Thursday, July 16, 2015

Adjusting to a new way of life

We hear it all the time about how a life event changes the way people live, their paradigm of life, their family's life. This is especially true with the amputee. For 50 years I was able to just jump into the pool, or the shower without thinking of more than making sure there was a towel somewhere nearby. Now both of those activities take a lot more planning. Standing on one leg in a slippery bathtub while covered in slick soap is really not a very safe way to clean your body, while sitting on a shower chair still leaves parts of your body unclean. Talking about the pool is a whole different story, needing to take off my leg and set myself up to get in and out is another level of complicated.

There are a lot of things that I have to use different processes to complete. Even my morning routine has had to  change. Getting up a little earlier, to make sure I get my leg on right, or fishing my foot through my pant leg before I put it on are examples. Exercise is another thing that is different. The more I work out, the more I sweat.. The more I sweat, my liner gets ... squishy. I have to take a towel out and dry stuff off. 

Overall, the changes in my lifestyle hasn't changed much. I still walk regularly, play with my kids and do some yard work. I walk in and out of work and through the grocery store. If anything, I am more active now than I was before the amputation. The major difference is in the planning. Making sure I have suffice socks, or towels, making sure that I will have a place to rest. With a below knee amputation, it is not as difficult for me as it is for others. I have a friend who lost both of his legs to an IED in Iraq several years ago. He is AK on the right and BK on the left. He has more issues with his BK than the other leg, and finds a lot of activity very challenging. His son helped my daughter through my transition phase, encouraging her to support me.

Which brings me to the family. They have to deal with the transition also. In many ways it is harder on the family than it is for the amputee. Spontaneity is not an option, since the amputee must plan out how to do each activity. Allowing for the difference in ability is another aspect. Where I would have been able to demonstrate how to slide into third base was an option a year ago, its not really an option. Climbing over rocks or hiking is much more difficult. 

Then there is this whole aspect of body image. I have needed to wear shorts to work so that I can adjust and remove my leg throughout the day without having to go from the fourth floor down to ground level and the locker room. (Men's rooms seldom have seats) People stare, or ask silly questions that they know the answer to. Josh Sundquist has a long video about this type of problem. I swear, there are times you just want to stare back and say "What are you staring at, you two legged freak!" I have been known to tell people that sometimes people lose their limbs, get over it. I know that this often wears at my family, since they are empathetic to my situation. It doesn't bother me as much as I know it does them.

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