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Saturday, February 24, 2018
HomeHealthSarah Garrecht Gassen: To adapt, put your best toe forward

Sarah Garrecht Gassen: To adapt, put your best toe forward

This is a guest post by Sarah Garrecht Gassen who writes opinion for the Arizona Daily Star.  This article published in the Arizona Daily Star and is reposted here with permission. Follow her on Facebook and email her at

Life is all about the big toe.sarah-garrecht-gassen

Big toes push you into the next step. They stop when momentum is propelling you forward into dangerous territory.

Big toes find balance.

Glorious things, really, yet underappreciated. Decorated, maybe, but still gangly.

The leader of the piggies who is in the right place at hopefully the right time.

Big toes loom larger when you don’t have one — or the one you came into the world with.

As a point of reference, I use a prosthesis — the short (no pun intended) version is my organic left leg was underdeveloped when I was born, and amputated when I was 3 so I could use a fake leg to walk.

It’s amazing what the brain can adopt as its own. My prosthetic leg doesn’t feel like a mechanical forgery unless the organic leg that goes inside what’s called the socket, the bucket part where your organic limb goes, gets really cold or hurts. Then I notice that I am two separate entities perambulating as one.

All this is by way of introduction to my new foot. It uses movement technology from snowboards to create the flexibility and anchoring motion of an ankle. It’s high-tech and fancy and I have no shame saying that I don’t understand the physics of how it works.

I took my first steps with it Tuesday afternoon. My brain sent out an urgent message:


This break in transmission is normal, at least for me. Use something for long enough and it becomes you — or you become it. A constant in the equation of self.

In those initial steps I feel, for the first time, like I have two feet — that I am walking on two feet. I can feel not only the big toe of the prosthetic foot, but all of its toes. The sensation of stepping with my left foot registers the same as stepping with my right. (continue reading here)

                                                            written by Sarah Garrecht Gassen


Latest comments

  • Sarah,
    This is a beautiful narrative that is full of the wonder of neuroscience and engineering and the spunk of the human spirit to know your brain will figure it out. For me you described meaningful moments. Really, that is what we have, no?

  • I agree, it’s all about those moments of clarity and connection — within ourselves, and with each other.

  • And thank you for your kind words!