April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, and today is Show Your Mettle Day! The Amputee Coalition of America has created this day for amputees to show their mettle (strength and resilience) by showing their metal (prosthetics, assistive devices, etc…or simply their missing limbs.)
Most people who read my blog know that I have no problem showing my leg to the world or talking about my amputation. Not everyone is as comfortable, though. Some amputees hide their prosthetic devices or try to cover up their missing limbs because they’re afraid of what others might think.
Amputees of the world, you don’t have to hide away. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve been through. Whether you were born with a missing limb or had a traumatic event that resulted in the loss, embrace your story. You have no reason to be ashamed of the gap between your thigh and the floor, or the hand that you’re missing, or the fingers that aren’t there. Your outward appearance doesn’t determine who you are inside.
Non-amputees, try to imagine yourself as an amputee. Would you want people treating you differently or being scared to talk to you because you didn’t have all of your limbs? Probably not. You don’t have to be afraid to ask about our differences, and you most certainly do not have to scold your kids for being curious. I know that it’s not the case for everyone, but the majority of amputees that I’ve talked to have said that they’re totally cool with people asking questions. It’s the awkward “I know you’ve been staring at my prosthetic for a whole minute and you’re trying to hide it” thing that’s weird. Asking is much better than making assumptions, and if a person doesn’t want to answer, they’ll tell you. Don’t overthink it.
When I first had my amputation, I was super aware of my missing limb. In fact, the first time I went out in public after my surgery, Mark (who is now my fiancé) and I made a game out of counting how many stares and weird looks I received. I didn’t care about people seeing the gap between my knee and the floor, but the whole “amputee” label was always on my mind.
Now, I hardly notice that I’m an amputee. When I wear pants, I forget about my prosthetic leg altogether until I take it off at the end of the day. I wear shorts and dresses frequently so my leg is showing, but even then, I think about the fact that I’m an amputee about as often as I think about the fact that I have brown hair and brown eyes…not very frequently. It’s just part of who I am.
I’ll admit that there have been some things about the amputee life that have really frustrated me lately (such as my wedding shoes not fitting because my fake foot is too big…okay, that’s just a minor inconvenience. I won’t list all the other things), but I am so grateful for my amputation. I’m happy to show my metal leg off to the world because it represents one of the biggest miracles in my life. I still find myself in awe of the fact that I’m walking, running, and living. Life as an amputee hasn’t been what I expected, but that’s okay because it’s so much better than I could have imagined.
Each day, more than 500 people become amputees. Take a moment to learn about some limb loss statistics that you may not have known. Happy Show Your Mettle Day!