"Not dead yet. In fact, I'm feeling very much better." -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Yes, you are right. It is now cliché to go through a traumatic event and then blog it, exposing to the great, anonymous public every intimate detail of one's Bad Experience and Its Tortuous Aftermath. Therefore, I carefully considered creating this blog for a long time before I actually sat down to do it.
Because I am a very busy person, another project is really the last thing I need. Also, I'm a woman, not an amputee. Okay, I'm also an amputee (well, duh) but it doesn't define me. I didn't have my leg cut off so I could become an amputee; I had my leg cut off to save my life. And now I'm getting on with it -- my life, that is.
So why do this, then? There are lots of websites, fora, magazines, and support groups for, by and about amputees. You can find out all about amputee rights, prosthetic technology, cosmeses, how to get through and past the experience, etc. Other amputees blog their day-to-day experiences as amputees, and some amputees run online support groups. Well...here's why. This winter I heard one too many whines, complaints, and wallowing sessions. "Oh, it's winter, so I'm stuck indoors because I'm an amputee," for example. I kept hearing, one way or another, "I'm an amputee, so I don't [fill in the blank]," or worse, "I'm an amputee, so I can't [fill in the laundry list]."
Blech. Enough. I'm an amputee -- a right transfemoral amputee -- and I do everything I want to do. And you see, that's the thing: What do you want to do? Amputee or not, this is the bottom line for defining what you can do. Another cliché, but also a truth: Any goal is possible. Once you've decided you want it, you just have to figure out how to go about it. Maybe, though, it's something you can't figure out on your own. Maybe you need help, but you don't know whom to ask. Maybe you've already asked everyone you know, and no one has any answers for you. That's where I hope this blog will come in useful.
Sure, I will do some whining and venting here; it's inevitable. I'm alive, I'm human, and therefore I complain, and sometimes I do it in public. I've had some unique experiences that others may find amusing, too, so here's where I'll share them, and I will link to the myriad other amputee-focused sites where they fit in with this blog's mission. The real point of this blog, though, is to share and solicit information that can help and encourage amputees to do what I do, get on with real life, rich life full of all the things we love and all the things we live to do, all the things for which we're glad we've survived. I'd like to invite others to help me in this endeavor.
I know you're out there, you others. Like me, you're probably too busy getting on with it to sit down and write about it. As you've been getting on with it, though, you have learned things that others want to know, practical things. You've developed your own techniques for coping with phantom sensation, for trimming the hedge, for running, surfing, hiking, rock climbing, etc. And maybe there are other things you haven't figured out yet, how to get a rubber boot on over your fake foot, for example, or what to do about perspiration.
I, who have a very boring, ordinary life and a freakishly uncomplicated case history, certainly don't know how to do everything, either. I've figured out a lot, though, more all the time, and I've decided to publish it here, a bit at a time. Where I'm stumped (so to speak), I hope other people will use Comments to answer questions I'll post on my own and others' behalf, as well as to elaborate or offer alternatives where appropriate. And anyone who has a how-to question, a useful link, or who wants to write out a how-to piece for publication here is welcome to drop me a line at Sara at saraarts.com. If it's clear, concise, and useful -- and not religious or political -- I'll post it here. I can't guarantee an answer for every question, but maybe someone among the estimated 6% of the U.S. population who has also experienced amputation will see this site and offer you some help. It's worth a shot. And if it's something I actually do know how to do myself, I'll tell you here.
Some ground rules:
1. This is not a support group. Do not come here to whine or to wallow in grief or fear. This is my blog, and I am the only one allowed to whine here. If you need someone to hold your hand through the experience of amputation, recovery from traumatic amputation, rehabilitation, etc., you have my deepest sympathy. Really. However, you are in the wrong place. I can only give you or solicit on your behalf practical advice about how to deal with certain specific challenges that you face. And I will, I promise. You will have to get your hugs elsewhere, though. This is where to come when you are ready to get up and move forward or for ideas on how to start.
2. My intention is that this site will serve amputees of all ages. Therefore, please keep it clean. Inappropriate posts will be deleted at my discretion and their posters blocked. However, parents, please be aware that in getting practical, sometimes we have to get specific. I (or one of my guests) may at some point talk about how, for example, my suction socket, which is like a big ill-fitting shoe that goes all the way up to my crotch, interferes with my genital area and what I have found to do about it between visits to my prosthetist. I would only mention this to offer or solicit solutions, and if you have an underage amputated child, you might not want him or her to read about it. On the other hand, at some point in his or her life, your child may also experience this sort of thing and might find a frank discussion on this topic useful. You will have to use your own judgment about this.
3. This is a website for amputees who want to be and do all sorts of different things, not a website for people who want to be or do amputees. If you are an apotemnophiliac or an acrotomophiliac, scram. Now. I mean it. Posts discussing these topics will be summarily deleted and their posters blocked.
I am lucky. I have been successful (so far) because I've had lots of help, some of it from strangers who gave me great advice at various times when I floundered without a clue. It would be neat to be able to send this information back out there, and all the rest I've gathered, and more. Thanks to everyone who's helped me get this far. And giant thanks in advance to everyone else who will contribute to this new effort.
That said, now I've got to run. More coming soon. Cheers!