Frequently I receive an email or a phone call from a new amputee who is seeking support, information or just to talk. Regardless of what is going on in my own life, I always try to make time to lend an ear and to try to help. Remembering the isolation and confusion that I felt when I became an amputee keeps outreach a high priority in my life.
geography limits the communications to email, to the telephone and to
Skype. Every once in awhile I'm able to physically meet with the
individual which always helps to forge a special relationship. Tuesday
night, at the precise moment I was trying to figure out what I was going
to do with my day while the boys were at school, I received a phone
call from a social worker who works in a local hospital. With one
simple question, "Will you be able to come and meet with her?" my plans
for the day were solidified.
Although I always find it
rewarding to be able to help somebody, peer visits can be emotionally
draining. I am the first to admit that I wear my emotions on my sleeve.
As much as I tell myself not to become emotionally invested and
simply to be a resource, I always end up worrying, fretting about and
grieving for my new friend.
Preparing for the hospital
visit yesterday I knew that it was going to be a difficult meeting.
Every amputee has a story, but some wreak of heartache more than others.
Miranda's story broke my heart, and I worried that I would not be able
Miranda was walking across the street at about
4:00 in the evening on New Year's Eve. Her only crime was being in the
wrong place at the wrong time. She was struck by a driver who reportedly
blew 2x the legal limit. A tragic story in its own right, but it more
heartbreaking when I learned Miranda's age: she is only 14 years old!
with an amputation is difficult regardless of age. For teenagers
who are already struggling with body image issues and trying to fit into
the world, suddenly being different must feel utterly catastrophic. I
doubted that I, a middle aged woman, possessed the ability to be able to
help, but I knew that I was going to try.
I spent about
two hours sitting with Miranda. At first our meeting was formal and
uncomfortable, I suspect we were both too nervous to be comfortable. At
one point she needed the nurse's call button to request more pain
medication. Instead of getting up, I instinctively popped off my leg and
used it to pull down the button to her reach. She giggled and smiled,
and the conversation became more natural and the began to
I left the hospital feeling
uplifted after spending time with such an amazing young lady. I know
that the journey will not be easy, but I have no doubt that she'll be
okay. I made a new young friend yesterday and, although I hate the
circumstances surrounding our meeting, getting to know her was a great
way to start my new year.