James Middleton, CP - Prosthetics
Ernestine Crookedneck - Office Assistant, Ostomy Specialist, Prosthetic Tech
Megan Hughes- Office Assistant, Ostomy Specialist, Prosthetic Tech
1139 N 27th St
Billings, MT 59101
Call us at 406-252-6100 or use our contact form.
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday
I am writing on behalf of my student exchange son, Firdavs Temirov. Firdaves is an amputee from the small country of Tajikistan which borders Afghanistan and China. He came to me through the FLEX
program which is administered by the U.S. Dept of State.
When FLEX asked us to take Firdavs as an exchange student, I admittedly had many misgivings about taking on such a challenge. Our home was not 'disability friendly'. We live on a small horse ranch, and the terrain surrounding the actual house is hilly and extremely icy in the winter and difficult to navigate with even two good feet. We weren't the only ones with misgivings. No host family wanted to take this boy with his issues. We had previously hosted four other Tajik students, and to make the long story short, I simply couldn't find it in my heart to say no.
In June, I took our student at the time, Daler, to Billings, MT where he was to catch his long flight home to his country. I had just recently told FLEX that we would take Firdavs (he likes to be called Phil), however, I was still very afraid of the situation and really struggling in my mind how to deal with it. As I was walking near downtown Billings, something, I couldn't tell you what, compelled me to look across the street. There, I saw a sign for 'Rimrock Prosthetics'. It occurred to me that perhaps I might just step inside and see if they had any brochures or other written material to help me understand how to deal with someone with a prosthetic. There was no one in the front office at the time, so, I glanced around to see if there was any reading materials I could just pick up. As I turned to leave, a gentleman walked into the reception area from the back and asked whether he could help me. I explained the situation to him, and he was extremely interested in Phil's story and asked many questions that I mostly didn't have answers for. After we had spoken for a while, he said, 'you know what, when he gets here, just call me', and we can decide if there's anything that can be done to help him. I told him that I would certainly do that and thanked him with much gratitude, then, asked him his name. He said, 'Jim Middleton'.
The following paragraph is from a letter I sent to Phil's student coordinator, Judy Miller.
"Jim was clearly moved by Phil's circumstances. He spent many hours with him over two days casting and fitting him for a new prosthetic leg. Mr. Middleton is an absolute master at what he does. Everything he does is by hand. He said that now days, most prosthetics are made from computer images, however, in his opinion, a computer will never be able to 'feel' how the prosthetic will work, and where it might be uncomfortable for the client. He graciously allowed me to stay with Phil during the entire fitting, and, to take photographs. There are many, many more than what you see here. He was truly appalled at the device Phil is trying to drag around to use as a leg. It's massive, heavy and unyielding, and, causes him severe pain at times. The new leg and foot will be as high-tech as any world class athlete could ever hope for. When it's completed and fitted, Middleton says Phil should be able to wear it for everything but swimming and bathing. He will not have to take it off the minute he gets into the house because it's hurting him so badly. He has even told Phil that he will be able to run with it, something that he's dreamed all his life of doing. While he may not be winning any races, he will be running! Both Phil and I very fondly refer to Mr. Middleton as "Dr. Jim" even though he is not a medical doctor. He is a miracle worker just the same. He is very, very well known in the world of prosthetics. He was also the coach for the US Olympic disabled ski team. Phil is scheduled to return to Billings on Sept 10th and 11th to undergo the final fittings, and, to receive his new leg and foot. The incredibly complex joints for this new leg have been so graciously furnished by the Barr Foundation. Now, Judy... here is the absolutely stunning part. This leg, and it's very high-tech knee joint and titanium foot would retail as high as $40 to $50 thousand dollars or even higher for some. I just about keeled over when he told me that. Judy, he is doing this absolutely free for Phil. All his hours of consultation, fittings, hand building the actual leg, installing the knee joint and the new foot... all for not one penny. He told me that if he can help make this world a better place for 'one leg at a time' then that was reward enough for him. Jim says that all he wants in return for his work is for Phil to write a short letter thanking the Barr Foundation for helping him to get the actual joint pieces. Judy, this good and kind man, along with the Barr Foundation must be recognized for what they are doing for Phil."
Phil just turned seventeen on July 30th, and, although young, he has experienced a lifetime of pain and personal suffering that again, would be almost unimaginable to so many of us. The amazing thing about Phil is how he has dealt with all this. He is a very kind and gentle soul, who is physically tough and never, ever gives up on anything. Since being here, he was determined to learn to ride a horse, and, in spite of some very bad falls, has managed to become a pretty competent rider. He is very open about his disability, and never lets any negative comments or sometimes cruel remarks get to him at all. He just forgives, and says, 'it's ok, they don't know better'.
He is so proud of his new leg furnished by Jim Middleton and the Barr Foundation. He takes every opportunity to show it off to anyone who'll look. He absolutely beams when he points out the beautiful 'Stars and Stripes' that Jim made for him. I will forward some photographs taking in Jim Middleton's office during the fitting and building of the prosthetic. I'll also be sending some photographs of Phil learning to ride horseback. That is the one thing he's been unable to do while wearing his new (or old) leg. Finally, I'll forward a letter which Phil wrote to Jim Middleton, and, a bit of his personal story written by himself as well.
Ms. Hughes, I don't know that there is really any adequate way to thank you and the Barr Foundation for the work that you do in helping to make people whole again. We are not people with wealth of any kind, and never would have been able to do such a thing for Phil. It's people like Jim Middleton and the Barr Foundation who are indeed, "making the world a better place one leg at a time".
Again, I thank you and the Barr Foundation for your kindness and generosity to a young man you've never met. Phil will return to his country next year and his plans are to show the leg to anyone who is interested. He is especially excited at the prospect of showing his leg to the doctors who treated him. It will indeed be an education.
Joy & Del Kranzler