Unbeknownst to me, my leg had been taking jujitsu classes without me in 2016… Nice pin though.
Another new year has come and gone and my leg has yet to grow back. Although I remain hopeful of some great new technology just over the horizon, I plan on 2017 being much like 2016, still shorter on one side. Interesting enough, even after being an AK amputee for 11 years, I was graced with a few rounds of mild depression that forced me to kick myself in the rear to keep moving forward. And even then, who knows if it wouldn’t have happened anyway with 2 legs? Other than that, I didn’t much think about being one-legged and still don’t consider myself disabled or handicapped. As a good friend once described me during a news interview, “The man still has 2 good legs, the only difference is he can take one off and put it on a shelf at night!”
So as we go in to the new year as amputees, remember to keep plowing forward and continue to set the example for others unfortunately who will become amputees this year. Make your experiences available to them and finally remember how no one will ever understand our plight unless they too are an amputee. Make 2017 great and stay safe!
For now, Ampcop is 10-7
1. No prosthesis will EVER be the same as your original body part. Find what works for you and move on with life.
2. There will ALWAYS be “new and approved”. If what you have works, then don’t change things up thinking you’ll find something even better. We call that Chasing the rainbow. When its time to refit, then try it then. But remember, changing what has worked well for you in the past can delay your life and honestly makes little sense.
3. Your leg will VERY likely change in volume during the first 1 to 3 years. You will have fit issues as your leg adapts. It is NORMAL! Bear this in mind when your frustration sets in.
4. Recovery from losing a leg will be 95% mental and 5% physical. You can’t undue what has happened so until you can accept that fact, you’ll struggle. Rule of thumb… Don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Life is short so don’t piss it away.
5. Core. Core. Core. All successful leg amputees maintain good hip and core strength. Don’t expect to be pain free if you sit on your butt and let those muscles atrophy.
6. Losing a leg did not change who you are as a person. Unless you suffered a cranial amputation, you’re not much different than before…just a little shorter on one side.
7. Pity parties are only fun for a short while. But after the festivities are over, you can’t expect people to hang around forever while you party alone. In other words, even your closest supporters will grow tired of your moaning…even if they never say a word.
8. People will look. Not nearly as much today as when I became an amputee 11 years ago, but neverthless they will. But on that note, we look at people who are different too, so what’s the difference.
9. Make your Prosthesis yours. With all the cool covers and patterns that can be built into a socket, have fun with it and customized to you. After all, it ain’t going away anytime soon so learn to like it.
10. When you do fall on dark moments because a particular day seems harder than another, go back and read tips 1 through 9 and then reset!
You’ll be fine. People will still love you. Move on with life…
Later Amp Peeps. 10-7 for now.
First of let, let me say I’m sorry that you were selected to be the one; the new guy who had to wear the stupid puke-green foam Statute of Liberty costume while spinning a sign around without purpose or dedication. Yes, at first its embarassing, you standing by your lonesome on the side of the road, dangerously close to falling forward into traffic while people stare at you; however you try to have fun and craft some dance or movement that will make you an internet sensation after a passing motorist films your misery and posts it on social media. You are, after all, knocking down $7.50 an hour to do your job. Yet, today when I saw you, I failed to find humor or entertainment in your pathetic attempt, instead I felt saddened for you and, with sympathy put myself in your shoes….
If I were you, I would think about how standing there sucked. I’d be thinking about dinner, my future, my existance, how I had to pee, beer, the people I hate working with… My idiot boss who made me do this… I probably wouldn’t last 30 minutes before I went crazy, break the sign in half over my head, toss it into traffic and then take a huge bite out of my foam Lady Liberty mask and violently spit the piece out at the windshield of a passing car. I was just flip out. “Sorry boss, I ain’t wearing this thing any longer!”, I’d tell myself. YES, my standards are low and I drink cheap beer, but I know I’m better than this and I know I can be just as successful as anyone else! I can AND I will. Then, without saying a word and without any expectation of picking up my last part-time paycheck, I pick my unders out of my butt one last time on the side of the road and I leave never to be seen again. My fate called me away, my fate called me home….
The next time you see a sign spinner on the side of the road, think of their misery and remember me…. Remember my pain. Remember my enthusiasm.
Remember my downfalls and setbacks.
Remember I drink crappy beer.
Remember it takes more than a strong bicep to aimlessly spin a sign as an occupation; it also takes a handful of Prozac and Xanny bars.
Spin on internet sensation, spin on.
Well obviously it’s gonna be another one of those nights where, after staying up on a Saturday night watching television in bed, I have yet to be visited by the sandman. Oh where art though in my time of need? Anyway… At least it’s not a weekday and I have to go to work in a few hours! So awake I lay in bed at 4:30AM doing what I do best when all is quiet and I’m admittedly somewhat bored, I reflect on my life’s travels and worry about the future. Yes, yes I know. Worrying is fruitless and a waste of time, but that’s the German in me and it probably won’t change anytime soon! But wow, I must say, the last 9 years have been anything but boring. Alot of crappy days yes, but absolutely not uneventful. Not here! Who would have thought on the day of my amputation so many years ago that I’d be feeling content with life again to the degree that I do? Sheeew, certainly not me. According to me in those days, my life was over! Finish! Done! Anyone else feel that way that fateful day? But for what it’s worth, and it’s probably good to remind myself and others, the pain and anquish that accompanied the death of our body parts did slowly fade with the passage of time. Now don’t get me wrong, I said it faded and not disappeared. I am a realist you know! It still stinks being a one-legged feller. Nevertheless, as I lay here in bed with only the glow of my X3 charger and my phone illuminating the darkness, I find myself at peace with my loss, my journey and my life. I understand the future might hold more difficult times, even if in short spurts, but for now I rest in my comfy bed, thankful for my additional time on earth and thankful that my amputation couldn’t steal my soul. Afterall, its gonna take a whole lot more than a missing leg to do that! How about you? Do you still have your old one? Your soul, I mean! Not your bodypart! As for mine, rest in peace my beloved right leg. Now let me see if I can do the same! Ugh. 10-7 Amp Cop
Every time a young child is killed in a tragedy, be it by a natural force or by an intentional hand of evil, social media posts blow up with heartfelt reminders that we need to hug our own children and appreciate the fact that we still have them with us. Yet, each day in our country, children die from violence, by unavoidable natural causes and by accident. Every day across our country, a mother softly kisses her sick child on the forehead one last time before they silently go to sleep forever. Every night, a child’s life is abruptly ended in a senseless argument that words could have resolved; alone and scared, wanting their mom, their final breath taken as they lay in a pool of blood on a dark sidewalk, lifelessly starring at the night sky. Each day, our children are killed in careless vehicle accidents and in senseless suicides. Every day people die. And every moment a child dies, parents become lifeless themselves as a gapping hole is impaled through their heart that will never heal. And if you are a parent reading this, you know that it doesn’t matter if your child is eight years old or 38 years old, if our children pass before we do, the pain will feel is the same at any age. So really it seems, any time anyone dies, a child always dies. Then I wonder…
Why does it take death to remind us about life?
It could happen to any of us. Appreciate.
I’ve met a lot of people from all kinds of places around the world, and the more people I meet the more I get asked about what happened to me? And its not because of my mental state or some of the things I post on here that lead to that question! That being said, I think most of us amps have been the victim of at least one rude stranger with absolutely no interpersonal skills or tact, that blindly appear out of no where and asks what happened? And all depending on how well our prosthesis is fitting that day or how we feel about ourselves at that particular time, and how many people have already pointed and stared for the day, will dictate the answer some people get. That being said, small children and really old people are fair game and I will never be an ass to either one of those sectors of society. I figured, with kids, explaining what happened to me and talking to them about my accident and prosthesis could potentially lessen or even eliminate the stigma attached to being an amp. And with old people? I figured, with age their tact filters are all worn out and they are going to ask. Here is an excerpt from my book tilted, The Serious Business of Laughing at Life about the three weeks after my accident when I had to live in a nursing home.
…As I learned to get out of bed and into my wheelchair with minimal help, I started traveling the halls of the nursing home meeting new faces. The first day or so, most of the residence stared at me before gathering the courage to ask what I was doing there. When they finally got around to it, they used little tact and came right out with a, “What are you doing here?” or “What happened to you?” I laughed every time because they never beat around the bush. In their minds, time was of the essence, I guess. Initially I answered their inquiry with the long version of my story, thinking I had a great tale to tell, but after one resident fell asleep during my story, I started telling them, “I had a wreck” And kept the explanation to a minimum. Then that usually was enough for them before they got bored. Besides, I knew they had hundreds of experiences I could only read about in history books, I wasn’t going to impress them with a motorcycle wreck. The stories they had were about fighting the Germans during War World II and starving during the Great Depression, participating in the civil rights marches and watching Kennedy’s assassination. Mine? I hit a tree. I couldn’t compete.
During my second week at Mount Holly, I took the opportunity to meet some of the residence and spent many hours listening to stories about grandchildren, their deceased spouses and the favorite pet they once had. Usually they put their trembling hand on my arm as they spoke. Many carried around tattered and faded pictures of their family, ready to show anyone who cared to take the time. Like a pro-athlete from days past, they relived their life through their stories, just like it happened yesterday; sometimes they cried, most times they laughed. But as I sat there, admittedly sometimes bored listening to their stories, I couldn’t help to wonder if their family still came to visit or if we spoke of people who long ago forgot about them as they lived out their final days stashed away in the confines of the nursing home. They truly were part of a great generation.
Having that three week experience in the nursing home taught me that, sometimes people mean no harm in asking what happened. The elderly especially. Have I been rude back to people my own age who knew better? Yes I have, and it was on one of those days I wasn’t feeling good about myself. Was it right, no. Did I look like another bitter amputee, yes? How you respond to that question will be up to you, but what I learned is, if you kind of have some idea of what you are going to say when the question arises, you’ll feel less stressed, help show the world that we are normal people too and the encounter will end quicker is you want it to.
Last, I know of two new members to our elite amp club over the last two weeks who are going through the same doubts most of us had in the beginning. Keep them in our thoughts and stick together for each other.
Also, my book is available on amazon.com on in hard copy and e-books and my funny amputee t-shirt store is up and running at cafepress.com/thefunnyamputee
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.