When I received my first prosthesis nine and a half years ago, I was insistent that it be covered with a flesh-like covering. I was horrified by the thought that the casual observer would know that I no longer had my leg. I remember explaining my decision to Elliot (my prosthetist) by saying something along the lines of, "It's bad enough I have to walk on this thing. I don't care what it costs. I don't want anybody to know."
retrospect, it is certainly easier to see that my desire to create a
life-like prosthesis stemmed from shame. I had not fully embraced the
reality of being an amputee and continued to be embarrassed. In many
ways I was taken back to the angst of the teen years when the thought of
being viewed as different was mortifying. Having my prosthesis
matching my biological leg provided me some comfort and allowed me to
feel somewhat normal.
During the 18 months that I wore the cover,
something unexpected occurred. I slowly began to adjust to my limb loss
and without realizing it, my definition of "different" changed. I
realized that different doesn't have to be bad or to equate to anything
negative. Instead, many times different can mean just that: different. I
slowly became okay with being different and no longer needed to try to
One night after Scott went to bed I woke up, went into
the kitchen and began to dismantle the artfully crafted cosmetic cover. I
remember feeling an odd sense of exhilaration as I cut the foam and
nylon and slowly exposed the metallic pylon and carbon fiber socket.
That evening I realized that different can also mean unique, and that
was something I could embrace!
A few weeks ago during a
conversation with Elliot about a new leg he was creating for me, we
started to talk about socket art. Until now, my sockets have typically
been polished black carbon fiber. We were set to go with the same sleek
look until I casually said, "If I ever get the chance I'm going to get
it chromed." Elliot tilted his head, smiled and said, "I think it would
look bad-ass. If anybody can carry it off, it's you. Let's go for it."
certainly have come a long way from that timid and scared amputee of a
decade ago! Instead of trying to fit in, I've learned not only to
embrace but now proudly flaunt what makes me unique. I love my new
chrome socket. I know my new leg invites second glances, stares, and
probably volumes of comments. Instead of cowering or trying to blend, my
pimped out leg shouts confidence.