Despite the obstacles and inconveniences of living my life as an amputee, I can say that there are some inherent benefits. After all, I have occasionally used my prosthetic as an excuse to leave a social engagement. A host or hostess never experiences hurt feelings if I explain my departure by saying that my leg is uncomfortable. Opposed to stating the truth, that I would rather curl into my pajamas and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory than stay at their dreadfully boring party another moment, blaming my prosthetic is kinder.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of being an amputee occurs during visits to amusement parks. Most parks have implemented ADA protocols, providing individuals with disabilities easier access to the rides. In essence, my missing foot becomes a ticket to bypassing long lines for rides.
When we went to Hershey Park last weekend, I took advantage of the ADA Fast Pass. After checking in with Guest Services, I was given a wrist band which provided access to the front of the line. On most rides we entered through the exit and stood where the riders disembarked. Despite the long roping line of eager passengers, we never waited more than 5 minutes to board a ride!
While I joke about the amputee amusement park perk, I find the accommodation helpful. Standing in long lines is an inconvenience for most people. For me, it is a painful experience. Standing still, my limb presses against the socket of my prosthesis, causing sore spots and in extreme cases skin breakdown. It is exhausting trying to shift my weight so that my prosthesis is unloaded. The muscles on my sound side to become fatigued and strained from my shuffling to minimize socket pressures. Before the ride access programs were implemented, a day at the amusement park always equated to painful nights and multiple days limping while taking pain medication.
Although bypassing the lengthy wait was appreciated, I felt
uncomfortable taking my seat in front of everybody else who had been
waiting. We received scowls, stares and overheard rude comments
throughout the day as we took advantage of the ADA program. While I
understand the frustrations of seeing somebody bypass a line, I wish
that I would have seen more compassion and understanding. Instead, we
simply witnessed hostility and anger. Perhaps if more people would take the time to evaluate the impact of a disability, more acceptance and less judgement would result.