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My goal for One Exceptional Life is to show you how I can get through life as a quad amputee woman and what life looks like to be living with amputations. Every day is a challenge when you don’t have hands and feet. But also, every day is a blessing. Read on for the honest truth about living with amputations.
Living with amputations
I love to cook, clean, garden, decorate, travel, try new foods, enter sweepstakes and blog. I have a whole list of things on my bucket list. Unfortunately, I can’t just do those things without help so I’m going to share how something as simple as prosthetic legs and a stylus can reveal a whole new world of opportunity for this quad amputee woman.
What types of things do amputees need?
If you were to look at me first thing in the morning, all you would see is a body with no hands and no feet. In order for me to be successful throughout the day, one of the things this amputee needs, is to get put together, like some sort of robot or puzzle.
Since I can’t do that myself, my wonderful husband Mike, takes care of me before he goes to work. He usually leaves by 5:00 am so he gets me up around 4:30. Without hands, I cannot put my legs on or dress myself.
How do prosthetic legs attach?
I wear acrylic sockets with battery operated feet. My old legs had bulky batteries attached to the side of my ankles, as you can see from the above picture. Not to mention they were heavy and frumpy. But I recently got new, sleeker, slimmer legs. (See the picture below).
I am completely independent without hands
Then Mike dresses me and I go back to bed because who wants to stay up that early when you don’t have to? He also makes sure I have a breakfast bar and a tasty turkey wrap for lunch. I can pretty much fend for myself if I find that I need anything else throughout the day. I find that there aren’t many things this amputee needs to be independent throughout the day.
The most important tools that I use throughout the day, when living with amputations, are my stylus and my cell phone. I have found that prosthetic arms are difficult to manage. Plus, they aren’t very user friendly so I go without. I can do everything that I need to do with my stylus.
There’s a lot of activity behind running a blog and when you don’t have hands, it gets a bit complicated. So we created a method where I can attach a stylus to my arm. My cell phone goes on the other arm and I can type my blog, send emails, manage my social media and basically run my blogging business simply and easily. When it comes time to actually format my blog post, I do that from my laptop, but most everything is done on my phone. So you can see that living with amputations is manageable with a little creativity.
Walking with two prosthetic legs
Prosthetic legs are necessary for me to live a normal life. In the beginning it was very hard to stand in these sockets, which I refer to as my legs. It’s pretty much like walking on stilts, it takes a lot of balance. But now that I’m used to them, they’re just a regular part of my body. The benefits of prosthetics help me to be more comfortable while living with amputations. Walking with two prosthetic legs is a completely normal part of my life.
I find walking a lot easier than standing still. When I’m just standing, I’m pretty wobbly. You’ll often find me holding onto a person, chair, or wall. There are a lot of muscles working behind the scenes to help me keep my balance. My new legs offer more support. However, I still like to hang onto something or someone for balance.
The battery that operates my foot also controls my ankle. This allows me to walk over uneven ground and up and down small hills. My feet are hydraulic and they make a lot of noise when I move them. I am truly a bionic woman. I also need to plug my feet in at night.
Living with amputations: Getting new legs
I found my prosthetist, Tony, while I was in the hospital. He was referred to me by my physical therapist. The process for creating each individual leg takes a lot of talent on the prosthetists part and a lot of trial and error. For more information on the process for making prosthetic legs visit Life After Leg Amputation: 5 Things to know About Prosthetic Legs.
When Tony makes a new prosthetic leg, I wear them for a few days, then I go back for adjustments. Initially it took several months of that process to make the perfect result. We live about an hour away from his office, so I went back and forth quite a bit.
Due to the fact that I am not comfortable driving that far, either my husband takes time off of work or I ask a friend for a ride. Going through the adjustment period is a very chaotic and frustrating time. Even though I have comfortable legs now, it’s pretty typical to update and get a new set of legs every five years. Because, the warranty doesn’t last very long and the mechanisms fail after time.
The future of prosthetics
As technology rapidly improves and developments are made in prosthetics, I am excited to see the possibilities that will be available for future legs. The cool part is that I can be as tall or as short as I want to be. With my most recent set of legs I grew over an inch. I am more comfortable being taller and I walk better with more height. My original height was 5’8″. I’m almost there now.
If you would like more information on amputation support you can contact the Amputee Coalition. They also have a really cool segment on their website called Amplify Yourself, where different amputees share their inspiring stories. You’ll find my story there as well.
For more of my personal amputee stories, simply visit the About Me section of the blog and my Amputee Life Page. Please remember. I’m an open book. Feel free to ask whatever questions you may have. That’s why we have a comments section of the blog. I always reply so check back.
I’ve gotten used to living with amputations. It’s a normal part of my life now. I’m thankful for the many blessings I’ve been given and I’m always willing to share my story with you.