This is a TNB Public Service Announcement. Don’t lose track of your amputated leg.
We at TNB were not aware this message needed to be provided. We were wrong. Events over the last two decades have demonstrated the need for this friendly reminder.
The most recent example of the value of monitoring the parts of your body – whether they’re still attached or not – occurred in 2019, when an Albanian man living in France accidentally discovered that he had become famous.
As reported by the BBC, while purchasing some tobacco at a local store, the man noticed that the European Commission had updated the warning labels… and that he was now prominently featured in one of them. One of the then-recent updates warned “Smoking clogs your arteries” and displayed the image of a person with an amputated leg. While no images above the waist were shown, the man in the photo had distinctive scars which were immediately recognizable to him. He even knew when the photo had been taken: when he went to a medical appointment, seeking a prosthesis.
The man had lost his leg following a hunting accident in Albania twenty years prior, and has been walking on crutches ever since. The use of his image without permission was surprising to him… particularly because he hadn’t even received a prosthetic in return.
It could have been worse.
In 2004, John Wood of Maiden, North Carolina lost the bottom part of one leg in an aircraft accident which killed his father. He wanted to keep the foot preserved as an admittedly odd memorial to his dad, but the hospital staff – which was reluctantly willing to hand the leg over – refused to perform the embalming service for him.
He took it upon himself to step up. (I should say here that I couldn’t resist, but I could… I just didn’t want to.) Wood, with the aid of a friend, stashed the foot for a short time in a Hardee’s freezer before performing a home embalming. Drug and alcohol addiction then took their toll, leading to him losing the lease on the storage unit where he’d kept the leg, his smoker, and a few other possessions.
In a “Storage Wars meets Silence of the Lambs” moment, a man named Shannon Whisnant purchased the lease, opened the smoker and discovered… a preserved leg.
Most people would not want much to do with a partially preserved, oozing human limb, but Shannon Whisnant was not like most people. He decided he would use his windfall to become famous and wealthy. When Wood heard about the incident, he asked Whisnant for his leg back… and was promptly rebuffed.
This kicked off a multi-year legal battle which ultimately ended with the pair of them on the Judge Mathis television court show. Wood won the return of his leg, but had to provide financial compensation for Whisnant.
The court fight ended unusually, in that each side benefited. Mathis recognized the signs of drug and alcohol addiction in Wood, and his producers helped Wood get clean. Whisnant, on the other hand, wound up as one of the stars of a popular underground documentary, earning him even more of the fame he craved.
Question of the night: Do you ever use a smoker? If so, what do you like to prepare in it?