I quietly listened to him recount his return to college after his accident, and how he felt about soliciting help because he had not fully healed. It saddened me when he explained feelings of humiliation and isolation because he lost his toe. Although his loss is less visible, his feelings and experiences speak to the profound grief that occurs when a part of the body is lost.
- 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.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Disgusting and Ugly?
A few nights ago, Robby and I were curled up on the couch watching another exhilarating episode of Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, when Scott walked into the room. He had a pained look on his face and explained, "It really hurts when you stub your stump." After agreeing, we both chuckled that this is not an experience that can be shared by the vast majority of couples.
This remark parlayed into a lengthy discussion about Scott's toe amputation. He is typically guarded on the topic and often devalues his experience by trying to compare himself to other amputees. Realizing that a loss is a loss and sensing that he needed to talk, I encouraged the conversation, asking a few questions and doing a lot of listening.
For the first time Scott revealed how he felt about losing his toe, and I was shocked. His cavalier facade faded away when he referred to his stump as "disgusting and ugly." It was in this moment that I realized that I never asked Scott how he felt about seeing my limb. Taking a deep breathe, I asked him the question even though I wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer.
We ended up spending the next 30 minutes reassuring each other that our residual appendages were not revolting and that the appearance did not matter. I can understand why Scott feels his foot is not attractive because only when I'm completely honest with myself do I admit that I think my residual limb is ugly. It is flabby and unnatural looking. I have come to accept it just as Scott has accepted his foot, but they aren't features either of us feel like highlighting. It is fascinating how we can revile something about ourselves yet easily accept it when featured on somebody that we love.
We have been married for 9 years, but I just learned that Scott has been sensitive about showing his foot in public. I never really considered his footwear style as an attempt to conceal his missing toe, but it turns out that his choices have been deliberate. It is only within the past few years that he feels comfortable walking barefoot at the pool and beach. I asked him what changed, and why he now felt comfortable showing his foot. I was expecting him to credit time, perspective and acceptance. Instead his answer again took me off guard, and made me chuckle. "Peg, I realized that I could walk next to you at the pool dressed like Donald Duck and nobody would notice. You are so used to it, but at the pool everybody is always staring at your leg. It's kind of liberating to be next to you."
at 6:48 AM