My mom and I were talking the other day about my dream of writing a book someday. She knows that I have been thoroughly enjoying writing my blog because I have received e-mails from wonderful people all around the world who can relate to my stories.
We were talking about the transformation in my life after I became an amputee. Sometimes, being an amputee can be an isolating experience. I am writing my blog to let people know that they are not alone in their journey.
She then proposed an interesting question. "Why, if I often felt isolated after my amputation, did I not attend more support group meetings?" This question took me off guard. It took some reflection for me to realize the answer.
I did extensive research before my amputation. I spoke with doctors, prosthetists, and other amputees. I was invited to and attended a local support group meeting for amputees. I remain thankful for the invitation and the knowledge that I obtained through meeting with these people.
At the support group meeting I learned a lot about the "physical implications" of an amputation. I learned about the necessary accommodations at home that would make my life easier. I learned about prosthetics and their limitations.
This is a difficult blog because I do not want to offend anybody. I know that support groups can be and are an integral part of the healing process for many amputees. I know that my experience is not indicative of all support groups and that many foster a caring and loving environment for growth and personal acceptance. Unfortunately, this was not my experience.
I left the meeting armed with a lot of knowledge. I also left feeling scared and discouraged. All of the group members spoke about their need for pain medication. The members of this group spoke against using prosthetics. Many spoke about hating their bodies. I was shocked that none of them was employed. I was even told how to apply for disability so that I "didn't have to work anymore." These individuals had been amputees for over five years, yet their emotions seemed raw.
This was not the amputee role model I desired. I wanted to be able to move beyond the amputation. These individuals seemed to be living and struggling in a cloud of anger and depression. I didn't want to meet once a month to complain and to commiserate. I knew I wanted more.
Because of this experience, I never bothered reaching out to another support group. In retrospect, I should have visited more than one group in order to find one that was the right "fit" for me. I did not do this.
I suppose my negative experience with the support group led to my writing this blog. I want to let people know that they are not alone. I have been an amputee for five years, yet I still have the occasional "I hate my stump" day. I will allow myself to feel the emotions. I would not be true to myself if I denied them. However, I recognize that the negativity is fleeting that I cannot let it be a constant presence in my life.
So, Mom, I hope that I have been able to answer your question. I hope that I have not offended anybody by writing this post. I do believe it is a topic that is taboo and needs to be discussed. If you have an opinion that you would like to share about this topic or about any topic broached, please feel free to post on my forum at www.amputeemommy.com