Next Month is Limb Loss Awareness Month. LuAnn wrote this for us last year and we felt that it would be a good thing to read it again.
April was awarded the distinction of being Limb Loss Awareness month. I have to be truthful that when I heard this I thought to myself, "How much more aware of us does the public need to be." When I was a newer amputee I felt like I had a large spot light over my head every time I went anywhere. Everywhere I went I was gawked at or asked, "What happened? Did you have an accident?" And the kids! They will just stop and stare unceasingly. How awkward is all of this. I just wanted to be normal again.
So what do you do? Take yourself back home and hide? Become angry and take it out on the ones you love? Or do you show them that you really aren't any different then you where before (except for the body part missing) and continue on with life. I choose the last option. I was determined to continue my life with making myself a new normal. This did not happen overnight but it did happen over time. I have always been very independent and wanted to remain so. I would look right back into the eyes that were staring at me and ask, "Would you like to see my leg?" Most of the time the starer does not even realize that they are starring in the manner akin to rudeness. Most are just clueless as to the modern equipment that we amputee use. After all- we are pretty amazing! I call myself a transformer on more than one occasion.
I have found that killing people with kindness is a much better way of dealing with them. Instead of giving a curt answer I just go to them and confront the issue of their lack of knowledge. It may embarrass them at first but I feel that I have helped them to understand what we are all about and maybe not be rude and stare at the next amputee they see. Children on the other hand I love their direct nature. When asked by a child what happened, I try to just turn it back to them when they see my leg is missing. I just say, "Isn't that something", when asked why I only got one leg, and say, "But look at you - you have two nice legs." It never fails that they will touch both of their legs and say, "Yeah!" and I leave it at that. I swim three times a week so my little leg gets a lot of attention. Once the questions are out of the way, they really do forget you're missing some part of you.
The one thing I found out fast as an amputee is this: being angry and mad at yourself, your body, and those that still have all their parts, is not going to make your life better. It only ruins your day and makes others what to avoid this angry, full of self-pity, and sad person. When you put a smile on your face and get back out in the world, your life will become a much better place to live in.
Blessing to you on this day - LuAnn Kleemeyer