about is the kind of shoes I normally wore when I didn't have braces on. I really like clogs, high-heeled slides and high-heeled sandals, all with no back straps. I find back straps confining so I wear shoes without them as much as I possibly can. I even have a couple of pair of sneakers with no back to them; I love them. Pretty soon after I was released from the hospital, I loaded up a few pairs of these shoes and headed to my orthotist's shop. When I walked in with the shoes in tow he laughed and said, "I knew you were going to be a problem, but I didn't expect you to start this soon." "Surprise, surprise, here I am. I want to talk to you about the shoes on my braces and what we are going to do about them," I told him. "What's wrong with the Mary Janes that are on them now," he asked. "I think they are great for my eleven year old sister, really cute on her; however, on me they aren't cute, sexy, trendy or anything else I would like my shoes to be. I've brought along several pairs that I want you to convert and put built-up soles on so I can enhance my shoe selections before school starts. I may even find another pair or two for you to work on before it's over with."

He asked me to show him the shoes I wanted to have him convert for me. I started pulling my clogs and slides out of the bag and he roared with laughter, "You don't seriously think I can let you wear those shoes with your braces?" he asked. I responded that of course I did and saw no reason for him to be laughing at me like that, I tried to be indignant but I couldn't and was soon laughing with him. Between laughs I said to him that I was not laughing for the same reason he was, I was laughing because he thought I was just kidding him about the shoes when in fact I was as serious as I could be. He finally calmed down and we began talking in earnest about my shoes.

"Please tell me why you say you can't convert these shoes for me, they certainly have enough heel on them to hold the brace bars. So why are you saying that you won't or can't convert them." He responded, "Well, the problem is that you run the risk of your foot sliding out of those shoes and possibly tripping you or your foot could get twisted and break your ankle." "But how can my foot slide out of the shoe, I have a calf band around my leg just above my ankle so that my ankle will be held securely. If my ankle is held securely how in the world is my foot going to slide out of the shoe unless it disengages itself from my ankle. If that happens I think I'll have a bigger problem on my hands than one of my foot merely sliding out of the shoe." We continued to talk about my request for 10 or 15 minutes before he finally said that he would modify one pair of shoes for me, and then I would have to come by the shop and try them on the braces so he could see how well my foot was being held in the shoes. "OK," I said, "but lets do it this way, you convert two pairs of shoes, then I'll come by for a test. Convert one of the low platform style clogs and a high platform style clog, this will give me the chance to try two shoes and see how well I will be able to do with higher platform shoes. He agreed and I selected the shoes I wanted him to convert, I even talked him into holding the others for me since I knew he would be converting them in just a few days.

A couple of days later he called and said that the shoes were ready for me to try, I stopped by his shop and he helped me put one of the pairs of shoes on my braces. They worked just fine; he could not cause my heels to slide out of the shoe no matter how hard he tried. He gave in and said that he would convert the rest of the shoes in the bag, which he did in just a few days. I now had some decent shoes to wear with my braces. I told Sam the story and she was down at his shop a few days later with a bag for him to convert for her. I have come to the conclusion that my orthotist is a devotee, whenever I am in his shop he can't seem to get enough of looking at my legs; and why else would he convert shoes for Sam who doesn't have a prescription for braces to begin with. She told him why she wanted the shoes and he replied, "oh, a pretender hey? I'll do these for you only if you agree to come by here and model them for me when I'm done." He did and she did...

We began talking about college again, we needed to make some decisions about our majors and what schools we were going to go to. We no longer needed to consider only schools which were a long ways away; since I was now a real para and Sam had gotten the green light from her parents to use her braces and chair as often as she wanted to, we could now concentrate on our decision as to what our major was going to be then picking the best school for that field of study. I began thinking about going into some medical field related to helping people with mobility disabilities like myself. I had considered some type of medicine for a while because I liked biology and anatomy courses in high school. I thought medicine would be an extension of that interest. I mentioned this to Sam; she said that she was having the same thoughts. We talked about orthopedics, I said that I was leaning toward a specialty in that area but thought that an orthopedic surgeon was out since it would require me to be on my feet for surgery, which I could not do very well. I decided to investigate the possibility of being an orthopedic specialist who works with patients in all areas of orthopedics except surgery. This could/would include general rehab work; fitting braces or prosthetics on them then prescribing the type of rehab regimen they would need before and after receipt of their appliances and overseeing their rehab work. Sam thought that would be a great idea, she reasoned that she might do exactly the same thing. She said that since she wanted to be a permanent para she felt that she shouldn't go into orthopedic surgery for the same reasons I had enumerated since with any luck at some point she would be disabled just as I was and wouldn't be able to handle surgery.

"I have an idea," I said, "we'll both become orthopedic specialists then we'll open a shop that makes and fits braces and prosthetics; then, handles the rehab efforts with the patient. We would affiliate with several hospitals in a large city so that we would be able to generate the amount of business we would need to make the business a profitable one. "I like your idea," said Sam, but where are we going to get the money to get setup in such a shop? I can imagine that the equipment we would need would be very expensive. We would probably need hundreds of thousands of dollars to pull this off." "Don't worry," I said, "I have the money to foot the bills associated with getting setup." "That's great," came the response, "but I don't have the money to put up my share of the cost." I told her, "You needn't worry about that, I'll just buy what we need then you can pay me back after we get things going; after all, we are twin sisters aren't we?" "I really like that idea," she said, "then I can live permanently as a para, nobody will be the wiser and we'll figure out a story to tell our folks about what happened to me. In time as my legs atrophy I'll be effectively paralyzed anyway. We'll need to setup our business in an area that we aren't known at all though." "Agreed, we'll workout the details later as we get closer to being ready." "Brandy, thanks for being so good to me; you are better than a sister and I love you as if you were my real sister." "Don't forget," I said, "we really are twins who happened to be born from different moms." We both laughed at our old joke that we hadn't used in a long time.

Chapter 7 Brandy - More about Tandy

One day when Tandy, mom and I were in the kitchen Tandy says to me, "what's it like to wear braces on your legs?" "That's kind of hard to describe," I said, "it is very helpful for me since I can't stand up without them. My legs don't work any more like aunt Ellie's so I have to wear the braces to walk." Tandy was sitting in my wheel chair which she tended to do pretty often if I was not in it, mom was used to me using it around the house before I really needed it so she had said nothing to Tandy about it. "Well I want to know what it's like," she said. "I know what it's like for you to wear glasses 'cause I wear them too so I want to know what braces are like." "Well, if it's OK with mom, I think I know how to show you how it feels to wear braces," I said as I looked over at mom. She picked up on what I was talking about right away and said, "I guess it's OK if granddad doesn't mind." "Why granddad," said Tandy. "Come with me," I said as I locked my right brace and began getting up. "We'll go over to granddad's and talk to him about it."

We drove over to my grand parents house and went in to talk with granddad. "Tandy is wondering what it's like to wear braces I said, mine are too big for her so I was wondering if you could help. Mom said it was OK with her." Granddad chuckled, "I don't know what it is with the women in this family," as he headed out to the storeroom. He came back with a pair of braces and crutches. "Don't know if these will fit you young lady," he said, "climb up on your grandmother's table there and let's see." The braces were adjusted to their longest adjustment but were too short for Tandy; however, the shoes were just the right size. Granddad took the shoes off the braces and headed back to the storeroom to get another pair. Tandy was holding the shoes and looking at them, "why is the right one different from the left one?" she asked. "That's because aunt Ellie's right leg is shorter than her left, kind of like mine is." She looked over the edge of the table at the shoes on my braces and said, "oh yeah, but yours are bigger on the bottom than these are." "Yes," I laughed, "mine are bigger on the bottom, that's called a build up and it makes me stand up straight when I'm wearing my braces." When I'm in my chair it doesn't matter so I don't wear shoes with build-ups since I can't stand anyway.

At that point granddad come back into the room with another set of braces and an old wheel chair. "I found this chair out there, figured you might as well use it too as it's doing no good sitting out there." It was a small early version of the lightweight chair that I had at home; only it was a child size and would be just right for Tandy. Her feet just hung over the edge of mine and didn't reach the footrests. Granddad put the braces up to Tandy's legs and said that these were going to work just fine. He proceeded to shorten them to almost their shortest adjustment, which would give Tandy some growth room if she wanted to continue using them. He also put the shoes from the other braces on these since the ones on the braces were too big for Tandy. Once they were ready, I helped Tandy put them on and explained how to do it. She was really excited about the braces and as soon as granddad had adjusted the crutches she was on her feet trying to walk around. I coached her and soon she was getting around pretty well. "You can take these things home with you if you like, take the larger shoes too as it probably won't be long before they fit you," said granddad. "Oh yes, I want to take them home. Thank you," she said as she gave him a hug. "I really think they are cool. Now I can be like Brandy."

When we got back home and Tandy rolled into the house in her wheel chair and braces, mom chuckled and said, "I sure hope that this is not a sign that you are going to end up a paraplegic like Brandy." "Well, if I do that will be OK with me," she replied, "I think these braces are cool and I like wearing them so I can be like Brandy." "OK, OK," mom said, she was used to Tandy wanting to be like me. She mumbled, "Maybe I shouldn't have chosen names that were so similar."

Tandy wore the braces and used the wheel chair around the house more and more. When some of her friends came over they would play "crippled girl" and of course "doctor" using Tandy's new "toys". I think she had become more popular with her friends because of her "toys".

I of course had told Ellie about Tandy's interest in the braces and wheel chair. She chuckled and commented that it seemed, as Tandy was more like me than she thought. She suggested that I might want to bring her along on one of my weekend visits, we were still spending weekends together as often as possible and Sam was there whenever she could be. Sam had even talked her dad into having hand controls installed in her car saying that when she wore the braces going places with me she needed the hand controls so she could drive safely in the braces. Her dad had her car modified with hand controls that were easily over-ridden for when Sam was not in braces. Little did he know, but Sam seldom ever used her legs to drive after that. She would paralyze her legs as she got into the car and wake them up when she got where she was going, using the hand controls to drive. She would arrive at Ellie's already a para in braces with her chair in the back seat. Occasionally she would not have the braces with her and spend the entire time in her chair.

The next time I was going to Ellie's mom said that Tandy could come along. I have never seen her so excited in my life. I told her to put on her braces and plan to wear them and use her chair for the whole weekend. We would probably go to the mall shopping and she would be a crippled girl just like aunt Ellie and I. Sam was there also; we had a wonderful weekend together. We had just gotten to Ellie's when Tandy noticed that Sam appeared to be very realistic in her pretending. Sam didn't have her braces on and was wheeling across the parking lot with her legs crossed. She hit a bump and her crossed leg slid off the other and her clog fell off her foot, she didn't even notice and kept on wheeling along. I reached down and grabbed her shoe and followed her into the apartment. "Think you lost something," I said, "I found this in the parking lot." "Gosh, I didn't even notice that my leg had slid off, I was so intent on negotiating the ramp up onto the sidewalk," she said. Tandy looked at her and said, "didn't you feel your leg slip off the other and the shoe fall off?" "No," said Sam, "I can't feel my legs at all right now, just like Brandy." "But you aren't a para like Brandy,' exclaimed Tandy, "how can you not feel your legs?"

Sam and I explained to Tandy about the meditation techniques we had learned. I told her that when she had seen me wheel around the house or using braces at home before my accident, I was doing the same thing that Sam was doing now. We had the ability to put our legs to sleep when we wanted to so that we could be paras temporarily. She of course wanted to know how to do it herself, we explained that it was something she would have to learn to do and it would take time. Ellie asked her if she wanted to be a para for the weekend, she replied that of course she did but how could she if she didn't know the techniques that we had told her about. Ellie explained that there was another way to do it and she would do it if Tandy wanted her to. She said yes she did so Ellie proceeded to hypnotize her and give her the suggestions she had used on Sam and me. When she brought Tandy out of the trance, she didn't even know she had been put under. Ellie told her to try and move her legs, she did and exclaimed, "This is way cool!"

We were four paras for the whole weekend, Ellie suggested to Tandy that she not tell mom about the para thing because she was afraid she would not understand. Tandy agreed to this and said that she really liked being a para because now she was just like Ellie and me. Before we left, Ellie put Tandy back under and told her that she would have the full use of her legs when she woke up the next morning. Tandy then went back home in her braces, which she soon took off and was in her chair the rest of the evening. "Haven't you had enough of that pretending for one weekend," asked mom. Tandy responded, "Yes, and I really had a good time but my legs are a little tired from wearing the braces to I decided to use the chair until bed time." When she got up the next morning she walked into the kitchen and no more was said about the discussion of the previous evening.

The next time we went to Ellie's; I noticed that Tandy was wearing hearing aids. I asked her where she got them and she said that she had found them in the same drawer that my old glasses were in, she tried several of them on and found a set of molds that fit her well enough for her to wear them. She had put the weakest aids on the mold tubes and had been wearing them when she was alone. She said that this was the first time she had worn them around anyone. She had noticed that I was wearing hearing aids the last time we had gone to Ellie's so she decided she was going to wear some too, I guess it was another thing to be just like her older sister; I kind of wonder where this is going to stop, she is obviously a devotee/pretender just as I was and maybe a wannabe as well.

Tandy immediately started bugging me to teach her the mediation techniques we had talked about. She was a quick study and soon was able to turn her paralysis on and off just as well as I had been able to. She began easing into the para life around the house and mom of course hardly noticed as she had become so accustomed to my doing it before my accident and of course to Tandy using the chair and braces anyway.

One day, Tandy wheeled herself out into the back yard as she often did; however, this time while she was outside she happened to turn the chair and catch her leg on metal rod that was sticking out of the ground. She hadn't seen the rod, and when her leg hit the rod, it was pulled off the footrest and left dangling over the edge. The rod had scrapped her leg and it was bleeding a bit. Mom had seen this take place and said to Tandy, "you are over playing your pretending here with your leg still hanging over the edge of the footrest and bleeding and you totally ignoring it. What's going on here?" Tandy looked at me, unsure how to respond; she hadn't realized that her foot had been pulled off the footrest and that she was bleeding. She reached down and picked her leg up an put it back on the footrest, then looked at mom with a bit of a fearful look in her eyes. "You didn't know your foot was off the footrest or feel the cut on your leg, did you?" mom asked. "No," Tandy replied, "I didn't." "Do you want to tell me how come you didn't, you aren't a paraplegic like your sister, you have feeling in your legs!" "No, mom," said Tandy, "right now I am as much a para as Brandy is. My legs are just as paralyzed as hers are."

Mom looked over at me, then back to Tandy, and then back to me. "I want an explanation for all of this, I don't understand what you mean when you say that your legs are paralyzed right now, you're not a para so how can they be paralyzed? I want an explanation right now!" "Ok, mom," I said, "let's go into the house and clean up her leg and I'll explain what is going on to you."

Tandy and I rolled up the ramp and into the kitchen, mom got a damp piece of paper towel and sat down and asked Tandy to put her leg in her lap. Tandy complied by picking up her leg and putting it in mom's lap. Mom got a really scared look on her face as she began to clean the blood off of Tandy's leg. "I'm scared to death right now, I have one daughter who I know is a para and one who is telling me that she is one who is not supposed to be. Am I to have two crippled daughters, what's going on?"

"Mom, it's OK," I explained, "Tandy is just in a temporary para state. It is done using mediation techniques that allow you to put your body to sleep then wake up only those parts that you want to. Tandy has woken up the upper half of her body and left the lower half asleep effectively making her a temporary para." "But isn't that dangerous? Could she possibly not be able to wake up her body at some time and have to remain that way?" "I suppose that is possible, but I think that she would have to stay that way for a long time before that would happen, and even then I think she would be able to wake it up but it might be harder and take some time to do it. As a matter of fact, when I was using the chair and braces around the house before my accident, I was a temporary para and you just never noticed it." "So when you asked me to reach things for you that were out of reach, you really couldn't reach them yourself?" "Yes, that's right, I was a para and couldn't use my legs at all." "I'm really not sure how I feel about all of this, I didn't give you a hard time about it because in a way I wanted to do the same thing myself but was afraid of what someone would think of a grown woman pretending to be crippled. I have even talked to your dad about it, he thinks it would be exciting, in fact he sometimes asks me to pretend to be paralyzed and not move my legs when we are in bed together. He often asks me to wear my glasses to bed because he finds them to be a turn-on. He says that there is something about a disabled woman that is intriguing and exciting to him. I guess some day I would like to give him the experience of being with a disabled woman, I just don't know how to do it for real without hurting myself." That was the end of the conversation for the moment, mom carefully placed Tandy's foot back on the footrest and got up and went back outside to continue working in her garden.

As a result of this incident, Tandy was free to be in para mode as much as she liked around the house and to some degree elsewhere. She took full advantage of this new found freedom and played the para game to the hilt.

Chapter 8 Brandy - Mom's story

Tandy and I talked about what had happened, I told her that I wanted to give mom the experience she wanted but didn't want to tell her about it before hand. I was sure that since mom was shorter than Ellie, Sam and I, that there was probably a set of braces in granddad's storeroom that would fit her. She also wore a shoe a size smaller than I did so I figured I could find shoes to fit her as well. I wasn't wearing braces that day so I rolled out to my car and got in, Tandy followed saying she wanted to go with me. Since granddad had given her the chair and braces and had seen her using them before I saw no reason for her not to go. I told her to be careful not to let our grand parents know that she was in para mode, she agreed to be careful.

When we got to granddad's I told him I needed a set of braces from the storeroom and would it be OK for me to get them. He said sure and went on doing his chores paying no attention to what Tandy and I were doing. I found the largest set of braces in the storeroom and another pair of crutches. The shoes on the braces were a half size larger than mom wears so that would be just fine. They tell you to wear a half to a size larger shoe with braces to be sure and not hurt your feet, I do that with all my shoes except the clogs and slides which I want to be a little snug around the front of the foot and of course have no backs so they won't bind my foot anyway. We grabbed the stuff we needed, including an older style chair for mom to use and headed back to the car. We put it into my trunk and after telling granddad goodbye went back home. I don't think mom even noticed we had gone because she was deeply absorbed in her thoughts and her garden.

The next day was Friday, I called Ellie and asked her if we could come over for the weekend and bring mom along. "Why your mom," asked Ellie? "If she is along then Tandy won't be able to be a para." "Yes, she will," I said. I then told her that mom had discovered our secret so she knew about Tandy's temporary para pretending. Then I told her the rest of mom's story about wanting to experience being crippled ever since she, Ellie, had had polio. I think her desires have grown since I had my accident and she now has a disabled daughter at home." Ellie agreed that this would be an interesting weekend, I had suggested that she hypnotize mom as she had done us, which she readily agreed to saying that it would certainly give mom the opportunity to experience the disability more fully.

I went outside and asked mom if she would like to go to Ellie's with us for the weekend. We could do some shopping and just have a girl's weekend out. At first she was hesitant, but I told her that we had never done this and I really thought it would be good for all of us. She would have time to be with her two daughters and with her younger sister. She agreed that it did sound like fun and she would probably enjoy doing it, so yes she would go.

The next afternoon we headed for Ellie's apartment, Tandy and I both in braces. Unbeknownst to mom I had, I had put replaced the old chair in the trunk with Tandy's wheel chair along with the braces that she would use. I of course had my chair in the back seat as I normally did; if we were going for the weekend it went without saying that I would need my chair. It never dawned on her that Ellie kept a spare chair at her apartment, and I didn't mention it.

When we got to Ellie's apartment, she told mom that I had told her that she'd found out about Tandy's para mode and had told us that she had a desire to experience being a para herself. Ellie asked her some questions about her desires and we talked about if for a while. It turns out that I was right; her desire to experience paralysis had intensified since my accident. Ellie told her she was going to try something, she needed her to relax and just listen for a few moments. Ellie then hypnotized her and gave her the para suggestions she had given us in the past; when she brought mom out of the trance, Ellie was holding mom's right foot in her hand. She asked mom if she could feel her holding her foot to which she replied that she couldn't. Ellie then told her she was going to let go of her foot but she wanted mom to hold her foot right where it was; she said OK she would do that and Ellie dropped mom's foot and it fell to the floor with a clunk. Mom had a surprised look on her face, "I was holding my foot up when you let it go, but it fell to the floor and I couldn't do any thing about it." Ellie responded, "that's right, you can't because your legs are paralyzed. I have hypnotized you and given you a suggestion that your legs don't work and are paralyzed, so now they are. It will last until I remove it; however, if I were not to remove it you would get the use of your legs back in a couple of days."

Mom was pretty excited about being a para at last. She said that she found the state to be very interesting and wanted to stay this way for a little while to get more of a feeling of what it was really like. Tandy rolled in sitting in Ellie's spare wheel chair, which of course was too big for her; she rolled over next to mom's chair, locked the wheels; she then locked one of her braces and proceeded to stand up. She moved out of the way and we explained to mom how to transfer to the wheel chair. She said that she thought she could do it because she had been watching all of us do it for so long. She transferred into the chair as if she had been doing it for years, then picked up her legs and put her feet on the footrests; as an afterthought she picked up her left leg and crossed it over her right. She looked down at her foot, which was hanging there, with her toes pointed almost straight at the floor. "Oh my, this is a really strange feeling, I have my legs crossed but I can't kick my foot like I usually do. I think I kind of like this feeling." "I'll bet dad would really like to see you now," I said. Mom grinned and said, I guess I'll have to learn your meditation techniques so I can be disabled for your father. I'll bet I can really keep his attention as a para, not that I have had too much trouble keeping his attention in the past. I have however, noticed him watching you pretty intently lately Ellie; the look of admiration is pretty obvious." "I know," said Ellie, "I noticed but thought that discretion would be the better part of valor and so I said nothing. I figured I knew exactly what was going on; I was going to say something to you about it but had not gotten up the courage yet. As a matter of fact, I had decided that I would enlist Brandy's help and was going to talk to her about it the next time we got together; that of course is right now."

Mom spent the weekend as a para and loved it. "I don't think I would want to be a para permanently like you two are," she said to Ellie and I, "but I am enjoying this experience and want to do it more. As I said jokingly earlier, I really do I think I'll learn the meditation techniques and then I can do it for dad. I'm going to perfect my use of them before I tell him about it, in fact I think I'll just let him discover me as a para kind of like I discovered Tandy yesterday. I'll have to figure out how I'll do that, but I'll have time to do that since I have to learn the techniques first anyway." The next day I got the braces which I had brought in the night before when Tandy and I had gone out to get her wheel chair because she would need it when she took her braces off. Ellie and I helped mom get on the kitchen table so that it would be easier to adjust the braces and put them on her for the first time. Just as I had suspected the braces could easily be adjusted to fit her and the shoes were just the right size. We told her to be careful walking because of the build up on the right shoe. She looked at the shoe then looked at mine and said, "Well I guess it might put me a little off balance, but at least it isn't as high as yours. I don't think I would be able to walk at all if I was wearing your shoes." "You are probably right," said Ellie, "I've worn hers and they certainly put me off balance so I know they would really put you way off balance. My right leg is not nearly as much shorter than the left as Brandy's is."

Mom did really well as a para that weekend. She learned how to walk in braces with crutches very easily. She works in her garden a lot so her arms are very strong, which helped her to be able to pickup her body weight easily on the crutches. That ability is the key to good crutch walking.

After that weekend I started showing mom how to do the meditation exercises, she was soon able to do them pretty well by herself so we spent some more weekends with Ellie so she could practice living as a para before surprising dad. She finally came up with a plan; Tandy and I were to go to Ellie's for the weekend. She would go into para mode and be in the old wheel chair we gotten from granddad's when dad got home.

Tandy and I headed for Ellie's before dad got home from the office, when he walked in mom was dressed in a nice knee length skirt, hose and her highest heels. She was also wearing a very pretty and sexy thin filmy blouse that dad had bought her, along with a very lacy pushup bra she had gotten just for this blouse. Mom is a striking woman when she dresses in this way; she has a fabulous figure for a woman in her early forty's who has had three kids. Like me, she is rather busty and doesn't mind showing it off in a tasteful way. She only wears the blouse at home for dad, as she doesn't like to go out like that. She feels that it would be inappropriate for a married woman of her age to be out in public dressed like that. Dad really likes it when she dresses like that for him; he especially likes the stiletto heels that are sandals with no back strap on them just like I like to wear. As she sat there with her legs crossed and her shoe just hanging off the end of her foot, she thought dad was going to have a coronary on the spot. Thankfully he didn't, and when he gained his composure he asked, "and what do I owe this picture of sexy loveliness to?" Mom told him that something had happened to her legs today and she was paralyzed from the waist down and had to use the wheel chair for the time being, it was a temporary thing and she would be able to walk again in a day or so. She picked up her crossed leg and held it out, then she let it go and it just flopped down next to the other one. Her shoe fell off her foot when she did it. Dad's eyes lit up like she had never seen them before, she asked him if he would reach her shoe and place it back on her foot for her because she couldn't easily reach it on the floor where it landed. They had a wonderful evening; dad was most attentive and waited on her hand and (paralyzed) foot for the entire evening. She even told us that he insisted on carrying her to the bed and undressing her when it was time for bed. She said she had never had an evening like that in her life. The next morning she put the braces on and went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Dad came in and sat down and just watched her as she worked in the kitchen. In fact, he watched her all weekend long, it seemed he couldn't satisfy his desire to see her as a disabled woman.

When mom told us about that weekend, she said that dad had suggested that they take a weekend away where she could be a para for the weekend. She thought that was a terrific idea and they planned to do it shortly. As a matter of fact, they did do it and many times after that; in fact, I don't think they took another vacation after that when mom didn't spend the entire time as a para. He even bought her a new chair just like mine and they used mom's car for trips because it had hand controls in it that had been installed for me as a backup and also had handicapped plates on it.

Although mom simulated quite often, she would tell us that she really didn't have a desire to become a fulltime para; she said that she just enjoyed the experience. She also commented that she was doing it as much for herself as for dad. However, she did say that if something were to happen to her as it had to me she knew that she would be able to accept it and move on with her life. Dad was even open about his interests in disabled women with me, and Tandy told me that when she was older he also talked to her about it. He even let her go on a few trips with he and mom as a para, which she thoroughly enjoyed. One day when dad and I were home alone talking, he said to me, "You remember when you were simulating before your accident, it seemed that you got to where you where in the chair or braces more than being able-bodied. Have you ever wondered why your mom and I didn't make a to-do about it?" "Yes, I wondered about that even then." "Well, your mom and I talked about it, she really wanted to restrict you a bit but I convinced her to let you be. I was really enjoying seeing you as a disabled young woman. There was never anything sexual of course; you just looked so exciting and intriguing. I want you to know that I never wanted something like what has happened to you to happen, I have been beside myself since your accident with a feeling that I caused it because of my feelings for disabled people." "Dad, you had nothing to do with my accident and you know it. If anything, it was a dream come true for me. I had wanted to be just like I am for quite a long time. The fact is that neither of us caused what happened, it was the stupidity of the driver to be driving while DUI and nothing more." "Yes, I really do know that; however, I have had a lot of guilt thinking that I crippled my little girl. I needed to tell you about this so that hopefully I can put these feeling to rest." "Dad, I hope you can do that, please know that I don't blame you in the least for what happened. You also need to know that I am happy and comfortable just as I am, I really think that this is the way I was meant to be so it's all OK." He continued, "After your accident and you were back home, seeing you as a truly disabled person brought my feeling about disabled women our even more, Ellie was around a lot more and I was enjoying seeing her as well. It wasn't too much longer before your mom surprised me in the wheel chair that night, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that experience. I don't want something to happen to your mom to cause her to be permanently disabled, but I must say that when she is simulating as a paraplegic it is a truly enjoyable time for me; and I think that she is enjoying it herself as much as she enjoys it for me." He told me later that after that discussion he had been able to accept my accident for what it was, an accident.

I guess it turns out that I have a rather strange family; we later learned that my brother Randy is also a devotee. He would never say anything about it around the house, even after dad was talking about it and mom would occasionally be in para mode at home. We finally found out about it when he was in high school and began dating this gorgeous girl named Tina, who had lost her right leg to cancer when she was about 5 years old. You could see how he lit up when she was around; especially if she was on crutches, which was pretty often since she had Randy figured out in a heartbeat. Her stump is not very long so even though she can wear a prosthesis and walks well with it, it becomes uncomfortable after wearing it for a long time. Once she realized how much Randy liked her on crutches, she started leaving her leg at home and using crutches whenever they were out together.

Chapter 9 Brandy - Back to School - My Senior Year

Before I new it, school was starting again. I was both apprehensive and excited about the prospect. Many of my friends had not seen me since my accident; I didn't know how they were going to handle my disability. I was really worrying for nothing, as things went really well. Everyone was very nice and kind to me, especially a couple of hunk seniors who could not do enough for me. I quickly realized that they were devotees; one of them in fact had shown me some interest previously, which I think was because of my glasses. Even my old boyfriend showed some definite interest in me that he had not done last year.

I alternated between braces and the chair as the year began 'til I could decide which one I preferred. The choice was pretty easy; I ended up primarily using the chair, because it was easier. There were ramps and elevators throughout the school so accessibility was not an issue. The clincher was that I could put a big backpack on the back of my chair to carry my books and stuff in. I discovered that trying to walk with the backpack didn't work out very well. It was heavy, cumbersome and terribly uncomfortable. If I thought I would need my braces right after school I would wear them but still use the chair at school, I could simply put it in my car when I was done with it. I had a disabled parking permit for school, which allowed me to park right by the front door where the car was very accessible.

I had been a varsity cheerleader for the last two years, so I showed up for the first practice in my chair. At first the other members of the squad were not too sure about me coming back to the squad, I think they felt that I would not be able to contribute to the effort very well and that I would be a drain on the rest of the group. After some discussion, during which I asked them to be totally honest and candid with our coach and me and express their feelings completely, I told them that they were not going to hurt my feelings, after all we were all friends and I knew they meant me no harm. Sam decided to not say much because she didn't want them to see her as siding with me because of our relationship; they soon began to realize that I could do anything that didn't require me to move about very much. The coach said that she would modify the cheers so that I could sit in my chair and cheer while the other girls did the gymnastics parts. She even came up with a couple of moves that I could make with my chair and be more a part of the group before I knew it I was rolling around on two wheels. There were even a couple of cheers where the girls ended up in the arms of the boys on the squad, one of the guys offered that he would come over to my chair at the appropriate time and pick me up and swing me around as the other girls were being swung around and that I would end up on his knee just as they did. The coach was not too sure about this idea, what if you drop her she asked. His reply was what if one of the other guys dropped their girl; there was no answer to that one so since I was game we tried it and it worked out very well so it was incorporated into our cheer list. Over time, we modified some other cheers to involve me more. This was very exciting for me because I was being accepted as just one of the girls and this was just what I wanted.

I had regular dates with several boys at school, my old boyfriend even asked me out again. I had originally dumped him but had told him why and we had remained friends; though, he had not asked me out since the breakup until now. As I suspected, he was not really interested in me, he wanted to touch my legs and see what it was like to touch the legs of a para and was hoping that he might experience sex with a para. We had slept together a couple of times so I think he figured that I would go to bed with him again, NOT!

I always went on dates in my chair without braces, as most of the places we were going were not as easily accessible in braces. I also let the boys get me out of the car and put me in my chair and generally allowed them to arrange my legs on the footrest. They really seemed to get a thrill from this experience.

I was pretty unsure about sex after my accident, although I new I could have an orgasm and would be able to feel everything since that area of my body had been spared any major damage. It wasn't until almost graduation time that I decided that I was ready to do it again. On a date with a guy that I really liked, I allowed him to get much more intimate than I had in the past. I was kind feeling myself out as we progressed to see if I could handle it. Everything went OK and I was comfortable with him; he was very gentle and considerate with me and I was really enjoying myself. His parents had a cottage about an hour from town and he suggested that we go there, I knew where he was heading with this suggestion and agreed.

When we got there and went in, it all heated up again. I transferred to the couch and he sat next to me. As we began making out again, I asked him to put my leg across his lap knowing that this would prompt him to get more intimate. As we went along, we each began taking clothes off of the other. He asked a lot of questions about my paralysis and what I could feel and couldn't feel. I explained that I had no feeling or movement in my legs but I did have control of body functions and feeling in my genital area. I took his hand and gave him a tour of my lower body pointing out where there was feeling and where there wasn't. After that, he was off and running. He asked if I would rather stay there or have him carry me to the bed in one of the rooms. I opted for the bed because I still was not sure what to do with my legs and didn't want them to get turned into positions where they might be hurt and me not realize it.

He carried me to a bedroom that had a queen size bed and gently put me on it. I felt very uncomfortable because my chair was not close by so I asked him if he would kindly get it and put it by the bed so that I could be more comfortable. He said that he would be glad to do it and went to get it, he returned sitting in it so I asked him if he liked rolling around in it. He said that it felt really weird to have to push himself along and that he hoped his sitting in it didn't upset me. I told him of course I was not; I just wondered how it felt to him to push himself around in it. He got in the bed with me and finished undressing each other, I reached up and started to take my glasses off and put them on the night stand when he stopped me and said that he would really like for me to leave them on; then the lovemaking began in earnest. I found that I had no difficulty having sex; in fact it was perhaps easier since my legs could be moved out of the way and would stay where they were placed; except when I tried putting them around his back, they would not stay and they just fell off as soon as I let them go.

I think he really got turned on while playing with my legs knowing that I couldn't feel what he did to them, I can't tell you how much of a turn on it was for me; he nearly brought me to an orgasm just by massaging and kissing them. They are so limp that they can be moved in many ways that a person's legs normally won't go because the muscles resist the movements. Since my muscles have no ability to resist movement they have become much more flexible; he seemed rather intrigued by how my legs flopped around if he pushed on them or moved them. He even tried tickling my feet, then he lifted my leg and held it by my thigh and let go of the calf and it just fell to the bed, he expressed his amazement how he could do all of this and I felt none of it.

I asked him if my paralysis was an attraction to him or if it just made no difference either way. He thought about if for a moment and then said that he was intrigued by me and my paralysis, he found me to be more exciting because of it and that I turned him on any time I acknowledged him when he was watching me which he told me he did a lot of. He then said that he hoped I was not insulted or hurt because of what he had said, he didn't want to hurt me in any way because he really liked me and had even before my accident, but since I had a boyfriend he hadn't asked me out. I could tell that he was being honest and replied that I didn't mind that he was attracted by my disability as long as in the end it was me as a person that kept him interested in me and not just the disability. He reassured me that it really was me not the disability that held his attraction; then he said that he had found some sites on the internet that dealt with people like him that had an attraction to disabled people and that they were called devotees. I chuckled and told him that I was very familiar with the devotee scene and had been since before my accident. He wanted to know why I was familiar with it and I simply replied that I had an aunt who wore braces to be able to walk and had learned about it from her.

I asked him to put my chair close to the bed so I could transfer to it and go to the restroom. We were apparently in the master bedroom so the bathroom was a little larger than normal and there was enough room for me to get the chair close to the toilet. I was able to transfer to it with some difficulty and take care of my needs. When I came back out and transferred back to the bed, we talked for a few minutes. He asked if I would like a snack and something to drink. I said that I did so he got up and sat in my chair again, he asked me to move close to the edge of the bed. When I did, he picked me up and set me on his lap then he headed for the kitchen. Neither of us had bothered to get dressed, so we rolled out to the kitchen in our birthday suits. He put me on a kitchen chair then found us some snacks and cokes, luckily everything was down low because he didn't get our of my chair. We sat at the kitchen table together and talked. He still had a lot of questions about my disability, which I answered for him, I had told him to feel free to ask any question he wanted to and I would answer it as best I could. Neither of us being dressed encouraged a little further touching and as we talked I realized that he was fondling my breasts. I said that I was really glad that they had not lost any feeling and I really enjoyed his playing with them, he grinned sheepishly. I won't tell you where my foot was at that point; suffice it to say that he was in no hurry for me to remove it.

All in all, we had a wonderful evening and he got me home just at my 1:00 AM curfew so no questions from mom & dad. I dated him a few more times before graduation but left town to go to college right after graduation and he went off to another school, we didn't see each other for a couple of years after that and I had a steady boyfriend by then.

Sam and I applied to a several really good medical schools. We both indicated what our specialty interests were. I was careful to fully describe my disability so that there would be no misunderstandings. I also made it clear that I was able to do most things that their other applicants could do; I just had to do it in braces or a wheel chair. Apparently the schools didn't consider my disability a problem because I got accepted to all but one of the schools. They didn't have an orthopedics program so there was not much sense in our going there. Sam was also accepted to the same schools as I was.

We decided that we would go to Baylor in Waco Texas. Once we were through with our under graduate programs we would go to Houston for med school. There was an ulterior motive to our wanting to be in Houston. It was one of the top cities on our suspect list of cities we though would lend themselves to our plans for the future.

After we had been accepted to college, we made several trips to Waco to scout the city out and look at places to live. Ellie went with us on these trips, she had been thinking about going to college herself so she thought that she might go to Baylor as well. After a couple of trips there she decided that she would apply to Baylor, she was accepted in the school of psychology.

Ellie was interested in psychology because she wanted to work with patients who had been through a traumatic event or disease that lead to some type of disability. Her interest is to help them overcome the fears and other issues relating to being disabled so that they could accept their disability and move on with their lives. I told her that if she wanted to she could join Sam and me in the practice we were planning to start or purchase. We could use the services she would offer as we moved patients into the rehabilitation portion of their recovery. She agreed that it was a good idea and that she would love to work with us.

As the end of school neared we decided that it was time for us to decide on a place to live. We had looked at several apartment complexes but found none that really provided easy access for Ellie and me, besides in an apartment it would be hard for Sam to go and come sometimes as an able bodied person and other times as a para. However, she was considering going full time as a para but had not made a final decision as yet.

We decided that since we had not found suitable apartments we'd start looking for houses to rent. We found several that would work to some degree but all of them were deficient in some of the areas of access that we needed. The primary problem was that a house might have one bathroom that was accessible but not any others. We really needed all the bathrooms accessible since we would all be disabled whenever around the house. It was also obvious that the landlords wouldn't spend the money to make these houses suitable to our needs; therefore, it became apparent that what we really needed to do was look into buying a place and modifying it where necessary.

We began looking at houses for sale; we had found three possibles when we happened to hear about a home on several acres on the outskirts of town. When we looked at it we knew that this was the one for us. It belonged to an older couple that had raised their family there. There were five bedrooms, each with its own bath. The bedrooms were large as were the baths. There was a really nice family room, a dinning room and very large kitchen with an eating area. The house was ideal for us because the house had been built when the couple's oldest daughter was a youngster and fell out of a tree and broke her back. She was a para as a result of the accident so when they built a new home after four more kids they decided to make the house completely accessible including the private baths for each bedroom. They even went so far as to make the powder room off the family room accessible. The house also had a large detached three-car garage off the kitchen with enclosed access to the house. The garage had a large workshop and storage area.

After some thought and discussion, the price was really much more than we had thought we would pay for a place, we decided to go ahead and buy it. The decision was mostly up to me since I was the one that would contribute the most to the purchase. Sam had a nice trust left to her by her grand parents, which was for her education; however, the money had been invested well so she was OK financially for her college and living expenses. As I mentioned before, Ellie had also inherited a nice sum of money, which was going to easily pay for her education and living expenses. The fact was that the settlement I got from my accident was many times larger than what they had available so I had offered to buy the house and share it with them. They agree but only as long as I would accept rent payments from them for their use of the house. The idea was that their rent payments would cover utilities and such for the house. I agree so I went ahead and made an offer for the house, I had talked to dad and he had suggested the amount that I should offer. The owners really wanted to sell the house because it had been on the market for some time and they had had no other offers so they accepted mine. Since I had turned eighteen just after school started, I didn't need my parent's signature to buy the house. The real-estate agent we were dealing with was really wide-eyed when I told her that I would be buying the house and would write a check for the agreed upon price. The deal was completed by the time we graduated from high school and we planned to move in during June so that we could get ourselves fully setup before school started.

Sam and I shared graduation honors as co-valedictorians; this was a first for our small high school. We each gave a short speech, neither one of us is into public speaking so the shorter the better, and received our diplomas together (actually they handed me mine first since I was the older twin. Hee, hee). We got the surprise of our lives when we were both awarded full scholarships to the college of our choice because of our grades. That certainly was a nice surprise.

Now that high school was over, we began preparing to move to our new home in Waco. The first order of business was to pack all of our belongings and arrange to have them moved to our new home. The house was vacant so we would be able to move in whenever we wanted to. We arranged for one moving company to take all of our stuff in one load, not that we had that much, only Ellie had any furniture at all. The movers picked up our things on the 15th of June and we were off.

Chapter 10 Brandy - Getting Settled in Our New Home

We each drove our own car to Waco, Ellie had decided that she would keep both of her vehicles so she had the movers take her car and she was driving the van. Sam and I had adopted Ellie's practice of traveling without braces for comfort's sake, Sam had put her braces and chair in her car before leaving her house and went into para mode as soon as she was in her car. Her parents had suggested that she be careful not to overdo the use of the chair and braces because they were concerned that she would cause some kind of damage to her legs. What they didn't realize was that Sam had decided to spend the summer as a para, or at least start out that way, to see if she really wanted to become a permanent para or not. The trial began in her parent's driveway.

The trip was an uneventful one. We arrived at the new house the next day. We proceeded to unload all of the things we had brought with us, which of course was not much because we couldn't handle much either in braces or wheel chairs. The next order of business was to purchase some furniture so off to town we went to go shopping. Ellie and Sam were in braces and I was in my chair, because we wanted to try the furniture to be sure that we could get into and out of it easily. They would check on how well the pieces of furniture worked while wearing braces and I would checkout transfers from a wheel chair. The poor sales force were beside themselves when not one, not two but three disabled women entered the store together and began looking at furniture.

We got lots of attention from one preppy looking college age guy who told us he was in his second year of college and working here to help pay expenses. He was really cute and took a shine to Sam. I figured that he was a devotee so we had a quick discussion amongst ourselves in sign language in which we agreed that we all thought he was; imagine our surprise when he signed back to us that in fact he was, can you imagine our shock? He told us that he has a sister a year and a half younger than he is that is deaf, apparently she is at about the same level of hearing loss that Sam has experienced. She also wears hearing aids and can function pretty well in society. When she was a kid the whole family learned to sign and generally uses it around the house in lieu of speaking. Can you imagine how quiet their house must be?

We found furniture that would suit our needs quite well; Danny was a big help in guiding us to the best choices. He seemed to know an awful lot about furniture so when we asked him about it he said that his dad owned a furniture store in his hometown and that he had worked there since he was about ten years old. When he arrived in town the year before he had started working at this store right away because his dad had met the owner of this store at a convention many years ago and they had become friends, they would ship pieces of furniture to each other when one had a sale for something that they didn't have in stock and it would take a long time to get it from the factory. They liked him so much that he was now one of the sales managers.

We asked Danny what he was majoring in at Baylor; he responded that he was a pre-med student in his second year. He was planning to specialize in orthopedic surgery because he thought that would be a great profession for a devotee like himself. Then he asked what our plans were, we told him that Sam and I were going to be pre-med students ourselves and would also be in orthopedics but not the surgical side for obvious reasons. Ellie explained that she was planning on a psychology degree and would probably get her doctorate, she explained that we were planning on setting up a practice together so she would have time to complete her doctorate before we were done with our studies. Sam was not sure what to do at this point; she decided not to reveal her pretender status for the time being. She would cross that bridge when and if it became necessary.

As we were leaving, Danny asked if he might stop by after he got off from work on Saturday afternoon. He would get off about 3:00 PM and would like to come by then if that was OK. We told him we looked forward to seeing him and headed off to check into a motel since our things would not arrive until the next morning and the furniture would be delivered the next afternoon. Danny had said he had to get one piece from his dad's store and it would probably be in the following afternoon, which was Friday so he would bring it out in his truck on Saturday, we were OK with that.

We had just arrived at the house the next morning when the movers arrived, one of them driving Ellie's car. He chuckled when he got out of the car and said that he had a lot more admiration for the disabled after having driven her car. He had never driven with hand controls and found them a bit un-nerving to say the least. Ellie had had the brake and accelerator pedals removed so that she would not accidentally hit them if she moved her legs while driving; therefore the poor guy was stuck with having to use the hand controls.

By the end of the day they had all of our things unloaded and put in the house. The furniture had arrived and had been placed as best we could determine where we wanted it at the moment. We decided that we would get it moved if we needed to at a later date. We were able to get enough things out to at least make up our beds for the night. Sam and Ellie insisted that I take the master bedroom since I had bought the house; it was so big that I didn't know if I really wanted it but agreed to their logic. It was enormous and had a large sitting room on one side. The bathroom was also huge and had two rather large closets off of it. The larger one had plenty of hanging bars low enough for me to access from my chair so that is the one I decided to use. Sam and Ellie each found a room they liked and claimed it as their own so we had at least gotten bedrooms decided on and beds made so we headed off to get some dinner. We had not gotten enough stuff unpacked to be able to cook, nor had we gone shopping for groceries as yet either. That was for another day.

By the time Danny arrived on Saturday with our last piece of furniture, the house was pretty well organized. There were several pieces of furniture that needed to be moved so we had decided to leave them for when he arrived. That accomplished we proceeded to grill some steaks outside, Danny volunteered to do the cooking for he claimed to be one of the best steak grillers this side of the Mississippi. Seems as he was accurate in his claim, the steaks were done to perfection. We spent the rest of the evening out on the back deck, it was built out over where the property dropped off at the back of the house. The view out there is incredible; it includes a large stream running through the property. We had a great time and Danny really seemed interested in Sam, he hung around her the most. As it turns out, the feelings were mutual and they began dating after that night.

The following week we had a contractor over to make a few changes and repairs to the house. I decided that while I was at it I would have the house painted inside and out, I asked Ellie and Sam to decide what colors they wanted in their bedrooms and bathrooms. I also suggested that they consider putting borders up or wallpaper if that suited them better. The workers were there all week and by week's end had all the things done we wanted. It was great to have the house freshly painted and everything working satisfactorily. I was surprised that it didn't cost nearly as much for the work as I had expected it to.

Over the next few weeks we got everything pretty well in order, we found drapes, curtains and blinds that we liked and got Danny to hang them for us when he came over. He was coming over quite often now so we decided to put him to good use, at least Ellie and I did; Sam was not so sure she wanted him so busy when he was there.

Very soon after we had gotten settled in the house, mom and dad drove down to see us and our new home. Mom showed up in her wheel chair and spent the weekend as a para. Can you imagine Dad and Danny with four paras rolling and crutching around the house. I think their eyes needed a rest after that. They both had permanent smiles glued to their faces and were both in heaven. Mom told me that she had been in her para mode much more lately, she was really enjoying it; she was even reevaluating her thoughts about wanting to be a para permanently. She really hadn't reached any conclusions, she was only thinking about it.

Sam had not woken her legs up for over three weeks and loved her new life as a para. One day we wanted to put something up in the attic so she volunteered that she would wake her legs up and do it. I told her that she would probably not be able to walk well enough for a couple of hours after waking up her legs, she agreed that it would take at least that long. She proceeded to try and wake them up but at first she was not able to do so, she was a bit uneasy about that because as she said she had not really made the final decision about permanent paralysis as yet. She tried again a couple of times but it didn't work so she decided to go through the entire routine and put her body completely to sleep then wake it up completely and see if that would work. It did and she was relieved at this. Sure enough, it was over two hours before she could walk well enough to go up in the attic and put the stuff up there.

We talked about what had happened to Sam's legs, she decided that it was time for her to make a decision about permanent paralysis. She realized that if she did decide on permanent paralysis she would have to come up with a story on how it had happened for her family and others. We discussed all kinds of possibilities but at first didn't come up with an answer; Sam said that she was leaning toward permanent paralysis and would make her decision in the next day or two.

Chapter 11 Brandy - Sam Goes Permanent

A couple of day latter, Sam announced that she had made her decision and that it was permanent paralysis. She had not put her legs back to sleep after the attic incident and had been walking normally since. She said that she had realized that morning that she missed being a para and had made her decision; she was sitting in her chair for the first time in two days as she told us this. "Maybe I'm crazy or something, but this is definitely what I want for my life. I know there are a lot of people who would not understand how I feel but I have to live my life and this is how I have realized I want to live it. I know you will support my decision; I'm depending on you guys to help me figure out how to pull it off without ending up in a rubber room. And by the way, I have noticed over the last couple of days that my legs are definitely weak from lack of use over the last few weeks, I am convinced that if I do nothing more than leave them this way it will not be more that a few months before I won't be able to walk without braces."

The announcement prompted more discussion about how she would handle the revelation to her family. We finally hit on the idea of making it a progressive kind of thing. She would go to a doctor locally complaining that she was noticing some weakness in her legs, after being on them for a while they would begin to ache and feel tired and she would feel as if she was going to fall. She would put her legs into a semi-para state so that when the doctor examined them they would not respond well to his stimulus. She would tell him that she exercised often; she did, but only her arms, and was wondering if that had anything to do with the problem. Depending on what he said, she would go back to see him again in a month or so and use a cane saying that she needed something to lean on or she would fall. The next step would be crutches and then a wheel chair. She would re-evaluate after each visit to plan for the next.

She told her parents the next time she spoke to them about how her legs were bothering her and that she was going to see a doctor about it next week. They asked if she had been overdoing it with the wheel chair and braces, she told them that she really didn't think that was the cause. She would let them know what the doctor had to say after the visit. The visit went as planned, Sam put her legs into a semi-para state and when he hit her knees and ankles with his hammer they barely responded at all. He commented that the responses were not within the expected range; he didn't know what exactly was wrong but would run some tests to try and find out. He sent her to the diagnostic center of the clinic where they ran a number of tests; she was to go back in a week for a follow-up. After we talked about it she decided that a week was too soon to move to the next level so she went to the doctor's office without any aids. She arrived at his office again with her legs in the semi-para state, as she walked into the office she had to catch herself to keep from falling. As she reached for a table in the office, the doctor grabbed her and held her up. He helped her up onto the exam table and they discussed the results of her tests. He tried stimulating her knees and ankles again with his little hammer and got the same results.

The doctor told Sam that it seemed as she had some type of neuromuscular disorder. He was not sure if it was Muscular Dystrophy, Muscular Sclerosis or what it was. They would run some additional tests to see what was going on. Sam asked if she would benefit from some physical therapy, to which he answered that until he knew what was wrong he would recommend that she take it easy and not over use her legs. He went on to say that he was concerned that the disease would continue to progress and that she could well be permanently disabled. Sam had a shocked look on her face and tears in her eyes when she asked how fast he thought that would happen. The answer was that there was no way to tell, it could come on very quickly or could take months or years. "You mean very quickly as in weeks?" she asked. "Yes, I want to see you again in two weeks, I won't be a bit surprised if you are showing signs of worsening by then."

Two weeks later Sam walked into the doctor's office using crutches. She told him that within a week she had been using a cane, then just two days ago she fell while walking with the cane and decided that she should probably use the crutches, which she found, supported her much better. The doctor was not at all surprised; he ordered additional tests, which still provided no explanation for the problem.

He sat Sam down and told her that although he could not determine what was wrong, she should expect to find herself in a wheel chair within just a short time. He felt she should prepare herself for what he considered the inevitable. Although he could continue to run tests to try and determine what was causing her problems, he felt that until she showed symptoms other than the weakening in her legs he was not going to find anything that would explain what was going on. He suggested that she see him again in two to three weeks or sooner if any other symptoms manifested themselves. He recommended that she consider shopping for a wheel chair now instead of waiting for the day when she could no longer walk.

She thanked him for his honesty with her and said that she would see him in about three weeks; she'd begin looking for a wheel chair right away. She also asked if he thought she might be a candidate for leg braces, she told him that she still seemed to have strength in her hips. Would that be a possibility for her? He thought about that for a moment and referred to his notes and some of the test results, "That may be a good idea, these tests certainly suggest that you may be able to walk with braces. What I would suggest is that we not jump the gun and wait at least until I see you again the next time and we'll evaluate your situation again at that time. If that seems to be an option, we'll get you in touch with our orthotist to have you fitted. Braces are not cheap hardware so I don't want you to spend the money on them if they are not the right answer for you."

Sam was elated with the results of this visit. Things were going better than she had hoped for. The doctor had bought her description of her problem and she was able to go through the testing and have them corroborate her description of the symptoms. Although the doctor was baffled by what was happening he had accepted that she was going to be wheel chair bound in a short while. She decided that she was now ready to tell her parents that it seemed inevitable that she would be a para in a short time. She would tell them not to worry about her, that her pretending had prepared her for this so she was accepting it and making plans to move on with her life. She was going to continue with her plans for college and her future.

When Sam arrived home she told us what the doctor had said, she was on top of the world. "Now I can live my life in the manner in which I am most comfortable. I really think this is the way I'm supposed to be so this is the way I will be." She took the doctor's advice and went shopping for a new wheel chair. "If I'm going to be confined to a chair then I'm going to have one that I really like and enjoy living in." She found a chair just like mine, only the latest model. It's a beautiful chair, primarily black but with some bright blue parts on it. It's the latest in titanium chairs, which makes it extremely lightweight. In fact, I liked it so much that I bought one just like it while we were at the store. Got to keep up our twins story you know... When we got home, Ellie was jealous and vowed to get one for herself as soon as she could. Triplet chairs, what's next?

When Sam saw the doctor the next time, she was in her new chair. He commented on what a great selection she had made and told her that she should be very happy with this chair. Sam told him that over the last few days the muscles in her legs, particularly the calves had been hurting almost non-stop. She had been taking some ibuprofen but this wasn't helping very much. This was the only symptom change that she had noted. Her legs were now so weak that she couldn't stand unaided, although she could still walk with the crutches she could only go a few steps until the pain was so bad she couldn't take it and had to sit down. She still had the pain while sitting in the chair but it didn't get as bad.

The doctor reviewed the test that had been run previously, he then sent her down to have another test run. When he got the results, they were as inconclusive as all the other tests had been. He explained to her that he could find no reason for the pain, he would give her a prescription for some pain medication but didn't want her to take too much of it as it was pretty strong stuff. Sam asked what could be done if the pain didn't go away after some period of time. He responded that he really didn't know the answer to that, but would consult with some of the other doctors at the clinic and let her know.

Sam then asked, "Is there a way to interrupt the pain signals from the legs?" He said "yes there are several ways to do that but most of them are of a temporary nature such as wearing a machine around the waist and sending an electrical impulse to the nerves when the pain gets too severe." "What about a permanent interruption," was her next question? His answer to that was the one she had wanted, "it can be done but only by severing the nerves that carry the signals to the spinal cord and on to the brain; however, that is a very permanent solution to the problem." "But if my legs don't work any longer, is that such a bad solution?" "Well, now that you mention it, possibly not. Let me give that some thought and discuss it with some of my associates. By the way, how come you seem to know so much about this, it's almost as if you already knew the answers and were looking for me to confirm them."

"The answer to that is quite simple, I'm about to start pre-med and my major is going to be orthopedics. I excelled in biology and anatomy in high school, which prompted me to consider medicine as my major. The idea for orthopedics came as a result of an accident that my twin sister suffered which left her as an incomplete paraplegic. She and I have the same major; in fact, we were co-valedictorians of our senior class." "I thought your file said that you were an only child, were did this twin sister come from?" "Oops, I guess I didn't explain it quite correctly. We are called the twins born of different mothers, we were born in the same hospital and she is about twenty minutes my senior. When we were babies we had a slight resemblance, driven primarily by the fact that we were both blue-eyed blonds and about the same size. Our mom's dressed us alike as babies and we have continued to play the part ever since. In school, everyone knew the story so we were referred to as the twins, we were inseparable anyway so the term fit and we kind of liked it. We are as close as most any twins are anyway so why not be called twins."

"Interesting, so maybe this whole problem with your legs is psychosomatic, it's your way of keeping up the twins part of your life. You may want to talk to a psychiatrist about this phenomenon, they may be able to shed some light on the subject." "Perhaps you are right, I obviously don't know the answer to that; however, I'm tired of being poked, prodded, quizzed and questioned about what's going on. I'm comfortable with the way I am now except for the pain I am experiencing. I'm not willing to continue this process any further to find that the problem still can't be identified. Besides, I get the idea from you that even if the problem was identified, the damage to my legs is probably not reversible so why bother." "I see your point, and you are correct;" he said, "let's plan for me to see you again in a week to evaluate how the pain has progressed. Feel free to call me if the medication I gave you doesn't help or if the pain gets worse even with you sitting in the chair and not using your legs. If that occurs, then we may have no choice but to sever the nerves and be done with it. You do realize that if we do that you will loose all feeling in your legs and any remaining movement that you now have." "Yes, I had suspected that that was exactly what would happen. If you do that procedure, would you be able to do it here in the clinic or would I have to be admitted to the hospital and for how long?" "I think we can do it here; we have a minor surgery facility for day surgery, I think this would fall into that category. We have a neurosurgeon here, I'll discuss this case with him." "That's fine, I have one last question, and yes I think I know the answer to this one as well. Assuming that the surgery is done, will it impact control of bodily functions and would it weaken my hips at all." "The answer to your question is no and no," he responded, "we would sever the nerves at the top of your legs, not at your spine. Therefore, the procedure will affect only your legs from the thighs down so nothing else will be affected. As I said earlier, I think you are a good candidate for braces assuming that the problem does not manifest itself in any other muscles."

Sam could not be happier; this was working out even better than she had hoped for. Within week or so she was going to be a real and permanent incomplete paraplegic. She broke the news to her parents that night telling them about the pain and that although it was not a sure thing it now looked like this surgery would have to be done. She told them that she was now using a wheel chair full time as she had expected based on the information the doctor had given her the last time she saw him. She said that she would let them know more as soon as she got any further information from the doctor. Her dad said that he would like for their family doctor to call and talk with the doctor she had been seeing. Sam agreed that it would probably be a good idea and gave them the phone number. The next morning she called the doctor to let him know that her family's doctor would be calling him to discuss the case. She told him that she was concerned that her parents would worry unnecessarily if they were told about the possibility of this being psychosomatic in nature and would probably blame themselves for it in some way. He agreed that since there was no hard evidence to support that theory it should not be discussed with anyone other than herself, in fact he told her that he had not included that part of their discussion in his notes so there was no basis for bringing it up. All he ever discussed with other doctors in cases such as this was what was in his notes. Sam thanked him for his understanding and said she would see him in about a week.

A couple of days later, Sam called her doctor to report that the pain had gotten considerably worse and the medication was not helping at all. She said to him that she was getting concerned about continuing to take it because of his comments about how strong it was. In fact, she had not even taken any of the pills. She had gotten the prescription filled at the pharmacy in the clinic just for appearance purposes.

The doctor told her that he had consulted with several of his associates including the neurosurgeon. None of them had come up with any useful suggestions as to what was going on. The neurosurgeon had agreed that severing the nerves was probably the best solution and said that he could do it in the clinic's surgery room. He said that he would have his nurse book the necessary appointments as quickly as possible so that they could perform the procedure and get her out of her pain. His nurse called a little later and said that the surgery was set for the next morning, that she should be at the clinic by seven and bring someone with her or arrange for someone to pick her up when the doctor released her later in the day. Sam asked me if I would accompany her since she had told the doctor the twins story, she wanted him to meet me. I agreed and we planned to leave the house early in the morning. Sam was so excited that she hardly slept that night.

We arrived at the clinic just before seven; they took Sam back to the day surgery area and told me that I would be able to see her as soon as she was prepped for surgery. I'd be able to stay with her until she was taken into the surgery room. They called me in about thirty minutes later; she was very relaxed because they had given her some kind of shot. She handed me her hearing aids and signed that she would give me her glasses when they came for her. I had not been with her for more than a couple of minutes when her doctor walked into the room. "Well," he said, "I guess you are the other twin." Sam started slapping me on my arm and I realized that the doctor was looking at me rather than at her so she was unable to read his lips so I signed his question for her then said as I signed for her, "Yes, I am, and please take very good care of her. I want her to be OK and to be done with all of this." "Don't worry," he said as I signed his response, "this is not brain surgery, as the saying goes. We'll be done with her almost before she is fully under the anesthetic. This is a very simple and quick operation, we will make a small incision on each side just below her hip joint, reach in and snip the nerves then put in a couple of stitches to close up the incision. That's all there is to it, should be done in twenty minutes." With that they rolled her off to surgery and I went out to the waiting room. Before I knew it, the doctor came down the hall and told me that it was over and she was in the recovery room. "She'll be out for just a little longer then you can see her. If no problems arise she'll be able to go home in two to three hours. I'll see her in a week to take the stitches out. If she experiences no weakening in her hips I'll write her a prescription for braces and send her the orthotist we use to be fitted." Then he continued, "You two really are twins aren't you," he continued, "you certainly look enough alike to be sisters, you are both very nearsighted and I just noticed that you also wear hearing aids." "Yes, I do wear hearing aids, but I am not nearly as deaf as she is. She really can't hear any useful sounds without her aids where I can function without them albeit not very well any more. On the other hand, I'm a congenital myope where she is only a high myope. Twins none the less, and especially now that we are both incomplete paras."

About half an hour later the nurse came and told me that I could see Sam now. When I got into the recovery room, she was awake but a little groggy. The first thing she did was sign that she wanted her glasses and hearing aids, she couldn't hear what the nurses were saying and couldn't see their lips to read them. I got them out of my purse and gave them to her, as she put her glasses on and her hearing aids in she smiled and said, "I guess I'm official now; I'm glad it's all over, there's no going back now and I really don't want to go back anyway." "I'm glad you are happy, obviously this is the way you are most comfortable as you have said. I'm just happy it's over because I know that the last few weeks have been a little tough for you." "Yeah, but it's certainly been worth it to end up the way I am now." She reached over and we hugged. "Welcome to the sister hood" I said, we both laughed.

Chapter 12 Brandy - Sam Gets Her Braces

The doctor came back a little over an hour later to check on Sam. She was alert and feeling fine, all of her vitals were OK so he said she could get dressed and go home. He told her he wanted her to take it easy for a few days while her body healed and became acclimated to the paralysis of her legs. He added that he saw no need for her to go to rehab to learn how to live as a para because she had me living with her to guide her. We both agreed with him and added that Ellie would also be there to help her as well. "Ellie who?" he asked. I told him that Ellie was my aunt who had had polio as an infant, her legs had been paralyzed from the polio and she also lived with us. Shaking his head he walked away, we don't think he knew quite what to make of us.

I took Sam home after helping her to get dressed. We didn't want anyone to see how well she could dress herself so I did most of the work while I instructed her when and where to move herself, while I helped her move her legs. She had no problems from the incisions and they appeared to heal up well.

The next day, her parents arrived to see for themselves how she was doing. She reassured them and demonstrated for them that she was just fine. They were concerned about how she was handling the permanent loss of the use of her legs, again she assured them that she had accepted it and was ready to move on. She reiterated that there were two factors that had made this transition easier for her to accept and deal with; they were the fact that she had worn braces and used a chair at home and when she was out with me and of course the fact that I had become a para and had dealt with it and moved on, she said that because she had been so much a part of my recovery it prepared her to handle her own. I added that it had been a tremendous help for me that I had Ellie as a roll model who had shown me that one could be disabled and lead a very normal life, along with the fact that they had allowed Sam to wear the braces and use the chair both at home and out with me to help me adjust and accept my new lifestyle.

They felt much better about what had happened to Sam after having had these discussions. They also told us that their family doctor had explained to them that Sam had experienced an extremely unusual kind of neuromuscular problem, which was not totally explainable nor was there a known cure or reversal after the damage had been done. They said that they were sure that everything was going to be alright, and that they were glad she was living with Ellie and me because they knew we would see to it that she was taken care of. Before leaving for home they told Sam, Ellie and I that they would get Sam a new car and have it equipped with hand controls. They would either bring it up or we could come and get it, we could decide when it was ready. They asked if any of us had a preference of what kind of vehicle they should get her. Sam thought about it for a moment and suggested that a mini-van with a lift or ramp would probably be the best. She suggested that they have the seats setup to be easily removed and replaced so she could configure it to how it would serve us best. She had figured that Ellie's full size van was best for traveling and that the new van would be easier for local use, especially around the school where the parking lots were tight and the full size van would not easily fit. I explained to them that I had found during my senior year in high school that it was easier to get around in my chair than to try to navigate the school in braces. I expected that both Sam and Ellie would agree once they had the opportunity to give both a try; speaking for myself, I would be mainly using my chair while school was in session. They agreed to her request and said they would let us know when it was ready.

The week after Sam's surgery school started and she had her appointment to get the stitches out. As he had told Sam and me, the doctor sent her to the orthotist with a prescription for braces. He prescribed a simpler type of brace for her since she had not had the kind of trauma to her legs that I had had. The main differences were that her thigh band was narrower and she didn't have a calf band at all. She was worried that she would not be able to wear some of her favorite shoes, like me (of course, twins, right?) she preferred shoes with no back like clogs and slides, so she asked the orthotist to add a calf band so she could wear the kind of shoes she wanted.

He questioned where she had come up with that idea, she simply told him that her best twin sister wore braces and that I had a calf band and wore the kind of shoes she wanted to wear. She even had a couple of pairs of shoes with her for him to convert. She didn't tell him that she already had several pairs at home that she was wearing with her old braces. He was not really too sure about this idea so he asked her if he could see the braces she was talking about; she pointed across the room where I was sitting and said for him to take a look.

I don't think he had noticed that I was wearing braces; he was not in the room when we came in so I was just sitting in the chair watching when he came into the room. The aids had already helped her up on the table so he could measure her, so he had paid little or no attention to me.

He walked over and looked at my braces, it was a good thing I was wearing a pair of my clogs so he could see that I really did wear them. He asked if I had added the calf strap to my braces or had they been prescribed that way. I told him briefly about my accident and how my legs were so badly damaged that the straps were added to give my lower legs some additional support and protection. He said he saw no reason he couldn't do the same for Sam; although, he didn't feel he needed to make her calf band as wide as mine was. He proceeded to take all the measurements he needed and told Sam that he would call her in about a week to come in for a fitting. He expected that she would be able to take them with her right then, unless he had missed the measurements pretty badly.

A week later, Sam had her braces and they looked fabulous on her. The saga of her going permanent was now really over. Of course, she doesn't know if these braces are more comfortable or not since she has no feeling in her legs any longer. Having been made for her, they certainly fit her better.

Chapter 13 Brandy - School Girls Again

As we got started back to school, Sam and Ellie tried both wearing braces and using a chair while attending classes. They quickly agreed with my assessment and decided that chairs it was for them as well. Before school started, we had gone to the campus to get handicapped stickers for campus parking.

Where the rest of the student body was restricted to certain outlying parking lots, all disabled students were allowed to park in any lot they needed to. We were asked to not abuse this privilege and only use the lots as necessary. Unfortunately, they didn't have as much parking near the classroom buildings as they really needed so we would sometimes find it hard to find a spot. We were also told that if there were no handicapped spots available we could use the faculty spaces that were not reserved for deans, department heads and above.

The assistant that was issuing us the stickers confided with us as she handed us our stickers, "The fact is that I am required to give you that speech; however, problems with handicapped parkers are virtually non-existent, it's the rest of the student body that give us the problems when they are late for a class and try to slip in and use parking spots that they are not supposed to use. They have a bad habit of using the visitor's spots but it doesn't take the security officers long to spot them and give them a ticket."

Sam and I quickly got back into the routine of being in school; it was a bit harder for Ellie because she had been out of school for over two years. Never the less, it was not long before she was acclimated and off and running, figuratively speaking of course. Sam and I had been lucky enough to get all the same classes since we were both in pre-med; we took advantage of this and carpooled together to school. Ellie was in a couple of the same classes that we were, freshman basic classes, but most of hers were in buildings across the campus from us. She quickly decided that she needed to have her own car at school.

A couple of weeks after their visit, Sam's parents called to say that they had had to order a van. They could not find one locally that suited our needs. The dealership was having it sent to one of the top RV conversion companies that also did conversions for disabled vehicles. They had a conversion design that would give us exactly what we wanted. They had seats that could easily be taken out of the way and fold up so the wheel chairs could move about inside the van, there were several configurations for installing the seats as well. It would have a power ramp rather than a lift; it would slide out from under the side of the van. In addition, the van would be low enough that we should be able to enter it easily in braces. The seats swiveled to allow a person backup to the seat and maneuver themselves into the seat then swivel it back into position. The swivel mechanism was built into the power seat options making the seats easier to use. The bad news was that it would not be ready for a couple of months. Sam told them that that would not be a problem; we would pick it up when we came home for the Thanksgiving holidays. With that all was agreed to and her parents were happy that they were able to help us out a bit. Sam thanked them for all three of us; we were all looking forward to the van's arrival because it sounded like a perfect vehicle for us.

Our first semester flew by before we knew it, all three of us had spent loads of time studying to keep our grades as high as possible; that effort paid off for all three of us because we were all on the deans list. Sam didn't see as much of Danny during the week as she had over the summer. They generally went out on Friday or Saturday, sometimes both and Danny spent most of the weekend at the house. Shortly after school started, I met a guy who was a friend of Danny's. He is studying to be a physical therapist/orthotist, his intention is to continue on and get his PHD before going into the work force. He is a great guy, his name is Henry but he prefers Hank, I've been seeing a lot of him, he is a devotee like Danny. I think I'm kind of falling for him, he is such a caring and attentive person I really enjoy his company. However, I have promised myself that I will move very carefully into any relationship until I am sure about the person and their motives.

As we rolled and crutched around the campus, we met other students who were disabled. We discovered that there was an unofficial disabled persons club of sorts on campus. It consisted of both students and faculty who were disabled in some manner. The group was actually more of a network of disabled persons than a club; the members became good friends and were a support group for each other. They would work together to resolve issues of accessibility to buildings, parking and any other problem that confronted the disabled population on campus. We became friends with many of this group and occasionally got together with some of them for parties, cookouts, games and the like. Among the group were Sherry, Ann, Wendy, George and Tom who became really good friends.

Sherry and Ann are paraplegics who were injured in auto accidents; Sherry is a high level para who has lost all feeling from just below her breasts down. She tells us that she was very lucky because after her accident she had no feeling or movement from her neck down. The doctors told her that the major damage to her spinal cord was at T4/5, which would not cause her to be a quad; however, it appeared that there was some bruising above the damage point that was causing the higher paralysis. They told her that it was very possible that she would regain the full use of her arms in time, but that it was also possible that she might not. In the end, she regained all of the feeling and movement above the damage point of her spinal cord. Because of the level of her injury, Sherry has a strap on her chair that she can fasten to help her sit upright. She doesn't always use it, but when she doesn't she has to be very careful not to fall forward or slip out of the chair due to having no abdominal muscle control.

Ann is an L2 incomplete para, meaning that she has some feeling and movement below her injury site in her lower back. Ann's injury rendered her a para in very much the same condition that Sam and I are. She has some use of her hips and no muscle control or feeling in her legs. Like Sam and me, Ann has braces that she uses on occasions when she wants to stand and walk; Sherry on the other hand has an injury much too high to allow her to use braces at all.

Wendy is a congenital arm amputee, having been born without part of her right forearm. She has both a hook prosthesis and a myoelectric hand but is just as comfortable to wear neither. For the most part, you wouldn't know Wendy didn't have a right hand, she has learned to compensate for it so well, even when not wearing one of her prostheses.

Tom lost his lower left arm in an auto accident; he almost always wears his hook because as he says, he fancies himself to be Capt. Hook and he has never seen him without his hook. George is an L1/2 para from a motorcycle accident while riding in a cross-country bike race.

These are the group that we became the closest to during our first year in Waco. These friendships continued through our college years.

Ellie has dated a couple of guys but has nothing special going on with any of them. She told us one day that her problem was that she was older than we were and didn't particularly want to date freshmen guys. Her interest was in juniors and seniors who were her age or older, because she found their maturity level much closer to her own. Nothing against the guys we were dating, she thought they were the exception to the rule anyway, but she'd hold out for older guys. Danny and Hank had told Ellie that they would be on the lookout for guys for her to date. They knew that there were some upper class guys in some of their second and third year classes, they would introduce some of them to Ellie if they passed muster in their minds. Both of them thought Ellie was a really neat person and didn't want her to date some jerk. They were committed to watch out for her as well as Sam and me.

Since Sam and I were real paras now, it was no longer necessary to take the outings and trips we had taken before moving away from home. Besides, we stayed so busy with schoolwork that there really wasn't time for the trips. We did talk about taking a trip over the summer for a week or so and the possibility of inviting our guys to go along. We'd make further decisions on this as the summer drew nearer.

The scholarships that Sam and I had been awarded at graduation were very good and covered virtually all of the school expenses themselves. Sam was really grateful for this because as a result she didn't have to work to earn her spending money. Her inheritance money easily covered all of her living expenses so she was OK financially. The money I got as a result of my accident was of course more than taking care of me, every time I checked on my investments I found myself to be much richer than the last time. Due to the size of the settlement and the small amount that I had to use from it, the growth rate was phenomenal.

Sam's parents advised us a week or so before Thanksgiving that the van was ready and was to be delivered to them in a couple of days. Sam told them that we had all made airline reservations to fly home but didn't have any to come back since we were banking on the van being ready. We were sure glad it was because it would have been difficult to get seats to get back. Her mom kind of chuckled over the phone, "I can just see the three of you in your chairs on the side of the road thumbing a ride back home." Sam giggled at that as well and told her mom when we would arrive so that she could pick us up. When she got off the phone, she told us about her mom's comment, "I think mom has accepted me as I am now, that is a big relief. I wasn't sure how long it would take her to get over this. I sensed that dad would be OK with it, but not mom."

We drove back in Sam's new van, it was really well setup for disabled access and use. Sam and I decided that we would start using it for our trips to school; we were using one of our cars and having to put both chairs in the back seat. This presented some difficulty, as it was a tight squeeze to get both of them in. We could now ride in our chairs and not have to transfer or collapse our chairs; this was going to be great. Ellie commented that she would prefer to use her van for the same reasons; however, as we had guessed, it would be next to impossible to get it into some of the lots she was using. She said that since she was by herself it was really not that big of a problem, her chair fit in the back seat just fine.

Just before Easter, Hank introduced Ellie to a guy named Paul that he met in one of his labs. Hank told Ellie beforehand that he had checked the guy out pretty well. He had talked to a couple of mutual friends who said that he really was a nice guy. They also had mentioned a couple of girls he had dated, Hank knew one of them and when he next saw her he asked her about him. He told her that he wanted to introduce a friend to him but didn't really know him that well. Her comment was that she really liked the guy and had wanted to have a relationship with him; however, he just didn't have the same feeling about her and told her so in a very honest, caring and kind way. After that, Hank figured the guy was OK for Ellie so he asked him over one weekend when we were grilling on the back deck. Paul and Ellie hit it off almost immediately and started seeing each other regularly.

Paul is also in pre-med, he has not decided for sure what his specialty will be; although, he is leaning toward psychiatry and his second choice is family practice and general surgery. As he says, his first objective is to get his medical degree, somewhere along the way he'll decide on his specialty.

The remainder of the year was pretty uneventful, we continued to spend lots of time studying and staying on the dean's list. We all knew that if we were going to get into med school or a doctoral program we had to keep our grades very closed to a 4.0 GPA. In fact, over the four years we all had our share of 4.0 semesters.

Each year school got harder and harder and we had to really hit the books to keep up. Danny completed his pre-med work and was accepted to Baylor's school of medicine, so he moved down to Houston the summer between our junior and senior years. Sam was pretty dejected having him so far away, he promised to come see her as often as he could, and extracted a promise from her to do the same. They had started talking about marriage but were not yet engaged; they had both met and spent time with each other's parents over the time they had dated. Everyone was assuming they would get married at some point in the future. Sam told me that they were talking about waiting until after they had both finished their internships and residencies but that could change.

It was in my second year of college that I began really having problems hearing if I didn't have my hearing aids in. I quickly got to the point that I was wearing them full time. Hank asked me about the hearing aids when he noticed that I was wearing them all the time. I told him that I was having problems hearing without them so I decided to wear them full time. I could really hear well when I wore them so that solved the problem.

"Now you are a medical student," he said, "you of all people should know that if you have noticed a decrease in your hearing you ought to get it checked and not "medicate" yourself as it were. You need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to be sure that some kind of problem isn't developing that you need to deal with. It may be that all you need is hearing aids, if that is the case then fine; otherwise, you need to deal with whatever is going on.

"Please call an ENT and get an appointment for a checkup of your ears," he said, "I'll even go with you if you like." I called the doctor's office that Sam had been using and made an appointment for a checkup. When I saw the doctor, he checked me out and found no evidence of a problem. He asked me for a medical history of my life which I provided. That of course included the accident that put me in the wheel chair I sat in front of him in. He asked if I had perhaps hit my head in the accident, "No, not that I can remember or that I remember anybody telling me about, why do you ask?" "Well, it's a long shot but there could have been some damage that has been present since the event but has only now gotten bad enough for you to notice it. The only avenue open to you is to wear hearing aids from now on." "How bad do you think my hearing will get, is there any way to tell?" "No, not really; however, in similar cases that I am aware of the hearing loss continued to progress until the patient was profoundly deaf. I know that is not the answer you were hoping for but I prefer to be honest with my patients up front." "Define profoundly deaf for me if you will." "Profoundly deaf basically means that you no longer have much if any usable hearing. Aids will allow you to hear loud sounds but not to distinguish what they are. It would be to your advantage to begin learning sign language and lip reading now so that if the time comes that you can no longer hear well enough to function you are able to continue to communicate."

"I'm covered on that side for the most part, I am fluent in sign language and capable of lip reading to some degree. I mainly need to practice lip reading to get up to speed with it as it were." "Where have you acquired these skills?" "Well, my twin sister, one of your patients, is pretty deaf and uses sign language and lip reading when not wearing her aids. I learned both from her." "You say twin sister, what's her name?" "Oops, I shouldn't have said it that way, I am referring to Sam Kelly who you have seen a few times, we are twenty minutes apart and our mothers dressed us as twins when we were babies and toddlers. We have continued to call ourselves the twins born of different mothers ever since. The interesting thing is that we do lots of things that normally only real twins do. We are so much alike we even scare ourselves at times. Anyway, she's deaf from some type of virus that gave her an extremely high fever when she was eight; she's worn aids since then and has progressively gotten deafer as time has passed. I think you two have been discussing a cochlear implant as a possible option for her. If I continue to get worse, will I be a candidate for a cochlear implant or can you tell that at this point?" "I remember Sam, she is a sweet girl and in a chair just as you are. Yes, a cochlear implant seems to be an option for her, she's not there yet but may be soon. More tests will have to be done to confirm her candidacy for cochlear implant. The same thing would apply to your case, on the surface you appear to be a possible candidate but only time and a battery of tests will tell us that."

He recommended an audiologist that I should see to have my hearing tested and obtain hearing aids. I made an appointment and got my tests run. Just as I knew, I needed aids pretty badly. She told me that I already had a high moderate loss that was approaching severe. If my hearing loss continued to progress I would probably be unable to hear speech with in a year of so, maybe even less. She suggested a couple types of aids that I could select from. I asked her which ones she would recommend that would have the power to be usable for the longest period of time presuming that my hearing continued to decline. She suggested a BTE model that is programmable; she told me that normally she would not recommend that powerful an aid at my level of loss; however, it appeared from her data and the doctor's that my loss was going to continue to get worse so why not get an aid that could grow with my need. I agreed and had her order the aids. She made molds of my ears and said that she would have both back in a week or ten days and would call me when they were in.

I got my new hearing aids just a week after they were ordered, she programmed them to the hearing test results and told me to wear them for a few days, if I thought there were some sounds I didn't hear as I should then I should come back for her to adjust them. She said that it usually took several visits to get them just right so please don't hesitate to stop by and let her make any adjustments I need. I was back a few days later as my right ear, which is the worst needed more power; the hearing aids are supposed to turn on to the volume that should be good for normal wear. There is a volume control that I can use if I need a little more volume in certain situations. The right ear required a boost in volume each time I turned the aid on so she powered it up just a bit. After that I didn't have to have them adjusted for about six months when they needed more power again. I'm really glad I got these aids, I hear so much better with them than I did with the other aids I had.

It seems that about every six months I need to visit her and get a little more boost. By the time we finished med school, my hearing had deteriorated to the point that Sam and I were at about the same level of loss, I was really starting to get worried when it seemed that the progression began to slow down a bit. I will wait a while as my audiologist suggested, to see what happens; however, if they don't stabilize then I'll see the ENT and talk about cochlear implants with him again. I had reached the max power from the aids that I was wearing and had to have a new set ordered; the new ones were the same model and power range as Sam's. Sam now thinks she will be ready to further investigate the cochlear within a year.

Hank completed his undergraduate degree and was accepted to graduate school in Waco. I was really excited that he was not going to be headed off to some far off place; he was becoming a very important part of my life, I had fallen very much in love with him and he with me. He has asked me to marry him and I have agreed with the stipulation that we have to wait for a while. We have decided not to call ourselves engaged for the moment; however, I think the time is coming fast when we will, he's been asking me about types of diamond rings I might like.

I think I mentioned that Hank is devotee, he also told me that he was a pretender as well; he had acquired a pair of braces and a wheel chair from an uncle who is an orthotist. He has not done nearly as much pretending as I used to do before my accident. We discussed taking a trip together both as paras and decided that when time permitted we would do it. I told him about my pretending and wannabe status prior to my accident. He knew about the accident, but I had not discussed my simulating with him. I also told him about the meditation techniques we had used, he was very interested in them and asked me to show him how they worked. He began practicing the techniques and told me that when we traveled together as paras he would use them for that trip.

I asked him if he was a wannabe, he said that he was not; however, if fate dealt him the life of a para he would be very OK with it. We took several trips together during which he spent the entire time as a para, using the meditation techniques; he has become very adept at using them. It was on one of those trips that we first had sex together; it was the best I had ever experienced. It was a hoot, two paras having sex for the first time as paras. Neither of us knew where to put our legs nor where to put each other's legs; nor did we know how to create the necessary motions to consummate the act. With a few miss queues we finally figured it out and WOW is all I can say.

Since that first time, we have made love a couple of times when Hank was not a para; we both have agreed that it is better when we are both paras so I guess when we are married Hank is going to spend a good bit of his time as a para, at least after bedtime he will!

Our senior year was tough but both Sam and I ended up with GPA's over 3.85 and were easily accepted to Baylor's medical school. She was all excited that she would be able to join Danny again, but I was not so excited to be leaving Hank. Paul has gone to med school and has decided on psychiatry as his specialty.

The three guys got together and decided that they were going to give us our engagement rings at Christmas during our senior year. Hank and Danny got the exact same rings for Sam and me, and Paul got one only slightly different for Ellie. Can you believe that we even have our guys trained on the twins thing! None of us have set dates yet, other than Sam and I have decided that ours will be a double wedding of course. She told me that Hank and I have to say our "I do's" just before she and Danny do or it wouldn't have been done right. We had a good laugh and hug over that one. We have offered Ellie to make it three but she is a little reluctant to do so because she is afraid to interfere in our twins traditions. We've both told her that she would not be interfering, otherwise we would not have asked her, besides having lived together the last four years we both considered her our older sister, not an aunt. After all, the guys gave us our rings at the same time so why shouldn't we get married at the same time. By the way, Sam and I are going to be each others maid of honor; haven't figured out how to pull that off yet but there is still time.

Over the summer, Hank surprised me when he told me that he had been accepted at Rice to complete his graduate work and would be moving to Houston as well. It has been agreed that Ellie would stay in the house, and that Randy and Tina would live there as well. At first both my parents and Tina's were not too sure about this arrangement. Ellie reassured them that she was going to be there, and that living in separate quarters was not going to stop them form doing anything they wanted to do. They all saw the logic in that and agreed that it was going to be OK for both of them to stay there. Ellie would have gone to Houston with us, but Paul was going to be finished there after the fall semester and had been accepted at the Waco Hospital for his internship so he would be home in a few months.

I still owe you some details about Tina and Randy; that will be forth coming in the next chapter. Suffice it to say that they have both done very well in high school and are graduating this spring.

Chapter 14 Brandy - Randy and Tina

When Randy started high school he met a new girl who had moved to town over the summer. Her name was Tina; she had lost her right leg to cancer when she was five years old. Her leg was taken off just above mid-thigh, leaving her a bit of a short stump. Although her stump is short she is able to wear a prosthesis and walked very well. If you didn't pay close attention, you probably wouldn't notice the slight limp. Her leg is of the very latest designs with a very realistic foot, it even has toes and flexes a little so she doesn't have the stiff footed gate and non-creased shoes that were evident in older legs. She can even wear heels and sandals; although she can wear a 3" heel she prefers to stick to about 2", she says she feels a little awkward in the higher heels, primarily because she can't feel her leg and foot to know exactly what position they are in. When she wears sandals without back straps and clogs, she has to be sure that the shoe on her right foot is slightly snug or they well get thrown off her foot when she walks. Most of her sandals without back straps are the kind that have a strap between the toes, her toes have very limited flexibility so when she puts a strap between them they hold the shoe on her foot very well.

Although Tina can wear and use the leg well, she says that because of her short stump she prefers not to wear it all day long; this is especially true if she is standing and walking a great deal. Her stump tires and gets very sore, she said that a couple of times when she overused the leg, she had to go without it for a couple of days after because her stump was too sore to wear the leg. She learned her lesson and watches how long she wears the leg. Even though she is a young and pretty girl, she has accepted the loss of her leg to the point that she does not mind going out in public without her prosthesis. I have even seen her wear short shorts, which allowed her stump to be seen; she says that her feeling is that she has one leg and can't do anything about it. She says that she doesn't wear the leg to hide her amputation; the leg is a convenience that allows her to walk without crutches, nothing more. Depending on what she is doing, Tina often uses a lightweight chair rather than crutches when not wearing her leg; she almost always does this at home if she is not hopping.

Randy and Tina are very bright kids; they did well in high school from the start. Both have birthdays that caused them to miss starting school the same year as their friends who were the same age. Had they started school on time, they would have been in collage the year Sam and I were seniors at Baylor.

It wasn't long after Tina and Randy were dating that we confronted Randy one weekend about being a devotee, he turned red faced and tried to deny it but Tina stopped him in his tracks when she told him that she knew he was one from the time they met. "In fact," she said, "that's one of the main reasons I agreed to go out with you and am still with you today. I have found that I prefer to be around boys that are devotees because they are very comfortable with my disability; it doesn't make them nervous and get in the way of our getting to know each other for whom we really are. I can tell very quickly if a guy is a devotee who is interested in me only because I have one leg. You are not that kind of guy at all; if you had been I'd have dumped you by the second date. So you just as well admit what you are, there is nothing wrong with it, and not let it bother you." Randy looked around at all of us, and then he said, "Ok, you're all right. To me, girls with a disability seem to be much more attractive. This is especially true of girls wearing braces, in wheel chairs and of course amputees like Tina. It seems that even though I find girls that have lost an arm intriguing, leg disabilities seem to attract me much more. I have wondered what it must be like to have legs but not be able to feel them, to know that they are there only because you can see them attached to you; or for a leg not to be there, like Tina's, and what that would be like," he turned to me and said, "Brandy, before your accident you had that chair and the braces that you would use around the house; I sat in the chair a couple of times wondering about the feeling but of course could get no idea what it was like. I rolled around the house and decided that I probably would not like it the way you did, but that didn't stop me from being intrigued by disabled women. They just excite me in a special kind of way, and no, it has nothing to do with sex."

Dad chuckled at the last comment, "Son, I understand what you said about sex, there is something very exciting about a disabled woman that is not sexual; however, there is also a sexual side to it which you will understand when you are married." Them mom said, "Tina, how do you feel about people who pretend to be disabled, does that upset you or do you view it as a complement that the person is wanting to experience a disability to be able to understand your situation and feelings better. Or even that they may get some type of inner satisfaction through the simulating." Tina thought about the question for a moment then answered, "I am probably different than most people when it comes to this subject. I am not upset in the least by pretenders; although I think many disabled people are. I am very open-minded about it. My best friend growing up pretended that she was an amputee like me very often. She was able to tie her leg up, she did it to her left so we could wear each other's shoes, and walked on crutches. She had very thin legs and is very flexible; she could put her leg up and wear pants like jeans that were a little baggy then fold and pin the lower leg up and it was almost impossible for anyone to tell. She would do that or wear a skirt that was below her knee and we have gone out to the mall or movies with her that way and as far as we know no one ever knew what she was doing, we were just two one legged girls out shopping or going to the movies. In fact, she still does it today; she came to visit me a couple of weekends ago and was one legged the whole weekend. She flew here one legged and left to go home that way. A couple of years ago I found something on the Internet about peg legs and went to talk to my orthotist about them. He was not too keen on the idea but I finally got him to make me one, Susie thought it was so neat she talked him into making her one that fits on her folded leg. She even simulates around her house and her parents have accepted it and don't say a word about it. I think many pretenders have some kind of deep inner desire to be disabled and pretending can satisfy that need for them to a degree, that is certainly the case with Susie. In fact, I worry that if she found a way to do it, she'd have her leg removed so she could be a real amputee."

As Tina finished her comments, mom excused herself and went to the back of the house and Tandy was right behind her. We continued talking about disabilities, Tina asked Sam and me some questions about our paralysis. She was trying to compare her disability with ours. A few minutes later, we heard the sound of crutches coming down the hall. Tandy crutched into the room wearing braces and mom rolled up in her chair. Tina kind of looked at both of them with a bit of uncertainty. "We're both pretenders," said Tandy. "I felt it was time for you to know about us," said mom, "that's why I asked the question about your feelings. I didn't want you to happen by here and find one of us this way and not know what was going on, nor would I have wanted you to see us this way and be hurt by it. Your feelings are much too important to me for that to happen." "And," said dad, "your honey here is not the only devotee around this house as you may have already figured out."

Tina smiled and looked at me, "And are there any other surprises to be revealed?" "You heard Randy talk about me using a chair and braces around the house," I said, "I was a pretender before my accident and in fact a wannabe. My accident left me the way I wanted to be, the way I am most comfortable being. I guess I started all of this pretending stuff in the family when I was very young and spent lots of time with Ellie over at my grand parents home." "Ellie is your aunt that had polio, right?" "Yes, she had polio when she was very young. She and I are less than three years apart in age, mom is twenty years older and her other siblings are at least ten years older. She was more of my big sister than my aunt as we grew up. I was intrigued by her braces and her paralysis and asked her if I could wear her braces to see what they were like, we were close enough to the same size at that time that I could put on her braces and although they didn't fit quite right I could walk in them. I can't tell you how exciting that was for me and I was hooked. Sam got in on the act almost immediately because we have always done everything together; I guess you have heard that we are twins." Tina laughed, "yes I heard about the twins born of different mothers, you're the eldest by twenty minutes aren't you?" "Right you are, I am the eldest, and it's twenty-two minutes for those that are into precise measurement. To make a long story short, I continued wearing her braces but used her previous pair that turned out to be my size. Granddad has kept every pair of braces she ever had so every time she got new ones, so did I, her old ones. I don't think anyone knew what we were doing; I only wore the braces when my grand parents were out in the fields or had gone into town to run errands. This continued until Ellie moved to an apartment after which we started going to a mall on the other side of the city with me in braces. One summer, we took a trip together for a week. Ellie had learned the art of hypnosis and hypnotized me, then gave me a suggestion that my legs were paralyzed. When she brought me out of the hypnotic state, my legs were in fact paralyzed and I was more excited than I had ever been. This continued and we brought Sam into the act. I began to study and learn some meditation techniques and before long was able to put myself in to a paraplegic state at will and stay that way as long as I wanted to; I also talked mom and dad into letting me buy a used wheel chair with the pretext that it would be here for Ellie to use. Soon after I got it I told mom I was going to substitute it for my broken desk chair until I got a new one, there is still no chair for that desk, Tandy has it now and has her wheel chair next to it. I simulated around the house saying that I was just trying to get some understanding of what it was like for Ellie to be in a chair. When Ellie was here one time, I ended up in her braces and mom said nothing about it because Ellie had assured her that she had no problem with me using a chair around her or even her braces. At a Saturday afternoon family get together, I wore Ellie's braces and she used my chair; granddad, as we hoped he would, brought out an old pair of Ellie's braces and adjusted them to fit me. After I had put them on, he said I should take them home and use them any time I wanted to. I took them home and wore them often, around the house and when out with Ellie and Sam. It was only a few months after that that I was in the car accident that left me like this, a real although incomplete paraplegic. So that's my story, I was a wannabe para and now I really am one. And by the way, I think that if I had ended up an amputee rather than a para I would have been OK with it, it was just not my preferred disability if you will."

I then related the story of how Tandy had started to simulate also. I told her the story of Tandy getting her leg scrapped and pulled off the footrest without her knowing it had happened and mom discovering her that way. This was how mom found out what we had both been doing and told us the story of dad being a devotee and asking her to act paralyzed in the privacy of their room. I relate how I had taught her the techniques, which was how she got started simulating. We also told her how we had gotten braces for both of them from granddad's supply of Ellie's old braces.

Tina looked at Sam and asked, "So, I guess you are simulating as a para?" "No, not any more I'm not," she said. "I simulate for a long time until we got to college. Brandy taught me the meditation techniques and I used them extensively. When we moved to the house at school, I had decided that I would spend the summer as a para and decide if that was the way I wanted to be permanently. I went para when I got in my car to leave my parents house, by the way, Brandy had given me her old braces and chair after her accident and my parents let me use them at home and out with her. They had even put hand controls in my car so that I could be more like Brandy and she could drive my car. Their willingness to allow me to wear the braces and use the chair relates to Brandy's mom allowing her to wear hearing aids when I originally lost my hearing. She wore the aids to help me get used to wearing them so they let me wear the braces and use the chair for her. They don't know to this day about the meditation techniques, I don't think they would handle it very well so I have not told them about it; perhaps some day I will. Anyway, I stayed para for probably six weeks full time. One day we wanted to put some stuff in the attic and Danny was not around to do it for us. Smart me decided that I would simply wake up my legs and do it, no problem. Well there was a problem, I had a hard time waking them up, and for a moment I was afraid that I was not going to be able to do so. I don't know why I was afraid, other than I had expected that I would be able to make a decision about it and had not made that decision. After a bit more effort I was able to wake my legs up and eventually did get the stuff in the attic. I stayed AB for a couple of days while trying to decide which way I wanted to be, AB or para. I guess it was the morning of the third day when I was getting out of bed that I realized how much I was missing living my life as a para, I went into para mode and my decision was made right then. Next we had to figure out a process for me to become a permanent paraplegic with my parent's knowledge. We hit on the idea of me going to see a doctor and telling him that my legs were becoming weak and ached a lot, especially if I walked a good bit. This story was not entirely untrue, the couple of days that I was using my legs, they were a bit weak albeit from lack o f use for the last couple of months. When I saw the doctor, I had modified my para state to have my legs in a semi-para mode so that when he did any tests he would get reduced results from the norm. It worked even better than I had expected and in a few weeks I was using a chair at his suggestion. I then told him that I had developed very severe pains in my lower legs which over a short time progressed up to my thighs, he prescribed pain medication which of course didn't work because I didn't take any of it for my non-existent pain. About two or three weeks after I told him about the pain, I underwent surgery to sever the nerves that control movement and feeling in my legs, this was done to eliminate the pain by not letting it reach the brain. The doctor's reasoned that I was not going to be able to walk again anyway because although they could not identify the exact cause of my weakness and eventual paralysis in my legs they were convinced that it was irreversible so severing the nerves to stop the pain made sense. Voile, I'm a real permanent incomplete paraplegic and happier than I ever have been. As I mentioned, my parents don't know any of this; Brandy's parents guessed what was going on right away but have kept my secret for me all this time."

After that discussion, everyone was much more comfortable around each other. Mom and Tandy simulated around Tina any time they wanted to, she actually kind of enjoyed them doing it. After Randy got his driver's license, he and Tina came to visit us for a long weekend. Tina was rolling around the house without her leg on and we were chatting about one thing and another when she asked me what it was like to wear braces. I told her that it was not easy to describe, so why didn't she put a set on and see for herself. She thought that was a splendid idea and we went to my room for her to try on my braces. I had thought that she would just wear the left brace, but she decided to wear the right one too. It was good that she was going to wear mine because I have a long thigh strap on my braces to protect my legs because of the damage they suffered in the accident. It didn't matter that my shoe was built up on the right side since she didn't have a lower leg and foot to put in the shoe anyway. We got the braces on her and she stood up with a pair of my crutches.

"This is really cool", she said as she walked around the room. "Mind if I keep them on for a while?" "No, wear them as long as you like any time you like," I replied, "I generally don't wear them a whole lot these days. That's primarily because I find it easier to get around school in my chair and carry stuff I need for class. The chair is also faster as I know you are aware." "I think I would agree, I have gone to school on crutches many times and it is slow and almost impossible to carry books and stuff. I use a back pack, that works but it's still a little cumbersome." "My thoughts exactly, hence I opt for the chair and seldom wear the braces any more. I know I will once I am out of school, even if I decide not to wear them at work I am sure I would wear them more than I do now. I like to be able to stand up and walk even if it requires crutches to do so. It's just that right now, about all I have time for is school and studying. The little time I spend not studying is not worth bothering to put the braces on so I just wheel around." "Makes sense to me, by the way, these braces are so cool. I can even work the one on my stump just fine and if fits and feels OK. When I put my weight on my right side, it really pushes the brace up on my thigh but it seems as my butt takes the weight well and everything is OK. I kind of like the feeling of walking this way. I can even walk fairly well without the crutches, albeit a little clumsy."

Unbeknownst to Randy, Tina went to her orthotist and he shortened one of her legs that she had outgrown so that she could put it in the brace without really putting in on her stump, the leg and her stump meet under the long thigh band. The next time they came to visit, she asked if she could wear my braces again. I of course told her to help herself and she wheeled off to my room to get them. She crutched into the room a few minutes later wearing my braces, I noticed that she appeared to have put her leg on before putting the braces on. "How does it feel to wear them with your leg on as opposed to not wearing the leg?" "Feels the same, I don't have my leg on." "Well if you don't have your leg on, what's that in your right shoe? I know you didn't grow a leg in the last ten minutes." "Well, it is real; at least it is a real prosthesis. It's an old prosthesis that I doesn't fit me anymore, I took it to my orthotist and had him cut down the thigh so I could use it like this, I now know exactly how it feels for you to wear a brace because effectively my right leg is paralyzed and I don't have anymore feeling in it than you have in yours. As long as I wear hose, no one can tell that the right leg is a prosthesis and since it isn't connected to my stump it doesn't really work, so it's paralyzed. Now I can simulate being like you and wear braces and no one will know that I am really an amputee."

"OK, if that's what you want to do, let's get Ellie to paralyze your left leg and you will really be able to fully experience what it is like to be a para." We went into the kitchen and told Ellie what was going on, she thought that it was a neat idea and proceeded to hypnotize Tina and give her a suggestion about her left leg. When she came out of the trance, Tina tried to move her left leg but couldn't do it. "Hmm," I guess this is kind of what it is like to be a bilateral amputee, I can't feel my left leg any more than I can feel my missing right one. This is really interesting." She remained a para for the remainder of their stay. She even came out of her bedroom the next morning wearing only the left brace and a short skirt, "Now this is really neat, I bet I would really get some looks if I were to go our like this." Randy thought that was really exciting so she stayed like that and even went out to the mall shopping that way, did she ever get some looks that day. So it turns out that Tina the real amputee is a para pretender as well. She obviously fits well into our family.

The next time we were home, Tandy walked out of her room on crutches but apparently without her left leg. She said that she had liked Tina's story about Susie so she had tried it and really liked simulating as an amputee. Mom said that it seemed like recently Tandy was seldom if ever an AB girl when she was at home, she was in braces, on crutches with her left leg missing or was wheeling around in her chair. "I'm half afraid of what she might do to herself at some point to try and achieve one or all of these disabilities." "Don't worry mom," said Tandy, "I won't do anything to be really disabled, at least not until I am grown up and at least in college. Then maybe, but I don't know yet that I will. I really like to be able to switch between disabilities like I do now."

Chapter 15 Brandy - Med School, Internships, Residency's and Dissertations

Houston is a hot, humid, large, dirty, etc., etc. big city. The only redeeming factor was that all four of us were there together. Danny had looked around and found us a nice four-bedroom house that we could rent. It was all on one floor with a huge master bedroom that had a handicap accessible bathroom. Sam and I decided that the best thing was for us to share that room; Danny and Hank would each have a room and share the other bath. This arrangement would leave a spare room to be used for guests.

Although we did run up to Waco a few times in the next four years, we spent most of our time in class, labs, hospitals, libraries and at home studying. Danny finished med school a year ahead of Sam and I; he was able to get an appointment to do a year of internship in Houston so he could be with Sam.

The four years seemed to go by very quickly, and we were soon headed back to Waco. Before I get to that; however, let me give you a few of the highlights of our time in Houston.

Mom and dad drove down and visited us several times, as she had gotten in the habit of doing when they visited Waco; mom was always simulating. All of our friends only knew her as a para so she figured she'd continue using these visits as opportunities to simulate. Personally, I came to the conclusion that she was enjoying her simulating much more than she would admit. She told me that she had begun to go into her para mode every night after she had finished the dishes and she and dad had a chance to sit and talk, watch TV or read. She would go to her room and get her chair then come back to the family room as a para. She would not wake her legs up until some time the next morning; it depended on what she had to do as to how soon she woke them up. There were days when she only had chores to do at home or perhaps visit with my grand parents and when this was her plan for the day, she would remain a para the whole day. If she planned to be para for the day, she'd often put her braces on and wear them at least while in the kitchen cooking but often most of the day. She had told her parents early on about her simulating so she thought nothing of going to their house in her chair or braces. She said that she could not remember the last time that she had gone to bed able-bodied, dad loved this turn of events and mom said that he had become so much more attentive that she knew she would never want to go to bed as an AB woman.

Tandy came with them on some of their visits, she was always simulating but one never knew what to expect from her. Toward the end of our time in Houston; however, we only saw Tandy as an amputee. When I asked her about it she said that she had decided that this was the most satisfying lifestyle for her. She even said that she had been thinking about what she could do that would cause her to have to have her leg taken off. I explained to her that it was OK to want your body to be different, as long as you don't go out and try to alter it yourself by trying to cause some type of accident. I told her that Ellie had said the same thing to me several years ago and that I agreed with her then and still did. I told her that I had heard about cases in my studies where people had wanted to alter their bodies by trying to cause an accident to cause an amputation or even paralysis; in almost all of the cases, the injuries were much more severe than those desired, even to the point of death. Tandy said that she was too much of a chicken to try to do herself bodily harm in the form of an accident. She was looking for much safer alternatives, she promised that if she came up with any ideas she'd discuss them with me.

Hank and I took a few long weekends together out of town. We'd always take my car or Sam's van and Hank would simulate for the duration of the trip. Most of the time he would put himself in para mode before we left the house, we had a two-car garage that was attached to the side of the house so he'd get into the vehicle we were using before we opened the door and no one was the wiser. He'd stay like that until we got home. We really enjoyed these trips, they proved to be very relaxing and the time together was very special.

Danny even borrowed Hanks braces and chair a few times and he and Sam took some similar trips. Danny had never pretended prior to doing it with Sam so it was a new experience for him. He thought it was kind of fun but not something he particularly wanted to do on a regular basis. Sam said that was just fine with her, one para in the family was enough, she was; however, happy that he did it a few times so he would understand her needs better. He even mentioned that it didn't only give him a better insight into our life but would be beneficial for him when he was working with patients who had suffered a paralyzing event.

As we got closer to wrapping up our stay in Houston, Sam and I started talking about the wedding. We decided that we wanted to get married the end of the summer after we returned to Waco, before we started our internships and Danny started his residency. Sam and I had decided that we would take a little time off when we returned to Waco. After a lot of discussion and numerous calls home we decided that we would have the ceremony in Waco since most of our friends were there. We had not really kept up with very many of our friends from high school so we'd invite those that we still saw to come to Waco. Everyone else was already in Waco. We decided that the wedding would be the last Saturday of August and the date was set. Our moms began making plans and arrangements as soon as we told them when it was going to be.

Our next challenge was to convince Paul and Ellie that they were getting married at the same time and that "no" was not an option. They had already been planning a summer wedding so when they realized that we were serious about them getting married with us they agreed. Now my grandmother tried to get into the act; however, her health was deteriorating rapidly, granddad had passed away a few months earlier and it seemed she no longer had the will to live. Mom realized that she would have to do the planning in her mom's stead and called Ellie to discuss it with her. Ellie agreed immediately but said that she would be glad to do it herself. Mom told her that it would be just as easy for her since she was already doing 50% of the effort she could easily move up to 66%. Mom always did like to play the percentages... I'll give you more details on the wedding plans and the ceremony in another chapter.

Ellie finished her dissertation on schedule and turned it in a few days early. She felt pretty good about her topic and the information that her research had yielded. The topic that she submitted and got approved was actually a two part theme, "The Able Bodied Person Who Pretends to be Disabled and Why" and "The Able Bodied Person Who has an Absolute Need to become Disabled, Why Should they or Shouldn't They be Allowed to Achieve their Desires". At first her doctoral committee was scheptical of her ability to find subjects to study for her research. They agreed when she assured them that she already had at least four female subjects and perhaps one or two males; however, she made it very clear that she would not be able to reveal the identities of the subjects as the revelation could cause the subjects irreparable harm. They agreed and approved her plan. I bet you can't guess who her subjects were. She had a blast interviewing all of us, she had come up with some very probing questions to try and understand our reasoning for pretending/simulating; it was really hard to come up with really accurate and honest answers. A couple of times after she had completed the initial interviews and was documenting the results, she said to Sam and me, "boy sometimes I wonder about this family of mine, what a bunch of weirdoes." "Yeah, I guess we are," Sam and I said, "but then look at whose talking about weirdoes, the biggest weirdo of us all." She laughed and said that we were right; she was the biggest weirdo because she was the only one of us that had become disabled without ever pretending, yet she got as much enjoyment our of our pretending as we did. She talked to Danny some but both agreed that he had not pretended/simulated nearly enough to provide the kinds of answers she was looking for, Hank on the other hand has done considerable pretending so she included him as a subject.

Ellie got a lot more serious when she began to interview us for the second part of her research. She wanted to dig into the "wannabe" feelings very deeply, she said that there was very little written about this phenomenon and she knew that the psychology community really wanted and needed to understand it. She felt that if there were enough information gathered and studied, and if several studies yielded the same conclusions we might see the day when a "wannabe" could achieve their desire to have their body altered much as the transsexuals were now able to have their body altered; albeit not a simple process. She was in favor of the medical community accepting this phenomenon and creating a method that would allow the "wannabe" to achieve their desired body alterations. She certainly knew that her work would not lead to this happening; she just wanted to put more data points on the curve that might help us get to that point in the future. Of course I already knew how she felt about this subject because of our discussions when I was still pretending.

The end result of her efforts was that the doctoral committee thought she had done an outstanding job in her research and its documentation. They tried to pressure her to reveal her subjects; however, she held true to her explanation to them prior to undertaking her project. She simply reiterated to them that it would do irreparable damage to anyone of these subjects if their identify were revealed. One of the professors asked her if she was one of the subjects of her research, "No sir," she replied, "I had polio as a two year old when my family was in foreign service in a very poor country, they didn't have the vaccine available there so I was never vaccinated. Luckily the disease only affected my legs; I was rushed back to the US immediately upon the diagnosis being confirmed and was able to get the best of medical attention. I believe that I would be much worse off had I not been brought back to the US. Anyway, prior to my contracting polio, I was really a bit young to be a pretender or a wannabe, wouldn't you say?" They had to agree with that logic. "I'll take the names of my subjects to the grave, even at the expense of my doctorate," she told them. When she made that statement they realized that she was serious and didn't press her any further for the names of her subjects. She received her PHD at the end of the semester with honors.

As the end of med school approached, Sam and I needed to find ourselves appointments as interns at a hospital. We decided to start with the hospitals in Waco, then work on Austin and Houston last. We had realized that our initial idea of setting up our practice/business in Houston was not the right answer. They already had lots of hospitals with the kinds of facilities we were planning to provide. There is also a large Texas Rehabilitation Commission, (TRC) presence in Houston. It would have been suicide to attempt to open our operation there.

With all of us in related fields we had agreed that we would establish our practices together. We had decided to establish a clinic type of operation, which would have orthopedic surgery, orthopedic specialists, psychiatric and psychological help as well as physical therapy and orthotics. Danny, Hank, Paul and Ellie were going to finish ahead of Sam and I because Danny was a year ahead and Paul was two year ahead of Sam and me, they would finish their residency's before we did ours. Of course Hank and Ellie were finished when they completed their doctoral programs.

The group expressed concern over how we were going to be able to establish the clinic. This was a very expensive venture considering all of the medical equipment we would have to acquire. We talked about the amount of money we might need to be able to open up for business. Some of the group who didn't really know about my financial situation, were wondering who would loan us that kind of money considering that the whole bunch of us had very little if any experience in our fields. I volunteered that I would pickup the tab for the setup of the clinic, a couple of their mouths dropped open and the question was asked, "And how do you propose to do that?" "By writing quite a number of checks I suppose," I said. "I'm not trying to flaunt my financial situation and I know you are not aware of what it is; suffice it to say that I can and will do what I said I would do. This is of course a business transaction, I'll have my lawyer work up the necessary contracts, incorporation papers and what have you to make this happen. The way I see it, each of you will sign a contract agreeing to reimburse me for your share of the setup costs. We'll do that over a period of years at the end of which we will own the clinic jointly. The other alternative is that I own the clinic and you all work for me. In other words, I collect the fees from the patients and pay you a salary or I collect rent as it were from each of you for the facilities that you have available for your practice. Just remember that the rent continues beyond the time that I recover my initial investment. I'm perfectly willing to operate on either basis, why don't you vote on it and make a group decision. I am not interested in telling you how it will be done, I would rather you decide that as a group.

The group's decision was to incorporate the clinic and contract with me to pay me back for my investment, after which we would all jointly own the facilities and the overall practice. Sam suggested that I be Chairman and CEO of the corporation and chief of staff of the clinic since it was my money that would bring it into existence. I declined the idea of being chief of staff as I felt that I didn't have the experience for that position; I suggested that we give more thought to that position before we decided how to fill it at the outset. I did agree to be the Chairman and CEO as I felt that I needed to protect my investment. Once the monies were all paid back we could determine how to fill those positions from that point on.

After the meeting, Paul caught me alone and asked me where I had gotten that kind of money, he had not seen any evidence that my parents were wealthy and had that kind of money to give me; besides, Randy didn't seem to be involved in financing the deal so it didn't appear that he had any involvement in owning the funds. I chuckled and told him that Ellie had probably not told him my story; he replied that she had given him bits and pieces but probably not in its entirety. We had some time so I suggested that he grab us a couple of cokes and we'd go sit on the deck and I'd tell him my whole story. Since we were going to be business partners and in practice together I thought he should know the story. I caught Sam and suggested that she might want to join us and share her story as well since I didn't think he was aware that she had one also. When he came out to the deck he had Ellie in tow, she had a big grin on her face and said, "I think he needs to sit down for this one." Sam and I laughed and said that we would certainly include her part in our antics; she was not going to be spared just because it was Paul. By this time, Paul was beginning to really wonder what he had gotten himself into; we allayed his fears and told him our stories. "Wow, that's quite a tale, ever think of making a movie?" "No, reality is far too boring for the movie going public," I said.

We began looking for a building that would suit us for our clinic. We stumbled into a really sweet deal. There was an older doctor, Dr. Williams, in town that had built up a very prosperous practice in orthopedics, which he was interested in selling so that he could retire. He had offered the practice to the doctors that worked for him but none of them was in a position to put up that kind of money. They had considered buying the practice as a group but that idea had not worked out. I negotiated a deal through my attorney to purchase the practice over a 5yr period; although I could have paid cash I didn't want to deplete my funds to that extent. I knew that there would be substantial expense in remodeling and updating the facilities. I paid half down and agreed to pay out the remaining half over the agreed time. I also was able to get Dr. Williams to stay on for a period of time as chief of staff to help us keep the operation going and to provide his knowledge to further train us beyond our licensing requirements. He would remain with us until I had paid off the remaining debt to him. We asked three of the five doctors that he had on staff to remain with us at least for a couple of years, they agreed with the understanding that they would begin developing their own practices during that time so that once we didn't need them any longer they would have established practices to go to. The clinic was named "Williams Orthopedics"; we quickly decided that name was not going to work so we'd have to come up with a new name. I thought about it for a moment and told the group that I had the name for the clinic and it was really the obvious choice, "Twins Orthopedics". Everyone chuckled, and said, "of course, what else could it be?"

Although Sam, Danny, Paul and I had to finish internships and residencies we established offices in our new clinic with the intention of spending some time there under the tutelage of Dr. Williams when we were not on duty at the hospital. Dr. Williams was agreeable to this arrangement since he had participated in the training programs at the hospital by having interns and residents assigned to him for his guidance and supervision. Although Dr. Williams was the chief of staff, he and the other doctors actually worked for me since they were now on my payroll.

Hank and Ellie were done with their doctoral programs so they setup shop in the clinic. The clinic had a small orthotics shop, which we expanded substantially; there was also a physical therapy section, which had several treatment rooms and a large exercise room. It was like a small gym but with very specialized equipment. These facilities were fine as they were for the time being. Ellie found a psychiatrist at the hospital that she could affiliate with until Paul had completed his last year of residency after which she would work under his supervision.

Chapter 16 Tandy Loses Her Leg

You may remember that mom told us that Tandy was pretending so much that she was seldom AB around the house. This continued as she got older and went on to high school. She is tall like Sam and me, but thinner than we are. Her legs are almost as thin as ours; when you consider that our legs have atrophied considerably since we have been permanently paralyzed, for hers to be almost that thin, that's thin.

Tandy is also very flexible and as luck would have it she is double jointed in her knees. When she doubles up her leg and wraps it tightly with an ace bandage, it looks pretty real; the fact that it has atrophied some due to being tied up and not used has made it even easier to continue doing it. To conceal her foot against her butt, she got herself a couple of girdles that have inserts to make ones rear a little larger, she modified the left insert so that when she pulls the girdle over her foot, the foot nestles itself into the insert and it isn't noticeable at all. When simulating Tandy often wears jeans that are just a little baggy and pins the lower left leg up, she really looks authentic. On one occasion, someone mentioned that her left thigh looked a little bigger in diameter than her right; Tandy just answered that his was an accurate observation, she had injured her stump and the doctor had her wrapping it in an ace bandage while it was healing. That's why my stump is so long; I have to put some padding at the end before I wrap it. No more questions.

It was not unusual, for Tandy to be one legged for an entire weekend and even on a few occasions she remained that way for several days, she had done it so much by this time that it no longer ached when she had the leg up for long periods of time. Tandy visited us one weekend after she got her drivers license, she put her leg up before leaving home and drove to Houston as a one legger. It was a long weekend and she spent the entire weekend on one leg then drove back home that way. This happened to be while Hank was taking some of his lab courses for the orthotics part of his degree program. He was talking about making limbs and braces as part of the requirements for his class. Tandy hit on the idea of him making her a leg, and maybe even a peg leg. Hank said that he didn't know if he would be able to do that, but Tandy would give him no peace until he agreed to try. He took her to his lab and made a cast of her "stump", then he told her that he would have to work on this outside of class time so it could be while before he could think about having them ready. She said that was OK, but you could tell that she was disappointed that he was not going to be working on her legs right away. Sorry he said, the professor's didn't care if they made limbs or braces that were not part of their assignments but they just couldn't interfere with the assigned work.

It took Hank a while to produce the prosthetic leg; he had to figure out how to build the knee so that it would be in as close to where the knee was supposed to be as possible and still work. He finally devised a way to do it, with a little help from his professor. He told the professor that his friend was an immigrant from a poor country and that when her leg had been amputated they had taken it off right at the knee because they didn't think she would ever wear a leg anyway. When she was injured, the leg had been almost completely severed through the knee and the surgeon had only removed enough thighbone to make a muscle pad over the end of the bone. The lower leg had been pretty well destroyed so he couldn't salvage anything from it to make the pad.

Hank finally completed the leg and we told Tandy that we had it and she could come visit whenever she could so Hank could fit it for her. As you would expect, she was visiting us the next weekend. Hank helped her put the leg on and made a couple of minor adjustments. Then he helped her learn how to walk with it. It was amazing how quickly she learned walk, she had an obvious limp; but she said that was OK, it let people know that she had an artificial leg and she was just fine with that. Her left knee was just a little lower than her right, but if you didn't look closely, it was hard to tell. Hank and his professor had done an excellent job on the leg.

As we suspected, Tandy wore the leg constantly. As soon as she was home from school, the left leg went up and the prosthesis or the peg went on. She hardly ever simulated as a para after she got her legs. Some of her closest friends knew what she was doing and she often went out with them with the leg on, she would wear a skirt or shorts displaying her prosthesis for all to see. She was as happy as she could be, almost. The only thing that would have made her happier was to have the leg amputated for real. Soon enough it would be.

After high school, she moved into my house to start college at Baylor. Sam, Danny, Hank and I had moved back to Waco and were living in the house. For the time being, Sam and I were sharing the master bedroom until the wedding, which was not far off. Paul and Ellie had bought a place near by. Randy and Tina were still living at the house with us; they were planning their wedding and would live with us until they married. Tandy was going to share Tina's room until she and Randy were married.

Tandy moved to Waco right after graduation; as soon as she got there she announced that she was going to simulate full time now that she was sort of on her own. She said she really wanted to find a way to have her leg amputated because she was happiest when on one leg. She and I were talking about her plan and desires, I told her that she really needed to take her leg down some and let the blood flow properly. If she didn't, she ran the risk of developing blood clots or circulation problems that could threaten her life. I also cautioned her that if she had any kind of recurring pain in her leg she had to tell one of us about it immediately so we could examine the leg and see what was causing the pain.

At that statement, she kind of looked down at the table and said; "My leg has been hurting for a couple of weeks now, maybe even three. It started as a dull pain and has gotten steadily worse. I figured I'd wait until I couldn't stand it any more and then I'd tell you about it and hope that it had to be amputated. I told her to get her leg down right then, and get out to my car we were going to clinic so we could check out the leg and take some x-rays of it.

The examination and x-rays were not what I had hoped for, they were what Tandy had hoped for to some degree but she had not intended for her problem to be as serious as it turned out to be. I discovered a large mass in her calf, it didn't look good so Danny and I did a biopsy and sent it to the lab for testing. Just as I had feared, she had a malignant mass in her calf and the leg was coming off right away.

We consulted with an oncologist who agreed that immediate amputation was indicated; however, he was afraid, as we were that this type of cancer could have spread. There was no way to be sure right then so we got Tandy into the hospital and Danny arranged for an operating room for an emergency amputation. We were in luck, there was an orthopedic oncology surgeon, Dr. Everett who was on my staff at the clinic, at the hospital and when Danny saw him on the operating floor he asked him if he would do the surgery or supervise and assist him while he did it. Danny told him that the patient was my sister and he was pretty close to her so he was not sure about doing the surgery in the first place. The doctor asked Danny if he had done an amputation similar to this one, he had not. He told Danny that he would like for him to do the surgery and he would assist, this would give Danny some really good experience that was not often available. They discussed the amputation point and based on the location and size of the mass in the lower leg, Dr. Everett recommended that the leg be taken above the knee at about mid thigh. I had joined the discussion as they were reviewing the pictures of Tandy's leg, they both looked at me after Dr. Everett made his recommendation questioning whether I agreed. My response was very simple, "I'm not qualified to really comment but based on my limited knowledge and speaking for my sister I think your recommendation is correct and you should proceed as soon as possible." They both nodded and headed for the operating room where Tandy was being prepared for the surgery.

The amputation went well, Dr. Everett was very comfortable in telling us that based on what he could see during the surgery he felt that there had not been any spread of the cancer beyond the lower leg. Dr. Everett had shown Danny how to properly remove the leg and then build a muscle pad over the end of the bone to provide a cushion for her prosthesis. He had also shown him how to close up the stump so that the scar was at a point where it would be the least likely to be a source of irritation and also the least noticeable. Dr. Everett said that he was ordering some test, including a cat scan, to see if there was any evidence of spread and he would put together a chemotherapy treatment plan for Tandy which we would start her on immediately.

I had called mom and dad as soon as we realized what we had to do and they flew in right away. By the way, this was mom's first trip on an airplane as a para, she told me later that she was not too sure about the airline personnel that helped her aboard the plane. She had come as a para because she had met many of our friends and some of the doctors at the clinic and hospital on previous visits and she had always been a para so she knew she didn't want to explain her simulating to anyone at this time.

The first question that they asked when we were alone was if Tandy's simulating had in any way contributed to her loosing her leg. Danny and I told them no, it had absolutely nothing to do with it. This was going to happen regardless of her simulating or not simulating. They felt better that they had not allowed her to do something that had cost her a leg.

When Tandy got out of recovery and was moved to her room, she was obviously very worried. The first thing she did was ask for her glasses so she could see who was there; next, she said to us that she had not expected to loose the leg because of cancer, she had hoped for some other cause for the loss. She was scared that the cancer might have spread and also about having to take chemotherapy treatments. Tina came crutching in about that time and said, "not to worry, you are going to be just fine." She wiggled her stump at her and said, "hey look, I had the same kind of cancer you had and here I am wiggling my cute little stump at you a bunch of years after I had my leg off. The cancer has not caused me any other problems. The doctors know much more about treating these cancers now than when I had mine so you don't have anything to worry about. Relax and let that stump heal so it will be as cute as mine and we can go hopping, crutching and pegging around together.

I think Tina was just what Tandy needed at that point; she settled down and soon was sound asleep. She needed the rest so that her stump heal up and be just as cute as Tina's was. By the way, Tina's stump is just as cute as it can be, just ask her...

Tandy made really good progress in her recovery. We had her on her crutches two days after surgery I have never seen her so excited, as she was when she first stood on her one remaining leg. We did a cat scan which found no cancer in her body, this relieved her worries about cancer and after that all she could talk about was being a real amputee; we almost had to sedate her because she was so excited. Within a week she was grumbling about going home. Ten days after the amputation, Dr. Everett took the stitches out and told Tandy to go home. She could come in for her treatments as necessary.

As soon as I took Tandy home, she and Tina started going everywhere together on crutches. They wear the same size shoe so they exchanged the bulk of their unused shoes. Tina had a number of clogs, slides and backless sandals; she had found only a few of them that she could wear with her leg so she wore the rest of them when on crutches, she proceeded to haul all of the right shoes to those pairs into Tandy's room and left with an equal number that Tandy had decided she would not be able to use when she got her leg. One of the reasons for many of their excursions was to wear some of their newly acquired shoes and look for more.

About a month or six weeks after the amputation, Tandy and Tina came into the living room where Sam, Danny, Hank and I were chatting; they both wiggled their stumps at us and said, "Aren't they cute?" The swelling had gone down and the scar was beginning to fade on the end of Tandy's stump, it really was cute just like Tina's. We all laughed and told them that they were.

A couple of weeks later Hank had Tina come down to the office so he could take the measurements and make a cast of her stump. It was time to build her leg. While Hank was measuring her, she said to him; "you don't have to rush making this leg, I'm not sure how much I'll wear it anyway. I've decided that I'm going to start school this fall on crutches, I'm convinced I can get around campus quicker on crutches than on a leg." Hank thought about that and replied that she was probably right, but did she really want to be seen on crutches without her leg? Tina's answer really didn't surprise anyone, "I'm now just the way I have wanted to be and I don't care who knows it." Hank went ahead and made her a leg, he even surprised her with a peg leg, he told her that he figured he might as well make it now because if he didn't she'd be after him to make one soon enough. "How right you are," she said. She actually wears the peg much more that the leg, whenever she had chores to do around the house and it was inconvenient to be on crutches she would use it. She only wears the leg on "special occasions" as she said.

Chapter 17 Brandy - Mom & Dad's Surprise Announcement

Not long after we had moved back to Waco, my grandma passed away. It wasn't more than a couple of weeks after we were back that mom called to say that grandma was going down hill very quickly; she had put her in the hospital that day and they really didn't know how long she would live. It seems that granddad's passing had been too much for her and she lost her will to live. We all piled in the vans and headed home in hopes that we could see her and say goodbye before she passed away. We did make it home and got to see her briefly that day, and it was a good thing because she didn't make it though the night. She was laid to rest with granddad two days later; we were all a little shocked because it had all happened so quickly. Before we left, mom told Ellie that she might want to take the remaining braces, crutches and other stuff that were still in the storeroom. Ellie at first thought there was no reason to keep these things but then decided to take them since we had lots of storage space she could keep them for the moment and we could use them at our clinic when we got that off the ground. We gathered all the things and loaded them in her van for the trip home.

It wasn't but a few weeks later that mom and Mrs. Kelly, Sam's mom, were in Waco attending to details for the weddings; mom stopped by to see how Tandy was coming along after her amputation, they were out on the back deck talking. Mom had taken Sam's mom into her confidence about her simulating some years back so she was in her chair as she always was when she visited us. She said to Tandy "would you find Ellie, the twins and Randy for me, I have something that I need to discuss with all of you." Tandy hopped into the house and gathered up the four of us and we all went out to the deck.

"I asked Tandy to get you all out here together because I have some news I need to share with you. Dad and I decided that I should tell you about this while I was here. So, here goes: Right after mother died, dad and I put their farm on the market as we told you we would, at the same time we put ours up for sale as well. Dad and I had been discussing the idea of doing this for some time but had decided that we needed to hold off as long as mother and dad were still alive. We have realized that there is nothing to hold us there any longer, all of you have moved on with your lives and it looks like Waco or Austin is where you will settle. Dad has arranged with his partners to buy him out of the business so we are free to move on ourselves. We have received a generous offer for both parcels of land, when we told our agent that we were going to put both parcels on the market together, it seems that the fact that they are adjoining parcels makes them more valuable. The offer is much more than we had originally thought they would sell for; Ellie, I'll give you more specifics on the sale price after this discussion. Ellie commented that she had considered purchasing the property as an investment and then leasing it out but decided that since mom and dad were selling their land as well she wouldn't be comfortable leasing it through a management company. The responsibility for handling the transaction has fallen to mom because she is the executor of both of her parents' estates.

Mom continued by telling us that they had accepted the offer for the properties and that they had to move out of their house by the end of the month, they also had to get the remaining things out of their parents home. She told us, as we pretty much knew, that they had gotten most of the things out of the house so it was not going to be too big an effort. The kids had selected items they wanted after the funeral and those had been sent to them or they had taken them with them when they left. She showed us an inventory and said that we could request anything we wanted that remained and that they would be distributed to whoever got them next week. She had decided that after everyone had picked what he or she wanted she would award the items based on age. The oldest grandchild asking for an item got it. She would continue down the list of names until everyone had gotten their share, she would keep it as equal as possible and anyone who didn't like her plan could handle it themselves as long as they had the project completed by the end of next week. She said that the rest of our cousins were to have their lists in by the end of this week and we had the same amount of time. Mom turned to Sam and said to her, in their wills my parents have included you as a grandchild since they were so used to you being Brandy's twin; had grown to love you just as much as their other grandchildren because you were always at their house with Brandy. So you need to give me a list and your name will of course be next to Brandy's on the names list.

"Now," she said, "here's the rest of the story. Dad will be here tomorrow and we are going to look for property in this area. We have decided to move here since it is our expectation that you will all be here or in the vicinity. We want to be close enough that we can enjoy our grandchildren when they start coming; however, we don't plan to be in your laps at all time. Dad is planning to look around for something to do once we are settled. That's the "our" news part, now comes the "my" news part. I have decided that I will become a permanent para when we move here. All of your friends have only seen me in this chair or in braces and crutches. I don't think I want to try and explain that to anyone. What I have discovered over the last year or two is that I am happiest when sitting in this wheel chair or crutching along in my braces. I think I have told some of you that I have gone to bed every night as a para for the last three to four years, in fact I now spend most evenings as a para from the time I complete my tasks for the day until the next morning. Many days if I don't need to go out anywhere I remain as a para for the entire day. I didn't think I would ever reach this decision but I have, I have given it a lot of thought and discussed it in great detail with dad. I have watched three of you go from able bodied young women to disabled young women and have seen that you were all happier after you were permanently disabled than you were before. I now know that that will be the case with me as well. Besides, I have noticed and you my have as well, that my legs are beginning to noticeably atrophy, I am even beginning to feel some weakness if I walk or stand for any length of time. It seems that as I have increased the amount of time that I spend in braces or this chair my legs have suffered from lack of use. I don't know as yet how or when I will become permanent other than once I get here I will simply not wake my legs up and then go about deciding with help from some of you how to truly make my paralysis real and permanent; after all, I have two daughters that are about to be orthopedic doctors and a soon to be son-in-law that's soon to be an orthopedic surgeon. You would think that with all of you around I could get some good guidance about this. Perhaps I can have the same kind of surgery that Sam had; I'll appreciate your advice on the subject, but let's not go into that now." Sam reached over and gave mom a big hug and said, "Thanks for the way you phrased that, it means more than you know when you refer to me as your daughter and Danny as your son-in-law to be. I have always looked to you as my mom almost as much as my real mom. My relationship with this whole family and especially having Brandy as my sister is so very special to me."

I couldn't believe what I had just heard, my mom was a wannabe and intended on living her life as a para. I guess you just never know what to expect from this family. I moved my chair closer to mom and gave her a big hug too. Then I asked her a nagging question, "Mom, you have to answer one question for me, are you doing this for you or are you doing it for dad." "That's and interesting question, I started out simulating initially for your dad as you well know. I found it to be fun and a little exciting in the early days, the trips we took were a blast, I began to notice how men looked at me and at your father. For me it was a very special look of both admiration and sexual attraction, your dad would get looks of envy because he was with me and they weren't. That was the really exciting side for me in the early days. Over time, as I increased the amount of time that I spent as a para, I realized one day that I was doing it more for myself than for dad. At first that was a bit of an uneasy feeling, but with time and many discussions with most of you; although, you didn't know why I was asking the questions, I came to terms with my feelings and progressed to the point at which I am today. Be assured; however, that I am doing this for me first and for dad second. I know enough to realize that if I do it for him that in the long run I won't be happy and will blame him for it. I can't wait for us to move here and get settled into my life as a full time para. I don't know how you three feel", indicating Ellie, Sam and me, "but I expect that I will spend almost all of my time in a chair. Although I really enjoy the braces, it is in the chair that I am the most comfortable and the most exhilarated. Brandy, does that answer your question?" "Well, I guess it does, I must admit that I am astounded at your decision; however, I am so happy for you because I know that you will be so very happy once you go permanent."

The next day dad drove in, Sam's mother had to go back so she had left early that morning heading home. Mom had contacted the real-estate agent that had helped us find our house and made appointments with her to see some property. The agent asked her to describe as best she could what kind of property she and dad would be looking for so that she could search the listings and narrow them down to properties that appeared to suit their needs.

Mom responded that the first requirement was that the house would need to be all on one floor with large bedrooms and large bathrooms, it would have to be wheel chair accessible and it would be best if the bathrooms were handicap accessible as well. The agent commented that she had expected that they would be looking for an accessible house, knowing that Ellie, Sam and I were in wheel chairs, so that was not a surprise; she had already made a note to her self about that. "Yes," said mom, "you are correct that they are in wheel chairs, but I also have a daughter that is an amputee and a future daughter-in-law who is also an amputee. And most importantly, I'm in a wheel chair myself." The agent began to apologize for not having been sensitive to her situation when mom stopped her and told her that she was not insensitive, she had simply mentioned that she knew that Ellie, Sam and I were in wheel chairs, she had no reason to know about Tandy or Tina nor would she have known about mom since they hadn't met. Mom continued to describe the property that they wanted and the agent said that she would check the listings and be prepared to show dad and her what she had been able to find. She assured her that they would find a property that was right for them.

When mom and dad met with the realtor the next day, she had a long list of properties that she felt were suited to their needs or could be modified to fit their needs. So off they went to start looking. Sam had offered the use of her van so that mom wouldn't have to transfer in and out of her chair so many times, the van would make it so much easier for her to just roll into the van and secure her chair and off they could go. When they came back that afternoon, they had looked at about ten or so properties and narrowed them down to three. They asked us if we would join them the next day to look at the three remaining properties and give them our comments.

The next morning you would have thought there was a convention of cripples in town as we came piling out of the two vans, Ellie had to take hers so that all the chairs could be taken safely. Ellie and mom were in their chairs with no braces, Sam and I were in our chairs but had decided to wear braces; Tandy and Tina were in their chairs but had their crutches along incase they wanted to walk at some point. It was quite a parade of beautiful disabled ladies as Hank and Danny so aptly put is, checking out these houses.

We liked all three of the houses; however, one on of them seemed to stand out for all of us. This house was on about 80 acres, it was very large and all on one floor. The four bedrooms were very large and it had three full baths and a powder room. The master bedroom of course had it's own private very large bath. There were also a large country kitchen, dinning room living room and a huge family room at the back of the house.

The grounds around the house were beautifully landscaped. A little ways away from the house, perhaps a quarter of a mile was a two-bedroom guesthouse, which was also on one floor. Near the back of the main house was a large very nice barn. The house had a large three-car garage to one side. The only problem, if you considered it that, was that the house was not handicap accessible. There were single steps at each door and no accommodations in the bathrooms. However, all of these things could be remedied easily.

After a bit of discussion where we all gave our input, mom and dad decided to take a ride and be alone for a while so they could discuss the properties and try and make a decision. When they returned a couple of hours later, they had decided on the property that we all liked the best. Mom said that it really was the lead case for them; they just needed to talk it out and be sure. Dad called the real-estate agent and made an offer on the property. The agent said she would be by shortly with the paperwork to complete and sign so she could present the offer to the owners.

After a couple of rounds of offers and counter offers a deal was struck and mom and dad had bought their place. The properties back home were to close at the end of the month and they would close on this one two days later. Since the property was vacant, they asked the owners if they could have a key and take some contractors to look at it so that they could get estimates for the modifications that would have to be made to the home. They had told the owners that mom was in a wheel chair and that some changes were going to be required to the home to accommodate her. The owners said that they would be happy to let them have a key to the house so they spent the next couple days at the property with various contractors discussing the changes they wanted made. They decided to have the contractors also submit bids for modifications to the guesthouse in case some of us wanted to use it at some time in the future.

Randy and Tina told them that they might be interested in renting the guesthouse when they married in a few months. This didn't need to be decided right away but it sure looked like a good opportunity for the two of them.

Chapter 18 Brandy - The Wedding(s)

Time has flown this summer, it is only a couple of weeks from the big wedding day and we have just gotten everything settled. Mom and dad have a beautiful garden behind their house that they offered us for the ceremony. We had talked about having it outside so this turns out to be the perfect spot. They have lots of room so we'll have the reception there also. We have arranged for a caterer and some acquaintances from school that have put together a small combo, they play mostly for fun, will play for the reception. One of the members of the combo has a really nice electronic synthesizer; she'll play organ music for the wedding ceremony. A few flower arrangements will be placed strategically around the garden, but there are lots of flowers in bloom so it is really beautiful as it is.

I think I told you that Sam and I will be each other's maid of honor, Ellie has asked mom to be her matron of honor and she has asked her brother to give her away. The three of us have decided on wheel chairs rather than braces, we're afraid that the full skirts of our dresses might cause one of us to trip and fall; this would not be too cool. Tina and Tandy will be my bride's maids, Sherry and Wendy will be Sam's and Ellie's other sister Sarah and our friend Ann are Ellie's. Sarah is the only AB among the females in the wedding parties so she has said that she will wear mom's braces or use one of our spare wheel chairs so she won't be left out. All of the paras are going to use chairs, Tandy and Tina are wearing their pegs and Wendy is using her hook rather than her myoelectric hand. The groomsmen are Randy Tom and George, they are going to alternate escorting the girls. The poor minister is likely to have a heart attack when he see this procession of disabled people coming down the isle. It's a good thing we are having a rehearsal the day before so we can break it to him gently. Danny and Hank are each other's best man and Paul has asked dad to be his.

Sam and I will wear identical dresses; Ellie has chosen a dress that is similar in design. She will be pushed down the isle first because she is the eldest, then Sam and I will follow together. Rather than waiting with the grooms, the groomsmen will push or escort their ladies down the isle, we decided to do this so that the ladies didn't have to push their chairs themselves. The main isle is actually a path from the house to the garden so there won't be any difficulty in navigating the chairs to where the minister will be waiting.

My aunt Sarah came to visit us last weekend, she hadn't been here in a couple of years and hadn't seen mom & dad's house. Those were her excuses for coming, I think the real reason was that she wanted to practice using braces and crutches and learn to maneuver in a wheelchair. To make the practice realistic, Ellie hypnotized her and made her a para for the weekend. She did very well, but of course she had lots of help since she stayed with Ellie and Paul and was with mom, Sam and me as well most of the weekend. We all enjoyed her antics; she is very outgoing and funny so she was cracking jokes about herself the whole time she was simulating as a para. When she left on Monday morning, she said that she had had a wonderful time and told Ellie that she felt like she had a much better understanding of the life she had to live because of this experience. She said that she had often wondered what Ellie really had to put up with all these years, she told Ellie that she had made it look so easy that she didn't realize just how hard things could be living ones life as a para. By the time Ellie had polio and was home again, Sarah had married and moved away so she had not been there to see her growing up and struggling with her braces as a child as mom had done because she lived so close.

I need to digress for a moment; I've neglected my eye and ear doctor visits while we were in Houston so I made appointments to see both of them before the wedding and honeymoon trip. My hearing has gotten so bad that I really can't hear much useful sound at all without my aids. Sam and I have switched aids and there is so little difference that we could easily wear each other's, for me this is a bit scary which is why I decided that I needed to see the ENT again. After I made the appointment to see the doctor, his nurse called and said that they were reviewing my chart prior to my visit and that the doctor wanted me to see my audiologist and have a hearing test run before coming in to see him so he could better assess where we were with my hearing loss. He also wanted copies of any previous tests that she had to be able to evaluate the progression of the loss over the last few years. Since I had not had my aids checked and adjusted for some time, this was the opportune time to do that as well. I visited with my audiologist and she ran a hearing test. She showed me the previous test and the amount of loss that I had suffered since that test just a couple of years ago. My hearing loss now was very severe and was very near the limit of my hearing aids, in fact when she adjusted them she pushed them to their limit. She told me that she could still provide me with the power I needed with my current aids but that I should be thinking about getting new ones soon because there was no more power left for the future; besides, with the new technology in hearing aids I would probably hear better with new ones. I told her that after I talked with the ENT I would come back and we'd make a decision regarding when to order the new aids.

When I gave the doctor my hearing tests he looked them over and had a bit of a frown on his face. "This is not good," he commented, "you are getting awfully close to the point at which hearing aids won't help you any longer. I suspect that there is one more step in hearing aids after which you will no longer have usable hearing and will be profoundly deaf. I want to see you again in six months with another hearing test, we'll start seeing you every six months and as soon as the tests indicate it, we will run some specialized tests at the hospital to see if you are a candidate for a cochlear implant. At this time, you appear to be but as I think I may have told you some time ago only some additional testing will be able to confirm that. Are you aware of what happens if we do an implant?" "No, I really don't know too much about it, we talked very briefly about the implants in med school but really didn't discuss in depth how they work or how the implants are done."

He explained it to me in medical terms; therefore, let me try to put it into English as best I can. He briefly explained that the auditory nerve to the ear that is to receive the implant is severed. This makes the implant ear totally and completely deaf, as there is no longer an auditory nerve to carry the sound signals. The main goals of the surgery are to anchor the receiver-stimulator package to the temporal bone in the skull and to insert the electrode array into the cochlea. This is done by first raising the skin from the skull behind the ear to expose the temporal bone. The surgeon is then able to position the implant package flat against the bone. Next, a hole is drilled in the temporal bone, allowing the surgeon access to the cochlea. A small hole is made in the wall of the cochlea, and the electrode array is gently guided into the shell-like cochlea. The electrode array might be thought of as the replacement for the auditory nerve that was severed and provides the substitute sound to the cochlea. The cochlear implant system has become very reliable, so there are seldom any complications.

I told the doctor that my current hearing aids were at their max so I was planning on ordering a new set immediately after my visit with him, I also mentioned that the audiologist had confirmed what he said that these would be the most powerful aids available for me. He reiterated that he had expected that I had maxed out my current aids and that there was only one more power level available to me. I told him that I would see him again in six months with the tests that he had requested.

After this visit a thought occurred to me, it relates to the comment that Sam's orthopedic doctor made after the visit at which she told him about me and that we had grown up as twins. He mentioned that perhaps the problems she was experiencing were psychosomatic stemming from the fact that I was a paraplegic. Gee, I wonder if my hearing problems are psychosomatic stemming from the fact that Sam is deaf? Ah well, too late to do anything about it, I'm already deaf and getting deafer.

I headed to my audiologist's office because I wanted to get my new aids before we went on our honeymoon. I discussed the information that the doctor had given me with her and we placed an order for my new hearing aids. She told me that she should have them in about a week; this would give us time for me to wear them for a few days and make any necessary adjustments before the wedding. As promised the new aids were in on schedule and after a couple of visits they were properly adjusted. I realized how good hearing could be, these new aids are state of the art digital technology and my hearing is much improved over my last pair.

The next day it was off to the eye doctor, I have noticed recently that things are a bit fuzzy at a distance; however, I think my reading prescription is probably about right. After a thorough examination, the doctor gave me a new prescription and told me that it was no wonder that things were a bit blurry; I definitely needed a stronger prescription. Although there was not a large amount of difference, there was enough that I would notice a problem. I was correct, my reading prescription was very close to OK; however, since he was adding to my distance vision he went ahead and added just a little to my reading prescription.

He brought up the subject of having surgery to at least partially correct my vision. He was not sure that the surgery could completely correct it; however, he stated that at a minimum I would be wearing much weaker glasses if I had the laser surgery performed. If I wanted to investigate it further, he would refer me to an ophthalmologist that does the surgery. I told him that I had considered it in the past and had decided that I really didn't want to have it done, I was OK with my glasses and just didn't want surgery. I told him that I might consider it if my vision ever got to a point where glasses could not correct it to an acceptable level any longer. I didn't go into my feelings about glasses and my desire to continue wearing them if at all possible. I took my prescription and went to the optical store to order my new glasses knowing that with my prescription it takes several days to get it filled because they usually have to order the lenses and the frames. I found some very attractive frames that I really liked; they had to special order a version of the frames with the temples that will fold over my very thick lenses. I still get three pairs of glasses; however, I don't get the ultra thin lenses any more, I ask them to make them a bit thicker by making them compliant with the standard for safety glasses. For those interested, my prescription is now -21.75, -1.75X105 in my left eye and -23.25, -2.25X90 in the right with an add of +2.75 for reading.

Hank was very pleased that I was getting this all accomplished before the wedding, he had been on me about seeing the doctors for some time. He is a stickler when it comes to me taking care of my medical needs, he keeps reminding me that I am a doctor now and should be more cognizant of my own health needs. I really need to have a full physical, but will take care of that after the wedding.

Sam is also due for her checkups but has decided to wait until we get back from the honeymoon to attend to hers. She is convinced that the ENT is going to tell her the same thing he told me and she doesn't want to hear it; although, she has known for a couple of years that profound deafness was imminent for her. After I received my new aids, she borrowed them and put her ear molds on them and wore them for a couple of hours. She was amazed at how much better she could hear and decided that she would see to her checkup as soon as we got back. I asked her if she felt she needed new glasses before the trip, she said that she really didn't think she did, as she has not noticed any real problem in her distance vision. Sam does expect to get a prescription for bifocals this time because she has been having some problems when reading and often takes her glasses off to read but then needs to put whatever she is reading much too close to her eyes to be able to see it clearly.

The big day arrived and it was an absolutely beautiful day, we couldn't have asked for anything better. All the girls in the wedding party planned to dress at our house then use the vans to drive to mom and dad's house. The wedding was to start at 2:00 PM so we needed to be out of the house by 1:30 to get there a few minutes early. The guys had stayed at the guesthouse on mom & dad's property so we girls had the house to ourselves. Everyone began arriving by 9:00 AM so that we could have breakfast together before getting dressed.

A couple of our girl friends from school that were not in the wedding had offered to come over and make breakfast for us. They outdid themselves and served us a most delicious brunch on the back deck. They told us that since it would be several hours before we ate again that they felt we should have a hearty breakfast; and hearty it was. I was afraid I wouldn't fit into my dress after that scrumptious meal.

Our two girl friends that cooked breakfast had also said that they would be available to do anything anyone needed of them while we were dressing. They moved about from room to room doing whatever they could to help. And help they did as there were lots of things that they could help with from putting hose on non-responsive legs to fetching things that were just a little out of reach.

After breakfast we set about getting dressed, I can't tell you how much fun we had. Aunt Sarah was a hoot, she had arrived on Thursday afternoon and immediately asked Ellie to hypnotize her and make her a para. Ellie did so and aunt Sarah borrowed one of our spare chairs to use while she was here. She asked if she could use someone's car so she could go to mom's house to get her braces, she had asked mom if she was going to use them and she was not, so aunt Sarah wanted to wear them. She had worn the braces almost continuously since she arrived and seemed to be having a blast with them. When she determined that no one was wearing braces, she decided that she would use a chair as well.

Aunt Sarah, mom and I were dressing in my bedroom. Aunt Sarah transferred to the bed to begin getting dressed. Not having much experience as a para, she was having quite a time with her paralyzed legs. As she tried to get her hose on, they flopped about and of course wouldn't do anything she wanted them to, one of them flopped over on the bed then fell off to the floor at which point aunt Sarah began to laugh so hard that she lost her balance and fell off the bed. The next item of business was for her to get herself back onto the bed, we offered to help her but she said that she wanted to try by herself. We gave her instructions on how to do it, by the time she made it back onto the bed; the spread and sheets were on the floor. Mom and I were in hysterics and all of the other girls had come into the room to watch. Aunt Sarah herself was laughing too once she got back on the bed, talking to her legs and scolding them for not obeying her commands.

When we had all calmed down, she chuckled and commented, "So this is what it's like to be a paraplegic. In a way it is depressing, but in another it is exciting and kind of fun in a strange sort of way." We gave her a few tips on how to get her hose on by holding her legs in certain ways that facilitated the process. By the time the three of us were dressed and in our respective chairs, it was almost time to go. Aunt Sarah had her right leg crossed over her left as we had all agreed we would do, she was looking at her foot which was drooping down with the sandal hanging off of it. She commented that she liked the way they looked, very relaxed. We all had to fix our makeup that was a mess from all the tears we shed from laughing so much. As she fixed her makeup, aunt Sarah mumbled something about not minding being a para if life was this much fun. Mom and I both assured her that it wasn't always this much fun but certainly fun enough that we were very OK with being confined to a chair or braces. I wonder if aunt Sarah is going to be the next para in the family?

I mentioned that Sam and I were wearing identical dresses; they are long floor length gowns that are fairly full-skirted. We are going to have to be careful with the gowns since would have a tendency to get caught up in the wheels of our chairs. The tops have a small amount of embroidery with a few pearls. They are fairly simple but quite striking in my opinion. Ellie's is very similar to ours, the only difference being that the embroidery design on hers is different. She said that she really liked our dresses but didn't feel that she wanted to wear the exact same dress, hence the small difference. The bride's maid's dresses are a pastel blue reaching to just below the knee. They are very simple but quite elegant. We are all wearing matching white 4" sandals. Yes, of course they only have a couple of straps across the instep and nothing more. My kind of shoe!

We managed to get everyone into the appropriate vans and cars and leave the house right on time, arriving at mom and dads at ten minutes to two. The guys were all there and out in the garden so we went into the house from which we would make our appearances at the appointed hour.

It was quite a site seeing the parade of wheelchairs going down the path to the center of the garden. All of the bridesmaids were escorted down the isle by the groomsmen and lined up to the left of the minister. Since George is the only guy in a wheelchair, he got to roll along with both Tandy and Tina since they were wearing their peg legs and didn't need to be pushed; Tom and Wendy were a site walking together with their hooks enter twined. Then each of the brides holding the arm of the person that was giving them away was pushed by one of the ushers. To add to the uniqueness of the wedding party, all of the girls were wearing glasses. Tina, Ann, Sherry, Tandy and aunt Sarah all wear contact at least some of the time, Wendy said she tried to wear them but as she had expected it was virtually impossible to put them in with only one hand, I don't think her hook would be much help, so she either wears her glasses or goes without; Sam and Ellie quit wearing contacts four or five years ago and mom never even tried to wear them. After everyone was at the center of the garden, we had eight wheelchairs, two peg legs and two shiny hooks present and accounted for; not to mention a few more of our disabled friends who were in attendance as well.

We had warned the minister a couple of days before the wedding when we met with him to finalize the readings for the ceremony. At the rehearsal he stood there with his mouth open as we all rolled and limped down the isle so on the day of the wedding he was OK. A few of our guests who were not aware of our plans were a bit amazed by our procession down the isle.

The weddings proceeded without a hitch; the best men even produced all six rings on cue. The reception was right there in the garden so no traveling was required. After the reception the three newly married couples changed in mom and dad's house before leaving on our honeymoon. Both of the vans had been decorated, everyone expecting that we would leave in one of them; however, they were surprised to see a stretch limousine pull into the driveway and whisk us away on a ride to Austin where we spent the night before flying to Houston and on to Hawaii for two weeks of relaxation, fun, sun and sand.

After we got back home we heard that Aunt Sarah had had a time with her paralyzed legs after we left. Ellie had not removed the hypnotic suggestion that paralyzed her legs so she remained a para. It was a good thing that she had planned to stay a few days with mom and dad because her legs didn't begin to wake up until she got up on Wednesday morning, and then it wasn't until Thursday before she could walk normally again. She admitted to mom before she left that she had really enjoyed the time that her legs were paralyzed and that she thought she could now understand a little better why she had opted to live her life as a paraplegic.

She asked mom to explain how she simulated so well, she wanted to know if she had been hypnotized. Mom told her the story about the meditation techniques she had learned from me and that she had not used her legs at all for over six weeks. She also told her that before she last put her legs to sleep she had notice that they were feeling a little weak; at this point, she was not sure how long it would take for her to be able to walk if she were to wake them up. She suspected that it would take a day or two of walking with crutches and possibly a cane before she'd be able to walk without any aids. Even then she was sure that she would find her legs to be much weaker than they were the last time she used them. She told aunt Sarah that dad really liked her in braces or the chair and that his support for her decision to go permanent was very gratifying for her. She further explained that she was not doing it for dad but rather for herself because she had come to realize that this was how she really wanted to be, even though she had originally started simulating for him.

Aunt Sarah remarked that her husband had gotten very excited the first time he saw her in the braces last Thursday evening after she had borrowed them from mom and that he also liked her in the wheel chair. He talked about them getting a chair for her to use at home once in a while, so if they did get one she thought she would have to get mom or one of us to teach her the meditation techniques. Very interesting!

Chapter 19 Brandy - The Honeymoon(s)

We had all decided that we would go to Hawaii on our honeymoon and that we would do it jointly. We had finally convinced Ellie and Paul that they were very welcome to be a part of not only the wedding but also the joint honeymoon; after all, we had spent most of the last few years living together and were going to have separate suites. The girls traveled in our chairs but we brought our braces along for exploration outings when we wanted to walk.

We knew that the three of us would have one major challenge on this trip that was the length of the flight and the fact that we could not get up and go to the restroom. The three of us talked about this problem and decided that we would have to wear catheters and leg-bags for the trip. I had only used one of these contraptions on a couple of occasions and I really don't like to wear them, probably because unlike most paraplegics I have feeling and control of my body functions and the feeling of the catheter is not a pleasant one. Sam and Ellie echoed my sentiments; however, considering the length of the flight we realized that we didn't have a choice. In addition, leg bags are impossible to conceal in a short skirt so all three of us were in slacks much to our new husbands' chagrin. As soon as we got our luggage and wheel chairs, the three girls headed to the nearest restroom to remove the catheters, what a relief that was.

Sam and I didn't wear our hearing aids to the beach because if they get any moisture in them they would get fried. That would not be too cool so we decided that we would just be deaf on the beach. This really didn't present a problem, since we all know sign language. Danny of course knew it when we met him and Hank has had no choice but to learn it because it is my preferred way of communicating when not wearing my aids. Since I have a tendency, as does Sam to not put them on as soon as we get up in the morning, we may be without them for a goodly part of the day. Actually both of us relish the silence so we tend to not be in a hurry to put the aids in. Paul has had to learn to sign out of self-defense and is getting pretty good at using it; Ellie of course has been signing for many years and is an expert. We attracted a lot of attention lying on the beach signing to each other. On several days we didn't put the aids in at all and really had fun as two deaf paraplegics traveling around the island; at one point we even had Ellie acting as if she was deaf too. Some of the people we encountered were not too sure what to make of us.

Of course, neither the braces nor the chairs were usable on the beach so the guys got to carry us whenever we went to the beach. They didn't seem to mind. There was one exception to that when at one of the beaches we found some beach wheelchairs available for rent, they were specially designed chairs with four very fat tires similar to those on dune buggies that rolled easily on the sand and could even be pushed into the water. These were great fun and we ended up having races on the beach. You can just imagine the looks we got with three wheelchair bound girls, it was obvious that we were paraplegics because our legs were bouncing all over the place totally out of control, being pushed along the beach at break neck speeds, it was a blast.

All six of us decided that we wanted to go parasailing at the beach where we had found the beach chairs, the three of us girls presented quite a challenge for the operators since our paralysis didn't allow us to help them get us off the ground. Hank had the idea of having us sit in a beach wheelchair and be pushed along until we were pulled up into the air; it worked like a champ. Danny signed the instructions from the operators as they explained what we had to do, he volunteered because he had done this before, so it would be easy for him to understand their instructions and sign them for us. The boat operator was very careful to set us down in the water where the guys were waiting for each of us to help us out of the harness. This adventure was one of those events that a paraplegic never expects to be able to participate in; it was terribly exciting and fun for all three of us. I think the guys got a real sense of excitement as well seeing us participate in something like this. The other really exciting adventure was the ride down the mountain from the volcano. We were able to find three bicycles built for two and rented them for the trip. After each of us was seated on a bike, our feet were placed into the foot holders on the pedals. It was not necessary for us to pedal, which of course none of us could do anyway, so we just coasted along while the guys did what little pedaling that was necessary. This was another exhilarating adventure for a para to participate in.

Another day, we went to the marina to take the cruise out to see the whales, the three of us decided that we would not wear braces for this trip and arrived at the dock in our chairs. Much to our surprise, there was not an easy way for us to get close to the rails and watch the whales because the sides of the boat were higher than we expected. The guys decided to pick us up and stand us up next to the rail then stand behind us and hold us up so that we wouldn't fall. It really felt strange to be standing up and look down and see my legs with no braces to hold me up. Ellie said that it was very strange for her since she has feeling in her legs and could feel that there were no braces on her legs and she was standing up. This was a first for her since she can't remember ever being able to stand without her braces. While we were standing there, Hank changed his position and all of a sudden I noticed that I was starting to fall, he caught me before I fell very far but it was a bit of a scare. After he got me back up straight, he made sure that my knees were locked back so that I wouldn't fall as easily; with my knees locked, I could actually stand by myself if I didn't move and unlock my knees.

We took several tours and short trips to other islands to see as much of Hawaii as we could squeeze in. It is truly a beautiful and intriguing place. The colors of the flowers and many of the leaves were just awesome.

In looking back, the three of us girls were able to participate in everything that we wanted to and had a wonderful time. We were not handicapped at all by our disability, because we refused to allow ourselves to be. We certainly needed some extra help at times but we still participated in everything we wanted to and had a marvelous time. When it came time to come back home we reluctantly headed to the airport for the return trip.

Once again it was catheters and leg bags, you have no idea how uncomfortable those things are; I really feel for Sherry who has to wear one of these things or diapers all the time. Her only consolation is that she has no feeling from her chest down so she has no sensation of wearing the thing.

When we arrived back home, it was time for Sam and I to get serious about internships and Danny and Paul had to get back to their residencies. We all spent long hours at the hospital and whatever time we could at Twins Orthopedics. The clinic was doing very well under the guidance of Dr. Williams as I had expected. Hank got his orthotics shop up and running, both Tina and Randy had studied orthotics and physical therapy and were working in the shop and therapy center with Hank. Tandy is in nursing and wants to be an orthopedics nurse and will join us in the clinic as soon as she gets her RN. She will then continue her education and get certified as a Physicians Assistant.

Chapter 20 Brandy - Twins Orthopedics

Once back from our honeymoon trip, it was time to get back to the real world. Sam and I had to get on with our internships, Danny and Paul had to finish their residencies, Hank and Ellie had to get back to the clinic.

Since mom and dad had gotten settled in their new home, I approached dad and asked him if he would like to be the administrator of the clinic and help us run things there. Dr. Williams would handle the medical side of things until all of us had completed our internships and residencies when we would become full time contributors to the clinic, then one of us would take over the medical management duties; however, I still needed someone to manage the business side that had some business experience. Dad had no medical business management experience, but had held management positions in the business that he had just sold to his partners. I figured he could handle the clinic and learn what he needed about management in the medical field. Dad said that he would be glad to take on this challenge, that he had planned to look for something to do once they had gotten settled and figured that helping to run a family business sounded like something he would enjoy doing. He agreed to join the clinic and did so almost immediately.

Danny, Sam, Hank and I talked about our living arrangements at the house now that we were married. Danny and Sam said that they would just as soon stay there until they had both completed their internships and residencies. They felt that this was not the best time for them to be looking for a new home, nor did they have the time or the desire to embark on this effort at that time. Hank and I agreed that the time was not right and told them that as far as we were concerned they could stay as long as they wanted to. The house was so large that we really didn't get in each other's way. Randy and Tina were in the process of moving into the guesthouse on mom and dad's place, Randy had already moved and Tina had moved some of her stuff. She would move the rest after their wedding in a few weeks.

Tandy has found an apartment and is moving out at the end of the month when the apartment becomes available. She has recently started dating a new guy and she has stars in her eyes, this may be the one for her. She met him at the clinic right after she started working there when he came in to be fitted for a new prosthesis for his left arm that he lost above the elbow in a boating accident some years ago.

Sam and I got serious about our internships and ended up spending huge amounts of time at the hospital, so much so that we seldom had time to be at the clinic. We knew that this was only for a year after which we would not be as tied to the hospital. Danny was of course working long hours as well doing his residency; he was getting the opportunity to do different types of surgery that was great experience for him. All three of us had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Williams because he arranged for us to be assigned to him at the hospital. He had planned to not continue his teaching work there but decided that since he was still working at the clinic and we were doing our internships and residencies at the hospital, he would continue there until we were finished with our hospital time.

Randy and Tina's wedding day arrived almost without warning for most of us because our plates were so full with internships, residencies and getting the clinic up and going. Tina had asked Tandy to be her maid of honor and her friend Susie that she told us about as her bride's maid. Can you imagine the surprise when Susie crutched off the plane wearing a mini-skirt with only a right leg protruding from it. Tina's jaw almost hit the ground. Seems as a few moths ago Susie began having circulation problems with her leg. It all started with a throbbing pain in the lower leg that got steadily worse. She finally went to see an orthopedic surgeon who after running some tests determined that the leg had been damaged beyond repair and that it needed to be amputated. Susie put up the usual crying scene at loosing her leg then went to the hospital to be admitted for the amputation. The doctor wanted to take it off before it developed gangrene and possibly other difficulties; this way the amputation would be easier and her recuperation would be quicker. Although it had been a couple of months since her amputation, Susie had not yet had a prosthesis made. She told Tina that she had decided to wait after she heard that we had purchased the clinic and that Tina was working in the orthopedics shop with Hank. She wanted Tina to make her new leg. Tina took her to the clinic and she and Hank took the measurements they needed to begin making a leg for her.

The wedding was very small and beautiful. Randy and Tina had also opted to have their wedding in mom and dad's garden. They had arranged with the same minister to marry them as had married us. What a difference this time, the minister stood at the front and looked around the people in attendance with the biggest smile you ever saw. Each time a disabled person came down the isle to be seated, he watched them intently; what an effect this family seems to have on people who become involved with us.

Because Susie didn't have a prosthesis to wear, the three girls decided that they would all be on crutches for the wedding. Tina had a bit of trouble on crutches with her rather full skirt; however, being the expert that she is she handled it very well. I suspect that this may have been a first, all the women in the wedding party were one legged. Randy had asked Hank to be his best man and Danny to be the groomsman, at least the guys were all able bodied; except perhaps for the fact that all three of them might be considered by some to be mentally disabled because they are all devotees.

Two weeks after the wedding, Susie's leg was ready so she came back for it to be fitted. She spent the following week at the clinic learning to walk with it and getting minor adjustments made as necessary. On Thursday of that week, Tina and Tandy wore their peg legs to the clinic; the moment Susie saw the two of them her eyes lit up and she asked how she could get a peg leg too. Little did she know but Tina had made a peg leg for her as a present. She was beside herself with excitement as she tried it on and walked on it for the first time. Tina had put a knee lock on it so that when she sat down she would be able to bend the peg at the knee, so when Susie left for home she boarded the plane wearing her new peg leg. She later told Tina that she wore it far more than her new prosthetic leg.

Both Sam and I began wearing our braces most of the time during our internships, being able to stand up when examining a patient was often helpful although not absolutely necessary. It was also helpful in many instances when we were setting broken bones, casting limbs and doing other types of treatment. Many of our patients gave us funny looks as we wheeled into the room then proceeded to lock our braces and stand up.

Often when we saw new patients who had suffered an injury or illness that left them paralyzed, the fact that we were in wheel chairs and wearing braces helped the patient to realize that their life had not ended. This was especially true for younger patients who knew they were looking at many years in their new condition. After all, here we were doctors, yet we were paralyzed, wearing braces and using wheel chairs so obviously it was possible to lead a productive life as a paraplegic. Even those that had lost limbs seemed uplifted by seeing us; although, we would also have Tandy and Tina visit with them if they had lost legs or Tina's now fiance, Billy, if they had lost arms.

Billy had finished an under graduate and masters degree in psychology and after meeting all of us decided that he wanted to get his doctorate. He, like Ellie; wants to help those who have become disabled to deal with their disability especially those who have suffered traumatic injuries like his. While working on his doctorate, he is working at the clinic under the supervision of Paul and Ellie. He always visits with those who have had traumatic injuries while they are still in the hospital to get them started with their acceptance as soon as possible.

Tandy and Tina both wear their prostheses most of the time at the clinic, this is not their preferred way to get around but the best for the clinic. Both of them have legs that don't have the outer covering as well as legs with the outer covering. They mostly wear the legs without the covering at the clinic, they both want it to be perfectly obvious to their patients that they are amputees and their legs are artificial. They also want the patients to see that they can walk quite well with the artificial legs and that they are able to hold down responsible jobs even though they have each lost a leg. They both wear a variety of different shoes to work, including clogs and heels; again to demonstrate that an artificial leg does not prevent you from dressing fashionably.

Time passed quickly and before we knew it Danny had finished his residency and was seeing patients at the clinic and doing surgery at the hospital, he was still working very closely with Dr. Williams who we have found to be a wonderful surgeon and teacher. Sam and I are able to split our time between the hospital and the clinic for our residencies because of having Dr. Williams as our supervising physician. This arrangement has allowed us to see a wider variety of patients than we would have seen if we were only at the hospital.

Once again time passed quickly and all of our residencies were completed. Life for all of us began to settle down considerably, the clinic was running smoothly and Dr. Williams stepped down as Chief of staff but stayed with us on a part-time consulting basis for a while longer to allow us to use his considerable knowledge. He is a wonderful resource and loves to teach and help new doctors hone their skills. We are all very grateful that we bought his clinic and have had his guidance.

When Dr. Williams decided to step down we needed to appoint another Chief of Staff so we had a meeting of the whole group to deal with the subject. We had all agreed that all of us would be equal owners of the clinic regardless of our position in the clinic as long as we were part of the family. Therefore, Tina was included since she and Randy were married and Billy was included because he and Tandy were to be married in six weeks. The consensus was that I should be Chief of Staff because I had bought the clinic. Things had gone so well with the operations that I had paid Dr. Williams what was owed to him two years early and I now owned the whole thing.

The arrangement that we have setup is that Sam and I see all the new orthopedic patients and handle the cases unless they require surgery, then we pass them to Danny and he handles them before and immediately after surgery when he passes them back to us. This is working well and Danny is able to handle the surgery load quite effectively; however, we know that we will need to add another surgeon and perhaps other doctors as time goes on because we are already seeing the patient load beginning to increase. Dad has been doing a lot of work to attract new patients to the clinic, including some advertising with pictures of different ones of us that are disabled telling what our function at the clinic is. As Chief of Staff, all of the ads feature me doing a short blurb as I crutch down the hall at the clinic.

Now that we were all full time in the clinic and done with residencies and doctorates, Billy finished his at the end of last semester, it was time to setup a method for the others to buy their shares of the clinic from me. I decided to turn that over to dad to put together a plan because this was not something I knew how to do. He said he would contact our attorney and between them they would come up with a plan and present it to us.

Mom came in the office to see me regarding her paralysis. She has not used her legs other than with braces for over two years; because she prefers the chair; she seldom wears the braces other than for working around the kitchen. She didn't wake them up for almost a year after they moved here and when she finally did she could barely move them at all, she could wiggle her toes a bit and roll her feet from side to side when they were laid straight out on the bed. Other than that, her legs were paralyzed as far as voluntary movement was concerned. We had talked about it then and she decided that she would not put them back to sleep because she wanted to experience paralysis with feeling in her legs, this would be much the same as Ellie's paralysis because she has feeling unlike Sam and I. In temporary para mode, mom had no feeling at all so this was a bit different. As I mentioned, it's been over two years now and she can't even wiggle her toes any longer; however, she sometimes has involuntary movement that she would like to eliminate. This mainly occurs when she and dad are having sex, her legs twitch and move slightly, but mostly she feels the muscles tightening a bit. She feels that even this has become less over time but has not stopped completely. I asked her if she was willing to give up the feeling in her legs to stop the movement she described, I don't have that problem nor does Sam so I reasoned that we could sever the nerves in her legs and solve the problem. She thought about that for a while and said that she wasn't really sure if she wanted to give up the feeling or not; obviously her legs were totally useless other than in braces so having feeling in them was critical, but she really liked being able to feel it when dad played with her legs as he often did. She really wanted to give it some thought and more time, I said that I would look into what we could do to complete the paralysis without interrupting the feeling in her legs. We talked again about six months later; she said that the movement we discussed had all but stopped so she was no longer concerned about it. A question to her a few months later brought the response that there was no longer any movement at all.

Sam and Danny are building a house on part of the property that I got with the house; there were about 14 total acres so I sold them 5 acres for them to build on. The way the property is laid out, I was able to sell them a parcel at the far end of the property so they can have their privacy and we can have ours; yet they are still right next door and both Sam and I liked that idea. We had lived together for so many years that we didn't want to be too far apart, never mind that we worked together in the clinic every day; I guess that's twins for you.

Chapter 21 Brandy - Swan Song

Twins Orthopedics had been in operation for over five years. It is a huge success beyond our wildest dreams. Dad had put together a proposal for the other principles in the group to purchase their shares in the clinic. We all insisted that he purchase a share as well if he wanted to because we felt that our success was due in part to his hard work. He declined saying that he felt that because his four kids and kids-in-law were the owners they would eventually inherit his share any way so what's the point. He also said that he didn't want to dilute Paul and Ellie's share in the business, which is what would happen if he purchased a share that was inherited by his children. His interest was in seeing that the clinic was as successful as possible and that was all he needed. Besides, he had made enough from the business he sold that he and mom were going to be well fixed when he decided to retire; and furthermore, I was paying him a handsome salary to manage the business affairs of the clinic, what more could he ask for.

Under the plan that Dad put together, each of us was to be paid a salary based on the job that we held. Those of us that were MD's would get a certain salary, those that were PhD's would get another, PA's another and so on. The Chief of Staff would get an addition to their regular salary for the added responsibility and the corporate Chairman and CEO would as well. After the profits were calculated, one third was put into a sinking fund to finance future growth and the remainder was to be paid as dividends to the stockholder/owners. However, the two thirds that would have gone to the stockholder/owners was paid to me to repay me for the purchase of the clinic that is except for my stockholder/owner share, it was paid to me directly because I already owned my share. The estimates that dad made showed the debt to me paid off in ten years including interest, I thought this was a good deal for me and the others agreed that they felt it was the best way to handle the debt.

In discussing salaries with dad, I told him that I wanted to pay everyone a salary that was above the going amount normally being paid because all of these people were owners of the clinic. Those employees who were not part of the family ownership group would also be paid top dollar because we were hiring the very best and wanted to keep them on staff. This plan worked well and everyone was satisfied with his or her salaries including the non-family staff. The clinic did so well that I was almost completely paid back by the end of the ninth year; only a small amount remained, it was paid in the tenth year. There was considerable money left over, we had ample money in our sinking fund so we decided to pay a bonus to the non-family staff and a dividend to the owners.

As the clinic went into the debt payoff mode, I felt it was time for election of officers because the clinic debt was being paid off, so I put that on the agenda for the annual meeting. As the meeting started, Tina raised her hand to make a motion. When I recognized her she said that she noticed on the agenda that we were to elect officers for the corporation and the clinic; she said that she had a proposal that she would like to make. I told her to proceed so she made the following motion: "I move that because this corporation is known as Twins Orthopedics, Inc., named so for the twins whose ideas and hard work created it, and this corporation owns a clinic doing business as Twins Orthopedics; that hence forth the offices of Chairman/CEO and Chief of Staff be alternated annually between the twins." Ellie chimed in, "I'll second that motion." Billy followed her; "I see no reason for discussion so I call the question." Sam and I looked at each other and then at all of them, we responded in true twins fashion saying together, "You guys are kidding aren't you?" At that, Billy commented, "See, I told you there was no need for discussion." Ellie said, "Ok folks, the question has been called so we have to vote on the motion."

I attempted to regain some composure and asked how they wanted to vote; it was pretty obvious when they all responded, "Roll call." Dad, who functions as secretary/treasurer of the corporation, called the roll and everyone voted "aye" except for Sam and I; we abstained probably mostly from shock. Dad looked at Sam and me and grinned, "Seems like a lopsided vote to me, I guess you two get to share the duties. Since Brandy has been filling both positions, I think you two need to put your heads together and decide who is going to fill which position. I don't think the rest of the members care how you work it out.

"OK, OK," I said, "We'll figure out who's on first after the meeting. I think the next item is to decide on the composition of the board of directors. We need input from some of the rest of you on an ongoing basis to manage the business properly. Do I have a motion from anyone on how the board should be constituted?" Tina had her hand up again so I told her, "OK, Tina, but no more railroad jobs." She spoke up, "I would like to move that the board be made up of the Chairman/CEO, the Chief of Staff, the Secretary/Treasurer and two others elected each year to fill staggered two year terms. One of the two elected for the first terms would only serve one year this time." "Second" said Tandy. "We have a motion on the floor, is their any discussion?" I asked. No one said a word so I called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

"OK, so we now need to open the floor for nominations," I said, "Who wants to make a nomination, and let's make this one the one year term." "I nominate Billy," said Paul. "Second" from Tina. "Any other nominations?" "I move we elect Billy by acclimation," said Paul. "Second" said Ellie. "Ok, all in favor of electing Billy by acclimation say aye", There was a resounding "Aye". "All of those opposed say no." Silence! "Billy is elected by acclimation to the one year tem. Do I hear nominations for the two year tem?" "I nominate Tina," says Hank. "And I second the motion and move we elect her by acclimation" says Ellie. "All those in favor of electing Tina by acclimation say aye" "AYE" "All of those opposed" "No," says Tina, "not that it will do any good." "You are so right," I say, "Tina is elected by acclimation to the two year term."

Tandy pipes in "If there is no further business I move the meeting be adjourned." "I second the motion," says Danny, who had been very quiet through this whole process. "Don't you guys want to discuss the financial statements or salaries or anything else related to operating the clinic?" I asked. "Don't see the need to, we are all satisfied with our salaries, the clinic is making money, the debt is being paid off; so what's to discuss?" came the replay. "There being no further new business I declare the meeting adjourned." And so it went at the first annual election of officers of "Twins Orthopedics, Inc."

The clinic continued to prosper and Sam and I alternated the jobs as directed by the owners. Tina commented to us after the meeting that they had all discussed it before the meeting and to a person felt that the twins should have the most say in running the clinic since it really was our clinic. We had originally had the idea to go into practice together and to open an orthopedic clinic. Out of the goodness of our hearts we had one by one included each of them in the operation and ownership of our clinic. They were all very grateful for the opportunity that we had afforded them; however, all that said it was still our clinic, our baby that we simply let them help us raise. What a wonderful family, Sam and I were really teary eyed after that conversation and we really couldn't think of a way to weasel out of the jobs they wanted us to fill. We later found out that it had been Tina who instigated this whole thing so the others insisted that she be the one to make the motions and that she serve in the first two year slot.

Now, let me tell you why I/we, Sam and I, decided that we should write this story. She and I began to talk about how there are no, or at least very few, facilities that are friendly to and accepting of the pretender and wannabe. We felt that because we had gotten our start as pretenders and wannabes we should do whatever we could to help others who felt as we had felt when we were pretending. We discussed how we could use our clinic to help pretenders and wannabes get the equipment, "toys", they needed for their pretending. We could also teach our meditation techniques to those who were interested in simulating as paras, teach the amputee pretenders how to best tie up their legs and some of the issues they needed to be aware of regarding damage to their legs. We would also be able to make and sell them peg legs, braces and wheel chairs. We might also be able to make some of them a prosthesis.

Sam hit on the idea that we could also make prosthetic arms with hooks for those who wanted to pretend to have lost an arm. We both thought that this would be a pretty easy prosthesis to make. After we had mapped out our plans, we talked to the rest of the group and got unanimous approval to proceed. We decided to ask mom if she would like to head up our "Pretender Services" as we had decided to call it, she could teach the meditation techniques, coordinate visits help arrange for appliances and whatever else the "pretend patients" would need. We approached Tina with the idea of hiring her friend Susie to work with mom in "Pretender Services", she thought that it was an excellent idea and was excited that she would be able to re-establish her friendship with her after these many years. We asked Tina to contact Susie and ask her if she would be interested in a job at "Twins".

Sam and I went over to visit with mom and ask her if she would be interested in being our "Head of Pretender Services." When we told her about this idea, she fell out laughing, "You two are serious aren't you?" she finally said. "Of course we are serious, think of how little support there was for us when we started simulating. We had to find our own appliances and equipment. There were no orthotists who would help by making appliances or even repairing and adjusting existing ones." "You are absolutely right," she said, "and as I think about it I really am getting excited about the idea and yes I'll take the job if it is OK with your dad." "You're covered on that front, we have already talked to dad," said Sam, "he wanted us to tell you about it; although as our business manager he has known about it since we first began discussing the idea."

Tina spoke to Susie who was not only interested in a job; she took the very next flight to Waco for an interview. Sam and I spoke to her then asked her to visit with mom; when she heard what we were about to do; she was truly excited about the idea. We all felt that she would be an outstanding addition to our operation so we brought her on as mom's assistant. Susie had become a certified prosthetist after she lost her leg; she was working at the local limb shop in her hometown but was not at all happy with the job. She really wanted to help other pretenders but her boss would have no part in this idea; so when she heard our plans, it was just what she had been wishing for.

The next week, after our discussion with her, mom was on our staff and she began to figure out exactly how we would provide services from our "Pretender Services" department. This is where the idea for us to write this story came from. Mom feels that we need to let the pretender/wannabe community know about our stories and that we are sympathetic to their needs. She has been pushing on Sam and I to write the story so now you have it, Sam insisted that it be written as if I were telling it all because I'm the eldest twin and all of the others are really my family even though she would not could not feel any more my sister and twin if mom had delivered her. Besides we couldn't figure out how to tell the story together, primarily because we couldn't figure out who would be talking when; in fact, we would probably both be talking at the same time and as deaf hearing aid wears we realized that would not work because you the reader wouldn't be able to make heads or tales of what we were saying. Mom is also adamant that we maintain absolute anonymity and privacy for those who inquire as well as those who choose to take advantage of our services; everyone on the clinic staff has been involved in discussions about our new services and the need for privacy and all agree that privacy is imperative for our patients.

As soon as she had accepted our offer to come to work at the clinic, mom called her sister Sarah and told her about our "Pretender Services" plans. Aunt Sarah arranged to take a leave from her job, she told them that she was having some medical problems and was coming to our clinic for treatment. She arranged to stay with mom & dad for as long as she needed. She was our first outside patient, Tandy taught her the meditation techniques and Hank and Tina produced a set of braces for her and supplied her with one of our best lightweight chairs. When Hank measured her for the braces he found that her left leg was just over an inch shorter than her right so he built up a couple of pairs of shoes for her to use with her braces. As is the case with many people, she was unaware that one of her legs was that much shorter than the other. The built up shoes excited her because they would make her simulating appear much more real. When she left the clinic after five weeks, she was an expert at the meditation techniques and had learned to handle herself as a para exceptionally well. At our wedding, she noticed how her husband Jim was watching Wendy with her shiny hook, she asked him later about how much he watched her and Jim admitted that he was not only fascinated by paraplegics but also by leg and arm amputees. Aunt Sarah asked if we could make her an artificial arm as well as the braces, Hank told her that this would not be a problem and ginned one up for her. She had also become proficient with the hook before she left; she was going to surprise her husband with it when she got home. She was a great dry run for us along with some of our staff, as I will mention in a moment.

Susie works with Hank and Tina on design and production of appliances, Tandy teaches meditation techniques, Paul, Ellie and Billy provide counseling services and the rest of us are available for consulting where we may be needed. We have had several patients already, including some of our own staff who when they found out our plans saw the opportunity to experience something that they had wanted to experience for many years but had no opportunity to do so. Several of the members of our staff enjoy simulating so much that they can often be found moving around the clinic in braces, wheel chairs, peg legs, artificial legs, hooks and what have you. We can already see what a big success this service will be once the information is out to the public, the pretender/wannabe public that is.

If you are interested in our services, please contact us at pretend@doctor.com.

This concludes our story for the moment. We plan to add some additional story lines as time goes on. For the moment, we're short on time to produce more chapters so we don't want to be committed to writing them on a regular basis for a while. However, that does not mean that if some interesting event takes place and the time can be found to write about it that we won't find a little time here and there to knock out a chapter or two to add to the story.

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Note from the author: I would certainly love to hear from anyone who would like to comment on the story or who has suggestions for related story lines. I would really like to hear your comments both good and bad; I am not delusional enough to believe that everyone is going to love my story. Please email me bobd@techie.com regarding your comments.

I enjoyed writing it so I hope that you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for doing so!

To be continued...(I think)

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