When I spoke with AIM patient, Fran, about her experience as an amputee, one of the first things she expressed to me was her wish to find representation online of people like her, people who are doing their best to adjust to having a prosthesis, but still cannot walk very long or very far. She wanted to hear from a community of people who still heavily rely on their wheelchairs and walking aids. She stated, “I want advice from people who were not out running marathons before becoming an amputee”. On support group pages and online resources, it’s easy to find stories of amputees who are incredibly active on their prosthetics. These amputees are wonderful examples of how a prosthetic device can aid in creating as normal a life as possible for those who wish to be active, and those who have the capability to do so.
The reality is that not all amputees are going to be able to become Olympic level athletes with their prosthesis. In Fran’s words, “I am not an Olympian”. For many, being able to get their leg on and get through the day is a huge success, and rightfully so! Managing life with any kind of disability is hard. Prosthetics are a tool to make maneuvering limb loss easier. As wonderful as prosthetic devices are, their existence in our lives can also be hurdles to jump through every morning. Fran mentioned, “Some days, getting my prosthetic on is the hardest part of my day”. I can sympathize completely. I have had days, more frequently in the beginning, that I would sit and stare at my prosthetic for a while before I could manage the strength to put it on. I still have those days. Making the decision every day to put on the prosthetic is so difficult when being mobile itself is even more so.
If you feel “behind” or as if you are doing something wrong because you are not as active as you were prior to using a prosthesis, or as if you are not progressing as you should, shove these thoughts aside. Your best effort is your best. The cliché truth is that everyone is different.
For me? My biggest goal is to be able to hike again with little to no pain. Every time I make any kind of headway with this, I feel like I take two steps back. BUT, in this picture, I had just successfully completed a quarter mile trail at Natural Bridge State Park. Being used to 4-5 mile hikes before losing my leg, I was originally disappointed in myself for not going further. After sitting with it for a while, I was proud of my accomplishment! Baby steps, people.