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Amputee Life

Amputee Life: 5 Things I Do Differently Than You Do

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As an amputee, I have to look at life differently. I have to ask for and accept help where I don’t really want to. Most of this help revolves around personal care. I have had to lose my modesty and discomfort of having someone else take care of the most personal of things, even if it is my husband. This is what amputee life looks like.

There are 5 things that I do differently in my amputee life.

1. I have bathroom hacks.

For starters, I would ask that you please forgive me if I get too graphic on my explanations. Without hands its difficult to get my pants down. When I’m at home I use a tool we crafted that is bolted to the wall. This is a hook that I can stand next to that will insert into my waistband. Then I can put my arms in to lower my pants. Afterward, I use a bidet to wash and dry me. This took a while to get used to, but I love it. I think everyone should have one.

2.  Eating

As an amputee, I cannot just pick up a fork to eat. There is a process. I have a cuff that I can attach a fork or spoon to so that I can eat. Without hands, I must rely on someone else to first put a special sock on my arm. Then I put on a plastic cuff that is attached by velcro. It’s easier to show you a picture.

amputee using eating cuffThe fork or spoon swivel so that I can pick up the food, then move it to my mouth. When the doctors amputated my hands, they fused the bones in my arm somehow so that I don’t have the ability to do that swivel movement myself. To this day, it’s unclear why they fused the bones because I know others who have more flexibility. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for my cuff.

amputee woman using eating cuffIn the early days, someone had to feed me. Although I appreciate the help, it’s horrible to have someone else feed you as an adult. As for sandwiches, I hold them between my arms and pray for the best. I will tell you, it’s definitely messy. Wraps work better than sandwiches and I will never order a cheeseburger in public, except for little ones like McDonald’s. This is unfortunate and I always have to compromise when eating out. It’s pretty frustrating, but that’s how it goes.

3.  Showering

My husband, Mike does the dirty work when I shower or dress. Let’s talk first about the shower. I use a shower seat.  By removing my legs, I sit there while Mike washes my hair and scrubs my body. Again, modesty is a thing of the past and humility plays a big role.

The thing is, my arms just are not long enough to do things like washing my hair. Also, I can’t hang onto the soapy crunchy well enough to do the rest. My husband loves me with every ounce of his being and I believe that’s why he has no problems with his shower duty.

Once I’m dry, we put my legs on. This involves a rubber liner with a pin in the bottom. We add socks for cushion, then I step into my legs. The pin clicks into the legs enabling them to stay on. Then to remove them, there’s a button on the outside which releases the pin.

amputee woman showing 1 prosthetic leg off and 1 leg onamputee woman with one leg off, one prosthetic leg onAs soon as my legs are dry, we move to the bedroom where Mike puts my undergarments and then clothes on. Again, short arm syndrome. I need to tell you that when I contracted the flesh-eating bacteria it was in my groin area. Doctors had to remove the areas which were affected by the bacteria so I have an entire section of my hip, upper thigh and groin removed. I refer to it as looking like a shark bite.

Why am I telling you this? I figure if I’m going to lay it all out there, you’re going to get ALL of the gory details. Additionally, I’m painting the picture of the love that Mike has for me. Before you ask, neither the doctors nor I know exactly where my infection came from. I believe that my illness started with an ingrown hair but that’s been neither confirmed nor denied.

Many times I’ve asked him “how can you look at me, I’m horrible?”. His answer is always the same. “I love you and I love every part of you, and I came so close to losing you, so this stuff just doesn’t matter to me”. I understand and I am forever grateful that God knew that I needed this man in my life. To this day, 7 years later, I cannot look at myself, naked without crying, yet he does it daily. What can I say about that but Praise the Lord!

amputee woman walking on track, amputee life, 5 things i do differently than you do

4.  Bedtime

Bedtime is the same routine, only backward. The clothes come off, pajamas come on. I brush my teeth by holding my toothbrush between my two arms and brushing away. Way back when I was in the hospital, a very good friend gave me the gift of an electric toothbrush which has been a tremendous blessing. Once I’m in bed, we take my legs off and that’s how I sleep. If nature calls, which thankfully it hardly ever does, then I have to wake Mike up so he can put my legs back on.

5.  Shopping

Okay, folks, all the gruesome, gory details are over. I know you’re thinking that, “Whew!” It was like a train wreck, you wanted to look away but you just couldn’t, right? So the fifth thing I do differently as an amputee is shopping, one of my favorite past times.

Typically if I need to shop, I wait until someone is home and we do it together. It’s just easier that way. My kids dig out what we need from my purse and off we go. If I’m clothes shopping, my daughter, Megan helps me in the dressing room.

Now sometimes if there’s just one thing I need and I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ve been known to just go for it. I’m comfortable driving myself and I’ve learned to ask the store clerks for help. Those are the days I feel especially thankful and somewhat proud of myself because I’ve proven that I can do whatever I set my sights on.

amputee woman, smiling while pushing a shopping cartIt’s funny, the whole time I wrote this post, I’m was asking myself why am I getting so personal? I think it’s because this whole blog is my way of sharing what life as an amputee looks like with the goal to inspire you, that no matter what your challenges are, you can get through them. If I can get through them, so can you!. But also, by airing my “dirty laundry” so to speak, maybe I’m removing some of the shame I feel deep down by needing so much personal help.

It truly saddens me that I’m so dependent. However, God knows my heart. He knows my needs and He has provided for me every step of the way.  I never imagined my life to be like this. However, it’s definitely the love I’ve dreamed of. The love of my husband and kids is overwhelming at times. I know I don’t deserve it but I’m so very thankful every single day.

I am a huge proponent of gratitude.  Check out Gratitude from A to Z : Things to be thankful for and Gratitude: Why counting your blessings is so important .  So go hug your spouse and kids. Give them what they need, and that is unconditional love.  If you are interested in more information about life as an amputee, 10 things I can’t live without will answer a few more of your questions. To carry on the conversation further, follow me on my One Exceptional Life Facebook page or over on Instagram.

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60 Comments

  1. Dear Wendy, thank you for sharing your journey, it hasn’t been an easy one yet your words are positive and full of light. I live with constant agonising pain 24/7 and thought I lived one of the most difficult of lives, however, I do have my arms and legs and you have reminded me to be grateful for being able to use them, despite the pain. I too have a wonderful, loving husband of 29 years, who has helped me doing personal care, when needed, and always says it doesn’t matter, it just needs doing and he does it because he loves me. You and I need to accept that our husbands and family love us just the way we are despite our needs and altered appearances. You are an inspiration to us all Wendy, thank you. Love and understanding hugs, Lynda xxx

    1. Oh, Lynda, thank you so much for that encouragement. We are very blessed to have loving spouses who care for us as much as they do. Even though we’ve been through so much, I know God has a plan. It’s all good.

  2. Wendy, God bless you and your family so much. Thank you for this wonderful post and for your blog. You are an inspiration and you do help so many people. I wish that what you have been through with the illness and amputations had not happened but seeing your heart and spirit and the love of your family in the midst of what has happened urges all of us to keep on and be grateful too. Your writing is a treasure.

    1. Pam, I am completely blessed by your comment. Thank you for your kindness and support. I agree that gratitude is so necessary. God has blessed us in so many ways. Praise the Lord!

  3. Dear Wendy,
    as a fellow quadruple amputee i found your site.
    6 years for me now and lately having a hard time. The inspiration that comes from your stories. i can definitely use it. The story here i can so relate to(as many more on your site) The way you wrote it down made me laugh! As if i found out that i’m welcome to laugh about myself again. Thank you and God bless you for making my day and getting my a bit more on the right path again.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Welcome to my blog. I’ve been right where you are and my heart and prayers go out to you. I think finding humor in our situation is so important. Be strong, my friend. If I can help, let me know.

  4. Wow. This post made me cry, but not for obvious reasons. Yes, I am saddened that this happened to you, but that instead of getting angry at God (maybe you had your moments?), you see the brighter side as does your husband. He is SO grateful that you’re still here that your scars, your wounds, your need to rely on him is viewed as a reminder that life is skated along very thin lines, and we must recognize that and cherish what we have. You embody that! I am inspired by you and pray that your life continues to glorify God by how you live it. May He bless your days with a peace that transcends all understanding.

    1. Lisa, what a beautiful comment. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. Thanks so much for reading.❤

  5. Dear Wendy!

    I think you’re leading by example while blogging about your struggles in life; I agree with the other comments that it’s something that will help others who read your post.

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

    1. Thank you so much, Edna,
      My goal is to inspire others who have challenges to face in their life that they can overcome them.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story, especially the details. I feel like when a lot of people lose a limb they turn to people that have been through it and want to know specifics, but they are hard to find. Whenever my brother would get phantom pains, he wanted to read real stories of how people handled it, but only got basic medical stuff.

    1. Hi Jessie,
      I appreciate your comment. I’m sorry that your brother struggles with phantom pains. I agree, they are the worst. Refer him to my post on phantom pain or any of my posts, for that matter. If you want to give him my email address, feel free. I never really had someone to turn to who had lost a limb. I just had my physical and occupational therapists and my prosthetist. There’s not much in that regard in my state. I have put my name in to be a peer counselor, but I haven’t heard anything back. So the best i can do right now is encourage folks through my blog. I’m so thankful for that.

  7. Wendy, thank you so much for sharing. I know it must not be easy for you, but think of the hope and inspiration you are for others in similar situations! Also, though I’m sure it is very hard to be so dependent on others for your needs, what a beautiful thing! Your husband loves you unconditionally, and cares for you. It’s as close as you will get, on this earth, to showing an example of the dependence we should ALL have on our heavenly Father! Blessings!

    1. Brianna,
      Your comment really touched my heart. Your part about showing the dependence we should all have on our heavenly Father. Wow! That association really showed me a deeper understanding, thank you!

      I really do pray that I can encourage others who face any type of challenge in their lives that they can get through it by leaning on the Lord. Thank you.

  8. I cannot imagine the changes you have been through and the patience you must have. I praise God with you for providing the family you needed before you needed it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thank you for opening your doors and showing us your life. It is a reminder to me of how easily I can take things for granted. I complain about the silliest things sometimes when there are others who would welcome my silly problems. Your testimony is a lesson for us and the loves story between you and your husband is so heartwarming. It is a deep agape love!

    1. Hi Luisa,
      Thank you for your comment. I think it’s ok to have pity parties once in a while. The Lord knows I do it too but in general, we all have challenges in our lives. Mine is just different than others.

      I am so thankful for and so in love with my husband. The Lord definitely had a hand in bringing us together, it’s definitely the kind of agape love we all need in our life and I pray for our kids to find that same equally yoked love that we have.

    1. Thank you, Michelle,
      No, I’ve never felt like a victim. Sure, I’ve been sad at my situation many times, but I know that God has his reasons. I have come to believe that my new job in His service is to inspire others to overcome whatever challenges they have in life by leaning on the Lord. Thanks for reading.

  10. Wendy, I appreciate your extreme candor in this post. I’m walking away inspired by your passion for life, and a new appreciation for “the little things” I take for granted. I am also curious to know (as a fellow blogger), what are the things you do differently in your blogging work?

    1. Hi Jamie,
      I’m so thankful that I could inspire you to appreciate the little things in life. One of the things I probably do differently than other bloggers is that everything is done on my cell phone. I only break out the laptop for the final blog post and I use it for Tailwind too. The laptop is harder for me to work with so I use my phone. I type my blogs in my notepad, I make my visuals in the Canva app and all social media is done with my phone. I have a wrist strap attached to my arm to hold the phone and then I use a stylus inserted into another wrist strap on my right arm.

      I’m so glad you asked. I love questions and as you can probably tell, I’m not shy about answering any questions.
      Thanks Jamie.
      Wendy

      1. Thanks for the additional details Wendy, I wouldn’t have pictured you working that way. You could consider doing another post about “gadgets” or “tools” you use for work/technology…I’m guessing there are some people out there with some physical challenges that don’t even realize the tools at their disposal to make it possible to do things they aren’t doing today (or at least make them easier to do).

        1. I’ve done a couple already. For instance 10 things I can’t live without or 5 things I do differently than you do. Great ideas. Thank you, Jamie.

  11. All I can say is WOW! You are a strong woman and I’m glad God has given you such perspective. I struggle with health issues, but not to the degree of yours. This article surely puts my disabilities into perspective. I love how your husband takes such good care of you! I have one that does he same. I have often thought of what we vowed to each other on our wedding day. When we promise to love each other “in sickness and in health” we have no clue what that means. You and your husband are shining examples. May God continue to give joy to you even in your trials.

    1. Thank you, Tricia,
      I’m so thankful that you have a loving and helpful husband that helps in your situation. My prayer for you is that you trust God to give you that smile on your face and to see you through your struggles. He is faithful and great. I appreciate your comment.

  12. Wow this was amazing. My great grandmother is bilateral leg amputee below the knee. I want to show this. You are amazing you. Truly are an inspirational woman. I love your blog and your husband is an angel. I can’t wait to read more about your remarkable life.

    1. Hi Shayla,
      I absolutely love your comments. I’m sorry to hear about your great grandmother. It’s a whole different lifestyle, that’s for sure. Thank you for appreciating Mike and for reading.

  13. Your life is beautiful, and will be such a blessing to so many! I was just reading to my kids about Squanto. At age 12 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Fortunately, he was purchased by some Christian monks in Spain, who taught him English and gave him his freedom after five years. He then sailed to England and worked for five more years to pay passage back home. Once home, he found his family and villagers had been wiped out by disease, and he was alone. But God’s hand was in it all, because, miraculously, Squanto was able to befriend and teach the Pilgrims. I’m one who always complains and bemoans my circumstances, instead of just remembering that I am in God’s hand and He is working through me. You really have a wonderful and inspirational attitude! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thank you for that story. It reminds me a little bit of Joseph in the Bible. Even though we all have challenges in our lives, we can’t always see that God is behind the scenes and that ultimately all things come together for good to them that love him and are called according to his purpose. I appreciate your comments.

  14. Wendy this is very resourceful. Did you have occupational therapy support after the surgeries to help with the strategies above? I teared up a bit reading about your husband’s loving care. That’s the way God intends for love to be between a wife and husband! I really so hope you write a book your story is inspiring. I am going to pin this to my Christian marriage board.

    1. Hi Rosemarie,
      Yes, I did have occupational therapy, although I don’t believe we addressed things like dressing and showering because of the length of my arms. Thank you for addressing my marriage. I truly believe God brought us together. Mike has always been wonderful and has been there through all the ups and downs and was instrumental in leading me to the Lord.

  15. Thank you for sharing your story. Having to rely on others for help can be so hard-especially for people who tend to give the most! Sharing your challenges is one way you help others everyday!

    1. Hi Misty,
      I very much appreciate your comment. I am thankful to be surrounded by such a wonderful, loving family. Thanks for reading.

  16. You are absolutely amazing Wendy! God bless you, you are answered so many questions that we are all curious about, thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi April,
      I’m always open to answering any questions my friends may have. I understand that some may be awkward, but I’m okay with that. God has given me this wonderful platform for sharing. Thank you for reading.

  17. Wow, thanks so much for sharing the details of your everyday routine. Very courageous and inspiring! I appreciate you taking the time to let your readers know about the challenges as well as the blessings.

  18. Wendy, you are absolutely amazing in so many ways. We don’t know why the Lord gives us the life that He does, but I do know this. You are, and will be, a blessing to many through your blog. Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. Thank you so much, Candi! What nice comments. I know, I shouldn’t question why, because the Lord has a bigger plan. I just know I should follow Him and He will get us through. Thanks again!

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