Photo Courtesy of peglegpirate.org
April is Limb Loss Awareness Month – my favorite month of the year! Maybe it’s because the temperatures are warmer, and we are all ready for sun and flowers to bloom! Though, it doesn’t seem like spring these days here in Kansas City! Brrr! Or maybe it’s because we get to talk about my favorite topic – amputees! This special month is designated for those who have been impacted by limb loss and limb difference. It is about celebrating diversity, spotlighting accomplishments and educating the general community about issues impacting our lives.
Photo Courtesy of amputee-coalition.org
According to the Amputee Coalition website, there are more than 500 amputations every single day in this country. With nearly two million people living with limb loss in the United States alone, our amputee community is full of experiences and diversity. The cool thing is that everybody has their own story, and April is our time to celebrate that which is far too often shunned – or at least overlooked.
Using the power of social media, amputees across the country and around the world are sharing their limb loss stories all month long. Although every journey is different, our strength lies with our numbers and our stories. During this incredible Limb Loss Awareness Month, the community is united to empower and to educate those who are struggling with limb loss, as well as those who may be impacted in the future or are touched by limb loss from loved ones or friends.
Photo Courtesy of Amputee Support Group by Brett Weber
Here’s my story! I didn’t lose my legs in an accident or from an infection or other medical issue. I lost my legs before I was even born, from the aftermath of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant accident. Shocking, huh? Luckily, I didn’t feel the pain of losing my limbs, which is good, because pain after limb loss is not fun! So I’ve heard.
Being a congenital amputee can be frustrating, but also entertaining. I’ve never experienced having 10 toes or any toes. LOL! If I break my prosthesis, I can’t be as active and can end up in a wheelchair, which takes away my independence. I always have to have two sets of prosthetic legs, one set for running and one set for walking. (No, I am not an animal, but I do have four legs, ha-ha!) For instance, if I am walking down the street, I can’t just start running. (Hopefully there are no bad guys behind me or coyotes.) When I am traveling out of town for one of my races, I have to carry a pair of legs with me. Let me tell you, those heavy babies are not easy to carry! Early mornings aren’t fun either, because my silicones are always so cold, especially in the winter. Putting a cold silicone on skin is really unpleasant and freezing. Also, we always have to be cautious of blisters and any irritations. Finally, let’s not forget the public eye. There’s always someone watching me or my legs, whether I want them to or not.
But the advantages overpower disadvantages. I never have cold feet, because I don’t have any feet. You can step on my feet and I won’t feel a thing! I get to say amputee jokes and laugh about it. If one of my prosthetic sets breaks, the other set always comes to my rescue. I see a completely different perspective on life than most people! My favorite advantage is that I get to show to those who struggle that it is okay to be different, you just really have to want it. We are all different – some are just more than others!
Photo Courtesy of douglasbaderfoundation.com
I hope you all join me in sharing your story and why this month is special to you. Who knows, maybe your story will be the one that offers some hope to a new amputee, possibly encouraging them to push forward despite the setbacks!