The end of September is a tragic and yet special day for me. It is the day that marks the four-year anniversary of me walking on my own real legs for the last time. This isn’t, of course, the day I lost my limbs, but the day I was brought into a hospital, died, and was then resuscitated into a nearly three week coma.
I honestly don’t know the exact days that I lost my limbs. I know the first week of November is around the time my fingers were taken, and a little over a week later my legs were taken. I have never learned the exact date, and I guess I don’t really care to know. So the day I concentrate on is the day I last used my “factory original equipment.”
No matter how you mark the date, from your illness or accident, or your “ampuversary,” the day surely brings back both good memories and bad for you. Tragedies and triumphs pain and joy. My day has been a day filled with reflection. I look back on my life before my illness that took my legs and fingers and see a life filled with a corporate rat race, barely seeing my son, and constant fire, rescue, and ambulance runs.
I was a busy guy, and out to make the almighty dollar. I loved my son and my family, but I sometimes put that all in the back seat to let my chase up a corporate ladder and a salary take the wheel of my life.
Now, since the illness, I no longer work. I spend a lot more time at home. I get to see my son on nearly a daily basis, and I really feel like I get a chance to slow down and be a better father to him than I ever got to be before. At his age of nearly nineteen, I see this as a huge boon for me. I have no distractions from listening to what he has to say, and what kind of plans he has for his life, and I have time to really think and ponder before giving him advice.
Since the illness as well I have had a chance to train in my beloved Jiu Jitsu much more, and get to travel and get on the mat with some amazing practitioners of the art. If I want to sleep in until 9 am I can, and if I feel like binging on just one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix when it is one o’clock in the morning I know I can, because there is no job to get up for in the morning.
My life before and after my illness is near polar opposite. Before it seems I concentrated on doing things more for others, and after it seems like I have more time for me and mine. Losing my limbs was a life-changing event, and it changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined. We all get asked eventually if we could have our limbs back, “would you want them?” My answer is of course, YES! But, I wouldn’t have them back without the insight into my own life that losing my limbs has given me. The insight that a big salary and a company car aren’t everything, and that you should enjoy the life you are in, not work hard in the hopes that you might enjoy your life later!
What has losing your limbs taught you about the way you lived your life before? Did you slow down, speed up, or have no change? Drop me a line on the Abled Amputee Facebook page and let me know.
B Neil Brown