Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be on national television, yet here I am.
For most of my career, I’ve focused solely on providing the best care possible to amputees and those who are living and coping with limb loss. Whether it was in a hospital setting or my office, I’ve always loved every minute of getting to know each person and helping them live their best lives.
Then I met my wife who works in the entertainment industry. She opened a world that's completely different from healthcare. Through her connections, I was introduced to the staff of “The Doctors” as a Prosthetist and Orthotist Expert, but I never thought anything would come out of it.
But late in May—about a week and a half shy of my first child’s birth—I received a call from the producers of the show. They needed a Prosthetist Orthotist Expert on an episode that will feature the incredible story of a young woman, named Natasha, who wants to change her outlook on life. That call commenced one of the busiest and most memorable weeks of the year.
After the call, I remember feeling overwhelmed. Not only was my wife nine months pregnant and ready to pop, but the "The Doctors" producers said they needed to shoot the episode on June 6th. Our baby was due on June 4th. But the first thing my wife said was: “Unless I am giving birth that day, you will be at ‘The Doctors’. I know I can’t be there, so let’s figure out how you can do this.”
So, we carefully planned the days that followed. I quickly arranged to meet Natasha for coffee in Downtown Los Angeles so I can learn more about her story, goals, and expectations. She is a young woman with big dreams, and I was determined to help her.
Natasha’s dream job is to work as a graphic designer for a design studio. She is somewhat shy, but most of her insecurities stem from her congenital limb loss, which she feels draws too much attention during job interviews. Her congenital limb loss was the result of a blood clot while in the womb. But this does not hold her back from being an incredible artist and wanting to learn how to play the guitar.
After the two-hour inspiring chat, I raced home to begin working on the sketch of the design. Based on our conversation, I thought that a prosthetic arm and a statement piece in one would suit Natasha the most. The prosthetic arm would not only provide her with the tools necessary to play in the sandbox of life but also start a dialog about her artistic talents.
I designed a gorgeous floral pattern inspired by her artwork, which would adorn the prosthetic arm. As for the structure of her prosthetic arm, I used a modular design. The modular prosthetic arm would then be capable of accepting interchangeable tools that would allow her to better grip electronic pens for graphic designing, work out at the gym, and hold a guitar pick.
Oh, and did I mention that while I was meeting Natasha and mulling over how to best address her needs, my wife goes into early labor? Yeah, that happened.
Doing the shoot at Paramount Studios
On June 6th, my 6-day-old daughter is at home with my wife. So far, all is well at home, so I focus on the day ahead of me. I head to the studio with the final design of Natasha’s prosthetic arm and statement piece in hand. My sister-in-law joins me on my trip to Paramount Studios for emotional support. I remember being nervous, but I think my sleep-deprived state numbed the feeling—at least at first.
After hair and makeup, they sit me in the audience while Natasha sits onstage with the doctors on the show. Then, they begin filming.
Natasha tells her story to the studio audience and in front of the camera. Then, they introduce me. I proceed to describe my final plan and show off the designs for her prosthetic arm. I make sure to emphasize that her artwork inspired the prosthetic cover pattern and our hope is that it can become a conversational piece for Natasha. Natasha begins to tear up.
When I get to the interchangeable tools and surprise her with the guitar pick attachment, she starts crying. And—I’m not going to lie—I start tearing up, too. The entire shoot went by in a beautiful blur.
Continuing my mission
I always knew that my career in prosthetics would allow me to help people, but now I am more grateful and passionate than ever. Being a part of the "The Doctors" made me realize that I get to have the pleasure of working with and getting to know incredible people. And in my small way, I can affect their lives for the better and even help them attain their goals, from playing guitar to running a marathon to rock climbing.
Over the last 20 years, I have created numerous prosthetic limbs that have helped hundreds of people from all walks of life. And I am so grateful that I landed in this profession that continually presents me with opportunities to help others, whether it’s creating a unique socket design or helping someone find a solution online for their friction woes, or in Natasha’s case, empowering her to live her life to the fullest with a modular and personalized prosthesis. So, if there’s any way I can help you along your prosthetic journey, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Thank you for reading this long blog! What did you think of the show?