Guest blog post from PegLegPowderSkier
As a very avid outdoorsman before I lost my leg (left below knee). Figuring out how to do things I once did has been the most difficult challenge for me. Things finally started to come together after the 3rd year as I started testing various feet and socket set ups. I went back to a pin because the chances of my socket falling off became much less. Finding a foot that the ankle would articulate a lot so I could hike across a hill up or down steep slopes or over river rocks was difficult. I don’t say it’s like it used to be and that too had to be a reality.
Everyone says “Oh, you will be able to do everything you did before you lost your leg”, to a certain point that is true. It’s something I heard while I was in ICU for several months and then several more before I was able to start the walking process. I remember the thing that was most difficult was watching a video or show and see something I really loved to do but then had to wonder if I would ever do that again and if so, how different would it be?
This was my biggest challenge, this constant roller coaster, I wanted it to be like it was before the accident. One day I was meeting with my doctor who has been a family friend for years long before my accident. As I met with him one day, he could tell I was depressed, and he asked why. I told him I just wanted to have it be like it was before the accident. He then said the most important thing that helped. He said the moment my accident happened my life changed, and it was never going to be the same.
It was never going to be the same, I didn’t want to hear this, but it was true. Up to this point every medical person from surgeons to rehab to nurses everyone would tell me everything was going to be good, and I’d get right back to doing what I loved. This was the first thing they could have said, but I believed them and why not right?
My good friend and doctor finally said it’s never going to be the same, finally the truth. As we talked about various activities, he said I would be able to do them I was just going to have to learn how to do them slightly different and this was going to require a learning curve. From this point on I took a different approach to figuring out how to do it no matter how difficult or different it was from before.
For hiking, fly fishing with waders, skiing, hunting all of these activities that legs and feet and balance were important. Things like ankle articulation getting fitted or dressed properly all had to be figured out. A foot different from my daily had to be found. Braces and knee support things that I didn’t need before I now needed.
My younger sister gave me some good advice as I was frustrated figuring it out or having to do things a new way. She said when you were in high school and dating you could date different girls, that was normal. Then you got married so now you date just one your wife, this became your new normal. You used to drive a beater car and live in a small trailer as I was starting my business, that was your normal. Now you live in a nice home in a nice safe neighborhood, this is your new normal. You used to just go on vacation with your wife that was your normal now you go on every vacation with your kids and wife, this is your new normal. You used to just put on your shoes or boots that was normal. Now you put on your shoes, boots, and leg this is your new normal. She said there is no constant normal. Normal is always changing. Dealing with your prosthetic and having to do your activities a way is your new normal and as you get older that too will change.
I’m going onto my 7th year as an amputee I’ve yet to do activities I used to mainly because of follow up surgeries and Covid lock downs but I have plans to do them. I’ve got passed expecting it to be like it used to be, that took a while. I’ll be forever grateful for my doctor and my sister being real with me and setting proper expectations. Do I believe you can do any activities you used to indoors or out? Absolutely. Just understand you most likely will have to do them a little bit or a whole lot different, but it can be done.
If you have not done something since becoming an amputee, start figuring it out. Get with your prosthetist and make sure your prosthetic is built for that activity or if there is a better one. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re fit to do so. Amputees are notorious for gaining weight and being out of shape. I had to work back slowly to get into shape. I hadn’t put on a ton of weight, 15 pounds, but I had zero muscle tone. The heart is a muscle, and I didn’t need it cramping up like a bad Charlie Horse and have me keeling over. I got my heart checked and a physical and met with an experienced trainer that started me out slowly until I was able to have muscle and endurance.
Everyone in the sub is a fighter, you’re still alive. Our amputations are about every limb, and you’ve all been on the roller coaster of wanting to do what you used to, but you’re not sure how or if you even can. Everything we did before can be done there are not a lot of how-to videos do out there. Someone just like us figured it out they just have shown how. So, this means most likely you get to reinvent the wheel. Do all of those who will come after you a favor and show the whole process, I still have a few things I’m working on, so I’ll try and share that.
Guys and Gals, we didn’t die but some of us have are dead lying in bed or sitting in a chair. It’s time to rise from the dead even if it’s hard as hell. I can tell you the discovery process has been just as fun as I learned the first time, it’s been worth it. It sure beats the day I sat with a gun in my hand because everything was different and some of you know what I’m talking about.
Success in life is a planned event, figuring out your new normal will not be any different. –