About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I'm Here

The anniversary of my amputation was last week. It is hard to believe that it has been seven years. In many ways I am amazed with how far I have come, yet I find it odd how raw my emotions become when I remember that time. I have found my mind wandering to the time immediately following my amputation.

I have had several friends who have recently amputated a limb due to injury or disease. The emotions before the amputation, although expressed differently, are universal. I have written a lot about the struggles before my surgery. I realize now that I have been remiss in exploring the issues I encountered after my amputation.

It is easy for me to tell my friends, who are struggling with bandages or new prosthetics, that it is going to be okay. I have made the adjustment and, although I am still learning everyday, I have transitioned into a happy amputee woman. This was not an easy journey.

From a physical perspective, the hard part is over. The surgical pain will heal and, barring any complications, the limb will be ready for a prosthetic in a relatively short time. I anticipated my first prosthetic like a young child readies for Christmas. I was certain that my life would become "normal" as soon as I could walk. In retrospect, it is easy to see how my expectations could not possibly have been met.

After I received my leg and the celebration of my "walking day" subsided, I was smacked in the face with an uncomfortable reality. I was an amputee. Yes, I knew that I was going to have my leg amputated, and that I would need a prosthetic. For some reason, the gravity of living without my limb wasn't realized until after I had my leg.

I guess I just never realized how different everything was going to become. Each step was awkward and labored. Yes, I was happy to be mobile, but I never anticipated it being so hard.

Every aspect of my daily life seemed to be more difficult. From getting off the toilet to standing in line at the grocery store, simply living became a conscious effort. Nothing seemed natural, and I was cognizant of every movement. I faked a lot of smiles during this period of my life.

I remember actually thinking through whether or not I was going to get off the couch to get a drink of water. Was I really that thirsty, or could I wait until I had another reason to get up so that I didn't have to do it twice. I became discouraged and began to view myself as lazy. I was mentally and physically drained by the simplest of activities.

I was comparing myself to an unrealistic standard. I was looking at other amputees, seeing how much they were doing with their lives, and becoming frustrated that everything just seemed to hard for me. I assumed that I was a failure, and that I was doomed to live an uncomfortable and mediocre life. What I didn't realize at the time was that it takes years of experience before walking on a prosthetic becomes natural.

I wish that somebody had told me that it could take years to adjust to an amputation. I thought that once I was done with the surgical pain and fitted with my leg, I would be fine. I failed to realize that the events were merely milestones on a long journey.

With time and practice, walking on my prosthetic has become second nature. My improvement was not a drastic event which could be pinpointed. Rather, I made incremental improvements every day and, over time, I started to become more confident and comfortable.

I remember feeling alone and ashamed, thinking that I was a failure. I wish that I had known that surviving the surgery and receiving my first prosthetic was not the end of my journey but the beginning. I think I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak had I known that each step was not going to feel like a celebration.

I tell my friends that they are going to be okay, but assurances sometimes have little value. Perhaps knowing that what they are feeling is natural, and letting them know that they are not alone in their prosthetic struggles can help ease the transitions. I have been through the battle and have emerged as a stronger and better person. Sometimes giving the pain a voice helps, and I'm always willing to listen.


  1. When my son received his first prosthetic as a baby (1yr old) I thought I would pop on the leg and he would walk across the room just like his twin was already doing. I soon became heartbroken when he refused to stand on it. He was used to crawling all over and suddenly I attached this leg to his 'lil leg' and he suddenly had to drag a leg behind him (it didn't have a knee because he was to young to figure it out yet)Boy did he scream and cry and boy did I feel like a horrible mommy! Shriners explained that we needed to let him cry and get mad so that he would get mad enough to get up and try. I learned to not pick him up but to hold his hand and walk him from room to room where ever I went--he didn't mind that as long as I held on. As the guilt and realization that you don't just pop a leg on and walk for the first time died down, a miracle happened. He had been pulling himself up and holding on to tables and furniture for months when one quiet day he decided a toy across the room needed him... I have 4 children, but the most moving and memorable first steps of any of my children. I remember crying and calling everyone in the family and then dragging my 4 kids to all the family members houses so they could watch the same miracle :0) I still wonder some days if we should have waited and not tortured him by walking away as he screamed because he didn't want to pull a leg that wouldn't bend behind him, but he is now healthy and happy and can run, climb tree's, ride a bike and he an emotional pre-teen like his twin, somehow he doesn't seem like I messed his life up from that but as a mommy it was really hard!

  2. Were you in my bedroom the past couple of weeks? Your post today has touched home. I am struggling and yes, you are a very good listener. I was just telling someone today that my progress wasn't impressive, I should be much further along. I have set high expectations for myself and have yet to meet any of them.

    I really believed that once I got that first leg it would all be downhill. Unfortunately, I still have not reached the crest, but I am trying to realize that my limitations are expected and normal.

    Life as an amputee is very difficult. As much as I THOUGHT I prepared myself before surgery, the more I now realize that I only touched the tip of the iceberg. There isn't nearly enough documentation out there for people preparing for an amputation. I have found, through you, that each of us is different and that what works best for one amputee may not match my situation or circumstance; therefore the reason there can never be too much documentation.

    Your blog and friendship has saved me more than once during the past 6 months, the most recent this week. Your blog, regarding "Pride," saved me from probably the same type of injury the day that you post displayed. While walking that evening I started to get a pinch, in the back of my leg, because I wanted to walk a mile I continued on, even though I was in pain. Your blog from earlier in the day reminded me that it was best to stop. I heeded your advice, stopped, and waited for my ride home. Once home I removed my socket to realize minor irritation, nothing to the extent of yours, but it could have been worse.

    You have saved me once again from myself, please realize your value and keep on blogging.