Patients Stories & Advice

Written By: Hanger Clinic ExoSym Patient Jo Paluzzi (dual device user since October 2016)

After six months in my bilateral ExoSyms, I have the “dealing with the stares” routine down. I love it when people engage with me with genuine curiosity. But often, as strangers walk towards me, their eyes catch sight of my legwear and they immediately look away. We are programmed in our society to not stare at something that may make us (or the ‘staree’) uncomfortable. We pass each other silently but I know that if I turn around quickly, I’ll see them staring at my legs. On a long, hard day (those are getting less frequent, thank you, Ryan) I can almost feel their eyes; with the passage of time, I often no longer even register the stares. On some days, what I want to do is stop them and say, “Let me tell you about these amazing devices so you know what you are looking at.”

I am a medical anthropologist and I work in a medical school. I regularly give mini-lectures in halls and classrooms (fortunately medical students have no problem asking questions when they think they can learn something). My favorite exchange is with kids between 3-5 years old who, at least until their mothers intercede (“don’t stare!”), are openly and happily curious. I once had a 4 year old race across a clinic lobby, stop in front of me to stare in wonder, and then gently reach out to touch my ExoSym. It felt like a benediction. Of course, it helps that I have really cool Wonder Woman stickers on the back of both of my ExoSyms. Hey! No judgement, guys. Wonder Woman has been around since 1941, like, I could be the first Wonder Woman’s daughter who took over when her mother retired which would make the current Wonder Woman my granddaughter…just sayin’ it COULD be true.

But my all-time favorite exchange went something like this after a woman came up to me while I was shopping:

Oh my, you poor thing! What happened to you?”

I was in an automobile accident.

Oh, how really…”

Wonderful, right? Aren’t these the most amazing braces you’ve ever seen!?”

But it must be so…”

You’re right, I am SO lucky that my doctor knew about these and connected me to the man who invented them.

But you must feel…”

Oh absolutely! I just feel so fortunate.”

She gave it a couple of more tries and finally realized I was not going to let her find a landing place for her pity. I know her primary motivation was vaguely kind (and indirectly curious) but I no longer feel obligated to let a stranger control the discussion when the discussion is about my life. ♥

– ExoSym Patient Jo Paluzzi

Wonder Woman (aka Jo Paluzzi)

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing


  1. Good for you! I haven’t yet found the courage to wear shorts, but this year will be the year (I promised myself after a year with my device). Love the idea of Wonder Woman stickers…!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Way to go WONDER WOMAN! I wear shorts most of the time and love the opportunity to share. I had a friend decorate my brace with Steam Punk inspired designs. I love it. In addition, i have taken to wearing brightly colored socks as well. Just having fun with it! Glad to hear you are doing Well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Steam punk…AWESOME! I have a drawer full of striped, polka dotted, and argyle support socks but my favorite are the pair that actually have an x-ray of the tibia, fibula and foot imprinted on them. Talk about double-takes!


  3. I don’t believe I have ever seen anything that specific but I am sure if you have copies your films that can be scaled to fit and are willing to pay that there are probably companies on the web that custom print socks. Good luck!


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