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What are the best, most useful things that amputees need?
Amputee stories are always so inspiring. As a quad amputee, I read them to search for ideas. I’m looking for tips and tricks for successful living when you don’t have hands and feet. Well I’ve been an amputee now for 9 years. I now have my own ways of doing things.
You might wonder how a woman without hands and feet gets through her day. What tools or resources do I need as a quad amputee that have been helpful over the years? What questions do you have about amputee life? This is my list of the things amputees need, and so much more. I’m throwing in the answers to a bunch of your questions. I hope this post sparks some ideas for your own situation.
Things amputees need
This list has more than just a few items to buy at the store. These are my best resources for amputees that I personally use and recommend. I’ll be weaving my own amputee stories in and out, to show you how I implement these tools for amputees. May these resources be a blessing to you.
Not too long after the surgeries that removed my hands and feet, I had a very distinct memory. I was lying in my hospital bed. I had been in a coma for three weeks and was now a quadruple amputee. You can get all the gory details in my story, but this was all due to a flesh-eating bacteria.
So there I am, wondering “what am I gonna do now?” The very next thing I did was pray. I recalled my go-to Bible verse for when I need help, Proverbs 3:5-6. As I had so many times since I accepted Jesus as my Savior 20 years earlier, I talked to God, through His Son, my Savior.
Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Having a personal relationship with the Lord, gives you the peace, courage and strength that you need to get through major life changes like living with amputation. I couldn’t imagine enduring this crazy life without God. That’s why He is at the top of my list of things amputees need.
A great support system
Families, friends and church families are a necessary help for amputees. Take them up on their offers to help. Caring for an amputee takes teamwork. This is no longer time for pride or modesty. Especially if you have a recent amputation and haven’t yet developed a routine.
For example, as a quad amputee, I need help caring for some of my personal needs. My family is great at brainstorming ideas to simplify things. My awesome husband steps in to help me with all the dirty work, like showering. And we’ve created a system that looks like I live a life of ease. I have no idea what I would do without them.
I realize that we all may not have several family members close by to help weather the storm. So use your resources. Reach out to your friends and church family. Does your town have a community caregivers program? Use your doctors and prosthetists as a resource for amputee support.
How can I help an amputee?
It’s only natural to reach out and offer whatever you can to a new amputee. Amputee support comes in all different forms. Losing a limb changes your life. It means you have to change your whole system of doing things.
Cooking, housework, parenting, pretty much everything we do, all becomes more challenging. So if you’re looking to help someone who is an amputee, think about where you would need the most help if the situation was reversed. Even a phone call or a visit is a great help. There’s such a great tendency to dwell on what hurts the most. So anything you do, will take their minds off the situation.
As for conversation, get rid of the elephant in the room and ask about their amputation. Ask how they’re doing. Most people are afraid to talk about the amputation story. Well why not? You’re not hurting our feelings. If you’re curious, ask.
Personally, it warms my heart to give the gory details to friends who are curious. Because when you respond with wonder and inspiration, I feel thankful for the wonderful grace of God. I feel like, “yup, He saved my life and I am a survivor.” I can do this thing. I’m going to be all right. It’s a weird response to “how many stitches did you get?” But that’s how I roll.
More resources for amputees
The Amputee Coalition, is a tremendous limb loss information and help for amputees. If you’re interested in more amputee stories, check out the Amputee Coalition’s Amplify Stories. Dozens and dozens of stories by people just like me. Here’s my story on their site. I recommend that you share your story on there as well. You never know who’s life you’ll touch.
By the way, while you’re on their site, be sure to sign up for their free InMotion Magazine subscription. It’s another resource in the things amputees need, list.
Where would we be without our guidebook for life? I have always used the King James Version of the Holy Bible. As I mentioned my favorite Scripture earlier, reading, memorizing and studying God’s Word enables you to recall promises and rules so that when you really need that comfort, you’ve got it readily available.
Whether you read the Word, do a Bible Study, like Praying the Promises of the Cross, or a quick devotional, any time that you devote to learning about the Lord is time well spent. This is God’s instruction manual for living. If you don’t know what’s in it, how can you live successfully by what God expects of you? These Bible study methods can help you find the best study method that works best for you.
When you’re struggling with pain or sadness due to your amputations, seek out some comforting Scriptures. Whether it’s Bible verses about overcoming struggles or faith and trust, everything you need. It’s in there. So please, seek the Lord. He’s always there, anytime and every time you need Him.
Now, we’re down to the physical tools. My stylus is the single most effective tool that I have in my things amputees need arsenal. I can text, type, turn pages in a book, dial the phone, change the channel on the TV and pretty much anything you can think of along those lines. My stylus is strapped to my wrist and that’s how I can do all of these things.
You can buy styluses practically anywhere, (I like this brand.) But to hold it on, I chose something called a Utensil Holder. Normally the utensil holder holds a spoon or fork. But 99% of the time that I use it, I have a stylus in there. I have also used the utensil holder for a pen, and even a paintbrush. (Please forgive me for the painting blog post. My blog was only about a month old-Eek! How far I’ve come!)
Super snazzy legs
The stylus and my legs are both critical to a successfully productive day. But prosthetic legs are probably the most useful items for leg amputees. Adaptive equipment for leg amputees come in all shapes and sizes. For all the juicy details on the process for getting new legs, head over to Life After Leg Amputation: 5 Things to Know About Prosthetic Legs.
My husband puts my legs on first thing in the morning and they stay on until bedtime. Most of the time I never even think about them. I think most folks have more questions on the legs, so let’s dig into those now.
Can you walk normally with a prosthetic leg?
Walking with prosthetic legs is like walking on stilts. It’s a balancing act. But it really didn’t take me very long to figure things out. The first time I stepped into my bilateral amputee legs, they hurt. It’s advised that you start slow and build up the time you spend in your legs. If they hurt after you learn to use them, take them off. Even a tiny sore could get you back in that wheelchair. So don’t risk it.
Once you get your balance then yes, you can absolutely walk normally in prosthetic legs. Like I mentioned, they are some of the most useful items for leg amputees. In fact, if I have long pants on, you wouldn’t even be able to tell by my walk that I am a bilateral amputee in my legs. Sometimes, I feel guilty parking in a handicap parking place and when I’m with my kids, they always park farther away.
Also, when you’re a bilateral leg amputee, standing still is the hard part. Think about all the muscles that are involved in holding you steady and keeping you upright. They are working overtime when you’re standing still. I usually hold onto something, just to make standing still easier.
Check out my super snazzy legs with the butterfly tattoos.
Can right leg amputees drive?
Yes, I can drive, absolutely. In the early days, I had some adaptive equipment for amputees put on my car so that I can open doors, windows and get the seatbelts on and off. But there’s no enhancement to my car for the pedals.
I drive just like you do, except I can’t feel the pedals. I have to rely on the speedometer to make sure I’m keeping up. Although, if I’m singing my lungs out to the radio and not paying attention to my speed, I have been known to go down to 35 mph in a 50 because I can’t feel the pedals. Oops!
Can you shower with a prosthetic leg?
I believe you can, as long as you have strong covers. My legs are battery powered hydraulics. I reaaaalllly don’t want to get them wet. So I sit on a shower bench and my husband takes my legs off before I shower. Yes, these legs are expensive, so I don’t want to risk it. Also, it’s a long process (months) to get new ones and insurance only pays for 1 pair every five years and you have to fight to get them. So I would highly recommend no to the question, can you shower with a prosthetic leg?
An easy way to do laptop work
As a blogger, I use two types of tools to run my business. My cell phone and my Samsung Chromebook 3. My kids bought this notebook for me right after I started blogging and it has been a wonderful, lightweight option that I can manage easily. It’s got everything I need to run a blog.
Although, my stylus doesn’t work very well on my Chromebook, so I have a really cool mouse called the Kensington Expert Trackball Mouse. It has a 55mm ball (2.17 inches) and for someone without hands, this is a really great piece of adaptive equipment for arm amputees. It comes wired or wireless. But I cannot use my Chromebook without it.
Do you need more resources for amputees? Grab this free Ebook called Amputee Resources. It’s filled with tips, freebies, and useful items to help you cope as an amputee.
Moving on to the secrets of personal care. The very best adaptive equipment for toileting is a bidet. I believe they are becoming more and more popular. And for someone without hands, the bidet is a Godsend. This incredible invention keeps me clean when my arms are too short to care for myself when I’m using the toilet.
My elongated warm water bidet toilet seat is by Kohler. It has a quiet close lid, automatic deodorization, adjustable water temperature, nightlight, heated seat and a warm air dryer. Plus it has a remote that I can work with my elbows (if you can imagine.)
Thanks to the generosity of friends, this was just one of the many kind things that others did for us, while I was in the hospital. While my particular model is pricey, my sister bought a great one for when I visit for a fraction of the price. I’m telling you, it’s a bit awkward at first. But once you bring this piece of adaptive equipment for toileting, aka a bidet, into your home, you’ll love it as much as I do, with or without arms.
The cell phone
I use my Samsung Galaxy S8 for EVERYTHING! I would be lost if I couldn’t text my family but especially my kids when they live far away. All of our kids are currently living in a different time zone.
I also run my blog on my phone. I have my cell phone velcroed to this universal hand clip. I stretch the clip out so it fits over my forearm. And voila! The phone goes on my left arm, the stylus on my right and I am in business.
I have every app that I need right on my phone, including Google Docs, where I do all my writing. Once a post is ready for publishing, I copy and paste it into WordPress. A little formatting, add some images and tah dah, a blog post is born. I can even create my images on my phone. Plus, I can do all my social media from my phone as well. Who knew 20 years ago, that a business could be run on a cell phone? Amazing!
My favorite app
One of my favorite apps is Trello. I’ve always been an avid note taker and list maker. Without hands, that becomes nearly impossible. With my stylus and this free management tool, I can do practically anything. Plus I can create lots of boards and lists for everything I need. Now my whole system of organization is all in one place. I am absolutely in love with Trello. If you’re a list-maker, you owe it to yourself to check it out, it’s free. And if you get started and need help, let me know. I’ve got some great resources for you.
An arm brace for eating
Before my prosthetist made my arm brace, I was at the mercy of others to feed me. As kind as people are, it’s frustrating to be fed by others. Even now, if the chips and dip are out, it’s not uncommon for people to offer me a chip. You have to be pretty humble to take one. Life as a quad amputee is a struggle, regularly. So with my eating brace, I can use a fork or spoon. Independence is great. I still need someone to cut my food but I can feed myself now.
This is a great piece of adaptive equipment for eating, but it needs to be made by your prosthetist. It’s not something that you can buy online. The cuff is held on with velcro. And the silverware is weighted and it swivels so food doesn’t fall off. I wish I could give you more details. But here is a picture.
An electric toothbrush
Similar to having someone else feed you, having someone brush your teeth is even worse. When I was still in the hospital, a friend gave me this wonderful gift. I’m able to hold it with my wrists put together but it does a great job. Combine that with a flosser and I’ve got a healthy mouth.
The toothbrush I have now is the Philips Sonicare 4100 Rechargeable Toothbrush. It works great and it’s easy to turn on and off. I’ve been using an electric toothbrush ever since my illness and my mouth is in better shape now than ever before. I highly recommend one. In fact, if you’re ever looking for the best gifts for amputees, go for the toothbrush. Because when you lose a limb, or four, it’s all about simplicity.
Well, there you have it. This list has 11 great very useful items for leg amputees, arm amputees or both. My best recommendation is to start with creating or strengthening your relationship with the Lord. Look to Him for all the faith, strength and courage that you need. There is no better amputee support. The rest will work itself all out.
Remember, the Scripture that I gave you earlier, Proverbs 3:5-6. Read it, memorize it and let it encourage you. After that, just remember another of my favorite Bible verses.
Roman’s 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Do you have any questions about tools or how I accomplish daily tasks? Do you have any great amputee stories to share? Put your questions and your stories in the comments below and I promise to address them.
Be sure to also check out:
**All Scripture comes from the King James Version of the Holy Bible
What other items do you think would be useful things that amputees would need?