Being an amputee is not easy but trust me, it is not impossible. To me, every day is a new journey with new obstacles and accomplishments. Since I’ve been an amputee my whole life, I guess I can say that I have little bit of experience on this topic. It definitely has ups and downs, however, I find that these 5 tips help to live my life as an amputee to the fullest.
1. Remember, it will get easier. Whether you were born missing limbs like I was, or you became an amputee later on in life, you can count on one thing: It will get easier. You’ll get used to it and you’ll find that most people are more accepting of your differences. In fact, that difference becomes more and more a part of what makes you you.
2. However, remember to give yourself permission to feel what you feel, because being different isn’t always fun. No matter how positive and well-adjusted you are, you’re likely to have moments when you are depressed or just don’t feel like answering questions. Personally, I’ve had plenty of times when I was irritated by people’s ignorance and rude questions. Even today, I still get annoyed, especially at the airport when I have to go through extra screening. I don’t like it when people react to my legs and hands with overflowing pity and apologies. The truth is, it does gets to me sometimes. But I’ve found that I feel a lot better when I talk to my friends or family and just give myself permission to feel sad or frustrated. Those feelings won’t last, and it’s just plain lonely to act like nothing ever bothers you.
3. That leads to your attitude – your attitude will affect how others perceive and treat you. There’s no getting around the stares and questions. People are going to be curious – it is a normal human instinct. However, the more comfortable, relaxed and confident you are with yourself, the more others will feel comfortable around you and treat you with respect. A quick matter-of-fact explanation puts others at ease, and once they know your story, they’re likely to stop focusing on your arm or leg. In fact, once people get to know me, they often “forget” about my legs.
4. It’s okay to be sad, but it is better to laugh when you can. Humor can be one of the greatest gifts for those of us who go through life looking different from other people. If you can crack jokes, and even learn to laugh at yourself, you will make other people feel at ease and find it easier to get through the natural ups and down you’ll face. Humor is a natural mood booster, so when you are laughing, you are enjoying yourself. Besides, you have infinitely more potential for practical jokes than other “normal” people.
5. Don’t limit yourself, but remember, you have nothing to prove. It may sound corny, but there’s really nothing you can’t do if you’re persistent enough and determined enough. Whether it’s a sport, a hobby or a job you want, there’s a way to make it happen. However, as much as it helps to know you can pursue any activity or sport you want, it can also be exhausting to go through life feeling like you’ve got something to prove. Everyone loves stories about people who win over adversity and do the impossible. But, honestly, there’s nothing you need to do to “make up for” your difference. All you need to do is just be yourself and pursue your own dreams. Who knows, maybe you will inspire others in the process without even trying. As Christopher Reeve said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
All seriousness aside, let’s flex that humor muscle with an amputee joke! “How do you ask a on e-legged person enter your car? Hop in!”