Through this blog I found and embraced myself. I am a bilateral amputee after surviving meningitis in 1986. I have some scarring and have gone through numerous reconstructive surgeries. I am here to encourage independence, share my story, and grow into the best person I can be. I enjoy all things music, art, travel, cooking, humor, love and general creativity. Let's help each other through this journey of life!
As an amputee I’m proud to say I can work out at the gym. It was something I was always afraid to do until this year. Tonight I felt a bit let down by my workout. I normally don’t have anyone around me but tonight there were two girls running at the treadmills right next to me. I normally walk for about 25 min/1 mile each time I go to the gym. Tonight before even leaving my apartment I noticed my right leg wasn’t feeling right. I adjusted quickly while standing in the kitchen and left anyway. Now that it is full on winter and the dry air is ruining my skin I have been applying lotion each morning prior to putting on my silicone liners. I think part of the reason my right prosthesis doesn’t want to stay on is because my leg could be too lubricated and thus is slipping around inside. Another issue is that now that I’ve been using these liners for some time I have stretched them out (can’t wait for the others to finally arrive). I think if I have this issue after I get dressed tomorrow I’ll be setting up a visit to get the liner cut shorter. I’d say a short visit but I know that is just not possible.
I am definitely being too hard on myself about this whole working out thing but if I’m not, no one else will. If my legs are too sore to walk throughout the day I don’t go to the gym and make things worse. It’s a rare occasion I go to gym every single day of the week. It’s great when I can but I don’t assume that’s how its going to work. I got into the whole working out thing after reading an amputee site that said simply losing 10-15 pounds can make a world of difference in an amputee’s life. I still get a few sores and without the extra weight I should apparently be sore free! That is my true motivation - I have had sores on my residual limbs for as long as I can remember if not since they have been initially amputated (1986).
Back to tonight’s work out, as I was walking (for all of 2 minutes) my liner rolled over and caused all suction to be released. It was annoying, I’m sure those girls next to me heard a few choice F-bombs. It is frustrating and not an easy fix while on a treadmill in public. I cut my time in half and finished out what was left of my work out. I am still glad I went to the gym even if it was only for a short time. I did make it .67 miles so that is improvement right there. I would have been far over my mile marker tonight had my leg been securely attached the entire time. This is ability and I need to remind myself of that everyday!
I have always loved a holiday that one of the main points was eating. Having been a vegetarian since the beginning of August I haven’t had to encounter many family functions where food was involved. I’ve been nervous how this will play out tomorrow and have decided I am bringing some snacky items. I am also hoping to find a good gravy replacement because I just realized that is nearly the best part of all things Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed Trader Joe’s can help me through this and all future holidays!
Hello to all my 275 followers,
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog and more recently viewing my instagram photos. Don’t forget I have set up a Facebook page for easier communication in regards to anything I post or if you have a question I may not have answered yet. Thank you again!
Today while hanging out with my mom we watched My Girl. I realized I’ve never really watched the second half of the movie. And I love that movie. I also remembered not watching the second half of Mary Poppins. Emotions happen that I wasn’t willing to experience. Sadness. The second half of movies from my childhood were always terribly sad but always had important morals/life lessons to teach me. After all, I watched them while laid up because of one leg issue or another. I’m a professional avoider of emotions. Which is a terrible coping mechanism. It’s amazing I even have friendships that have lasted from middle school until now. I digress.
I think the whole reason for me to avoid feelings (outside of the fact we never really talked about them at home) is that I needed to survive. I needed to survive in a world where someone with differing abilities wasn’t accepted in the same way other others with “average” abilities were. I didn’t want to be crying at the drop of a hat when something was bothering me in regards to walking. I wanted to keep up with my peers and siblings. I wanted to live life and that meant that sometimes my legs would hurt me. It was interesting to make the connection that I would simply not watch something if the rest of the movie made me feel unhappy.
After doing a lot of reading for my research paper on limb amputation I found that it is common for people to avoid people, situations or places that might remind them of their disability. That was so me growing up. I wouldn’t look in mirrors as I walked by, I wouldn’t want to talk to people who were asking me about my disability and I wouldn’t join an activity if I knew it would pronounce my disability. In high school I wanted to play volleyball but didn’t because we had to wear spandex shorts. I didn’t want to wear these spandex shorts because they ended where my prostheses began. Again, I didn’t want to look totally alien to everyone else. I ended up being the manager for the volleyball team throughout high school and I enjoyed hanging out with my peers but also felt left out. Not by my peers but that I wasn’t allowing myself to play volleyball for the simple reason I didn’t want to ask to modify the uniform. I guess we all learn over time it’s okay to speak up. Too bad I learned it about twelve years too late to really be a member of the volleyball team.
Facing issues head on has really allowed me to embrace myself and realize that others weren’t avoiding me. I was avoiding them. I’m sorry. 2013 has been a year for me to experience life; really experience it. I traveled to Toronto - which is something I wouldn’t have done before because I was afraid how people with disabilities were viewed in other countries. They are embraced - it was so easy to get around and I’m glad I took the trip. I’ve been reaching out to old friends and new to get together more often - which is amazing. I still have days where I want to avoid things because my legs hurt but I’m not allowing it to take over my life anymore. Avoidance was a great coping mechanism for me not to participate in life. I’m glad I realized this when I did so I can start experiencing the good and the bad. This is ability!
I was an angry twenty-something. In fact, I was pretty angry most of my life. Once I realized I was physically different from everyone around me, I was pissed. The realization came around 8th grade. I went to the swimming pool and it hit me that in order for me to go swimming I’d have to take off my prostheses and deal with everyone staring at me. I hated that. I really loved swimming but was held back by what others might have been thinking about me. I made sure to not go to the popular swimming pool in my home town but would drive 20 minutes to the state park where I know it would be nearly empty and I could just swim. Why was I so angry that everyone was curious? Perhaps it was the fact I just wanted to live and not explain the status of my body. I will always get questions about my body - I have scars and I’m a bilateral amputee.
By the time I started high school I wanted to blend in. I wore jeans and long sleeve shirts as often as possible even when it was 80+ degrees and we didn’t have air conditioning at my high school. I’d rather be uncomfortable alone than uncomfortable after someone asks me a question. It’s silly and severely unhealthy to live like this. It has taken me the last few years to stop wearing jeans just because I didn’t want people to notice my legs. People will notice me one way or another. This is where anger set in and took up residency. I wasn’t angry to the point of say physical violence but I was angry that everyone else (not really) was physically perfect and I was defective. I would be mad at my mom for going shopping, thinking she only brought me along to use my great handicap parking privileges. She only wanted to use them because she knew it’d make our trip easier.
I think I became so angry because it was easy. It’s easy to be mad, it’s not easy to figure out why you’re mad. Getting down to the root cause is what has taken me years to discover. Life is a growing process and I intend to grow. It’s easy to be snarky, bitchy, standoffish, sullen, pissed off and down right mad because life isn’t fair. It’s also no way to live. Don’t be mad about things you can’t change but embrace them. Embrace them because no one else is you. Embrace them because through your experiences others will learn. Embrace yourself even if you’re the only one to learn from this change. I’ll still get mad from time to time because my legs hurt and I just want to walk down the street to grab a coffee. I’ll still get pissed off when someone makes a rude comment. I won’t let myself dwell on these feelings. This, my friends, is ability.