To classify this past weekend as hectic would probably not be doing it justice. I woke up early Saturday morning in Orlando and finished my day at 11:00 P.M. in southern Ohio. In between I was working, giving speeches, packing up the booth and traveling. I was exhausted by the time I arrived in Ohio, but being greeted by Robby wrapping his little arms and legs around me, covering me with kisses and promises that he was never going to let go, was the perfect way to end a very long day!
speaking is not something that comes naturally for me. I am much more
comfortable telling my story and relaying my experiences when I am
protected behind a computer screen. Standing in front of a crowd, even
when it is filled with familiar faces, I feel vulnerable and scared.
Although I don't relish the exposure, I do know that it is good for me
to push my insecurities to the side and step outside my comfort zone.
Saturday afternoon, despite my anxieties, I stood in front of the
conference and spoke openly and sincerely.
Preparing to speak, I
reflected upon my life as an amputee. It's easy to dwell on the
negatives. The sense of loss, the phantom pain, the socket issues and
the obstacles that are encountered when living life with a disability
often feel overwhelming. Wanting to be more uplifting, I challenged my
thinking paradigm and tried to concentrate on the benefits.
a doubt, the greatest perk of living life as an amputees lies with the
community. I have never encountered such an accepting and generous group
of individuals. The level of amputation and the circumstances of our
limb loss may differ, but the willingness to support and to share
information seems to be universal. Working at the conference this past
week, I witnessed strangers cheering on the first steps of a newbie,
drying the eyes of a mother grieving the loss of her sons limb, and
rallying to boost the self-esteem of a scared teenager. I have never
been prouder to be a member of this community!
Bolstered by all
of the positive energy abounding at the conference, I garnered my
courage and spoke from my heart. To be honest I don't remember
everything that I said, but I will never forget the connection that I
felt with the audience. We were all there because we have lost part of
our bodies, but at that moment we weren't consumed with what was
We are becoming a community of individuals who prefer
to celebrate what we can do instead of dwelling on what is difficult. I
am hoping that this wave of empowerment continues beyond the conference
because we have a lot of work to do. I think prosthetic parity is a
good place to start!