Review On The Movie Stronger!

Have you seen the movie Stronger? It came out last year as a way to memorialize the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It has a special connection to me because I am an amputee and a marathoner! It also has a special meaning to Knit-Rite because they used one of our products in the movie.

For a dose of something different, I thought I’d do a review on this awesome movie. So here it goes…

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Photo Courtesy of mandfilms.com

 

What is it about? STRONGER is a fact-based drama that takes on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. On April 15, 2013, Jeff Bauman was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, holding a handmade sign in support of his runner-girlfriend Erin. When she was still about a mile away, the two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring hundreds, including Bauman who lost both of his legs that day. When he regained consciousness in the hospital, he was able to provide the FBI a detailed physical description of one of the bombers leading to apprehension. Immediately, Bauman was hailed as a hero – both locally and nationally. The film does a nice job of telling Bauman’s story and how his life unfolded over the next few months. As he struggles with his new life challenges, including PTSD and adjusting to life as an amputee, he strives to do better. But, he simply doesn’t understand why he is viewed as a hero, and doesn’t particularly embrace what comes with that label, at least early on. (Welcome to my world in more ways than one – see last week’s blog. 😉 ) I won’t reveal the ending in case you haven’t seen it yet. But it is definitely worth the watch.

What do I think about the movie? Of course, at its core, this is an incredible story about how a normal guy had his life altered in a moment, as well as how he reluctantly became a hero after a tragic event.

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Photo Courtesy of time.com

 

This movie has educated people about the bombing, losing limbs and the long physical and mental recovery. I appreciated how the film focused on the everyday struggles of adjusting to life as an amputee — waking up, going to put your feet on the floor and falling flat on your face (phantom feeling), navigating large crowds, getting in and out of a car, and attempting stairs — all of the things you take for granted before an injury like this.

Why is it special to Knit-Rite? During production, the movie reached out to Knit-Rite and asked us to send them one of our products for the film. You might remember the scene after the surgery where his legs are wrapped in two white garments. These are our famous Compressogrip Shrinkers.

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Compressogrip Shrinkers are mainly used post-surgery to reduce the swelling of the limb, and to prepare and shape it for prostheses fitting in the near future. It was so awesome to see our product being used on the big screen. Big shout out to the movie producers for being so honest and accurate.

Things I wasn’t sure of? Jake Gyllenhaal is an excellent actor. However, I researched and learned that amputee actors were not given an opportunity to try out for the role. I do wish that actors with disabilities were at least given the opportunity, even if it ultimately went to Gyllenhaal.

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Photo Courtesy of time.com

 

Although, he portrayed Bauman very well, who better would know the true emotions of what Bauman experienced than someone who had a similar limb loss story.

Finally, the language factor. Despite the movie being a true story, and the point of the movie is to show the tragic truth, I do wish the language was a little more PG! The movie has way too many F-bombs, and I wouldn’t want to show it to children. And sadly this is a lost opportunity to educate them. Even though we know that kids all know the bad words, the sheer amount of F-bombs was over the top. I do understand that this is the way the characters actually speak, but appealing to a younger audience would only benefit the lesson we can all learn from this situation.  This story needs to be shared with all but because of the language, it is limited.

Overall, it’s an excellent story about tragedy and recovery. This movie is an eye-opening learning opportunity about life after amputation! Be sure to put it on your viewing list, and let me know what you think of it!

Extra credit if you can spot Knit-Rite’s shrinker! 😉

Happy Viewing!

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Am I Really An Inspiration Because Of My Disability?

If there is one overused sentence I have heard more than any other during my whole life is “you are such an inspiration.”

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Image Courtesy of themidnightalliance.com

 

I’ve been an amputee since birth, and I have used prosthetic legs for a very long time. Throughout my childhood, I was called “inspirational” so many times that it became completely lacking of meaning. People who I would casually pass here or there have called me inspirational without even asking my name. Just recently, I came out of the public restroom in my gym and this kind lady immediately said “you are so inspiring.” I wanted to point out the ridiculousness of that statement with humor, and respond, “thank you, I just pooped.” But, I decided to be polite and just thanked her.

Apparently, having a visible disability is all it takes to be considered inspirational, which is frankly a pretty low bar.

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Photo Courtesy of meme.xyz

 

As an adult, my patience for that word finally died out. What the heck does inspirational even mean in the context of disability? Let’s explore two reasons why you shouldn’t call disabled people inspirational.

  1. It can be very insulting.

This argument might raise a few eyebrows. Calling someone inspirational is supposed to be a compliment, right?! Obviously, calling someone inspirational isn’t offensive in itself. However, it can easily become insulting when it’s applied to someone with a disability. When an able-bodied person calls a disabled person inspirational, they’re usually applauding them for existing – and in turn, patting themselves on the back for realizing how difficult disabled life must be. “Go you!”

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Photo Courtesy of askideas.com

 

Unsurprisingly, these good intentions can quickly create highly unfortunate implications. For example, a man once said to me, “whenever I feel sorry for myself, I think about you! If I were in your situation, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed!” Please stop. Don’t pity us as a source of self-motivation. Think about it. You just pushed me down to build yourself up.

  1. It imagines a knowledge of disabled life that you don’t actually have.

Most of the people who call me inspirational are strangers or casual acquaintances. Do they have enough information to make that assessment? Probably not. That’s also why I never understood how anyone could be so quick to assume that all disabled people must be inspirational simply because they’re disabled.

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Photo Courtesy of gamevilusa.com

 

I know I sound like a broken record, but people with disabilities are just like everybody else. They’re complex, and sometimes flawed. They hide insecurities, struggles and inner demons that they might not want the outside world to see. We are not perfect, angelic human beings by virtue of having a disability. Life just doesn’t work that way, and you can’t stamp us out as brave, permanently optimistic, or whatever harmless stereotype helps you process our disabilities better.

That is why you shouldn’t claim to know anything about disabled life if, to begin with, you don’t even know the person you’re talking to! Instead of claiming disabled people inspire you, appreciate them for their uniqueness and individuality. Avoid the temptation to turn us into abstract symbolism. We might be inspirational to you, but at the end of the day, we’re three-dimensional human beings like everyone else.

My advice to all, when you see someone with a visible disability, don’t say any more than you would to any other stranger that you come across. If you feel the need to say anything at all, just say hi or smile and move on. That person has probably heard that he/she is in an inspiration multiple times before you came along. A simple smile will go a lot further.

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Photo Courtesy of frabz.com

 

Thank you,

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Endeavor Games 2018

It’s been a week since the Endeavor Games 2018 took place in Edmund, Oklahoma. For those who don’t know, the Endeavor Games are competitions for athletes of all ages with physical disabilities. These games are great opportunities for athletes to display their talents in a proper and competitive setting against all individuals with similar disabilities.

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This is Knit-Rite’s second year as a sponsor for the Endeavor Games, and I maintained a booth to display our products. We introduced a few of our items to athletes who were competing, as well as their parents and friends.

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Introducing our products, such as the pink prosthetic Soft Socks and SmartKnitKIDS seamless sensitivity socks, to parents of young athletes was satisfying, because I witnessed them recognizing that we are able to meet their child’s needs. We also had a few parents and kids who recognized our products and thanked Knit-Rite for our high quality socks. It is always rewarding to work for a company that makes quality products and hearing it from others.

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In addition to being a representative for Knit-Rite, I also got a chance to be one of the athletes at the games. I participated in 400m sprint, table tennis and for the first time ever, a weight lifting event. My husband challenged me to try something new this year, so I tried weight lifting for fun. I might not have performed my best, but I can’t wait to use the experience and the spirit of the competition to train and compete again.

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The past two years, I‘ve been running long distance races (including my first marathon) with non-adaptive athletes. I am used to being a curiosity for other runners and as a result, I am often starred at, which is a natural human instinct. Since the Endeavor Games focuses on athletes with various physical disabilities, I was honored to compete with athletes just like me. It was awesome! I didn’t feel like I was judged or looked at all the time because we all had differences. There were no questions or staring. Instead, there was a competition and lots of love and support.

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One of my favorite things at the Endeavor Games, was seeing a younger generation proudly competing while having the times of their lives! It was uplifting seeing everyone’s support while cheering each other on. Whether it’s a veteran powerlifting over 200 pounds, a 2-year-old boy competing in his first wheelchair race, or even a young lady trying table tennis for the first time, each of these moments will be embedded in the memories I’ll always hold of the Endeavor Games 2018!

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I finished the week with some table tennis. This was a fun addition to my experience at the Endeavor Games because it was a little bit of nostalgia. I used to play this sport competitively back home in Belarus as a child. The experience showed me that I was able to pick up my childhood skills that I developed along the way and use them for fun and competitions in the games. The best part was making new friends and new memories.

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It was a wonderful event full of positivity, hugs, smiles, encouragement and no judgment! It was an honor to be there as Knit-Rite’s representative and introduce our amazing products to everyone. It was also a pleasure to be there as an athlete and compete against those who are on the same level as me. I can’t wait to go back next year and make new memories, meet new friends, compete and introduce even more people to Knit-Rite. …And who knows what else I might try! See you next year at the Endeavor Games 2019!

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Why I’m Thankful for My Disability!

When I hear the word disability, most of the time I think of it as a negative thing. I don’t like being called disabled, because I am not. However, in the eyes of the majority, I am disabled. Nonetheless, the older that I get, the more in touch I am with myself and the more that I have learned to embrace the positives. We all have obstacles in our lives that can be overwhelming at times, relatively speaking. But, if we force ourselves to look closely, we will see that those challenges are actually the tools that have sculpted us into the people that we have become.

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Photo Courtesy of acepnow.com

 

That doesn’t necessarily mean I rejoice over having a disability. It’s frustrating and difficult beyond words sometimes. But, if you are able to see the glimmer of light, those tough times are not only bearable, but much easier to overcome. That is why I came up with a list of why I am thankful for my disability!

  • I am so grateful for all the amazing people – especially other “mobile WOMEN” – that I have met due to my disability. Even though we come from different backgrounds, there is an undeniable bond that creates a deep connection.
  • My disability has taught me perseverance. My disability has taught me that there are always multiple ways to accomplish something. The perseverance to find my own best way of doing something with a positive attitude is a quality that I’m proud of. It is something that other people often comment about is lacking in people they meet.
  • My disability has taught me how to be responsible. And I had to develop that responsibly earlier than most. Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of fun in my life and live life to the fullest. But, I have unique aspects that I have to deal with daily. This includes everything from my medical care to daily maintenance of my prosthetic legs, which makes me more aware and cautious of how I take care of my body, etc.
  • Living with my disability has taught me patience. Not everything can be done quickly. Some tasks require resourcefulness, and so I grew into a “fairly patient” individual. Naturally, I am an impatient person, but when it comes to my prostheses, I have learned the value of practicing a little patience. 😉
  • I’ve learned to look beyond the initial impression of a person or a situation. Things are definitely not always what they seem!
  • My disability has taught me to be a great listener, because I understand the importance of support.
  • My disability has taught me to understand what prejudice feels like, and to be more compassionate to anyone who has faced their own discrimination. I may not be perfect with this, but I pay attention and try to be more empathetic.
  • My disability has taught me to be strong and that I am a survivor.

 

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Photo Courtesy of hrheadquaters.ie

 

I always have to remind myself that being disabled isn’t a bad thing, and I shouldn’t get upset when people call me disabled. Often we cannot change our circumstances, but we can strive to change how we deal with them. Thinking positively can be challenging but not impossible, especially if you work at it.

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Amputee-Friendly Whole Body Exercises – No Equipment Needed!

Since I am an AK on one side and a BK on the other side, I can’t do certain exercises – such as squats or lunges – without adapting some extra equipment. Of course, I can always modify and do these “more challenging” workouts either with a box or while holding on to something, but those adaptations aren’t always available. I put together a full body workout that doesn’t require any adaptive equipment. These full-body exercises move your entire body in different directions. They help you coordinate your movement patterns better and burn more calories in less time.

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You can perform such workouts without any equipment, allowing you to work out almost anywhere at any time.

A few quick things you should know before you get started:

  1. Each of these exercises will challenge your whole body, although some are designed to focus in particular on either the lower or upper body or the core.
  2. You should do each move perfectly every time. These short workouts are meant to be intense, but that doesn’t mean going as hard as you possibly can each time you work out. The idea is to work hard, but to always be able to do another rep or two. It’s all about the quality of your sessions, not the quantity.
  3. Don’t forget to cool down. If you do a small amount of stretching throughout the day, you won’t need as much of a post-workout cool down as you would if you didn’t stretch at all. Stretching is very important, regardless of when you do it, so don’t skip it.
  4. If you have health issues, like high blood pressure or injuries, you should talk to a doctor first about what moves you should avoid or modify.
  5. Stay hydrated!!
  6. Have fun!

And now: the workout:

March in Place/Run in Place – 60 sec

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Modified Jumping Jacks – 60 sec

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Modified Push-Ups with a Twist – 60 sec

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Modified Plank with Taps – 60 sec

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Swimmer – 60 sec

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Single Leg Lifts – 30 sec + 30 sec

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Side Single leg Lifts – 30 sec + 30 sec

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Supine Twist – 60 sec

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Finish with a 60 second March in Place/Run in place

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If needed, take a 10 second rest in between the exercises, but don’t wait too long. The point of this workout is to get a quick session and burn more calories!

At the very end of your workout, make sure you stretch, drink lots of liquid and enjoy a healthy post workout meal full of protein and carbs!

Finally, remember that this workout is probably not for everyone! I designed this routine because I know I can do it with my prostheses without adaptation. If it seems like it’s a tad too challenging, modify to your strengths! If it’s too easy, definitely challenge it by adding time to each exercise or add running in place in between each routine!

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If you are just starting to work out, you got this! Take one workout at a time and trust the process! Being an amputee and attempting to work out isn’t easy, but you’ll be amazed at what your body is capable of despite missing limbs!

I challenge you to join me on this workout!  Watch below.

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Knit-Rite Is More Than Just Prosthetic Socks!

As you already know, I always talk about prosthetics and amputation. Why? Well probably because this is a big part of my life, and I enjoy sharing it! And since Knit-Rite is the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of innovative prosthetic and orthotic textile products for the last 90+ years, I can relate to this topic.

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However, today I would like to introduce you – my two-legged friends – to Knit-Rite’s sister company called Therafirm! One of Knit-Rite’s missions is to improve the lives of those who use our products. That goes far beyond prosthetics and orthotics.

Therafirm is a division of Knit-Rite and a manufacturer of quality compression hosiery and socks. The true gradient compression offered in Therafirm hosiery and socks delivers a controlled amount of pressure greatest at the ankle and gradually decreases toward the top of the stocking to promote blood flow, assist in preventing swelling and provide relief for tired and achy legs. Gradient compression hosiery is ideal for anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time, frequently take long flights, pregnant women, or anyone dealing with vein issues or DVT.

Therafirm includes several brands to offer the therapeutic benefits of gradient compression to different markets. Those brands include Preggers, our maternity compression line; Core-Sport and TheraSport, for athletic compression; and GOGO, Ease and CoreSpun, for comfortable and fashionable, easy-to-wear everyday compression.

 

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Maternity compression

 

Athletic compression

 

Comfortable and fashionable compression

 

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Eeasy-to-wear everyday compression

 

Another couple Knit-Rite brands that we don’t mention on our blog very often is SmartKnit and SmartKnitKIDS. SmartKnit features a line of diabetic socks, as well as AFO and KAFO socks.  SmartKnitKIDS focuses on seamless socks and undergarments for children with sensitivity issues such as sensory processing disorder and autism.

 

 

 

 

The goal of all the brands is to make the best quality products with the intention of improving lives of those who use our products! Isn’t cool how each brand and every single one of our products helps someone with some sort of medical need.

For more information on KnitRite, Therafirm, or any of our brands, please see the links to each brand above.

You can also find many of our products, such as Therafirm, Preggers, Core-Sport, TheraSport, Ease, CoreSpun, SmartKnit diabetic, SmartKnit AFOs and SmartKnitKIDS, on Amazon.

Thanks,

Amputee Tips for the Summer Heat!

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Photo Courtesy of fbcaugusta.org

 

The official start to summer is only a few weeks away, and summer is a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. After living in the US for almost 10 years, summer has become my favorite season. And rightly so, because I am an outdoors girl. Whether it’s running, swimming, hiking, or whatever, I prefer to be outside. However, summer also means sweat, a lot of it.

Many amputees, including myself, deal with perspiration on a daily basis, and the summer months can be especially problematic. A large buildup of sweat is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause skin breakdown. I am currently dealing with this right now, because spring here in Kansas City just never happened. It went straight from cold to very hot. My skin hasn’t had time to adjust to warm temperatures, and now my skin has some heat rashes.

Here are a few options to help you battle sweat as the heat ramps up during the summer months.

If you are like me and work in the office all day, you probably don’t think about taking your prostheses off during the day. However, if you feel like there’s sweat inside the socket, take off your prosthesis. Dry your skin and liner periodically throughout the day with a clean dry towel or whenever there seems to be a buildup of sweat.

Always make sure you clean your silicone with mild antibacterial soap and warm water after wearing it all day. The same goes for your residual limbs. Make sure there’s no dirt on your silicone or skin. Sweat in the socket combined with sensitive skin can lead to bacterial infections.

While it may seem counterintuitive, keep a supply of prosthetic socks handy. As you sweat, your residual limb can reduce in size. A loose socket combined with excessive sweat can be a troublesome combination. To prevent skin breakdown, always make sure your prosthesis is fitting snugly, even when it is hot.

Practice safe skin care throughout the summer months to prevent any discomfort or infections with the skin surrounding your prosthetic device.  If you feel you are developing an infection or have any skin care questions, contact your prosthetist or your amputee friend!

I hope your summer plans include lots of outdoor activities, soaking up the summer sun! I know mine well! Happy almost summer!

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