Typically I will let those around me know when my leg hurts and that I need to take a break or exclude myself from an activity. I have recently discovered that there are times when I will endure a lot of pain merely to make a point. It seems odd, considering that I am the one who suffers by trudging along with a sore limb. Nevertheless, I am guilty of disguising my limitations.
I feel comfortable discussing "bad leg days" with my friends and family because I know that they do not judge me. I am not perceived as "disabled" in their eyes. I am merely Peggy, who now has only one leg.
As much as I wish it weren't true, there are those in my life who continue to judge me based upon the fact that I have an amputation. Whether it is spoken or implied, I am viewed as handicapped and less able than those around me. There is little that fires me up more than somebody setting insultingly low expectations for me.
I find that when I am surrounded by those people, I switch gears and try to become Wonder Woman. I will push myself physically to prove that I am just as good as everybody else. I will play with Robby longer and harder than anybody else in an effort to somehow validate my mothering abilities. I will endure a lot of pain in an attempt to maintain my ruse that my amputation has had no effect upon me.
Yesterday, in an attempt to "impress" others, I pushed myself beyond my limits. My leg was hurting, yet I refused to stop. Each step was painful and I was miserable, but I continued to convey a happy demeanor. I was smiling and laughing while inside I was wincing.
I made a huge mistake because of my pride. Today my stump is bruised because of a pinch that developed inside my socket. If I had stopped to made the adjustment when I first felt the discomfort I would be fine. Instead I find myself nursing a sore and purple stump because of my arrogance. I am frustrated with the pain, and I am disappointed that I failed to take care of myself.
It seems ludicrous to try to explain this mentality. After all, those who view me as disabled and unworthy are not going to change their mindset because of my actions. My attempts at trying to disguise socket issues and residual limb pain are probably in vain. After all, when my stump hurts or my prosthetic doesn't fit correctly, there is no way I can maintain a normal gait.
Those who are judging me see only the limping. It is viewed as mere confirmation of my weaknesses. Yet, for some reason, I still cannot get past my pride and just admit that I am in pain and that I need to rest. Today I am paying for that decision.
Intellectually, I know that recognizing my physical limitations is actually a sign of strength. When my socket is pinching, I need to rest and readjust my leg so that a sore doesn't develop. Continuing my activity and ignoring the warning signs is just plain stupid. Yet I did it.
I am beginning to see a pattern in my behavior. I am hopeful that I will become confident enough someday to stop trying to prove my own strength and resilience to naysayers. I suppose it is human nature for me to want to prove people wrong when they have negative perceptions about me. I now realize that they are not going to change their ideas, regardless of the feats I accomplish or the pain I endure. I might as well stop hurting myself trying to convince them that I am doing well!