Welcome to Anne's blog!
Well, hello again! When last we met, I let you know that I was going to try to join in with the rest of society and stay awake during daylight hours. That didn’t last long. The day after my appointment with Dr. Hutson, I woke up with Doug and the girls around 7:00 am and stayed awake all day until they all went to bed around 9:00 pm. It wasn’t pretty. I kept myself busy during the day visiting my prosthetist, bringing my car in for some routine maintenance, writing some thank you cards, etc. etc. However, by the time the kids came home, I was feeling very ornery and in need of some shut-eye. By the end of the evening, we all agreed that I was either going to have to move out of the house and live a solitary life watching a lot of cable TV and learning to knit, OR get at least 5 hours of sleep during the day. That night, I slept through the night and allowed myself to sleep in until about 11 am. That is now my new routine and it is keeping all of us very happy.
Dad and I went to visit my prosthetist and he taught me how to wrap my shorter leg with an ace bandage (my official shrinker sock needed to be ordered). The method of wrapping makes my leg look like a flesh colored loaf of braided bread—all for the purpose of slowly shrinking my limb. Very cool.
In my search for a prosthetist and a physical therapist, I spent a lot of time last week talking with amputees. Good grief—such happy people. Literally—any one of these people would drop everything to help me out. They have lived what I am going through right now and they are so eager to give me whatever advice I need. One guy is helping me navigate through the process of driving left footed (legally), while another woman is sharing her experience with different types of prosthetic feet. Some themes seem to come up a lot . . .
1) Most have a certain amount of regret about pushing to get into their prosthetic too soon. Everyone is encouraging me to wait until my doctor is extremely sure that my limb is ready for a prosthetic. So many of them talk about the pain, sores, and other issues they dealt with because of their insistence to get fit with their first leg. Good to know.
2) Along the same lines, they all caution me to release the feeling that you have something to prove once you get your first leg. They all felt this pressure to let everyone know that they were OK and functioning “just like before the accident” with their new leg. They all said to be sure to start off slow. Your body will thank you for it.
3) They all admit that there are struggles with being an amputee. Whether it is phantom pain, soreness at the end of the day, the stigma of being “different”, or keeping up with the maintenance of socks, liners, leg, etc.—they all quietly confide that the appearance of being “normal” does come with a certain amount of physical/emotional pain. HOWEVER, what they all share is an effervescent, absolutely unstoppable, completely contagious and inspirational LOVE OF LIFE. They are all SO GRATEFUL to be up and moving again—and so appreciative of the parts of their body that work perfectly (without assistance). It is almost as if the loss of one body part has made the other parts seem all the more precious and valuable. And that alone is reason to CELEBRATE!
It almost makes me wonder if the process of losing a limb brings you to a crossroads of either jumping in and embracing the experience—or just fading back and letting it define you. There is a woman across the street from me who is missing an arm. I have never seen her leave her house—in fact the only time I ever see her is when she takes her cat outside for a little while. I don’t know how she lost her arm, but did the experience change her? Was she always quiet and secluded? Or is she just embarrassed to be seen?
There is definitely something to going out in public with a missing limb. I am already used to getting a lot of stares because of my scooter. But the stares I get now are very different. You can almost hear the collective, “Ahhh . . .” when I move around on my crutches. It is hard to tell if people pity you, are repulsed, interested, intrigued—so you are tempted to work really hard to exude this vibe of “I am totally OK with this and am so stinking happy to be an amputee.” I think that would become tiring to keep that up forever.
So instead, I am choosing to take the perspective that the average person is good, honest, well intentioned, and a bit curious. I can remember when a woman in our church had her big toe amputated. I SO wanted to look at her feet just to see what that looked like, but I didn’t want to get caught looking. Did I pity her? No. Did I feel bad for what she had experienced to reach the point of amputation? Yes. Was I dying to really look at her foot up close? Absolutely. Once I looked, would I need to look at it again? Not really. But most of all—did I think that she was any different now from when she was a ten-toed woman? Not at all. She was still the amazingly talented, beautiful, and interesting mother of two that she was before she lost her toe. No big deal—move on.
So—I invite people to look. Be curious. And I don’t have to put on a big show that I am OK. I am OK. I am just fine—I just don’t have two feet anymore. And if people pity me, I guess I would just hope that eventually they would realize that there isn’t any need to feel pity for me. I am still the same me--just a little shorter on one side. I hope that as I transition back to going to work, driving around, being out, etc.--that I don’t lose that feeling.
My biggest inspiration is a little girl in one of my Art classes who was born without her lower arm. Believe me, when you are five, you are surrounded by other five year olds who are all too eager to point out that you are missing a left hand. But she lives life without apology. I don’t care what project we are working on; she comes up with a way to do it in her own way.
It would be so easy to say, “Oh, look at that poor little girl who has to live like that.” But what a waste of breath! Poor little girl? There is nothing poor about her. She is more amazing, more admired, more inspirational, and more beautiful simply because of having one hand. When a boy came up to her recently and said, “Your arm looks weird.”—She looked at him like he was an absolute idiot (you really should have seen her standing there with her hand on her hip) and said, “I was born this way. God made me just the way He wanted to.”
She lives this verse to the fullest: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
I may not have been created by God with one foot, but circumstances have led me to this point. I need to have the quiet confidence that I am still wonderfully made. I am not something that is gross, or repulsive, or embarrassing—just a little different. And I still believe to my core that I am already better for it.
Anyway—those are just a few things I have been thinking about.
I feel so blessed that things are just progressing along beautifully—no drama, no late-night emergencies, no draining liquids—just a nice, healing leg and a sleepy lady.
I love and appreciate all of you so much—
Howdy, friends! Dad and I took a little drive down to University of Miami again today to visit Dr. Hutson to see how the old "shorter leg" was doing. Turns out the incision site is healed and INFECTION FREE! Never thought those words would be used so often together with the mention of MY body!