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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, October 07, 2011

HAPPY Amputee Awareness Day!!!

In honor of today being designated Amputee Awareness Day, I have decided to highlight my favorite five things about living with limb loss.

1. Handicapped parking. Yes, I realize that there is some debate concerning whether ambulatory amputees should take advantage of this accommodation. While I don't always utilize the convenient spots, I will admit that I don't feel guilty should I decide to take advantage of the opportunity. I find the priority parking particularly satisfying on high shopping days, especially Black Friday.

2. Bypassing snaking lines at amusement parks and events. We were spared hours of standing in a slowly meandering line, congested with hundreds of hot and sweaty participants when we attended the White House Easter Egg Roll this Spring. Because my prosthetic was visible, the attendants ushered our family to a private waiting area, complete with lawn chairs and bottled water. We were also permitted entrance a few minutes early which enabled us to avoid waiting in even more lines!

From concerts to amusement parks, the courtesy afforded to individuals with disabilities should not be underestimated. We are able to ride three times as many attractions as my fellow park goers simply because we don't have to wait in the snaking lines. Some amusement parks offer reduced admission to individuals with disabilities, although I have to admit that I do not accept this discount.

3. Priority boarding. After I have been thoroughly screened by TSA, I am often permitted to board the aircraft before the general boarding commences. This courtesy is especially beneficial when flying on Southwest, an airline which does not assign seats. I appreciate not having to stand in a cattle chute with scores of other passengers, all standing ready to elbow and push their way to the front of the line for a window seat!

4. Socks last twice as long. After I started utilizing a prosthetic, I quickly realized both the inconvenience and the unnecessary need of changing my sock that is donned over my foot shell. After all, the plastic doesn't sweat or shed skin. Within days I purged my sock drawer, replacing all of my colorful and whimsical socks with plain white. Now I have to change only the sock on my foot daily. (I do try to remind myself to change the sock on my prosthetic weekly, although I admit that I sometimes forget!) A six pack of socks lasts a long time!

5. The amputee community. A bond exists among amputees that surpasses most casual affiliations. An amputee can make a reference to socket issues or to phantom pain and often no other descriptors are necessary. We all know the discomfort and frustrations that accompany those issues. It is nearly impossible to accurately describe a "bad leg day" to an able-bodied friend. My amputee friends immediately relate and no further descriptions are necessary.

There is a comfort that can be obtained simply by being around another amputee. Often I am the only one in the room with a prosthetic. If I am at an event and see another amputee, no words need to be spoken for a connection to be made. Knowingly nodding and smiling because we simultaneously realize that we are no longer the "only one" in the room is the only communication necessary.

It takes a resilient and strong individual to fully engage in life as an amputee. Depending upon carbon fiber and titanium simply to get around and being forced to change plans because of a mechanical breakdown can be frustrating and humbling. The happiest and most active amputees have developed a sense of humor as part of their arsenal for adjustment. If you are ever at a party and see a group of amputees, stand close by. I guarantee that you will laugh and have a good time!

I am using today as an opportunity to celebrate my life and everything that I have accomplished since becoming an amputee. My limb loss marked the end of an old life and the birth of my new beginning. Since I am forced to live with the detriments of living as an amputee, I am entitled to celebrate the benefits! Happy Amputee Awareness Day!!

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