- 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.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Amputee Caste System
Sometimes I find it difficult to define the "amputee culture." Losing my limb not only resulted in my using a prosthetic, but also included membership into an amazing club. It didn't take long for me to realize that I was now among a group of strong, supportive and slightly persnickety survivors.
Amputees have their own lingo. Only an amputee can casually complain that "my darn leg broke again" without setting off alarms about impending emergency room visits. Referring to a prosthetic fit as a "bad leg day" requires no further explanation, and we all know the sudden onset of vulnerability that occurs when we cannot wear our devices.
Eavesdropping on a group of amputees, you will hear jokes about limps and limbs. To make it clear, and to answer an often awkward question to broach, it is okay for us to make light of the disability but not for others to do so. Only a fellow amputee friend can refer to my gait as a "gimp" or "hobble." Hearing those descriptions from anybody else causes me to become defensive and angry.
The amputee culture is an odd mixture of camaraderie and hierarchy. There is a definitive, yet often unspoken, self-imposed caste system depending upon the level of amputation. Many newbies are unaware of their place within the continuum until they are summarily "put in their place" by another amputee.
I was shocked the first time my amputation was referred to as a "paper cut." On the disability ladder I am on one of the lowest rungs, slightly above those missing toes and partial fingers. In terms of living with limb loss, missing my left foot is about as easy as it gets!
Experience has taught me never to complain about my prosthetic or amputation in the presence of a more involved amputee. Although I have my own issues, I recognize that I have it much easier than many of my amputee friends. Sometimes it is easier to smile and conform than to try to buck a caste system that seems to be so ingrained within the amputee community.
at 6:24 AM