I’d like to take this opportunity and clarify the following misconceptions about being an amputee. I am clearing up these misconceptions almost daily. Enjoy!
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Misconception #1: I Was Involved in a Tragic Accident or I am a Veteran
Fortunately some amputees, like myself, have never had to go through something as tragic as losing a limb in combat or losing it in a car wreck. There are so many ways to lose a limb. Cancer, diabetes, and other diseases are major factors in limb loss and amputation. Ask me instead of assuming it was tragic.
Misconception #2: I’m Used To It, So It Doesn’t Bother Me
This is a very common statement I hear often. I was born with missing limbs, and when I tell people this, their initial response is, “Oh, so you’re used to it, that’s good. It doesn’t bother you much then.” Wrong! It doesn’t matter if I have always been an amputee, or I just became one. This is not something that someone just gets used to. It always bothers me. It bothers me when my friends are able to go do things that I am physically limited at. It bothers me when you stare and secretly whisper to your friend. It bothers me that the first impression that someone has of me is my legs. It bothers me that you don’t think to ask about how I’m doing because you think I’m “used to it.” Being physically and visibly different than the vast majority of people I am around is never something I’ll get used to. I get over it and cope, but guess what… sometimes it still sucks.
Misconception #3: I Don’t Want You to Ask About My Prosthesis
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Please.. Please.. Please ask me instead of gawking with your mouth wide open. Parents, if your child is looking at my leg, don’t hurry them to look away. Encourage them to talk to me because I love kiddos. It could be a very good learning opportunity for them and you. Encourage them to ask me about how I lost my legs and how my legs work. They can learn that being different is awesome. I love explaining how my legs work and what happened to me. Explaining how it works makes me sound smart and like a scientist. Any opportunity I get to share my story means I can change someone’s life and their perspective.
Misconception #4: I Always Want to Talk About My Disability
A lot of people want to remind me that I am an inspiration, and they want to know what happened. But sometimes I just don’t want to talk about my prosthesis and what happened to me! I just want to talk about my day, or my love for running (which I talk about it a lot). We don’t always want to be reminded that we are an inspiration. I live with my disability every day, and talking about it doesn’t make my disability better. It just reminds me that I have a disability.
Misconception #5: Having a Prosthesis is Just Like Having a Real Leg
“You’re so lucky you have prostheses… It’s pretty similar to walking like you have two real legs.” As grateful as I am to be blessed with prostheses and to be able to walk, this statement makes me mad… so just… No. It’s so much harder. Things break and rip and hurt… constantly.
Misconception #6: I Can’t Laugh at My Situation
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Having one leg or no legs is actually hilarious to me. There are so many things that I or my loved ones can say that are just funny. “Tanya, if you leave your leg outside, the dogs will eat it.” “Tanya, don’t hit your sisters with your leg. “Tanya, I will take your leg off and beat you with it.” I laugh at myself before anyone else can. That’s what makes me strong. One of my favorite quotes is from Steel Magnolias. “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”
What other misconceptions do you clear up daily?