There are lots of annoying and frustrating things about amputation, but I am only going to mention the most important ten for me.
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I am an amputee and I have been for eight years now.
It would be eight years in exactly two days. Wow!
I can’t believe it has been that long since my amputation. Sometimes it seems like yesterday.
Some days it seems like ages ago or another lifetime. And there are days I feel like I would wake up panting, sigh and realise it’s just a dream.
If only it could be a dream …
And that is the first frustrating thing about amputation, there are times you get confused or lost in it all, that you start wondering what is real and what isn’t.
The loss of your limb feels like it didn’t really happen sometimes. Or like you had two lifetimes or more and the trauma or amputation happened in one of those past lives.
This is usually the major frustration of an amputee. It can drive you crazy if you are not careful, strong or determined.
It is there and it is not there, itching, throbbing, gnawing like a missing limb. Like a ghost it never stops taunting, haunting and tormenting.
Yes, the missing limb. You live with its torment for as long as it wishes. Sometimes, it is my big toenail. It would seem as if someone is pulling off its nails with pliers.
At other times it itches and all you can do is slap, shake, pat and eventually learn to ignore.
Forgetting you are now an amputee:
Yes, it is possible. You can forget that you are missing one or two limbs sometimes. And it is cruel. I have been a victim of this many times. It never ends well.
I would forget I have only one leg left, then I’d get up in a hurry and land on my residual limb. Ouch!
No matter how well you have mastered the art of masking pain, you will howl.
It happens a lot now that I have a child. I’d get up to run to catch him or see why he screamed and I’d end up being the one screaming louder than him.
The Pity Stares:
It took me a while to get used to this, until recently though.
Whenever I’m going to a place I’ve never been before or where they have never seen me. I would practise a lot of breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth.
It is all so I don’t trip from the stares. It is worse when I get out of a car, especially if people have seen my face before I step out.
I can almost hear the ohs and ahs. The way the expressions softened or changed from admiration or interest to pity or just wow. Gosh, I hate it!
Strangers asking you personal questions about your amputation:
I can never get used to this. I always try to be calm and cool though.
Some people can’t keep in their curiosity. “Do you sleep with your prosthetics on?” I do not.
Some are blunt, like how you bath and if you crawl sometimes 🙂
And yes, I do by the way.
Most want to know how it feels to go about in artificial leg.
Mine feels as if I’m wearing a tight shoe, with my toes curled and cramped in the front and my heel pleading for an expansion. That is the best part.
Yes, you sometimes get lectures on how to live your life. It doesn’t matter if they are not amputees or never actually met one.
They read some motivational write-ups or listen to them and want you to keep going on living that way.
They have no idea that you are not always the same person you were before your limbs decided to retire untimely.
For me, I was stuck on that road, that sunny day eight years ago for a very long time.
And whenever I hear any loud noise, my head is convinced that my body is about to be mauled again.
How can you make them understand all that?
They always believe it is a switch and all you have to do is flip. They just can’t understand. They are trying to help but it is just what it is.
So, just keep it in, it keeps the lectures short.
Having lots of unused one-foot shoes or slippers:
I have so many new left shoes and slippers at home. Especially when I was new at this and still trying to get used to my new life
I bought lots of shoes, sandals, flip flops I ended up not using and lots of left feet from the ones I was able to use.
When I got tired of keeping them, I started throwing them out as soon as I got them. At first, it felt like throwing my foot away all over again.
Now, I stopped buying slippers or sandals and wearing only shoes. It’s boring but better than keeping the lot
And when I need my right leg to get wet, I wear old shoes or slippers.
Sitting to take a bath:
There are days I want to stand to bath so bad. I can stand one leg for a while but not long enough to satisfaction
And even then I keep swaying. Then I’d just realise it is not worth slipping in the bathroom. So I would do the standing in my head.
Learning new and different ways to do old things: Amputation forces you to learn everything you have ever known to do in your life all over again.
You have to start from scratch. And even though you know how to do them before, you learn again and this time, harder than you can ever imagine.
Walking, climbing, sitting, even sleeping you have to start all over. At first, I had to be contented with sleeping on my back
Because of this, I had years of sleepless night. I hated sleeping on my back. Amputation taught me to.
You must have the thickest skin ever:
Yes, you must be immune to all I have mentioned above and more.
You learn to be unaffected by all the unpleasantness that comes with amputation or learn to fake it.
Otherwise you would come off as a frustrated soul, aggressive or in need of serious therapy.
You learn to get used to the stares, strangers or even friends and families being kind to you when they don’t have to.
I hate when I know they should be angry but don’t want to be because they feel they shouldn’t.
You get used to the prying, rudeness, pity, lectures, sermons, hiding pains to make your loved ones happy.
You must keep on being strong and courageous no matter how exhausting it is. Because it is not just about you.
Some people need you to be stronger, and since you care about them. You have to keep moving, crawling, hopping and doing whatever keeps you living one day at a time.
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