Some people are amazed when they find out I have one leg. They say things like "oh my gosh, you can't even tell" and "I guess I only see you in pants!" These are, in fact, compliments. My gait (walking pattern) is something I have been practicing since they day I fit for my first prosthetic, and it is something I continue to do everyday. Its not that I am thinking about having a prosthetic all day long, but sometimes, if I don't pay attention, I can get lazy, start limping a bit, getting sloppy.
When I was younger, it was not so easy. Growth spurts and wear and tear had me fitting for new prosthetics regularly, and a new leg meant a new gait, and, essentially, learning to walk again. Don't get me wrong, I didn't care. I wasn't unhappy, depressed or angry. It was just the way things were. Leg was old, get a new one. Get a new one, learn to walk on it. Simple.
This lack of "caring" or getting emotionally involved was the best thing ever. A gift from my parents, actually. I know they worried about me, got me the best medical care possible, etc. But at the end of the day, I still had to tie my shoes, brush my teeth, and make my bed like my siblings. Nothing different. Therefore I grew up not feeling different, and to this day I don't feel different. Now I can imagine things going differently: everyone sympathizing, taking care of me, sitting around not doing chores, and feeling sorry for myself. No thanks. I have taken the gift of normalacy and will never let it go.
The truth is, I still need help. Maybe not physically, but this blog and my up and coming book has allowed me to settle many unanswered questions. Questions gone unanswered because, at the time, I refused to ask them. I didn't need them. I needed, at the time, to be normal. It is now that I have matured that I have the ability to look back at myself in order to understand things a little better.
This is a piece I wrote in high school when I first started looking into my past as an amputee. I am using several of these vignettes in my book
I try not to think about it. I am forced to take another step, so I lift the burdensome leg constructed of metals and plastics and place it some few inches before me. The robot-like machinery is scary, and I try not to look at it. Biting down to cope with the therapeutic pain, I begin to place my weight on it. The end of the stump, pressing down on the hard plastic sends a sharp pain up through me. My brain sends an unexpected excess of blood which overflows the amputated limb, making my knee ache to the point when it feels as if it were going to explode. Using the parallel bars I have come to depend on, I force myself forward. As soon as I possibly can, I set the prosthesis down and take in a deep breath as I hold back tears of accomplishment. Never before in my life has taking a step with two legs meant so much. The doctor eventually decides that we have had enough for one day, and releases my swollen limb from its bulky plastic leg.
As my life continues, and therapy becomes less frequent, I find replacement parallel bars. My family and friends make the greatest pairs. Whether my father holds a glass to my mouth when I am thirsty in bed, or my brother stands up for me when other kids laugh and make fun, they are my support. When I fall, all there is to catch me are bars.