Browse through the ads on Craigslist and you’ll find folks trying to sell everything from furniture to their wives. But one Lawrence man is interested in finding information about building a new leg.
“If I knew how to build my own prosthetic, then I would have legs for life,” said Ezekiel Rubottom, 26.
Rubottom made the news five years ago after keeping his amputated foot in a bucket of formaldehyde on his roommate’s porch.
The incident drew spectators, police and even citywide criticism. Neighbors complained, and he was deemed a “homeless crazy junkie” on social media.
Rubottom currently wears a prosthetic that was given to him while on disability in California.
He was born with a tumor on his spine that caused him to have a club foot, which led to a bone infection called osteomyelitis. He eventually made the decision to have his leg amputated.
The artificial limb was meant to last only three to six months — but Rubottom’s been walking with it for three years. He refuses to sign up for further government assistance programs to get a new leg because he feels such programs debilitate society.
“Rather than requiring people to rely on government programs or other avenues like asking people for money,” he said, “why not teach these people how to build their own prosthetic legs?”
His idea may seem crazy but Rubottom has been watching a series of how-to videos online and believes he can do it.
“I don’t want to insult the jobs of prostheticians but it’s a fairly simple process,” said Rubottom, who has been living in and out of the Lawrence community since 2005.
Rubottom, a self-employed glass-blower, estimates it costs around $800 for all of the machined parts, but the companies that sell those parts only sell to licensed orthotics.
But building a new prosthetic may not be as simple as watching do-it-yourself videos, said Bradley Oja, a certified orthotic specialist in Lawrence who has built prosthetics professionally for 20 years. And they are expensive.
“They run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 or even up to $70,000, but that is for above the knee and on the high end,” said Oja, of Performance Orthotics and Prosthetics, 1112 W. Sixth St.
It’s a hefty price Rubottom can’t afford because work isn’t always steady. But Rubottom will have to determine what means more to him: applying for government assistance for a new prosthetic or hoping the online community responds.
“There are people all over the world that live in societies where they don’t depend on their government to assist them,” Rubottom said. “I don’t believe I’m disabled. I would be enabled if I could just make my own leg.”