Error processing SSI file
Error processing SSI file
Volume XX Number 17 November, 1997

* Chief Gets New Knees
* Cherokees Open $82 Million Casino
* Bowers Named Veterans' Officer
* K.C., Kiss, Hank Jr. At Christmas Party
* All That Glitters...
* Letters to the Editor
* Cowboys, Indians And Rustlers In Big Cypress
* U.S. War Indians
* Bonnie Garris Joins LBF
* Youth Workshop Conference Teaches The Works
* Betty Mae Jumper: December Florida Living Covergirl
* New Awards Program For Youth At State
* Sweat Lodge Provides Night Of Hot Memories
* Ahfachkee Library Dedicated To Memory of Edna Cypress
* Dewitt Carter: All In The Family
* Tampa Youth Academic/Sports Banquet
* Tampa Seminar Focuses On Family Unity
* Educate Indian Children In Native Languages
* Say NO to Drugs
* Conservancy Demands Stronger Climate Position

Bowlegs No More

Chief Gets New Knees

By Peter B. Gallagher

WASHINGTON D.C. - Seminole Tribal Chairman James E. Billie spent four hours in surgery, Nov. 10, as a surgical team at Mount Vernon Hospital replaced both of his knees. At press time, he was back at his Big Cypress home, two inches taller and facing about four to six weeks on crutches before regaining full use of his legs.

"OWWWWWWWWWWW," the Chairman moaned, when asked about his 'wounded knees.' "I'm slowly walking around. My bowlegs are gone. Now I remind myself of Betty Mae Jumper. I always knew I was long related to her, but now I know it for sure. I've got the Betty Mae strut!"

This was the second knee surgery for the Chairman, who has suffered with genetic knee problems most of his adult life. "This was the operation I always wanted. There is so much I want to do with the next 100 years of my life, that I knew I had to have this done. It had reached the point where the pain was always there. It had become a part of me and affected everything I did. When it got into my attitude, I knew I had to make the change."

Advanced arthritis in both knees which caused "terribly bowed and stiff legs" led to the operation," said Dr. Gerard Engh, the orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist who performed the surgery. "I originally saw him seven years ago, when he had an ostomy to try to straighten out his legs. It helped awhile, but the pain got worse and we had to do the total knee replacements. He told me that when he 'rassled' alligators, he didn't have enough bend in his knees to squat down to properly 'rassle' 'gators."

The operation was complicated by the removal of the metal plates and screws from the previous operation," said Dr. Engh. "The reason we put this off was because he is still a young man and very active. When you put in an artificial knee it is like a new automobile. It runs great at first, but it wears out after 100,000 miles.

"I would expect these knees to last at least ten years, but not 20. He'll eventually wear out his artificial knee just like he wore out his real knee."

"Believe me, it was a great feeling waking up and knowing I survived the operation," said Chief Billie. "Now, it's just a matter of time before the pain is gone."

Error processing SSI file