18 May

(A note to my fellow XLH’ers and to the parents of children with XLH: I am not an insensitive clod. I know that those who, like myself, have been born with this disorder, have some painful and difficult memories, as I also have. I think that parents of children with this disorder may have difficulty seeing any humor in this posting, and might wonder if I am making light of it. I am not. The way I have always dealt with difficulty is to see the humor and irony in it…and certainly, for me, there has been quite a bit of both difficulty and irony in living with this. It is my way of coping in life and it helps me to value those experiences that are somehow universal to being human. Seeing the humor in life’s difficulties has also saved me a lot of money that I might have spent on therapists…)


I have a confession to make…I have a hard time letting go. Not of feelings, but of STUFF. I am not a hoarder, but I am very sentimental. I have some things that I need or should get rid of, I am sure, but they hold memories or feelings and I can’t get rid of them yet. Someday, though, I know I will have to. Other things I save because I think I can use them again someday, recycle them, repurpose them.

When I was in my early twenties, in college, I went to the trunk of my mother’s car to get something out…most likely a load of dirty laundry. And there, nestled inside, were my leg braces (see photo from post on May 2). I grabbed them, hauled them inside the house and said to my mother loudly, “WHAT are these doing in the trunk of your CAR?”

“I am going to donate them to Goodwill Industries,” she said. “Maybe someone can use them.” She’s a recycler, too.

“No one wants these! No one will ever use these! They were made for me in 1964 and they’re 18 years old now! They’re not even in style any more!” I took them to my room, reclaiming them and rehoming them to me, their rightful owner.


 It’s not like I had gotten them out over the years to play with them or anything. I had used them in a “found object” sculpture in twelfth grade art class, though. The humanlike figure had sort of an eerie stuffed cloth body and the braces for legs, wearing shoes and clothes and it had a tennis racket for a head. I have to admit that I enjoyed the look on the art teacher’s face, who was thoroughly creeped out and asked, “What the hell are those?”

“My legs braces that I wore when I was 4 years old.” He just stared at me. I got an “A.”

Other than that, the leg braces lived in a plastic bag, under my bed. With all the other monsters.

So, here it is, 48 years and 9 moves later and I still don’t know what to do with them. I’ve had several ideas…maybe some photos, close-ups of the leather and steel components. I wonder about the person who made them, assembled them, stitched the leather, back in the early ‘60’s. Thank you, whoever you are. Your work had held up after 48 years. A testament to your craftsmanship.


Then, I think, hey, maybe I could make something fun out of them. A bird feeder perhaps?

Oh, I could play dress-up with my favorite childhood toy, the Howdy-Doody ventriloquist doll. Pretend that Howdy Doody is a fellow XLH’er. Ask him if he also has large veins in his arms, from having to have his blood tested so often. Now that I am older, and the doctor has to test my blood for other things, like high cholesterol, nurses and phlebotomists love those large veins. I am an easy stick.

“Hey, Howdy, remember those awful shoes we had to wear with the slots in the sole?”


A trellis for bean plants? Too short. Go figure.


A tool holder! Awesome. Wendy, Bob the Builder’s girlfriend, likes this idea.


I welcome your ideas.

© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017


6 Responses to “Recycling”

  1. Anna May 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    I got xlh myself, And i love your article:)

  2. DeAnne May 19, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Now I wish I kept my many braces…I think Shriners took them back when I upgraded. I like the trellis idea. With all the braces I had through the years I could’ve made a Jack & the Beanstalk-esque trellis to find the golden goose! I’d be rich!…and a thief. So, maybe that’s not a good idea for me. But, ooooh, the possiblities are endless! LOL Loved your post!

    • banjogrrldiaries May 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

      Thank you, DeAnne! Love your Jack and the
      Beanstalk idea! All of us XLH’ers should get together and make a giant trellis! All the best to you!

  3. Chris May 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I love your post, what a great way to “embrace” your past and bring to “lite” XLH.

    You could use your photos and eventually your braces as conversation pieces to educate people on XLH, on bullying people with disabilities, etc.

    My 2 ideas are to keep them on your Howdy Doody Doll or to use them together as a base for an industrial style coat & hat rack (maybe find some arm braces, neck braces too.)

    Although I don’t have XLH, my Dad, Anuts, Uncle, Sister, and Cousins all have it.

    • banjogrrldiaries May 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

      Thank you, Chris! The braces are definitely industrial strength! “Recycling, Part II” has a picture of what they’re currently being used for…but, Howdy Doody may want them back! Great idea on using the photos to educate folks…sounds like you have a good understanding of what your family members have gone through. Best wishes to you and your family!

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