Being an amputee isn’t easy in this world, trust me – I know! Every day I have to “adapt” to this world because this world isn’t designed for people with disabilities. However, there is progress. It is just coming very slow. So, here’s a list of things that non-amputees don’t think about.
- Awkward handshake!
Most things are designed for right-handed people, whether it’s a car, scissors, golf clubs, key boards, etc. But, most people, even lefties, shake their right hand because that’s what “normal.” As a person who has a deformed right hand or a person who is missing a right hand, it can be quite awkward and uncomfortable for both parties. I personally hate shaking with my right hand, because I am missing fingers. So, I awkwardly extend my left hand which ends up being awkward for both of us.
2. How about taking a shower? What’s so complicated about it?
Well, a normal person can just walk in and take a nice relaxing shower. When it comes to amputees, we can’t just do that. In my case, I have to take off my legs (because I do not have water proof legs), walk on my knees and then get into the shower and sit on my booty. If it’s a bathtub, I have to safely climb over the edge to ensure that I don’t slip and hurt myself. Remember, many bathtub rims can be tall. Some amputees have a chair inside their shower so that they don’t have to sit on the floor. After the shower, I have to walk back on my knees to get my prostheses. I wish I could just grab my towel, wrap my body and walk on both feet after the shower. Perspective!
3. Speaking of walking on my knees, going to the beach can be very stressful as well.
Most people are fortunate enough to walk on the beach barefoot, and I hear it feels pretty nice. In my case, I have to walk on my knees on the sand, and it is not pleasant at all. Also, let’s not forget that people stare! I know, they are just curious! There’s always something!
4. How about those sores and blisters?
Sores are unavoidable. You may have the perfect fitting socket, but if you use it a lot, you will feel it. I like to think of my sores as a visible sign that I am pushing my limits, but the discomfort can be pretty terrible at times. If a normal person gets a blister or a scratch, they can use a bandage. However, most amputees are not able to wear a bandage under their prostheses, because it can cause more discomfort and potentially won’t even stay on. After getting such bad sores, you may not be able to wear your prosthesis. For lower limb amputees this means crutches, a wheelchair or crawling.
5. Going back to starring! People ALWAYS stare at prosthetic legs!
You can add a cosmetic cover to make your device look a bit more realistic and less robotic, but it adds some weight. I used to spend a lot of time and energy covering my legs, and then I decided it wasn’t worth it. Cover or no cover – you can still tell I have something on my leg. My lack of confidence was weighing me down (quite literally), and slowing me down as well. I now go full robot.
6. TSA is always an embarrassing experience as well.
You make the machines go off, and you get pulled aside. You are all amped up to travel, and you get stopped in your tracks for being disabled. You get patted down, and eventually cleared, but it is an unavoidable experience. It is definitely worth looking into pre-check if you travel a lot.
7. Finally, weight loss/gain or swelling.
When most people lose/gain weight or swell, they can just wear smaller or bigger clothes. Seems like an easy solution. In our case, it is more than just wearing bigger or smaller clothes. We have to change our whole prosthetic fit. If my leg doesn’t fit into the prostheses (either too big or too small), then it’s a painful problem. Getting new prosthetic legs isn’t cheap, and it doesn’t happen after just one shopping trip, either. It takes weeks and lots of discomfort.
This blog is to put things into perspective. These are just everyday things that I adapt to. Technically, we all adapt to various things in this world around us. What’s something that you have adapted to that I haven’t thought of? This goes to everyone, amputees and non-amputees alike!