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Amputee Questions

1. What's the one thing you would want to do most if you had your leg back?-Jamie Laird

Hummm you know I don't really think like this. But sometimes I do wonder how my life would be different. The people that wouldn't be in my life, the others that might be, would I work here, would I live here....these are all questions that come up with that. The one thing that I always question myself on though at least lately is "If I 2 two legs would I be more active than I am now?" If I had two legs would I work out more and be more physically active. Would I run? Would I play sports that had to do with running? Would I be more like Alex in that way?? Although I think I would be like everyone else and say yes yes I would but really no I wouldn't. I would make the same excuses that we all do so we don't have to do it.

But I really can't think of anything that I would want to do that I can't do already. I've always had the attitude that I will do anything and everything that a 2 legged person would do and I've pretty much held up to that. Since I've lost my leg I've taken gymnastics, learned to swim (like a fish might I add), ride a bike, play softball, take zumba classes, and all the other stuff. So I really can't think of anything. But that's a great question that's really got me thinking now!

2. Have you ever told someone you lost your leg in a shark attack?- Jeremy Howard

Nooooo, I have never told someone that I was in a shark attack. BUT I did dress up like it for Halloween once. Every year at work we have a Halloween party, everyone dresses up and you have a chance to win prizes! So this particular year Alex had come up with this amazing idea of the shark attack and there is no way that we could lose! I wore a bathing suit and bought flesh colored leggings. The left legging leg stuck out of the leg hole of the bathing suit and I then shredded the bottom part of them and applied fake blood. Alex then dressed as the shark and carried a leg hanging out of her mouth. Honestly her costume needed a little help and one day we will buy that sharks costume from Party City or some where so we can really carry out this costume! Going to work that day we knew there was NO way we weren't going to win something! Well long story short, we did NOT win anything! The judges said that while they thought it was funny and creative, that we were sick and they just couldnt let us win! I say they're jealous!! No one but an amputee could pull off something so awesome, and they are just mad because they can't do it. The following year the local radio station was asking people to call in and tell their most creative costumes, so of course Alex called in. She said they just sat there and then said pretty much the same thing. That we were sick for coming up with it but that it was great that I had such a wonderful attitude about my disablity and could dress up as something like that. I promise you one day I will do it again and be apart of some contest and win it!! I also have another idea that only an amputee could do, but I can't tell you just yet because I want it to be a surprise!

3. Do you treat handicap restroom stalls like a handicap parking space?-Mark Paul

Great question! First of all I could talk for an hour or more begging and pleading people to please not parking in the handicap spaces. Just because your grandmother's handi tag is in your car doesn't mean you should use it. And even if she's in the car but not getting out, still don't use it! Oh my word I could write a book about this but this isn't the question so I'm going to get off that soap box now!

Handicap stall in the bathroom! Here's the deal. If you have small children with you and you need a little more room sure feel free to use the handi stall. If there is a regular stall and you're a "normal" (I put that in quotations because there really is no such thing) two legged person walking around, please use the normal stall. Here's a little story for you. A couple of weeks ago I was at the airport, I had my wheelchair with me and needed to use the restroom. I roll myself in and find all these "normal" stalls open but someone was in the handi stall. Having my chair I had to wait. Out walks a lady with a purse, not a rolling luggage bag, didn't have a child or a chair...just a purse. I'm not gonna lie I had to bite my tongue. I'm sorry but that's just rude. And I guess maybe you just don't think about it until you aren't able to use the smaller stalls and you HAVE to use the bigger ones. Honestly most of the time I use small stalls. I just have crutches most of the time so I would rather be a little more crammed in there with some sticks then take up the bigger stall for someone who might come in after me with a wheelchair.

Now I gave you one exception (if you have kids with you) and I'll give you one more. If you are at a public event such as a concert, sporting event or something to this effect where the women's restroom line is beyond the door and down the hall. In the case you would basically use it as a normal stall BUT if there is a handicap person waiting in line to use the restroom and the handicap stall becomes available you should let them cut in line and offer your spot and let them use it.

I just ask that you think about others first next time you're in these types of situations!

4. Does it bother you when children stare?- Ashley Daniel

Honestly no it doesn't bother me when children stare, it bothers me when adults stare! 

I looooove kids reactions and then their parents reactions. It's one of my favorite things! Kids will all the sudden just stop, stare, do the look up/down, walk around me and then say to their parent HEY MOMMY that girls only has ONE leg!! I crack up because the parent usually goes in hush hush mode! Freaking out thinking their kid has just offended me in some way, but I'm laughing. Kids are awesome. They will come up to me and ask me what happened to my leg. I have to sometimes be careful in answering that question because I dont want to freak them out and dont want them thinking it could happen to them. But once I have explained it they are like oh okay and then go about their way. Kids are so accepting and they are ready to move on after recieving an answer. 

Adults are a different story. Dont get me wrong, I understand you don't see a one legged person walking around everyday (well enless you live in my house) so its different. We notice the differences in everything and everyone. Sometimes we see something that catches our eye and then our minds start to wonder and our thoughts take us 1,000 different places. We're not even really looking at the person because we are gazing into our thoughts but when that person looks at you they think you're staring, which you are but not really. But then there are times when people can't stop taking second and third looks. They want to know what happened or they are trying to figure out, do you only have one leg or is it just broken and I can't see their leg from this angle? Hey I get them all! I know that people stare at me ALL the time and I know it's not because of my super cute looks (haha) I know it's my leg and I'm fine with it. It just depends on how the look is given, but normally I'm okay with it. I would much rather someone asked me what happened for two reasons...1. I get to share the story that God has given me and tell them about how awesome He is! and 2. because once someone finds how why something happened then they stop staring. 

But I just ask you to watch yourself when you stare at someone because you could cause them to have a complex. I'm completely secure with the way God has made me and I understand that people are just curious and interested. But not all people are like me where they are just getting used to their difference or they aren't as accepting of it, so just be careful :) 

5. What do you do with all your left shoes??- Pam Williams

Of course I had to answer this one first!!! I get asked this all the time!! I remember one time I was doing an interview on the radio and the dj asked me if I had a dumpster in my backyard just filled with left shoes, and while I got a kick out of his question I wished that my answer would be just as cleaver, but sadly it's not. The answer is.....I just throw them away! This is one reason you'll never see me buying expensive shoes. Anything over $25 is a lot for me to pay on shoes because I know I'm just throwing the other half a way and that's just money down the drain. 

When I was younger there was a shoe store that I could go to and they would do one of two things. 1. They would just sell me one shoe half off or 2. They would sell me two rights at full price. Option number two always came in handy when buying tennis shoes because I would have one to wear when I played outside and the other was to keep clean and wear to school! But that store has gone out of business and I haven't found another store willing to make this awesome exchange with me. Until that day comes I'll keep buying cheap shoes.

Now there is a website (I have never been one it but have heard about) for amputees where you can find shoe partners. Other amputees who wear the same size shoe as you but the opposite leg. So I could find someone who has their left leg and I could take their rights and they could take my lefts. But I have such a wide foot and I have to try everything on, so I dont want to get shoes over the internet. But I really should look into it so someone could have my rights even if I dont want their lefts! I think I just talked myself into checking in to that ;)

6. What are phantom pains and how do you deal with them?-Mark Paul

The description that Wikipedia gives for phantom pains is....Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain in an absent limb or a portion of a limb. The pain sensation varies from individual to individual. Phantom pain sensations are described as perceptions that an individual experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically part of the body. From what I was told about them (after I started getting them) was that it's caused from when you're amputated and your nerve endings get cut in half. Your nerves try to grow back together but they can't and it causes this pain.

I don't really remember anyone warning me about phantom pains. From what I've read 80% of amputees experience phantom pains. Well guess what I'm one of that 80%. And I must be an exception to a rule because in my research it says that normally amputees get them when they are first amputated but that some have them for the rest of their life. Guess which one I am :) I honestly get them more frequent now then I ever use to...see I'm one of those lucky ones!

I really don't know how to describe what one feels like. It's painful; that's for sure. They come on quick and normally at least for me I can't talk during it. I sometimes have to remind myself to breathe (because I just want to freeze until it's over) or end up doing kind of lamaze breathing depending on the pain level. They last any where from 30 seconds to 3 days. The time that I had the one for 3 days I was so miserable, I couldn't relax or sleep. It's just a pain like I can't explain. The awful part is that it feels like it's coming from something that isn't even there. When I have mine they normally feel like quick sharp pains coming from my wound but if I had a leg it would be in my thigh (I know this all sounds crazy and is hard to grasp but only another amputee can really understand what I mean). It's kind of a mind game.

A couple of years ago when I started getting them more frequent I asked my doctors what I could do. They said that there are medications for it but would rather not put me on something if I didn't HAVE to be on it. And this is when my research started. And I found one trick that has worked for me from time to time but sounds completely crazy. Basically you start rubbing or massaging the area where you think the pain would be coming from on your phantom limb. This is where the mind games comes into play. Your brain still thinks that my leg is there. So by pretending to rub out the achy pain on my thigh my mind thinks that it helps and decreases the pain. I know I know it sounds crazy and when I read it I was like there is NOOO way that would work but when you're in the pain you'll try anything, I did and it sometimes works.

So now you know if you see me massaging a leg that's not there, or if we're having a conversation and I all the sudden look like I'm in pain and I can't talk you'll know what's going on. It's not that I'm crazy (even though we already know I am a little of that too) but that I'm just going through a phantom pain and as soon as it's over life will go back to normal.

7. What kind of crutches do you use?

As you can see in pictures or in person I do not use regular "broken leg" crutches (as I like to call them). I've always been into new gadgets and along with this I'm in to new types of crutches. Up until the age of about 17 or so I used "broken leg" crutches and honestly I just didn't know any better. I would only use wooden ones though. I hate the way metal crutches clank when you walk. So my parents and I started thinking okay there have to be better crutches out there. We started ordering all different kinds and what I use now are the best I have found so far! This is my 3rd pair of them. They are made by www.thecrutchguys.com and they are called the lite stick. They are a bit on the pricey side but worth every penny! Plus crutches are like shoes for me. Actually I wear them more than shoes. They are apart of my body and I have to have them. Plus these are the most comfortble! When something happens to these and I have to send them off to get worked on and I'm forced to use "broken leg" crutches I'm in tears after a short period of using them. I now own a back up pair in case that happens again. 

But if you ever see new or different crutches let me know because I'm always open to new ones!!

8. Why do you not wear a prosthetic leg?

I'm guessing that you're looking for the honest answer and simply enough I just don't like them. I have had 3 or 4 over the last 22 years. When you lose a limb and you start your physical therapy you are supposed to get your prosthetic then, but my situation was a little different. Doctors were not able to close my incision sight and we had to let it heal up naturally which took about a year and a half. I had been on crutches that whole time and getting used to them and by the time I got the new leg I didn't really want it. But then there were times in my life when school dances would come along and I'd want to be two legged so we would go and get them adjusted. Legs back then were about $20,000 and if you went to get the height adjusted (you know since I was growing and all) was about $5,000 each time. We would spend the money and I would promise each time "This time is going to be different, I'm going to wear it" and I would for a day or three and then back in my closet it would go. The last leg I got was a few years ago and it cost $50,000! Which is just craziness! I went though all the classes and my 3 month training got cut down to a week. I was a pro I knew what I was doing. But again the leg just didn't work for me! That's when it hit me, Mandy God made you one legged for a reason. Stop trying to be like everyone else. When I had two legs I could hide my disease and now I can't. And when asked about my leg I'm able to share my story and my love for Him. I'm not saying prosthetics are bad, they are great for some people but just not for me. And really I feel more handicapped with it then I do without it. I'm not saying prosthetics are bad, they are great for some but just not for me.

9. Do you pay full price for a pedicure? -Amanda Rodewig

Thankfully NO I do not pay full price for a pedicure! I'm charged half price, as I should be, I mean it's half the work haha! And that might be one reasons why I get pedicures so often, wouldn't you if you got them at half the cost of your friends?

10. Do you ever have phantom pains? - Lori Armstrong

Before I answer this question I'll answer another question first that some of you might be asking yourself. What is a phantom pain? Well according to Wikipedia is "Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain in an absent limb or a portion of a limb." It's basically when nerve endings have been cut and then they try to grow back together but they can't. Studies show that phantom pains are more frequent right after amputation and go away in most cases, but everyone is different.

Now let's talk about MY phantom pains. Do I get them? YES! Some I can deal with and some are so bad I can't even talk through them. It's so hard to describe to someone what they feel like because it's an awful pain but where you would think the pain would be (mine feel like they would be in my back upper thigh) but there is nothing there! And unlike most cases mine have gotten worse over the years. I didn't really get them that often when I was younger but now I get them almost weekly. I even had one a few years ago that lasted for 3 days. It was so painful I couldn't even sleep. There is a preventative medicine that you can take but I'm not getting them strong enough or often enough to get put on meds for it. 

There are three things I can do to help when I get a phantom pain. 1. Just breathe. Sometimes the pain gets so bad I forget to breathe or I just want to hold my breath but that's not helpful. So kind of like having labor pain you just have to breathe through it. 2. I can shake my wound (my amputation site). Sounds weird I know but honestly sometimes it does help. 3. During the 3 day phantom pain I tried to find home remedies of how to get rid of one. I found this and even though I still think it's crazy it does work. A lot of the time a phantom pain is a mind game. My brain still thinks that my leg is there. So while having one I have to figure out if I had a leg where would this pain be coming from and then I have to act like I'm massaging the area of where that pain would be. YES I KNOW, it sounds crazy and I thought it was too but when you are desperate you're willing the try anything and honestly that normally does stop it or at least eases it. 

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