People Stare At My Prostheses – What To Do?

I am going to tell you a secret – I’ve been an amputee my whole life, and I still can’t stand when people stare at me or my prosthetic legs. And, it doesn’t help when my prosthetic legs draw the stares of complete strangers. So, here are some of my tips on how to deal with that sort of attention from strangers.

1. Don’t take all this staring personally.

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Gifs courtesy of testudotimes.com

 

Most people probably aren’t staring because they think you’re some kind of freakishly deformed monster. Rather, it’s a human nature to stare at something that is unusual or out of the ordinary from what they normally see. I mean, I am sure you stare at someone who has a funky hair color 😉

2. Have a response ready – preferably a nice one. 

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If the staring is obvious or aggressive enough, you can stop it by having a ready response. For example, you could acknowledge the stare with a “Yeah, 2010 was a rough year.” This lets them know that you know they’re staring, and can help shut down an unwanted gaze. Another strategy is to use humor. “I’m still waiting for it to grow back. I suspect that I may not be part gecko after all!”

3. You are in control of yourself – I know, right?

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LOL. We’re all familiar with this statement of wisdom about learning to change what we can, and accept what we cannot. The same goes when it comes to other peoples’ behavior. You cannot control their staring, but you can control your reaction to it, as well as whether or not you allow it to bother you.

4. My favorite reaction is to stare back.

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Gifs courtesy of giphy.com

 

If engaging someone in conversation is too uncomfortable, you can always give them a smaller acknowledgment by locking eyes and giving them a friendly smile. They may not realize they’re being rude, and drawing attention to their behavior could be enough for them to break the stare.

5. Finally, just do nothing.

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Gifs courtesy of imgur.com

 

You’re not obligated to cater to someone’s curiosity or lack of manners. It’s perfectly acceptable to pretend that you don’t see their stares and continue about your business.

Getting used to your prosthesis is going to take some time, and coping with attention from strangers is a part of that. Fortunately, you are not alone. All amputees deal with this. J Find your best solution and enjoy life!

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Coping With Aging and Amputation

Let’s be honest – we all get older!

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And unfortunately, many of us have to deal with amputation at the same time. Though we don’t have much control over aging, we do have some power over the way we see ourselves. As you age, you may face feelings of depression, helplessness, financial problems, pain and other medical or health problems.

All of these problems will likely be heightened when an amputation occurs. Change overall is a difficult thing. Imagine living decades with the way your body has looked, using your limbs to do things without much thought. Now, what you might have taken for granted, has to be looked at in a different way, and you have to readjust to this crazy world.

 So What Do You Do?

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First, you deal with the feelings of your loss. You have to understand that a part of your body is gone, and you have to figure out how to deal with your anger, sadness, helplessness, etc. Since amputation is a grief process, this may take some time. The good news is that as time passes, the feelings of loss will be less intense.

You can learn to cope with life differently by changing the way you think. This doesn’t mean that you have to deny your feelings; it just means that you will need to look at your life and your limb loss in a different way. Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to see that in a very real way in your everyday life, you can learn new ways of doing and being? You aren’t as helpless as you believe. You might have lost a limb, but you have not lost yourself or your ability to voice what you are thinking and feeling.

Physical Appearance

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Your thoughts may say, “Now that I am an amputee, I look different. Losing a limb means that I am a different person, and that all I was in the past has disappeared.” But is this really true? Of course, you look different now and there are changes and adjustments that you will have to make as an amputee. But are you really all that different? Before your amputation, was your physical appearance the only feature that mattered? Probably not. Certainly you are far more than your physical appearance. You have skills, talents, and characteristics like compassion, integrity, love, understanding, etc. Are these parts of you less important than your limb loss? Certainly not!

Other Ways to Help Yourself

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Don’t isolate yourself. Many studies have shown that people who are lonely often suffer from more health problems. If you are nearing retirement age or are already retired, it may be a great time to revive an old hobby or interest or to learn something new. You might also like to volunteer in your community. When people are active and “giving back,” they usually feel more fulfilled and less lonely. They are also more likely to feel better about their lives in general.

Focusing on the Right Things

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As you experience aging and limb loss, you have power and control over what you choose to focus on. You can have images of self-respect, dignity and compassion and fill your surroundings with people who care about you. Or, you can get stuck negatively focusing on how your body looks and allowing this small part of you to define your whole life. What images will you choose to focus on?

My wish for you is that you will choose an image that will show all of who you are and will not limit you to your age and your limb loss.

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Being Disabled or Feeling Disabled?

According to doctors and the majority of the population, I am disabled because I am missing limbs. However, disability is much harder to define than that. There are legal definitions.Image result for disability gifs

The best known is the ADA’s, which defines any physical or mental impairment that limits at least one major life activity as a disability. But other regulations differ—under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, you need to be limited to the point of being unable to work. Different states have different barriers and metrics when it comes to measuring disability for parking permits or accommodations. And what counts as a “reasonable accommodation” by an employer is surprisingly hazy, which makes it a challenge to effectively argue an ADA discrimination case. Now, I was always told that I have a disability.

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So technically it is true – if I didn’t have prosthetic legs to walk, I would be limited in movement. In other words, I have a visual disability – where everyone can see it.

But am I REALLY that disabled?

I live a normal life. I went to school. I am married with a baby on the way. I’ve ran a marathon. I socialize with friends. I have a full time job, etc. And for the most part I don’t feel disabled. Yes, I have to adapt to things. But I am not disabled, because I don’t feel disabled. Instead, I feel like I am more abled, because I have more challenges to accomplish on a daily basis. However, when people come up to me and ask me what happened, I do feel disabled. Strangers don’t ask others personal questions. Or they might give me thumbs up on a run, while not saying anything to the other runners, then yes, I do feel disabled. They are cheering for me because I am running on my prosthetic legs and no other reason! That’s why I love to wear pants in public, because I don’t have people staring at me or calling me an inspiration. They don’t know and can’t see my “disability.” I am just like everyone else.

But sometimes I DO FEEL disabled.

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It is like when I can’t wear heals because my prosthetic feet can’t move a certain way. I feel disabled when I am at the beach, and I have to walk on my knees and people stare at me and possibly feel sorry for me. I feel disabled when I am in public and everyone notices my prosthetic legs and curiously stares at me. I feel extremely disabled then.

But what about those people that look “normal” but have some sort of illness or condition? Are they disabled, or are they just normal people with illnesses or conditions. I know a person who has a condition that isn’t visual, but it is debilitating. This person isn’t able to have the full function of an able-bodied person, but looks completely normal and you wouldn’t know they are “disabled.”

There’s no right answer of what disability is.

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GIFS courtesy of pinterest.com

 

The moral of this blog is to treat everyone equally with kindness, love and compassion. Don’t assume that there’s no disability just because you can’t see it, and likewise don’t assume there’s a disability because you do see it.

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Did You Know? 95 Years At Knit-Rite!

In honor of our 95th year anniversary, here are a few fun facts about Knit-Rite maybe you knew some and maybe you didn’t! Enjoy 🙂

  1. Did you know? Knit-Rite was established by Billy Isle, World War I veteran, an amputee and later a prosthetist. Billy was a Red Cross Captain during and after World War 1. He helped lead the establishment of prosthetic centers in London, Paris, and Rome for the veterans who had amputations from the war. Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 2.01.55 PM.png

He bought a knitting machine and put it on the front porch of his home. His wife Anna used it to knit the very first socks. Billy officially started Knit-Rite in 1923.

Logo1.jpgThey moved knitting machines into their prosthetic orthotic clinic building, and Anna started driving to other clinics to tell them about Knit-Rite socks.

2. Did you know? Knit-Rite now is a family business. Ted Smith, who was the grandfather of Knit-Rite’s current owner, lost his leg in an accident in 1920 when he was only 9 years old. Ted was one of Billy’s new patients after Billy returned from the war and one of the first people to try Knit-Rite socks. Eventually, Ted became the first salesman hired by Knit-Rite, driving around the country to visit prosthetic and orthotic clinics. I think Anna needed a break 😉

Later, Ted Smith became a certified orthotist, then a partner, and eventually the President of Knit-Rite.image1[1].jpg But the family business doesn’t stop there. Ted Smith’s son Bill started working at Knit-Rite when he was 14. Bill became the sole owner when Ted, and Billy’s daughter who was another partner, both retired. In 1976, Bill Smith’s son, Mark, started working at Knit-Rite when he was 14. Mark eventually became an orthotist and a certified prosthetist as well. He practiced prosthetics in another state, and eventually Bill sold Knit-Rite because he was ready to retire. Mark and his wife had a child and decided to come back to Kansas City. He rejoined Knit-Rite, working for the new owner for 15 years as Vice President of Technical Services. In 2006, Mark Smith, along with Chris Vering and Ron Hercules, re-acquired Knit-Rite, making it family owned once again, now for four generations of O&P practitioners!

3. Did you know? Knit-Rite started knitting prosthetic socks in 1923 using hand knitting machines called Lamb Knitting Machines.

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In the 1960s, Knit-Rite owned knitting Machines that ran off of punch cards. In the early 80s, they purchased knitting Machines from Switzerland, which ran off of small cassette tapes. And now today, Knit-Rite is using the latest knitting Machines with Flash Drives. The history of technology is right there!

4. Did you know? In addition to Knit-Rite originally being part of a large, regional orthotics and prosthetics practice, Knit-Rite was one of the main full-line distributors to the prosthetic and orthotic profession.

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And in addition to socks, they manufactured knee joints, wooden feet, wood knee shins and wood blocks for socket production. 

5. Did you know? Knit-Rite has used yarns from various countries including Australian wool, Canadian wool, and US mill products. In 2017, Knit-Rite used 9.4 million miles of yarn. That is 20 round trips to the moon and back, and 376 times around the earth along the equator. That’s a lot of yarn, y’all!

6. Did you know? Just in 2017 alone, Knit-Rite used 205 tons of yarn. Each cone of yarn varies from 50 to 130 miles.

7. Did you know? Knit-Rite is the first company to produce a machine washable wool product line called Super Socks.

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8. Did you know? We are more than just socks! Beyond the day-to-day knitting and manufacturing, Knit-Rite supports a neighborhood homeless shelter and food kitchen. They also house a Bible ministry and support many other charities. Boom!

Hope you learned something new about my favorite company who is only 95 years young and going strong! Join us in celebrating with our customers who are more than just customers – they are family!

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Interesting Toe-Facts You Probably Don’t Know

Eyes are windows to the soul. Lips are always getting kissed. And heart is basically everything! But what about feet?

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Even though feet are not the most glamorous part of the body, they are basically heroes of the body because they carry us 8,000 to 10,000 step a day and more than 100,000 miles over the course of a lifetime (technically that’s four times around the world.) And since Knit-Rite/Therafim makes socks for all the feet – here’s are some incredibly interesting facts you probably don’t even know. Thank you HEELTHATPAIN website for the sources.

  • A human foot and ankle is a strong, mechanical structure that contain 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Photo courtesy of thefootworksstore.com

 

  • Toes can sometimes surgically replace lost thumbs. You heard that right! While it might sound bizarre, the surgery s fairly common and quite successful. Once the transplanted big toe is attached to the hand, it allows people to regain all the benefits of the lost thumb and they can do basically everything without big issues.

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Photo courtesy of reddit.com

 

  • Has anyone told you that your toes smell like stinky cheese? Well, Foot cheese is an actual thing because it is totally possible to make actual cheese with bacteria from foot sweat. In 2013, Ireland held a Foot Cheese Exhibition that featured several varieties of foot cheese, as well as varieties that evolved from belly buttons and armpits. Yuck!
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Gifs courtesy of giphy.com

 

  • Toe wrestling is a competitive sport. This sport has been thriving in several countries since 1970. In this sport, opponents attempt to pin and hold down their opponents bare toes for three seconds. And best two out of three rounds, wins!!

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Gifs courtesy of makeagif.com

 

  • Did you know that there is a phobia of feet? Yep, and it is called podophobia! Many people with this phobia can have an extreme revulsion to the sight of feet. They are also upset by talking about feet, reading about it or even touching their own feet. In some cases, podophobia can have a damaging effect on an individual’s health if it impacts someone ability to put on or remove socks and shoes, or properly wash the feet. This all can lead to infections or other serious problems.

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  • The longest toenails are 6 inches long! Luise Hollis from California holds the current world record for longest toenails in the world. Each toenail is approximately 6 inches long and requires a full two day of care and grooming each week. Now, that’s some serious foot love.
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Gifs courtesy of livingthelittles.com

 

  • Finally, did you know that there are more than five different generally-recognized foot types? There’s a The Peasant foot, The structural Flat foot, The Egyptian Foot, The Greek Foot and a few others. Many people believe that it is possible to describe your personality by determining the shape of your foot! See for yourself!

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Photo courtesy of healthysteps.com

 

Doesn’t that make you love your feet just a tad more? LOL! I don’t have feet – so I’ll never know!

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Things That Non-Amputees Don’t Think About

Being an amputee isn’t easy in this world, trust me – I know! Every day I have to “adapt” to this world because this world isn’t designed for people with disabilities. However, there is progress. It is just coming very slow. So, here’s a list of things that non-amputees don’t think about.

  1. Awkward handshake!

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GIFS courtesy of worldwideinterweb.com

 

Most things are designed for right-handed people, whether it’s a car, scissors, golf clubs, key boards, etc. But, most people, even lefties, shake their right hand because that’s what “normal.” As a person who has a deformed right hand or a person who is missing a right hand, it can be quite awkward and uncomfortable for both parties. I personally hate shaking with my right hand, because I am missing fingers. So, I awkwardly extend my left hand which ends up being awkward for both of us.

2. How about taking a shower? What’s so complicated about it?

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GIFS courtesy of pinterest.com

 

Well, a normal person can just walk in and take a nice relaxing shower. When it comes to amputees, we can’t just do that. In my case, I have to take off my legs (because I do not have water proof legs), walk on my knees and then get into the shower and sit on my booty. If it’s a bathtub, I have to safely climb over the edge to ensure that I don’t slip and hurt myself. Remember, many bathtub rims can be tall. Some amputees have a chair inside their shower so that they don’t have to sit on the floor. After the shower, I have to walk back on my knees to get my prostheses. I wish I could just grab my towel, wrap my body and walk on both feet after the shower. Perspective!

3. Speaking of walking on my knees, going to the beach can be very stressful as well.

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GIFS courtesy of pinterest.com

 

Most people are fortunate enough to walk on the beach barefoot, and I hear it feels pretty nice. In my case, I have to walk on my knees on the sand, and it is not pleasant at all. Also, let’s not forget that people stare! I know, they are just curious! There’s always something!

4. How about those sores and blisters?

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Sores are unavoidable. You may have the perfect fitting socket, but if you use it a lot, you will feel it. I like to think of my sores as a visible sign that I am pushing my limits, but the discomfort can be pretty terrible at times. If a normal person gets a blister or a scratch, they can use a bandage. However, most amputees are not able to wear a bandage under their prostheses, because it can cause more discomfort and potentially won’t even stay on. After getting such bad sores, you may not be able to wear your prosthesis. For lower limb amputees this means crutches, a wheelchair or crawling.

5. Going back to starring! People ALWAYS stare at prosthetic legs!

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GIFS courtesy of giphy.com

 

You can add a cosmetic cover to make your device look a bit more realistic and less robotic, but it adds some weight. I used to spend a lot of time and energy covering my legs, and then I decided it wasn’t worth it. Cover or no cover – you can still tell I have something on my leg. My lack of confidence was weighing me down (quite literally), and slowing me down as well. I now go full robot.

6. TSA is always an embarrassing experience as well.

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You make the machines go off, and you get pulled aside. You are all amped up to travel, and you get stopped in your tracks for being disabled. You get patted down, and eventually cleared, but it is an unavoidable experience. It is definitely worth looking into pre-check if you travel a lot.

7. Finally, weight loss/gain or swelling.

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When most people lose/gain weight or swell, they can just wear smaller or bigger clothes. Seems like an easy solution. In our case, it is more than just wearing bigger or smaller clothes. We have to change our whole prosthetic fit. If my leg doesn’t fit into the prostheses (either too big or too small), then it’s a painful problem. Getting new prosthetic legs isn’t cheap, and it doesn’t happen after just one shopping trip, either. It takes weeks and lots of discomfort.

This blog is to put things into perspective. These are just everyday things that I adapt to. Technically, we all adapt to various things in this world around us. What’s something that you have adapted to that I haven’t thought of? This goes to everyone, amputees and non-amputees alike!

Thanks,

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Discussing the “Adaption Principle.”

I often get this question –what motivates me to live this life with so much joy and happiness?! It’s almost like they expect me to be miserable all the time because I am disabled. And they believe that if they were in my position, they would not be able to cope. Let me tell you – this belief is false! Read below and I will try to explain why.

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gifs courtesy of Blogpot.com

 

Jonathan Haidt has a book called The Happiness Hypothesis, where in one chapter he discusses something called the “Adaptation Principle”. According to Haidt, the Adaptation Principle shows that whatever lucky event or adversity we face, we get used to it. This was proven in a study showing that people who won the lottery and people who became paralyzed both returned to their baseline happiness levels after just one year. We get a rush of dopamine when something unexpected and pleasurable happens. But after a while the novelty wears off, and we adapt to it.

Here’s the thing – someone who experiences a catastrophically negative life change will experience the SAME EFFECT. Imagine you had a car crash and suddenly became paralysed one day. Initially you will be very upset because your life is turned upside down. All your goals in life will need to be re-evaluated. You may be asking yourself, “Why Me?” But just like with winning the lottery, you will adapt to your new situation. Initially, your happiness takes a massive hit. But, eventually it will rise back up to the baseline level that it was at before your injury. Stuff like rehabilitation will help you to learn that life does not end when you become disabled. You can still live an active and fulfilling life, just a little differently than before. You make new goals for your new circumstances in life, and it’s rewarding when you make progress toward those goals.

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gifs courtesy of Gamespot.com

 

This is why it doesn’t make sense when many able-bodied people say, “Oh if I was disabled, I wouldn’t be able to cope.” Yes, you would! You would adapt to it just like everyone else has. I’m not saying it will be easy. It’s not. But over time you will learn to come to terms with your new situation, and you will realize that disabled people can be just as happy as the able-bodied. Humans are an incredibly adaptive species, and just because something traumatic has changed a life, it does not necessarily mean that it will be for the worse. Disabled people can engage in as many activities and have just as an active social life as able-bodied people. So, there is no reason to believe that disabled people must be unhappier than able-bodied people. That is a big misconception.

Remember, what happens to you only plays a small part in how happy you are. The rest of your happiness is determined by how you choose to spend your time. So spend it wisely.