Limb loss “doesn’t define me”: Walter shares on National Limb Loss Awareness Month
Everyday, I wake up and do my routine: Stretch, get up, use the bathroom, wash my hands and face, sit down in the dining room, have breakfast, brush my teeth and get ready to go on about my day.
Lately, however, I’ve been doing things drastically differently. In January, I returned home (after months in the hospital) without my left leg. While surfing the web, I happened to find out that April is limb loss awareness month and I had an “aha” moment!
Limb loss awareness month is celebrated every April. Up until I lost a limb, I wasn’t even aware that there WAS a limb loss awareness month. So, what does it mean to me now? Before November 16th, 2019 it didn’t mean anything. But the sudden realization the very next time I saw my body meant that my life would change forever. But it doesn’t necessarily mean things that I used to do before I can’t do now… it just means that I’ll do them in a different fashion.
I’ve had to change my approach in the way I do many things – some things haven’t changed and some things I cannot do yet (for the time being at least). I move around in a wheelchair most of the time when I’m out on the streets or I use one of those electric shopping carts, but I can still move around at home using my walker and my crutches. Showering is different, but still doable. My favorite things remain unaffected, such as being able to spend time with my family and friends and being able to hang out and eat out before the coronavirus pandemic hit the US. But I don’t think that I can lift the amount of weight I used to, or drive a stick shift car, until I can get a prosthetic leg that can help me.
Limb loss doesn’t just affect me.
It affects my family, my friends and everyone that has known me and supported me (including all the medical professionals to whom I’m forever thankful for). Because without them, I don’t know where I would be, but it also brings to light as to where I am going. Because no matter what, I know that wherever I go I’ll be able to go out into the world and be able to help as many people as I can that are going through the same thing I am now.
So what does limb loss awareness month mean to me?
A lot more than before, because now I’ve learned: While limb loss is a part of me, it doesn’t define me.