Tanya’s Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Great To Be An Amputee!

Since I’ve been an amputee my whole life, my way to cope with my disability is by joking about it a lot. Sometimes it is to make people temporarily uncomfortable . . . which is really kind of funny for me! LOL! And sometimes it is for them to realize that being an amputee can be awesome and we can all laugh about it!

10. Your missing limb is a great conversation starter. True, you may not always be part of the conversation because it usually happens behind your back, (“OMG what do you think happened to that girl over there?!”) but hey, you can take one for the team.

9. Never again do you have to have a boring Halloween costume! Well, if you do then that’s your choice. But really, there are so many possibilities! It’s a good opportunity to be creative and have fun.

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Photo courtesy of earthprom.com

 

8. Speaking of creativity, being an amputee helps fuel it. Nothing is impossible. Sometimes you just have to find different ways to accomplish a task that seems a little daunting. Most amputees have had to find creative ways to put on shoes, boots, pants, etc. at least one time in their life.

7. Who else hates to shave? I do and less of a leg means less time to spend shaving and more time being creative putting on your shoes. Yep, always trying to be more efficient.

6. Or my favorite one is… Your toes never get cold! You know, because you don’t have toes!

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5. And speaking of not having toes, you can’t stub them or have them stepped on. I’ve never had toes so I guess I’ll never feel your pain – sorry guys!

4. Another advantage? You’ll never regret a bad tattoo or an uneven tan because you can always change it. Well, at least for one part of your body. Foot-shells come in a variety of colors so you can plan ahead for a bronzed summer or not.

3. Not to mention the newest trends in unique and personalized custom prosthetic covers. The possibilities are endless which brings you back to that creativity thing.

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Photo courtesy of art4leg.com

 

2. You realize the importance of knowing yourself, on an internal and external way. There was a time that I had soup late at night and then couldn’t put my leg on the next day. Whoa! That’s how I learned foods that are high in sodium make you expand. Your limb health is totally a microcosm for your entire body’s overall health. It’s kind of neat to have that way to measure and take note of yourself!

And the number 1 reason why being an amputee is so great…

1. You learn to understand differences on a global scale. Amputation is unique because it doesn’t discriminate on race, gender, age, whatever! No amputation level is ever exactly the same as anyone else’s, so you learn to find solidarity in people, even fellow amputees, in other ways.

I know, I know . . . Now you want to join the cool people group, too, right?! It just sounds like so much fun! Well, I’m sorry to say that this is a very exclusive and permanent club. In all honesty, the perks of being a non-amputee are probably much better than the list I have of stumplet benefits. I’d say that you’re probably better off enjoying your limbs as they are. Unless you actually are an amputee, in which case, hey there . . . feel free to add to the list!

Tanya

History of Prosthetics!

Technology is moving really fast these days including technology of prosthetic limbs. But have you ever thought where the story of prosthetics first began? Recently I decided to look into the history of prosthetics and was fascinated by the background of it. ..and I thought I’d share some of my favorite parts with you all!

The earliest example of prosthesis ever discovered is not a leg or an arm, it’s actually a toe and it was found in Egypt and dated to between 950-710 B.C.E. The wooden toe belonged to a woman, with attachment straps designed for comfort. The craftsmanship was so extraordinary, the toe could even flex. The reason behind all the fuss about a little toe is because of the cultural norm in Egypt at that time was for everyone to wear open toe sandals. But ancient Egypt wasn’t the only one experimenting with prosthetics. Their neighbors to the North in Ancient Rome were also making early contributions to the history of prosthetics.

Ancient-Prosthetics

The most famous being General Marcus Sergius, who is considered to be the first documented wearer of a prosthetic limb. The General lost his right hand in the second Punic War and was given a prosthesis, fashioned from iron. The iron hand, which must have been extremely heavy, allowed him to hold his shield and continue fighting. The story of his limb loss happened very early in his military career which makes that long career very extraordinary. Later, he was twice captured by the famous Hannibal, and escaped both times.

As advancement in warfare progressed throughout the centuries, limb loss became more common and the need for better and more comfortable prosthetics arose.

In the early sixteenth century, Doctor Ambroise Pare, made significant advances in both amputation surgery, and the development of prosthetic limbs. He was the first to introduce a hinged prosthetic hand, and a leg with a locking knee joint. These amazing advancements, as well as his innovative techniques of attaching the limbs, are still common in modern prosthetics. That’s right, we are still using the locking knee joint, something developed more than 500 years ago!

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While there was some progress in the limbs themselves between the 1500s and the 1800s, the major advancements during this time were in amputation surgery. Surgical techniques developed in the mid-19th century allowed doctors to shape the residual limb in such a way that made them more receptive to the attachment of a prosthesis. The limbs weren’t much better, but life was becoming more comfortable for those wearing them.

As recently as 1946, another major game-changing advancement in prosthetics was made. Researchers at UC Berkeley developed a suction sock for lower-limb amputees. This significantly increased the mobility of the wearer and their quality of life. Before this suction sock, amputees would have to attach prosthesis with cumbersome and uncomfortable straps to keep their prosthesis on. And often, the straps didn’t hold on or even work. The suction sock technology is still in use today increasing the comfort and mobility of many amputees.

In the 1970s, an inventor and an amputee, Ysidro M. Martinez, made a huge impact on the history of prosthetics. He developed a lower-limb prosthesis that, instead of trying to replicate the motion of a natural limb, focused on improving gait and reducing friction. These much improved prostheses relieved pressure and made walking more comfortable improving the lives of many future patients.

We live in the most exciting moment in the story of prosthetics. Today, advancements are moving so rapidly. Modern materials like carbon fiber are making prosthetics both lighter and stronger. Biometrics and 3D printing are enhancing the lives of amputees and will continue to do so. The newest and most innovative limbs can even be controlled by thought and muscle, almost like a real limb. That’s simply amazing! Progress since the days of those wooden toes in Egyptian sandals has been and will no doubt continue to be astounding.

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Image courtesy of DailyMail.com.

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.