Amputee Etiquette

Let’s be honest, when you see an amputee, there’s a lot of things going through your mind! You want to know what happened. You want to know what kind of “leg” they are wearing. Or maybe you even feel a little sorry or instead, feel empowered by them! We get it, you want to say something. Here are a few things to avoid, as well as some things to say instead.

Don’t Say:

“I don’t know what I would do if I were you!”

Honestly, you’d have two options if you were in my shoes/or in my case, my prosthesis. (Haha!)

  • Make things work and live a meaningful life
  • Or… feel sorry for yourself!
  • It’s simple! For me, I choose to enjoy my life and focus on my blessings!

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Instead, Say:

In this situation, the best thing to do is not to say anything at all, unless you know the person well. Strangers don’t know each other. We wouldn’t come up to another stranger and comment on their physical appearance!

 

Don’t Say:

“Speaking of which … “Oh my gosh, I feel so sorry for you!”

Your pity doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t want anybody feel sorry for me, because most of the time I don’t even feel sorry for myself. Everyone has their own hardships and let’s not make this a competition.

Instead, Say:

“Hey, you are doing awesome in your life.” Again, if you don’t know the person and you wouldn’t normally make a similar comment to a stranger, don’t here either.

 

Don’t Say:

“My brother’s nephew’s sister has a niece that is cousins with a girl dating a guy that lost his leg and still runs marathons! I wonder if you know him.”

Contrary to popular belief, amputees don’t all know each other. Sorry to disappoint, but we do not have secret amputee meetings discussing how we are going to take over the world. Though we do share common experiences, we don’t all frequent the same place or do the same thing. We are all different people.

Instead, Say:

If you are trying to make that connection and you know another amputee, feel free to share their story. Most of us would love to hear the story and even connect with that person. But don’t assume if we know them already – we will let you know if we do.

 

Don’t Say:

“I know how it feels but ______.”

Empathy is very sweet and nice, but in this situation it just doesn’t have the same effect. Broken leg or an arm puts you out of commission for a couple of weeks or even months, but you must consider the fact that being an amputee requires a complete and permanent change in lifestyle. When you use statements like these, you do so with the intention of forging a bridge of common understanding. You can’t know unless you’ve actually been there! That being said, we admire your kind sensitivity to our experiences and your effort to understand! Thank you! J

Instead, Say:

Obviously, again, you are trying to develop an understanding. For example, perhaps you broke a leg. Start with, “Last year I broke my leg and it was very difficult but, I am sure it is a very different experience than what you are going through.” Invite them to share their story. You’ll probably find that although these are very different experiences, there might be some similarities.

 

Don’t Say:

“I don’t want to hear your story.”

There’s always that one person. If someone chooses to open up to you, it is because they trust you and they see something in you that allows them to feel comfortable in mindset of their vulnerability. Statements like these make it hard to open and trust.

Instead, Say:

Be considerate and listen! You never know what you will learn from us, and about yourself. Most likely, no one is going to try and make you feel uncomfortable.

 

Don’t Say:

Finally, whispering and/or starring!

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Please Note – Just because we are amputees, does not mean we are deaf or blind. While some of us may very well be visually and/or hearing impaired, the rest of us see and hear you quite well. Your pointing, long stares, awkward glances….all that. WE SEE YOU! In addition, we hear you. It’s not like you’re good whisperers anyway. When you think you’re subtly gesturing to your friends to look our way, know that we’ve probably already seen and heard your breathy “whispers”.

Instead, Say:

Trust and believe that we want nothing more than for you to simply ask when you have questions instead of assuming or making obvious awkward glances. Shoot one of us a friendly smile or just ask. It will make a big difference.

Tanya

Things to Know About Dating an Amputee

Relationships are for everyone. But when it comes to amputees, there are a few things we should know that will help move relationships along to bigger things – like love!

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Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Patience

Patience is a huge factor in any relationship, but especially if you are dating an amputee. Most of the time, it takes a little longer to get ready. Putting on prosthetic legs and putting pants or shoes on those legs all takes time! Be patient!

Doctors’ appointments

When it comes to amputation, lots of different doctor’s appointments will be in the future. Prosthetics, physical therapy, psychologists, general doctors. Life is scheduled around appointments because it is all part of the journey to get walking again. Be supportive, offer to accompany the person you are dating to any of their appointments.

People stare all the time

Children stare. Adults stare. It is something out of the ordinary to see someone coming through the street with no legs. Or robot legs. There are people who will come up to you on the street and say things like, God bless you, or anything along those lines. We know they mean well, but all it does is draw more attention to the disability. Some people ask questions nicely and out of pure curiosity. Some people point and stare and laugh. Amputations are not contagious and just because someone is different does not make them bad or less of a person. Everybody is a little different, but some differences are clearly more prominent than others. Try not to let it bother you and follow the lead of the person you are dating. They’ll know when to react and when not to!

You’ll get your feet stepped on all the time

Another major challenge to dating an amputee is the amount of times he/she does not know where their prosthetic feet are. Normally, it’s because they can wind up stepping on your foot and ouch, it can hurt!!! Be prepared and watch your feet. LOL!

Focus on the person, not the disability

Amputees are funny, they can get mad, they cook, they can be loving, play sports, they can cry and can go shopping. Once you start to focus on how much they live a normal life, you forget about their disability. Think of that person as the person you are dating, not the amputee you are dating.

 

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Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy Dating and we hope Cupid’s Arrow hits you! ❤

Tanya

2017 Endeavor Games

It’s been over a week since the Endeavor Games took place in Edmund Oklahoma. For those who don’t know, Endeavor Games are competitions for athletes of all ages with physical disabilities. These games are great opportunities to display their talents in a proper and competitive setting against all individuals with similar disabilities.

This year, Knit-Rite was a sponsor for the Endeavor Games, and maintained a booth to display our products. We introduced a few of our items to athletes who were competing as well as their parents and friends.

 

Introducing our products, such as prosthetic Soft Socks, to parents of young amputee athletes was satisfying, because I witnessed them recognizing that we are able to meet their child’s needs. We also had a few parents and kids who recognized our products and were thanking Knit-Rite for our high quality socks. It is always rewarding to work for a company that makes quality products and hearing it from others.

In addition to being a representative for Knit-Rite, I also got a chance to be one of the athletes at the games. I participated in 100m, 200m and 400m sprints and table tennis. The past year and a half, I‘ve been running long distance races (5k and more) with non-adaptive athletes. I am used to being a curiosity for other runners and as a result, I am often starred at, which is a natural human instinct. Since the Endeavor Games focuses on athletes with various physical disabilities, I was honored to complete with athletes just like me. It was awesome! I didn’t feel like I was judged or looked at all the time because we all had differences. There were no questions or staring. Instead, there was a competition and lots of love and support.

A few of my favorite things at the Endeavor Games were seeing a 2-year-old girl sprinting a 60m race on her tiny little prosthetic leg and an older gentleman sprinting his first race since he lost his limb. It’s overwhelming yet very rewarding. We take things for granted every single day. Those athletes didn’t have an excuse to complain, instead they had an excuse to show others why they wanted to compete.

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I finished the week with some table tennis game. This was a fun addition to my experience at the Endeavor Games because it was a little bit of nostalgia. I used play this sport competitively back home in Belarus as a child. The experience showed me that I was able to pick up my childhood skills that I developed along the way and use them for fun and competitions in the games. The best part was making new friends and new memories.

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It was a wonderful event full of positivity, hugs, smiles, encouragement and no judgment! It was an honor to be there as Knit-Rite’s representative and introduce our amazing products to everyone. It was also a pleasure to be there as an athlete and compete against those who are on the same level as me. I can’t wait to go back next year and make new memories, meet new friends, compete and introduce even more people to Knit-Rite. See you next year at the Endeavor Games!

Check out more at the Endeavor Games Photo Gallery.

Managing Limb Loss Grief

Every time we lose someone or something, we experience a grieving process. When most people think of grieving and loss, it is usually in regards to a person. However, it is significantly difficult when it comes to losing your own limb. Many of the stages of grief are similar to the grief of losing a person.

What are the signs and symptoms of grief?

Many times it is loss of appetite, lack of energy, poor concentration, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, sleeplessness, and feeling hopeless or worthless.

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to overcome grief?

One of the most important things to do is to get rest and eat well. That means limiting sugar. Sugar will give you a quick bursts of energy, but the energy level is just as quickly lost. In other words, you will experience high and lows in quick succession. Having healthy eating habits will not just improve your mood, but will also improve your overall inner well-being.

Exercise releases endorphins, a natural mood booster. Being involved in physical and recreational exercise is a great way to help overcome your grief and learn to adapt to the everyday world.

Emotionally, remember that you are not alone and you are not to blame. Talk to your loved ones and tell them that you are experiencing grief – be honest! They are there to love you and support you! Remember, people want to help you but often don’t know what to do to support you. So don’t be afraid to ask! Again, be honest!

Laughter is a great healer of grief and depression. Do things every day to have fun and find the humor in everyday life.

Forgive yourself or others – don’t judge. Learn to think of yourself in a different way. Finally, focus on emphasizing your best features versus focusing on the loss.

Amputation is an enormous loss and learning to adjust is a long process – so be kind and gentle to yourself. The main goal is to not isolate yourself from people, especially those who are wanting to help you! Always remember, you are much more than physical experience.

If the grief becomes an overwhelming depression and changes are occurring, contact a support group or simply get professional help. Below are some valuable resources to help you manage grief and depression:

Suicide Prevention Life Line

Amputee Coalition

Find a Support Group in Your Area

Mental Heath America

Additional Information About Depression

Sincerely,
Tanya

 

 

Amputee tips for summer heat!

It’s almost summer time which means it is time for heat and humidity. If you are like me and love to run and stay outside, chances are you will be sweating a lot – and if you wear prosthesis, it will be extra uncomfortable. Here are some useful tips to keep you moving this summer.

  • Check that your gel liner is fitting properly. If it’s loose fitting, it’s more likely to have sweat pool around your skin.
  • Stop moving about if you feel your skin chafing. Remove your prosthesis and wipe it down with a wash cloth. Excessive sweating in a prosthesis can cause your skin to break down and produce uncomfortable rashes.
  • If you have a below-the-knee amputation, wear a sweat band just above the gel liner or suspension sleeve. This will help catch some of the sweat. Athletic socks, which are meant to wick off sweat, also work well for this.
  • If you are a new amputee, try walking it out. Your residual limb will sweat more than the rest of your body during the first few months of use, but as you get used to it, you may begin to sweat less.
  • Wear a Liner-Liner Prosthetic sock with X-static designed by Knit-Rite under a suspension liner next to the skin. It will relieve skin shear irritations and improve comfort with liners. Liner-Liner has X-Static silver fibers that inhibit odor in the sock and transport heat and moisture away from the limb. Washable interface keeps liner cleaner and helps control skin irritations.
  • Check with your prosthetist. Your prosthetist and physician can help you determine the best solution for beating the summer heat.

Don’t let sweat hold you back from enjoying a fun, active summer.

How to talk to kids about special needs!

It is easy for us to be uncomfortable around people or situations that are “different.” Often we think it best to pretend the disparities don’t exist, but this doesn’t serve anyone well.

So how do we talk to kids about people with special needs?!

1. Kids with disabilities are also the same as other kids.

In fact, the same can be said for adults. Talk to your child about things he/she and the child with special needs have in common: Do they both have eyes, hair, and hands? What about things you can’t necessarily see? Do you think that little boy/girl has feelings? What do you think he/she likes to play? Some children and adults may have a disability, but they don’t want to be completely defined by it.

SmartKnit AFO socks

2. People with special needs or disabilities are not necessarily sick.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the right vocabulary to tell your kids about special needs. Let me gently suggest avoiding the words “sick”—as in “That boy has a sickness that makes it harder for him to talk to people.” Some people are born with special needs, and other disabilities happen as the result of an accident or previous illness. The disability itself, though, is not a sickness or something bad. Nor is it something other kids can “catch” — an important distinction to make when explaining disabilities to children.

3. Words matter.

Name calling and jokes at another person’s expense (whether or not that person has a disability) is not acceptable. In fact, words like “retarded” are extremely hurtful, whether you are using them as a direct slur at a child with special needs or using it as slang. It’s Okay to teach children the right words to talk about our differences: disability, special needs, even the names of specific disabilities, like Down syndrome and Autism. In addition to words like “sick” and” wrong,” try to replace the word “normal” with “typical”—as in, ”A typical child might walk at 12 months old, but Joey didn’t walk until he was almost 3 years old.” We know our kids are different, but comparing them to “normal” kids just makes us feel like you’re calling them “weird” or “bad.”

SmartKnitKIDS Sensitivity Socks

4. It’s OK to ask questions.

Kids are naturally curious, and that is wonderful! Don’t feel like you have to shush a child who asks questions about disabilities. If you don’t know the answer, that’s Okay too! Don’t put all of the pressure on yourself, but feel free to pass the questions on to the child’s parent. After all, it’s no secret that moms love to talk about their children. Please ask us. We would love to help bridge the gap between our kids and yours.

Everyone has something that makes them different! Some are just not as obvious as others! Celebrate our differences with kindness and acceptance!

 

Fun DIY Sock Bouquets!

As both a Mom and a Daughter, I completely believe in homemade Mother’s Day gifts.  I love getting these sweet gifts from my kiddos and I totally love giving them to my mom and my mother-in-law.  Sometimes the creativity is just not flowing, though, and I look all around for new ideas.  This year the Knit-Rite/Therafirm team got some inspiration from our own products.  The best part is, we were able to use products from several of our brands to create these adorable sock bouquets.  They’re cute and easy enough for the kiddos to do, too.  Watch our demonstration video below!

List of Supplies Needed:

• Socks of multiple colors, shapes and sizes
• A pair of tights, pantyhose or a piece of fabric of similar size and length
• Rubber bands
• Safety pins
• Your favorite vase

We used some discontinued colors of our Preggers and Therafirm brands, as well as current colors of TheraSport, SmartKnitKIDS, SmartKnit and Therafirm.  Happy bouquet making!