I think the hardest thing to explain to people after an accident where limb loss occurs is how truly vulnerable you feel. There is a level of visibility associated with limb loss that is unique. Limb loss is something that you cannot hide. Your body is now on display for everyone around you to see, ask questions about, and make assumptions about. Your life is now on display without your consent. The question is; how do we embrace this? How do we regain control in an out of control situation? How do we empower ourselves?
These are all questions that I was asking myself shortly after my life was changed and I was forced to become a new person. I still struggle with these questions to this day, and I’m going to take a wild guess, but I’m pretty sure I’ll struggle with the true answers for the rest of my life. However, what I have learned is that our bodies and minds are ever evolving, and what is true today may not be tomorrow, and that the pain we feel now, whether it be mental or physical may not be there tomorrow.
Focusing on what we can control is how we become empowered. As a bi-lateral amputee I was never asked if I wanted to lose both of my legs. No one ever asked, “is it cool if you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair?” Asking what if, and why me are all things that cause cycles of waste and lead to negativity. The reason for this is there is not an answer to these questions. Therefore, we need to only present questions to ourselves that have answers. Like; “how can we improve our life circumstances?” That’s a very broad question, so let’s bring it in a little. How can we feel better on a day to day basis? Still a little broad, so let’s make our world a little smaller, and start with “what can I do today personally to make my tomorrow better?”
This is where I started. I was uncertain (and still am) of my future, and had no idea what I was going to do with my life now that I’m an amputee. With this uncertain information, I decided to focus on what I could control in that moment. I made a list of the things I could control on a day to day basis:
What I can control:
- What time I wake up
- What I have for breakfast
- My diet
- How much water I drank
- How I interact with people
- How open I am about “my story”
You can continue the list for yourself. When we make a conscious decision to narrow our thinking into manageable things, like what we have for breakfast, we start to feel a little more in control. As we become more comfortable in our new bodies, our comfort zones with our bodies evolve as do our comfort zones with our mind.
When the end goal of what we want in our life is uncertain the only way to prepare for uncertainty is with a controlled decision. If we know that we’re making the absolute best decision on a day to day basis then, whatever the end goal is we can feel confident we’ll reach it as quickly as possible.
My personal goal is to be a fully functional prosthetic user, where my prosthetics are my primary form of mobility on a day-to-day basis. 100% independence. As of right now my primary form of mobility is a wheelchair, and I’m still dealing with healing. It’s been over 1 year since my accident. I’ve been fitted with prosthetics, but have only walked with assistance for 30 min. at one time. My goals are still intact. I have no idea when I will reach my goal, but I know that with the decisions I make today, and tomorrow, and so on I will reach my end goal as soon as is humanly possible.
Today, tomorrow, and 20 years from now I will never give up.