As my experience and this blog have grown, I find myself spending an increasing amount of time talking with new amputees. I always try to carve out time for a phone call, to respond to emails, or if possible, visit. I didn't have the benefit of meeting with an amputee when I was preparing for my surgery or during the recovery. I have no doubt that the void added to the isolation and fears that I felt during that difficult time. Remembering the confusion and anguish, I feel compelled to try to help others on their journey.
claim that there are 507 amputations every day in this country. With a
number that large, I suppose it was just a matter of time until somebody
I knew became an amputee. During the past month I have been contacted
by two people from my childhood who have recently had an
amputation. I am accustomed to meeting with new amputees, but it was
truly a unique and special experience talking with somebody who I already
My childhood neighbor was in a car accident
earlier this summer rendering her a partial hand amputee. Within days
of the accident I began to receive emails and calls telling me about her
situation and asking me to reach out to her. It is amazing how quickly
news spreads courtesy of Facebook and Twitter!
visit to my Mom's house, I took the opportunity to visit my former
neighbor. It was obvious that she was having a difficult time adjusting
to the loss of her fingers. She was teary eyed and nervous when we first
began to speak. I spent a lot of time listening and reassuring her that
she was going to be okay. The adjustment is difficult, but I have no
doubt that a time will come when the loss does not define her.
her amputation was the purpose for my visit, we ended up reminiscing.
We talked about my childhood, about her children (we did not always get
along) and about Robby. We had a bond because of our past. Now we are
bonded because we are both amputees.
Last weekend while
visiting my Mom I received another Facebook message telling me the
struggles of an acquaintance from high school. Ron was battling cancer
when we were in school. I never really knew him, but I do remember him
fighting hard to save his life and his leg. When he graduated, he was in
remission and walking on both limbs.
chemo treatments used to save his life ultimately ended up destroying
his afflicted leg. His bones were disintegrating and he was left with no
choice but to amputate. Two weeks ago he underwent a below the knee
amputation. He, along with his wife and young son, were staying with his
parents until he was released by his surgeon to return to North
I immediately contacted Ron and his wife via
Facebook. After a flurry of emails and phone calls, we realized that I
was only 10 minutes away! Scott and I delayed our departure to Virginia,
left Robby with my Mom, and went to visit Ron.
I chatted for an hour. He has had a lot of visitors, but nobody who
could completely relate. Sometimes there are questions that only another
amputee can answer! I think that just seeing me walk into the house,
without crutches and a limb, was all the reassurance that he needed that
he was going to be okay.
It is always rewarding when I
feel like I have actually helped somebody. In some ways it makes me
feel like my journey has not been for nothing, that perhaps there is a
greater purpose for the pain that I had to endure. Paying it forward and
helping a new amputee leaves me with a sense of peace that I am making a
difference. It was especially gratifying being able to reach out to
people whom I already knew and respected!