Humans Are Weird - Prosthetics
So, I’ve just binged on a bunch of “Humans are Weird”/”Space Australia” posts and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the ideas and the concepts, and I figured I’d toss my hat into the ring with something I haven’t seen much (if any) of - Humans with physical disabilities. I’m of the thought that some aliens are like starfish, and can just regrow their limbs after a period of time if lost, and other aliens will retire their crippled to more ‘homely duties’ with assistance by other aliens, or that some aliens will be rid of their crippled in search of a physically strong race.
Zan’via had dealt with humans on their travels before, having even crewed on a few ships with small teams of humans on a few missions. And they could say that they were impressed: while a lot of the stories they had heard were true, there were many more things that he had not heard of but had seen that had left him thoroughly surprised and, in some cases, even somewhat scared.
They never expected to encounter anything like this.
To be fair, all the captain had asked of Zan’via to do was to go retrieve the ship’s head of security (a human that all of the crew referred to as ‘Chief’) for a pre-landing brief. And the Chief’s door was open upon reaching his berthing, so Zan’via didn’t feel the need to knock.
Finding the human with only their underclothes on wasn’t what shocked Zan’via. Seeing half of the human’s left leg on the desk across the room was.
“Christ mate, you should’ve knocked.” The human said with a breath of relief, having been caught by surprise by Zan’via.
“I apologise, Chief, I forgot that your species has reservations about being seen in a state of undress.” Zan’via responded, their eyes still fixed on the limb still resting on the desk top. The human noted this and sighed, reaching over to grab the leg and get it ready to attach onto his body.
“So, what’s up?” ‘Chief’ asked nonchalantly as he undid a few clips on the metal plate just below his knee and started lining up the connectors on the prosthetic limb with the plate.
“The captain has requested your presence on the bridge… what are you doing with your limb?”
“Just putting my leg on for the day.”
“I was not aware that your species had removable limbs…”
“Oh, we don’t. This is a replacement for the one I lost a number of years back.”
“But it looks artificial. I remember reading that humans can survive a number of injuries and heal back remarkably well.” To this, Chief laughed.
“Mate, there’s a difference between recovering from a few broken ribs and a large penetrating wound, and having your leg completely severed from just below the knee. Our bones can reform from breaks and fractures, our skin can seal back up, and some of our organs can and will grow back if we lose parts of them, but we cannot regenerate a large part of our body after an injury like that. And after decades of leaving people crippled after an accident or a defect leaves a person without an arm, or a leg, or a hand, we developed technology that allowed those people to regain their lost ability.” Chief finished clipping his leg on and rotated his ankle around to test functionality. “At first it was just to help people walk and move around, but as time went on, our prosthetic technology advanced to the point where we can replace entire organs without any loss in functionality. Hell, some of the replacement parts we’ve made can even exceed what the human body can do naturally.”
“But why?” Zan’via was still having trouble comprehending exactly why humans would want to do such a thing. Chief shook his head and stood up, beginning to put on the rest of his duty uniform.
“Because we believe that everyone should have the best quality of life, regardless of their circumstances. Just because you don’t have an arm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to write or fly. Just because you don’t have a leg doesn’t mean you can’t run or jump or dance. Some people lose their limbs in accidents and find life afterwards hard because they can’t do things they once did beforehand. Others are born missing limbs, and never get the chance to do things ‘normal’ people can do. If we can provide a chance for them to live life like the rest of us, then why not?”
“I think I understand… somewhat.” Zan’via’s eyes then locked back onto the now-covered leg, then back up to the Chief’s face. The human could see what his companion wanted to ask next.
“Vee-Bee-Ess-Ess gone wrong, about six years ago. I slipped off a walkway on a Torian cargo vessle and my leg caught between a support beam and a storage container. Combat Medics had to sever my leg to free me. I was in hospital for a couple of months for healing and installation of the neural interface that allows me to move my leg the way I do, then another seven months in rehabilitation to learn how to walk again.” Chief then lifted his leg and rotated his ankle, then set it down and jumped and twisted around. Zan’via watched and just from observing, they could not see any major signs that the human was any different from any normal human. “Now I’m good as new, and have been kicking ass since.”
“I can see.” Zan’via backed up and let the chief pass them through the doorway as the pair made their way to the bridge. “Does it hurt?”
“The pain never really goes away, to be honest. Sometimes it feels like I’ve still got my old leg there, even when the new one isn’t attached. ‘Phantom Limb Syndrome’, they call it. But I manage, I’ve done so for six years so far.” The human then looked to Zan’via, and they could see the glint of determination in the human’s eyes. “If keeping my job and doing what I love meant that I had to have all my limbs fully replaced, then I’d do so in a heartbeat. Nothing can stop a human from a goal, nothing but death.”
Zan’via stood in place as the human continued on towards the bridge, dwelling over what the human had told them. The next chance they got, they would write it down into the ‘notes’ section of the manual in regards to humans.
Vee-Bee-Ess-Ess = VBSS = Visit, Board, Search and Seizure