Let’s be honest – we all get older!
And unfortunately, many of us have to deal with amputation at the same time. Though we don’t have much control over aging, we do have some power over the way we see ourselves. As you age, you may face feelings of depression, helplessness, financial problems, pain and other medical or health problems.
All of these problems will likely be heightened when an amputation occurs. Change overall is a difficult thing. Imagine living decades with the way your body has looked, using your limbs to do things without much thought. Now, what you might have taken for granted, has to be looked at in a different way, and you have to readjust to this crazy world.
So What Do You Do?
First, you deal with the feelings of your loss. You have to understand that a part of your body is gone, and you have to figure out how to deal with your anger, sadness, helplessness, etc. Since amputation is a grief process, this may take some time. The good news is that as time passes, the feelings of loss will be less intense.
You can learn to cope with life differently by changing the way you think. This doesn’t mean that you have to deny your feelings; it just means that you will need to look at your life and your limb loss in a different way. Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to see that in a very real way in your everyday life, you can learn new ways of doing and being? You aren’t as helpless as you believe. You might have lost a limb, but you have not lost yourself or your ability to voice what you are thinking and feeling.
Your thoughts may say, “Now that I am an amputee, I look different. Losing a limb means that I am a different person, and that all I was in the past has disappeared.” But is this really true? Of course, you look different now and there are changes and adjustments that you will have to make as an amputee. But are you really all that different? Before your amputation, was your physical appearance the only feature that mattered? Probably not. Certainly you are far more than your physical appearance. You have skills, talents, and characteristics like compassion, integrity, love, understanding, etc. Are these parts of you less important than your limb loss? Certainly not!
Other Ways to Help Yourself
Don’t isolate yourself. Many studies have shown that people who are lonely often suffer from more health problems. If you are nearing retirement age or are already retired, it may be a great time to revive an old hobby or interest or to learn something new. You might also like to volunteer in your community. When people are active and “giving back,” they usually feel more fulfilled and less lonely. They are also more likely to feel better about their lives in general.
Focusing on the Right Things
As you experience aging and limb loss, you have power and control over what you choose to focus on. You can have images of self-respect, dignity and compassion and fill your surroundings with people who care about you. Or, you can get stuck negatively focusing on how your body looks and allowing this small part of you to define your whole life. What images will you choose to focus on?
My wish for you is that you will choose an image that will show all of who you are and will not limit you to your age and your limb loss.