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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.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Paying it Forward

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.

Statisticians 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 knew!

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!

During a 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.

Although 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.

Apparently the 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 Carolina.

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.

Ron and 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!

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