notes

Spend some time with the history of wheelchairs, which includes information and photos about innovations made by Everest and Jennings to cut the weight of the wheelchair from 90 pounds to 50.

Find out everything you needed to know - and some things you didn't - about North Florida Regional Medical Center.

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Her wheelchair today is about 50 pounds lighter than the first one she rolled around in. That one was constructed from steel, an Everest Jennings model chair adding an extra 75 pounds to her child's frame. Its armrests are tattered and torn, and the stitching droops damply, lifelessly.

Amy stores the aging contraption in a bare, white room in her house in Alachua, Fla.

Skid marks stain the painted walls of her house, crowding around corners and frequently used corridors. The long, black streaks are flaws faulted to the poor turning radius of her current chair, a titanium work of technological advancement: nine spokes on the big wheel, seven on the small.

Photos are hung at waist-level in the Sperling residence, and food is shelved on the three lowest rungs in the pantry.

This is life from Amy's vantage point.

Today, at 52-years-old, Amy sits 24 inches off the ground. She's a structural catastrophe, a result of the ravages of her rare genetic bone disorder. Her right shoulder slopes downward from the left, like an apple halved and shoved back together without thought or care. With legs shorter than the length of her torso, her feet, housed in children's shoes, dangle neatly just over the edge of her seat.

On those feet plunged a three-pack of Scrubbing Bubbles lemon-scented bathroom cleaner last Wednesday. It's advertised as 25 fluid ounces. The descent caused the fragile bones in Amy's left foot to crack.

Yet, she must tolerate without a cast. The weight of a plaster shell enclosing her swollen foot would further jeopardize the metatarsals.

"When I consider my life, I don't consider it anymore extraordinary than anyone else's," she said. "My disability occurs when a bath lift fails or there's a flight of stairs. Other than that, life for me is just life for me."

As she has all her life, Amy can expect to roll in and out and back into North Florida Regional Medical Center, Shriner's Hospital for Children or Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. The location is unimportant. After hundreds of surgeries and more than 100 broken bones, hospitals have become the norm.

Amy never really left the hospital that day six months after birth. Yes, her hair is bleached blonde now, replacing the captivating profusion of black curls she paraded about as a child, but her diagnosis remains the same.

Osteogenesis imperfect, congenital.