You may not be familiar with these people, but I am.
First there is Sarah Reinertsen. She is a left, above knee amputee, who finished the grueling Ironman triathlon in October 2005.
Then comes Chad Crittenden. He is a right, below knee amputee who was in the Survivor Vanuatu series.
Now I hear there’s yet another super amp in the television series, Amazing Race.
These folks (and there are more) are noteworthy and truly exemplify the human spirit triumphing over adversity. So why do they piss me off?
Because they are constantly pointed out to me by friends and family as if to imply that an amputation ain’t nothing but a thang.
Folks, it is a big-ass thang; a really big inconvenience in my life and one that will never, ever go away.
Before I was fitted with my prosthesis, I was beset with doubts. Would I really even be able to walk with an artificial leg?
In the midst of all these unspoken fears, I had innumerable people reassure me that, “You will be fine. Why just look at that guy from Survivor.” Or, from an aunt, “My brother-in-law lost his leg to an accident, and he was walking in just three weeks. Like he’d never lost a leg.”
Well friends, it wasn’t and isn’t that easy.
You see, I’ve never been all that physical. I prefer reading, writing, and websurfing to jogging, and I always have. Don’t get me wrong, for years I’ve enjoyed camping (tent, not RV) and hiking. I’ve hiked Buzzard’s Roost, a lot of the longer trails in Hocking Hills and bits of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. But these events were maybe twice a year, not my everyday life.
I could also lose some weight. And, I’m fifty one years old.
All these factors point to someone who, when she lost her right leg, was never going to become one of those super amps. In fact, it took me an extraordinary amount of physical therapy to even be able to walk.
Now I can walk – just not that far. I know, I know, I sound just like that little old man in the wheelchair commercial. But it’s true.
Wearing the layers upon layers of stuff that constitute an arty leg wreaks havoc on my skin. Your skin can’t breathe in all that aloe-impregnated rubbery stuff. Your skin prefers to breathe, take my word for it.
I can’t jump up from a dead sleep to go pee in the middle of the night; it takes too long to don that leg. I keep a wheelchair by the bed.
And, that foot attached to the prosthesis? I am blessed to have the same “foot” as Chad Crittenden, but no matter what the hype, that thing just doesn’t flex. I can trek through my somewhat uneven yard, but I don’t see me hiking hills anytime soon.
But just so you know, I’m happy and fortunate to be here on planet earth. I’m still here with and for my daughter. I continue to look at the glass as half full.
Just don’t point out any of those super amps to me.