Because sometimes you’re force to operate with a tight advertising budget… This has been another episode of, Funny Pictures in the Hood
Me Ground Fighting Just Like Before my Amputation.
Good morning to my entire family of amp peeps around the world! I hope your weekend has been great and you’ve managed to laugh a little along the way! I also hope you’ve been able to laugh at yourself too. That being said, as a public service announcement for everyone, when you do something really embarrassing or stupid and you exaggerate and over-do the laugh, like a female hyena in heat, everyone will know you’re faking and it defeats the entire purpose of laughing. Excessive attention WILL be drawn thus accentuating said embarrassment. Avoid the over-laugh. That being said, it’s often OK to laugh at people we are not fond of, AKA don’t like, such as a boss or that damned lady who lets her yappy fur ball crap in my yard EVERYTIME she walks past! Hopefully she will slip just a little for my entertainment! And when that happens, I’m going to open my window and laugh through a bullhorn! Anyway… Find time to laugh at Life.
Now, in the secret and mysterious world of amputees, we contend with an entire dictionary of labels and names that we struggle to identify with. There are the more politically correct names such as disabled, disability, handicapped, physically challenged, impaired and incapacitated, which are all used in circles that include white-collared professions such as doctors, psychologists, therapist, lawyers, and professors. It has also been my experience that any time someone is using these terms, they either have all their arms and legs or they really bum me out by feeling sorry for themselves because they don’t. You know what I mean too! How many times have you said to yourself as you are being lectured by a four-appendage professional, “You are an idiot with no freaking clue what it’s like to be an amputee! (And if you’re really deranged, you might continue the thought with…) Furthermore, I would kill you and bury your limp corpse under my garden if you weren’t the most qualified person in town who can help me!!!” You know what I mean too! Nevertheless, they lecture and talk and blah, blah, blah like they know. Oh, and then they make us want to kill them a second time by trying to relate your amputation pains and trials to having a gall stone or giving birth. HA! All together my amp brothers and sisters, “YOU’RE AN IDIOT!” That’s like me telling my wife I know what it’s like to push an 8 inch sphere out of my hoo-ha! That’s when my wife says, “Kevin, YOU’RE AN IDIOT!”
Now, if you have been an amputee for any amount of time and you have grown to loathe those nasty white-collar names I mentioned above, it has been my observation that most of us settle on something that best describes who we really are in life and that name which focuses less on our missing body part. For example, I call myself the Ampcop or a one-legged dude while a good friend of mine calls me Robo-bro. A dear man who was an AKA that helped mentor me called himself the One-Legged Pig Farmer. Another friend of mine who writes his own blog is called The ProstheticMedic. And another who is a bilateral BKA is Two-Feet Shorter…literally. Then you have the catch-all names that most of us use such as gimpy, one-legged, broke, amp, hop-a-long, and the one-sided nose pickers. Furthermore, I don’t like using the term amputee because of its connotations. I use amp or one-legged.
SO, where am I going with this? This… I will always prefer the second group of labels and here’s why. Look up the word handicap. The meaning according the Webster’s Dictionary is a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult. Huh? Nope doesn’t fit me in the least. Actually it doesn’t fit anyone I know that is an active amp. We all achieve what were going after and have no more or less difficulty as a two arm and leg feller. Now, if you’re afraid of hard work and not willing to try, maybe you are handicapped, but I don’t call myself that. Hell, I don’t even park in handicap parking spaces at stores. I’m not handicap, so why would I? I can walk just fine far distances. Now look up the world disability. Again, according to Webster’s Dictionary, the word disability means a condition such as an illness or injury (yep, got that part) that damages or limits a person’s physical or mental abilities. That damaged my ability? I pretty much do everything I WANT to do now as I did before my amputation. And I wasn’t good at being a ballerina before my surgery so I probably won’t look good in a tu-tu now. Just saying! And as far as I’m concern, my getting older is more of a disability than missing a leg.
OK, what about the other parts of the definition? It goes on to define disability as the condition of being able to do things in the normal way; the condition of being disabled. The NORMAL way? What is the normal way you ask? Well, Mr. Webster’s definition of normal is usual or ordinary: not strange AND mentally and physically healthy. So I ask, usual and ordinary to what or whom? The strange part? OK I might have that, but that alone doesn’t make me disabled. As far as I’m concerned there are only two normal things that really matter to all people alike, 1) how we take in a breathe and 2) how our heart pumps blood. Pretty much everything else is up to interpretation. And mentally and physical healthy? OK, again the mental health issue trumps my argument there, but who is ALWAYS 100% healthy anyway? So maybe normal is not a permanent state. Huh?
So what’s in a label? I guess it depends on how you see yourself. Do you think you fit either one of the definitions I discussed? I sure as hell don’t think I do! The real talk here is this, as amputees we are only as handicapped or disabled or impaired as we allow ourselves to be. Simply missing flesh and bone doesn’t rise to the definition by itself. To be those ugly white-collar labels, we have to do something more, like give up or not try, or crawl into a corner to die. Besides, every person on earth has a handicap or disability according to the definitions we discussed. So why accentuate yours? Yes, your amputation is a part of you forever, buts when’s the last time you called you mom your non-amputee mother? Think about that. Peace out my peeps. Until the next time, get to hopping.
This week I am attending the annual in-service training for my department and this year it is more about revisiting the old tactics that I learned 15 years ago in the academy. Yesterday about killed me as one Powerpoint presentation after another was presented to us as the instructors read the material directly from the big screen. ZZZZZZZ. There was a reason they told us we could keep our guns in the car!
Anyway, fortunately this morning things greatly improved as we reviewed such topics as baton striking and control techniques on punching bags at half speed. Of course that leant itself to everyone acting goofy and improvising tactics. What the hell though, police work is about thinking on the fly and fitting square pegs into round holes. We also watched a video of something I’m not sure of what because the commentators voice was monotone and the video was outdated and my coffee hadn’t kicked in. A good refresher and all but admittedly boring. However this afternoon after lunch my group met on the mats downstairs in the hand to hand combat room and the day was revived as we got the chance to roll around on the ground in order to learn defensive tactics and counter-strikes. Like always, I was told I didn’t have to participate because of my leg, but what the hell, I wasn’t going to learn anything by just watching, so I declined. Yes, I had to go to the bathroom twice to remove my socket to dry off my stump, and yes I got air in it once and the thing about flew off and yes, there obviously was a young cop that didn’t know I was an amputee, so after my pant leg slid up when I got tossed his eyes were as wide as saucers, but I learned alot and still felt like part of my group. And yes, I’m making this blog fast because I have to do some time on my treadmill.
In short, I just wanted to share my day and this thought… Just because you’re missing a part now doesn’t mean you have to give up doing something you loved before. Look online and you will quickly find a hundred examples of people who are just like you and me and who still enjoy their passions. And they have no special powers. They only have the desire to live life and they’re not afraid to fail. Lord knows, since i’ve been an amp, i’ve failed plenty!! And I expect that I will fail some more. But isn’t that a heck of a lot better than failing because I never tried? I think so. Today, could I have opted to not participate even though I knew my leg would get sweaty and knew I might get air in my suction socket? Yes, very easily and no one would have said a word. Hell, I even knew I faced the possibility of having something embarassing happen. I actually expected it! But you know what, to hell with it… To hell with anyone that had a problem with it. And as it turned out, everyone was helpful as I figured out how to adapt to the moves. They didnt see a one-legged cop. They saw a person that was trying. And for me, today was about overcoming fears that go along with being an amputee. Another successful day!
Peace out until another time. Be safe and keep your stump dry.
That awkward moment tonight, 11 years after my accident when I first wondered if I had on clean underwear the day I crashed. People, this is real stuff and not just something your mom says to make you change your draws… For real, change your undies daily. It could happen to you.
Peace out and good night
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled, What to do When Your Prosthesis Doesn’t Fit. If you didn’t catch it or need a refresher, follow the link below.
In that post I emphasized the fact that you as an amp must take responsibility as the guardian of your own treatment and act as your number one advocate. That includes letting it be known you are not satisfied and firing prosthetists if you are getting ignored or if you think your interactions, or lack of, have risen to that level. With today’s technology, which is getting better every year, unless you have collateral issues such as stump problems or circulatory complications that disallow you to wear your prosthesis, most of us should be up and at least walking. A good fitting socket is the key. Also, we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to our amp community to let others know about those prosthesis companies that do a sad job of responding. Together we must stick together and make our experiences public. Look at it as an amp public service announcement! I’ll do more with this and all you’re help in the near future. THAT BEING SAID.
If you are the one-in-a-million who can run unassisted out of your prosthesis office the first day after getting your new robot part, and do it without tripping and NEVER have a single complication from that time forward, considered yourself as one with Mother Teresa or Gandhi or anyone else who has moved the world to be a better place. Then gather that knowledge and become a ga-zillionaire teaching other prosthetist and amputees around the world! AMEN! And stop reading now, for I am a mortal and will learn from you, oh great one…….BUT, if your not, keep reading.
RARELY will you walk out that door with that type of success the first time around. Maybe even the first 5 times around. However, if your prosthesis guy or gal is listening to you and making the necessary adjustments and following up in a timely manner, you WILL successfully walk out that door at some point. Here’s the kicker, and it kind of goes back to my blog about how being an amputee can suck therefore we must recognize it and move on,
NO PROSTHESIS OF ANY KIND WILL HELP US AMBULATE OR FUNCTION AS WELL AS OUR BODY DID BEFORE WE LOST OUR BELOVED PART!
Now, read that bold sentence 100 more times. Now, realize that THAT is our reality! However, a good prosthesis should help us do most of 95% of our daily functions just like before if we are willing to put in a little time figuring out how to rework the way we do things. No, activities wont be the same, but you can relearn how to do things. Along with the fact that it will not function EXACTLY like our real body part, remember our body is biological and a prosthesis is mechanical in nature. The machine is less likely to be more sensative than our limbs. So throughout the day as you wear your prosthesis, it will be normal for fluid retention in your stump to change thus changing the fit of your Prosthesis. And even that issue is being addressed by new technology as well. As we pound away on our stump throughout the day and as we lose or gain fluid in our limb, it might just start hurting or might become so sweaty that we have to take it off, dry it out and refit it again to carry on. I once wore my leg for 32 hours when I was working a case as a homicide detective. I assure you I made two trips to the bathroom to dry off sweat and readjust a trapped air pocket that was pulling a hicky larger than any found on a teenagers neck! And as I grew tired, I limped a little more. BUT it sure beat the hell out of not being there working a cool homicide scene that most only see on TV! You got to learn to deal with little issues along the way.
The other part of the whole success equation when it comes to being an amputee is the strength of our bodies. Now most people see me or an Ottobock video of me and immediately start player-hating by saying I got along so well because I’m a big muscular guy with a strong core. And you are right. Today I get along well because I spend time in a gym and wear out a treadmill working my hip flexors. I also concentrate on walking correctly. Yes, I was a bodybuilder before my accident and I exercise today, but after my accident, I lay in an ICU for two months where I lost 55 pounds of muscle. After that, I didn’t walk unassisted for 2.5 years. After I had my amputation 2.5 years after my accident, I was a fat out of shape man with atrophy throughout my entire body. I literally could not lift 5 pounds. Compare that to my best lift on bench press where I pressed 247 pounds 26 times, trust me I wanted to give up when I started back. What I’m trying to say is this, the prosthesis will also not replace the muscle we lost completely so we have to work hard, maybe like never before, if we want to use our prosthesis to our full potential. All that is required is some willpower and time. THAT, you can influence.
In short, will our prosthesis completely replace our original limb? Absolutely not. Will our prosthesis feel exactly like it did when we had our limb? Absolutely not. And will our prosthesis make up for the lost muscle we have? Absolutely not. Hopefully you figured out that last answer on your own! These are the norms of all amputees to some degree or another. This is just one of those things you have to accept and move on. Should you accept a ton of misery and pain? No. But if you have a little discomfort after wearing it for 8 hours or so, then that is normal. Our challenge is getting back to as close as we were in life before our amputation WHILE enduring the hardships of wearing a prosthesis. Most amps do it everyday. You can do it to! Just never give up. Never let Life win! Peace out my amp brothers and sisters, until next time. AMPS ROCK!