Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year End Review

I am sitting at my sister and brother-in-law's house looking at a howling blizzard outside, and I am thinking how lucky I am to be safe and secure in this beautiful place. As always we had a wonderful and crazy Christmas. The wrapping paper was flying as everyone was opening their gifts, certainly a reason to be thankful that we have all been so blessed.

In keeping with that spirit, I thought I would write about some of the highs and lows of the past year. As each year passes I am mindful of the ever increasing longevity of my friendships and how important my friendships are to my overall happiness. I also have become increasingly cognizant of the impermanence of almost everything in our lives and the need to appreciate  who we have in our lives while we have them.

Each year we add to the cherished memories we create as the years quickly pass. Unfortunately I lost two friends to cancer in this past year. First my friend of 23 years, Shawn Daly, I have written about him on several occasions and certainly could not have let this year end review pass by without mentioning this monumental loss. I still have his last two voice mail messages on my cellphone so that I can remember his voice. I will never forget all the times this guy made me laugh at his insane antics and of course the cruise we took together.

The second loss of a friend in 2012, is someone who  I actually lost a couple of years before she passed, there was a lack of communication between the two of us that resulted in her choosing to part ways and thus ending our friendship. This was a particularly difficult situation for me because I was not made aware of her cancer diagnosis and so I did not participate in her final years. Now I understand that her dying is about her and not about me, however, I loved her and would like to have demonstrated my love and support to her  because of the mutual love and friendship we once shared. I have been mourning the loss of our friendship for a couple of years but her passing just finalized something I had hoped could have been remedied. She will be greatly missed by me.

I stopped physical therapy in October of this year because of a newly imposed "cap" on medicare benefits, this cap was implemented retrospectively and thus I was not informed about the imminent monetary end of physical therapy until I had reached the limit.  This abruptness  of course left little time to tie up any loose ends and make as smooth a transition away from my "physical therapy family" as I would have liked.

As 2013 fast approaches I am not sure if I am going back to therapy at all. There is very little left to do except for an occasional review of my progress or lack there of, and the encouragement that ostensibly I need. To be perfectly honest, I am not working as diligently toward walking on those short legs as I should or could be. I guess over the course of time I am realizing how daunting this task before actually is. I realize that everyone gets discouraged from time to time but I am wondering if the effort necessary to walk on those short legs is really worth all the energy I expend.

The roommate drama continues as I search for a suitable candidate, something that I thought would be a no brainer has turned out to be quite a challenge, not to speak of the financial hardship of not having someone to share living expenses poses for me in my life.

My friend, Steve told me he thought I was one of the most positive persons he knew, according to him I am always finding the good in people. While I will admit I do think most people are good deep within their souls, I have found  that some persons disguise that innate goodness pretty well. I think after having reread what I have written thus far, it does not sound all that positive.

I guess it is now safe to say I have made it two years without a hospital stay, something I have not been able to say for quite a few years. If that is not a reason to be happy and thankful than I don' t know what is. It was a little over two years ago that I lost my second leg.

Every year it seems I look forward to greener pastures, hoping and visualizing good things for everyone in the coming year and this year is no different. I think sometimes rather than dwelling on what was not accomplished in the past year we should focus on what was accomplished and realize that if I can still write these words and you can still read them than we should rejoice in those facts and let the new year unfold such as it will.

Happy and Blessed New Year to Everyone.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Evaluating Our Priorities

Not unlike the rest of the nation who is still reeling in the wake of yesterday's horrific tragedy, I was deeply affected by the senseless loss of life.

I am not going to rant and rave about the gun laws and lack of control our nation seems to be so apathetic about changing, instead, I am going to talk about keeping our priorities straight and evaluating the prospective we have about our own individual lives.

It is so easy to get lost in the maze of our own  seemingly endless problems. We forget from time to time what is really important. We get preoccupied in everyday trivialities, which upon closer examination and when weighed against what is really important, seem petty and sometimes even meaningless.

We forget the joy of a child's smiling face, the hug from a close friend, the comfort we feel when surrounded by those whom we love and who love  us. This heinous act which was perpetrated upon innocent children and loving, dedicated educators is a sobering reminder that we should pay closer attention and show more appreciation to people we love.

It is never known in advance what lays ahead around the next bend in our lives, consequently, perhaps we should try to be more conscientious about telling and showing those whom we love how much they really mean to us.

We get wrapped up in the business of living and sometimes take for granted that those who are in our lives will always be there. If everyone would tell at least one other person every day that they love them, that they are proud of them, and that they appreciate them, our world would be so much more of a loving place in which to live.

When I think about those children whose lives were snuffed out in the blink of an eye, I want to cry. I want to cry for what could have and should have been.

Let us all reexamine our priorities to determine what is really important in our lives, remembering that love and life are what our real priorities should be.

I am as guilty as  anyone of getting caught up in my own world of problems and not remembering to tell my family and friends how much they mean to me and how much better my life is because they are a part of it.

I hope that many lessons will be learned through the loss of all of those innocent lives yesterday and that we as people collectively will change whatever needs to be changed, be it laws, attitudes, societal tolerance, or restraint to curtail if not totally eliminate further needless bloodshed.

Today is the day and now is the time to change our priorities, demonstrate  our love for each other not only through our words but also through our actions. Each of us have the capacity to evoke change and the first step is to exemplify our reverence for life itself and every one's inalienable right to live happy and fulfilling lives.

May God bless those children and teachers who lives were stolen from them yesterday and may God's strength and peace be with the family and friends of those who have suffered such an inconceivable loss. Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weird Blog Comments

For the past few months I have been receiving weird blog comments, always by an anonymous person. The comments usually pay some arbitrary or generic compliment, followed by a web page or other blog they would like for me to visit.

I visited a few of them and they have absolutely nothing to do with my blog post. Could it be that some word contained within the title of my particular blog post prompted a person searching on google to my site? If that is the case, than why would this be happening all of a sudden?

A few months ago I received a blog comment on the post I titled, "Utilizing All of Your Tools" the comment said, "Alle denken immer nur das Eine." I had a friend of mine translate it from the German it was written in, to English. The translation is, "Some people only think of themselves." What is that supposed to mean?

If anyone has any insight as to why this has been happening please share that information with me. It is a little irritating to me that these unrelated and irrelevant comments are being sent to me.

My blog was designed to be informative and hopefully uplifting, not used as a means to promote or increase the Internet traffic on another blog or website that is not connected with my blog topic or concerned with life as an amputee.

While I am on the subject of blog comments, I think there has been some confusion as to how a comment is posted on my blog site. If you would like to leave a comment, you enter it in the comment section following the blog post. If you want your comment to appear at the end of my blog, after entering the comment, hit the word publish and it will be printed in the comment box for other blog visitors to read.

The comment box at the end of a blog post serves two purposes; first, to give me, the author, some feedback from you, the reader, and secondly, by publishing your comment, I then have the opportunity to respond to you comments.

This back and forth dialogue is something I have always hoped would happen but has never actually caught on. Does all of this make sense?

There is a blog forum associated with "" and I guess I should pose these questions to the forum to see if others have experienced similar occurrences.

I am only writing these things because I am hoping these arbitrary comments will stop, which is not to say that I do not value reader's comments, on the contrary, I highly value the comments my readers take the time to write.

I enjoy reading the comments sent to me, both positive and negative. It gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that people feel the words I share about my experiences as a bilateral amputee have meaning and are relevant.

This blog was meant not only to be informative but to also help people understand my life as I go through it as an amputee. Ultimately, I hope this blog serves as words of encouragement  to others who may not be an amputee per se, but looking for a new perspective on how to interpret  life's circumstances and learn to live as happy and positive a life as possible.

Thank you.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

What Lies Ahead?

It was two years ago at this time I was cruising the Caribbean with my friend Shawn, his sister, Lisa and her husband Dan. I remember before I went on that trip I had a little trepidation because of the loss of my right leg.

Even though I was going to the gym, driving around, and a lot of other things, I remember being a little apprehensive about the whole cruise ship thing. My sister Rhonda said, "Are you crazy? This is a trip of a lifetime, if you don't go, I will." I also sought and received a lot of positive words from my friend Ruthie, who has been on several cruises.

Obviously I went on the 10 day trip and I had a great time. It was one of, if not the only time in my life, I didn't know what day of the week it was, what time of day it was, I didn't know the date and I didn't care, that's relaxation.

I have written in past blog posts about my friend Shawn. Shawn was about a year and a half into his cancer diagnosis and he was doing reasonably well, all things considered. I remember, as I had anticipated, we had a couple of heart to heart conversations. One conversation in particular has really stayed with me. Suffice it to say the upshot of our talk ended up with Shawn crying, telling me he did not want to die.

Little did I know that this would be the last vacation I ever took when I still had one natural leg. Shortly after we returned from our trip, about two weeks, I got the final blow that ended up with my losing my left leg. Many times I had thought about what would happen to me if I lost the one remaining natural leg I had left (excuse the pun). I had no idea the loss of this second leg was so imminent.

Recently I found out about the death of a person who at one time in my life, I considered to be a very good and close friend. Out of respect for her and her family she shall remain nameless in this post. This woman was someone who prided herself on the care she took of her physical body. She was a vegetarian all of her life, she excercised religiously, she never smoked, took drugs or was ever overweight.

This past October she died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

Now I know you might be thinking why is he writing about all of these things? What is the connection?

My point is who would have known two years ago at this time, I would lose two friends to cancer and lose my second leg?

I am glad we are not able to see into the future, knowing in advance what lay ahead for us. I think life is designed that way because it is nature's way of letting us continue down our respective paths unobstructed by the sometimes cruel twists of fate that lay in our future.

By the same token, we also do not know the joys that lay ahead either. I have heard people say I wish I would have known that was going to happen in advance, so that I could have prevented this or that.

I think nature or God has it correct, we should not know of the pain or of the joy that lay ahead so that we try to live today for today's sake.

Do you think I would have enjoyed my 10 day cruise knowing that two weeks after I returned I was going to lose my second leg? Do you think my two friends who both succumbed to cancer would have fought as hard as they both did if they knew for sure it was a hopeless endevour? I don't think so.

A lot of my blog posts have the same underlying themes but are expressed differently. Two of those themes are: stay in the moment and appreciate what you have while you have it. I think those themes keep reoccurring because they are truths and things always revert back to the truth.

You never know what lies around the bend, and I for one am glad not knowing. How about you?

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Monday, November 19, 2012


With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of days from now, I thought I would express some of my thoughts about being thankful.

I try to express my thanks for all that I have been given on a regular basis. I remember over five years ago I was praying to God that my name might be selected to receive this condo. I told God in my prayer that if I was given the opportunity to receive this home I would never take it for granted.

My prayer stated that I would thank Him/Her for this blessing each and every day. In the morning when I wheel myself into the main living area of my home, I look around and immediately thank God for my beautiful surroundings.

It is easy to get caught in a cycle of always wanting more, wanting bigger, wanting better, wanting more expensive, sometimes we need to stop, observe, and appreciate all that we already have and have been blessed to receive.

Some may wonder, given all that I have been through with the loss of both of my legs, what do I have to be thankful for? Actually the list is too long to even begin to write here.

As I have written before, my friend Michelle McKinney Hammond said to me in the hospital, after the loss of my second leg, "Through great losses come great blessings." I have never forgotten her precious words. What Michelle said is true, the loss I have suffered physically has afforded me the time to reflect upon my situation, and I have chosen to see the good where one might find only hardship and dispair.

The personal strength I found within myself was certainly God sent and I am ever so grateful for having found it.

I am not saying that my life is not difficult, because it is, however, dwelling on what is so terrible does not lend itself to leading a happy and productive life.

The people who are currently in my life, and some who are no longer in my life, have each demonstrated their love and compassion for me throughout the entire ordeal of losing my legs, and most continue to do so.

How can I not be thankful for such wonderful family and friends? There are so many other possible scenarios that could have been so much worse for me than where I find myself today, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

I am not hungry, I am not homeless, and I am not alone. I could have chosen to live a life of regrets, filled my days with wondering what could or should have been, driving myself crazy with feelings of guilt or living life in the past, however, I chose not to live that way.

We as individuals owe God and ourselves praise and thanksgiving for all that we now have and all that we will ever have.

As the holiday season is upon us, let us renew our appreciation for life itself and all of the opportunities we have to seek and find happiness and be thankful for our ability to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone today and every day.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding the Humor

I remember the first time I walked into Cheetah Gym after losing my right leg. I went to the gym before my prosthetic leg had even been constructed, using a walker and my one natural leg.

Another gym patron, named Whitley, saw me and said, presumably as a joke, "it looks like you lost something." If looks could kill, he would be dead now, I shot him a look of anger, disbelief and disgust. I then proceeded to tell him I did not think this whole thing was a joking matter. I continued to say in a very hostile manner, even if I wanted to hear jokes about my loss it would not be from the likes of someone like him, practically a stranger to me and obviously not a friend.

Well that occurred over four years ago and I am now able to see some of the humor in my situation. Finding humor and laughing about your predicament can really help to alleviate some of the stress you may feel and some of the uneasiness people feel when confronted with the disabled.

Just recently, I was talking to my sister, Rhonda, and she was about to tell me something really exciting so she said, "Are you sitting down?" We both laughed because a great deal of the time I am seated in my wheelchair.

In another conversation she and I were having, I was telling her about a friend of mine who is about to undergo a second knee  replacement. Rhonda said, "I sure hope that doesn't happen to me." I responded that I knew it would never ever have to worry about knee replacements, again we both laughed about the irony of the situation.

My friend Ruthie and I have also had some humorous moments regarding my leg losses. One time she was here visiting, shortly after the loss of my first leg, when she overheard a phone conversation I was having, when for whatever reason, I said to the person I was talking to, "but I don't have a leg to stand on." Ruthie started laughing and I asked why are you laughing? She said think about what you just said.

Just the other day I was telling Ruthie about the loss of yet another friend of mine to cancer. I was explaining that I have a photograph of three people, two of whom have died of cancer, leaving only me. She said," I don't mean to be disrespectful and excuse the pun but are you the last man standing?" Forgive me if it sounds a little sick to find humor is such a scenario but the way she phrased it was funny, and we both laughed.

Lets  face it when I am standing on those short legs which are completely disproportionate to my long torso and arms, it is funny looking, no two ways about it.

What has changed for me has been my ability to go with the flow, not get caught up in the seriousness of my condition, but rather see the humor in some of the things that are said or happen.

One of my closest friends, Steve, has said to me on numerous occasions, regarding someone who I had been having a rocky romantic relationship, "How hard is it to walk on eggshells without any legs?"

It goes on and on but you get my drift. I am  now able to see humor, where there once was self-consciousness and embarrassment, I can laugh about it most of the time.

If I had to choose between laughing and crying about my unfortunate leg losses, I am glad I chose laughter.

After all they say, "Laughter is the best medicine." and besides I have saved a fortune on shoes and socks.

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Monday, October 29, 2012


If you are not happy with the way things are now, you will never be happy. Happiness can be elusive, something you are always seeking but somehow never finding. It is easy to find things to be unhappy about, your looks, your finances, your weight, your lack of accomplishment, the list is endless.

I have had people say to me that they are amazed at how happy I seem to be. Usually I answer by saying, "Really?" Do you think so?

My friend Steve said to me yesterday that are so many people who have lives that seem to be less troubled than yours and yet they seem to be more unhappy than he says I appear to be.

Certainly we all have varying degrees of happiness depending on what is going on in our lives at any particular moment. I do try to be a happy person most of the time. I tend to shy away from thoughts of self-pity and of focussing on what I do not have or have lost.

Things are the way they are. We can only do the best that we can given the circumstances in which  we find ourselves. For me, happiness is not that difficult to achieve. I make a conscious effort to be happy about the good in my life.

Currently I am happy about finding a roommate after an exhaustive five month search. Even though my new roommate, Drew, will only be here for six months, it will give me much needed financial relief, that makes me happy.

I am happy to have such a beautiful condo and I am thrilled that despite the loss of both of my legs I am able to live independently.

What brings me the greatest happiness is the love and support I receive from my family and friends.  My life would be so much different if I didn't have a family who I knew I can count on to always be here for me.

I have written many times about the importance of friendship in my life. I do not think the quality I find in my life would be nearly as fulfilling and satisfying without the continued support of my friends.

Anyone could easily find reasons not to be happy and wallow in a pit of how awful their lives are, I choose not to do that, even though with the loss of my legs it would very easy to do.

I want to be a happy person and so I seek and find reasons to be happy. When this whole leg loss nightmare reared it's ugly head, I knew I could be aimed toward a life of difficulty, self-pity and potential unhappiness.

Granted, my life has had its share of difficulty but somehow I have always had a flame of hope that has continued to flicker.

No one is ever happy 100% of the time, but we do have some control of our personal happiness.

Do I think some people are predisposed to being happier than others? Possibly, there do seem to be individuals who see the positive aspect of situations more readily than others. However, I think  we could all invest time in trying to be more positive about our lives.

Some people have told me that I live in a PollyAnna world, seeing the world through rose colored glasses. It is true I have a tendency to see the good in people and situations, if I can.

As I have demonstrated through the writing of this blog over the past nearly two years, I also feel discouragement, impatience, disappointment, and host of other negative emotions. What I try not to do is get locked into those emotions foe an extended period of time.

I feel that if I want to deal successfully with being a bilateral transfemerol amputee, I must continue down a path that is optimistic, always searching for and finding a little bit of happiness along the way.

If that is being a PollyAnna than so be it, I am happy to fulfill that role....I think it beats the alternative.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Utilizing All of Your "Tools"

When I was at the prosthetist's office a couple of weeks ago, Jason, my prosthetist, and I were having a discussion and we wound up talking about how amputees sometimes end up using all of their various walking aids to help them accomplish whatever is needed at that time to get the job done.

For example, I use my long legs when I drive, I walk with my walker and long legs from my wheelchair to my car and get in. When I climb stairs, I use my short legs because climbing stairs in my long legs is not possible for me at this time.

If I have to cover a long distance or if time and  or fatigue enter the picture, I resort to using my wheelchair.

For a long time I felt as if I needed to use only one "tool," namely my short legs, and as a consequence of that feeling, I began to have guilt about not utilizing them as much as perhaps I should.

The fact of the matter is, as it turns out, that it is the combination of the canes, the walker, the shortlegs, the long legs and the wheelchair that seem to enable me to do the most various of tasks, choosing the appropriate tools suited to the appropriate job at hand.

As stated previously, this whole life as an amputee is an ever-evolving event. As time goes by, we as amputees, figure out what works best for each of us as individuals and also what means of ambulation we will use.

I feel blessed to have at my disposal all of the tools I need to accomplish most things I set out to do. I think this realization, which has taken a long time to arrive, has taught me that there is no right or wrong way to accomplishment, which then allows me to continue down my path to autonomy.

Last week I stained the balcony deck of the condo unit above mine. I knew I would not be able to do it in my long, and sometimes cumbersome, legs, nor would I be able to use my wheelchair, except as a means to get upstairs.

I donned my short legs and sat on the balcony deck and did my work. That seemingly simple job, staining a small deck, gave me a real feeling of accomplishment, in addition to earning a little money.

Sometimes what should have been a simple realization can take a long time to manifest itself. My ephipheny of sorts, was that using all of the tools available to me to accomplish various things is the simplest and most efficient way to live my life.

Let me make just one qualifying statement regarding my new realization, that is: just because I choose to use my short legs or wheelchair or whaever to accomplish a certain task, does not preclude me from continuing to try to improve my usage of the long legs and never give up on my goal of walking proficiently on them.

If you are new to this whole "life as an amputee" world it would behoove you to broaden your horizons and realize there is no right or wrong way to accomplishment.

Whatever means you use to reach a particular goal is perfectly fine. Don't get caught up in the method you used to complete a task, as I did, but rather, rejoice in the fact you dared to do something and you got it done.

It is certainly better to utilize whatever means that are necessary to perpetuate self-sufficiency than it is to do nothing at all and become dependant on others for everything. At least, that is the way I see it.

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Monday, October 8, 2012


I was recently reading an article in the magazine "In Motion" a publication produced by the Amputee Coalition, about the statistics of employment with regard to amputees.

I found the statistics interesting because I felt as if my situation was an unusual one. As it turns out only 20% of wheelchair and walker users are employed. Think about that, 80% of persons in wheelchairs or those who use walkers are unemployed, a staggering statistic.

It has not been easy for me to try to earn extra income. Needless to say I cannot do the interior decorative painting I used to do and enjoyed doing so much. Imagine yourself suddenly unable to do a job you have trained so hard to do through education or actual experience and then not being able to do it any longer.

Occasionally I am able to sell some of my artwork and I feel blessed to be able to at least contribute a little to my income through my artisitic ability.

When you lose one limb, even above the knee, and if you were able to keep one natural leg intact, your life isn't nearly as dramatically impacted as when you lose both legs, especially both legs above the knee.

I have discussed in past blog posts the repercussions of bilateral above knee amputation. It is not easy to forestall feelings of guilt about your inability to remain financially independent, the toll it takes on your income and the emotional impact of it on your psyche.

The degree of difficulty you may find depends on many contributing factors surrounding your limb loss.

One consideration to take into account is what it was that lead to your disability. If you lost a limb(s) through a traumatic incident like an accident or an act of war, chances are after the long and arduous recovery period, the rest of your body may recover almost fully.

Contrast that scenario with limb loss attained through the progression of disease, such as diabetes or vascular issues. Those persons may never fully recover physically to the same degree that an individual who sustained traumatic injury was able to recover. However the psycohological impact of traumatic injury I feel is greater than loss through disease.

Those who have suffered limb loss through disease may have compromised blood flow throughout other areas of their body  and have to deal with  the actual degenerative nature of the disease as it progresses.

As we know my leg losses were through vascular issues, namely chronic blood clots resulting in poor blood flow to my legs and feet. These factors may have contributed to my compromised ability to walk again especially with regard to endurance.

My main point is that your capacity to seek and find employment is dependent upon many factors.

Another consideration is the age at which you lost your limbs, assuming they were not a congenitial disorder. The earlier in your life you have lost a limb, a sad and unfortunate happenstance at any age, can work to your advantage at least slightly because you are younger,  presumably stronger and can adapt more readily to change.

Additionally, when you are young you can adapt your future vocation and educational level based on your disability, seeking education and or training that take into account what you are physically capable of doing.

When you suffer limb loss later in life, adjustment isn't as easy and there is not as much time to seek and fulfill further education to help you develop new skills more adapted to your disability.

I hope this does not come across to my readers as excuses for not trying to do your best in all circumstances. I am simply trying to point out factors and situations you may not have considered previously.

For me it has been a soul searching mission to try to figure out at age 55 (in three weeks) what I can and will do in my future to stay actively seeking ways to sustain my own well being. I am constantly searching for creative new ways of making money and will continue to do so.

Currently I make a meager contribution with my artwork, which could get better, and I am actively seeking a roommate to help contribute to my household income.

Tomorrow I am staining the balcony of my upstairs neighbor, not a lot of money, but it helps. Staining the balcony shouldn't be that difficult for me, after all few people are closer to the ground than I am wearing my short legs.

By the way having a sense of humor about your situation isn't a bad idea either.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Am Not a Victim

Normally I shy away from allowing my political views to influence what I write in this blog, however, given the  events the have transpired recently in the political arena, I feel compelled to comment on the cold and callous remarks made by presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.

I feel one of the greatest qualities a person can possess is their compassion for their fellow man. Without compassion, imagine what this world would be like. By showing compassion, sympathy and understanding to people whose lives have taken some hard hits, we demonstrate the humane side of our existence. A willingness to offer help and support to those who are less fortunate than ourselves exemplifies the very qualities that make us different from all other life forms, in essence it is what makes us human.

The comments made by Mitt Romney to a room full of wealthy political prospective donors, was reprehensible. Some may say that Mitt Romney was placating those donors, simply telling them what they wanted to hear, making sure they got some bang for their bucks, all in order to achieve his ultimate goal of receiving money to further his political agenda.

Even if he was placating those donors, the ease with which the words he spoke flowed forth, leads me to believe he was speaking from his heart. I believe this was the first time in American history that a presidential nominee has so utterly and completely dismissed half of the country he hopes to lead.

I suppose if I had to choose what part of his dismissive rant was the most offensive, it would be his belief that those who are poor, downtrodden, disabled, or uneducated see themselves as victims. As if to add more indignation to his disdain for half of the US population, he said that we of that group were unwilling to take responsibility for our lives.

I can only speak for myself by objecting adamantly that his evaluation and judgments are morally wrong and disheartening to say the least. Regarding his opinion that those of us who find ourselves in that infamous 47% feel entitled, I for one worked thirty five years for those alleged entitlements, how is that different from Mr. Romney expecting dividends from stock he has invested in?

You may wonder how all of this relates to my blog concerning limb loss. I have tried wholeheartedly and I believe successfully at not being a victim of my circumstances. Granted I have reached out for help from family and friends but that does not undermine all of the work both mentally and physically I have exerted to insure my independence.

 I am not unlike thousands, if not millions, of others who have suffered hardship, in all of its forms, to overcome and work diligently to remain an  automous person and  productive citizen of my community.

How can a priviledged man, like Mitt Romey, pass on his vile and convoluted opinions about those who are not like him and dismiss them so readily? Is passing judgment and writing off an entire segment of the population part of what God, Christ and the Mormon Church has taught him?

Although I may not have reached my ultimate goal of walking full time and learning new job skills to become gainfully employed, I have taken full responsibility for my life. As I continue down my path I am constantly seeking ways to better my life and lift any burden of responsibility from my family and friends.

There are many other people in the disabled community who have overcome even greater obstacles than mine, risen above their disabilities and achieved great feats. Do you think they view themselves as victims?

When you suffer a debilitating loss, it is important to retain your personal dignity. It seems unfair, unjust and wrong for another individual, or group of individuals to attempt to rob you of the dignity and the accomplishments you have worked so hard to retain and achieve.

I saw Ann Romney commenting about how hard it has been for she and Mitt to be subjected to the rigors of political life, exposing every aspect of their personal lives to public scrunity. Guess what Governor and Mrs. Romney, I have a difficult time identifying with your version of how difficult your lives have been.

It is difficult for me to walk in your shoes because I have no feet or legs and yet I persevere, remain optimistic about the future and take responsibility for my life.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

I received a letter from MediCare on August 27 stating I had reached $1700 of the$1880 allotment for physical therapy for the calendar year 2012.

I realize I have received a great deal of physical therapy at an extremely high monetary cost, but what was so disheartening was that this newly imposed cap on physical therapy was done retroactively. In other words, had we, my physical therapist and myself, known at the beginning of this year that there was a cap on the coverage, we would have spaced the PT sessions appropriately, thus spreading them out to last the entire year.

As of the writing of this blog entry I have no more physical therapy until January 2013, if then. Bear in mind I have been going to PT for way over a year continuously and have become somewhat dependent upon it.

I did not begin this blog segment to start a complaint session about the pitfalls of our MediCare system, but rather I wanted to explain to my readers that when you are in a situation similar to mine and have been going to PT at least once a week for over a year, you become accustomed to going.

It may sound strange to some people that you would look forward to physical therapy, but I in fact do look forward to it. I look forward to it for many reasons.

First and foremost it has helped me tremendously to regain my strength and put in place the necessary tools needed to learn to walk again.

Secondly, the encouragement and advice I received at PT made me feel good about myself and my accomplishments. As I have stated in previous blog passages, I have developed very special relationships  not only with my physical therapist, Chris, but also everyone in the physical therapy department from the receptionists Akella and Eddie Mae to the supervisor, Chuck.

I suppose a person could have treated PT as a way of reaching a goal, but it was so much more than that to me. I feel I took a situation that some could have chosen to dread and turned it into a fun and funny endeavor, laughing, joking, having fun and at the same time learning and also helping to teach others.

My weekly visits to PT became a part of my life's routine. I have developed relationships with a lot of people at PT and I know they looked forward to seeing me as much as I looked forward to seeing them.

I will probably return to physical therapy in 2013 periodically to have my progress monitored and I am happy about that.

One of the regrettable things about having a good attitude toward medical treatments and developing relationships with those who are helping you, is that inevitably it must come to an end. If I were honest with myself, I could have cut back on PT a while ago but I became dependent upon going, getting out of the house, and surrounding myself with people I grew to love and appreciate.

I am happy and thankful that I have met so many wonderful people through my experience as out patient at Rush University Medical Center's Physical Therapy Department.

I hope I have touched the lives of those whom I have had the peasure of interacting with as much as they have touched my life.

By the way, Chris you still have not written the guest blog spot you promised me you would. I am sure you will get to it.

Heartfelt thanks and love to those at the Physical Therapy Department at Rush.
Love, Glenn

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Finding a Roommate

I have been trying to find a roommate for the last three months. I don't know why it has been so difficult.

When I first began searching for someone to help share living expenses I never dreamt it would be such a arduous task. I joined a couple of roommate search websites, they proved futile. Even though they advertise to be free, the only thing that is free is posting the ad itself. After that, in order to respond to an interested party you had to purchase the "premium membership" which cost thirty dollars.

I paid  the premium membership fee for a month on two different websites. I never had one response that led to a face to face meeting to view my condo. I reluctantly decided to try Craigslist, much to my surprise I have received more responses from that than from either pay as you go website.

Nevertheless, nothing has actually worked out as far as finding a suitable roommate.Of course it should go without saying I have had endless attempted scam artists trying their best to bilk me out of money. It saddens me to know that dishonest people put so much time and energy into these elaborate scams to try to cheat honest people out of their money.  What is even sadder is that they sometimes succeed in cheating some people, who are more trusting than I, despite my reputation that has been described as a Pollyanna.

When I first began placing my "roommate wanted" ad on Craigslist, I felt compelled to disclose that I was disabled, a wheelchair user. I felt I was being honest and upfront about myself and I didn't want to be deceitful or misleading. After talking to several people, it was determined that I was revealing too much information too quickly.

After all, I wouldn't put in the ad that I was 500 pounds overweight, even if I really were, nor would I put that I was Africian American or that I wore glasses, why then would I put that I was disabled?

I decided the right time to mention my disability was after a person has expressed a real interest in viewing my condo, before they actually arrived at my doorstep. My sister advised she would never verbally tell them, she would simply open the door seated in a wheelchair.

As the three months have gone by, I have had six or eight face to face meetings with prospective roommates none of these have worked out for various reasons. I have begun to wonder if my disability has hindered my success in finding a roommate.

I understand that people might have the misconception that I am looking for a roommate/caretaker. I have tried to reassure people I was simply looking for a suitable roommate to help share living expenses, nothing less, nothing more. I have explained I have a personal assistant that works for me three days a week, who assists me in doing things I am no longer able to do myself.

Perhaps I am fooling myself by feeling as if I do not look or act like a helpless person, dependent upon others for everything in my life. I feel as if I look healthy, strong, not overweight, and in good shape, all things considered.

I have been trying to put myself in the prospective roommate's position as best I can. I wonder if a younger person, whose life experiences have not yet revealed the pitfalls that life can present, who still feels invinicible and immuned to physical casualities, would want to be roommates with someone who has physical issues?

I wonder would I have been willing to "deal with" a disabled person when I myself was not  physically disabled, young and healthy, I am not sure.

Am I crazy to think this whole disability and wheelchair thing has a stigma attached to it that is hindering me from finding a roommate? Do some people not want to face another person who has suffered a debilitating loss, perhaps because it forces them to face their own human vunerability?

I think about my beautiful condo, the price I am asking, and the location, which seem to be on target with every other ad I have reviewed on Craigslist and I cannot help but wonder what, if any, my disability has played in my search for a roommate.

I know eventually I will find the right person but it sure has been tough so far. What do you think have I gone off the deep end?

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Climbing the Ladder Figuratively

Some people, including myself, never seem to cut themselves any slack. In an attempt to accomplish and gain more, we sometimes forget to take a step back and examine our lives.

A couple of weeks ago, Chris, my physical therapist, said that she was thinking about me and what I was able to do after the loss of my second leg in January 2011. What she was really referring to was the fact that after having lost both legs I was able and allowed to go immediately back home. She explained most people in that situation would have ended up in a nursing home, at least for a while.

I never really gave it much thought, I guess  because I never realized that the situation, at that time, was so precarious. It never dawned on me that I would not be going directly home from the hospital, isn't that what everyone does? Apparently not.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that even in my position, I still take some things for granted, have a tendency to be too self critical, and not allow myself to actually be proud of what I have accomplished, given my circumstances.

It is almost like walking a tight rope, or balancing on two prosthetic legs, to strike a compromise between accomplishment and complacency. I feel that if I become too satisified with the way things are, it will preclude me from accomplishing more. This is not all together true.

After reflecting upon this balance of accomplishment versus complacency, I realize you reach a point where you can and should give yourself credit for what has already been achieved regardless of whether or not you achieve more in the future.

Without playing into that old comparison game, we all tend to do from time to time, it is perfectly alright to take a breather and be proud of who you are and what you have done.

If we as individuals can look at our lives and feel any sense of attainment, we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge and appreciate what we have done, even if that means, in our own minds, we have not arrived at where we ultimately want to be.

Spending our lives being dissatisfied with what we have not yet completed can prevent us from realizing and being cognizant of what we have already done. It can become a futile merry-go-round robbing us of our well deserved happiness.

I sometimes forget how amazing it is that I am able to live on my own, drive my own car, and even climb stairs, without the benefit of either one of my legs. If these are not accomplishments,  than I have forgotten what accomplishment means.

I feel I have the type of personality that is always driven, I strive for a sense of accomplishment, always reaching for the next rung on the ladder, seeking to climb higher and higher.

Sometimes when we are climbing those rungs on the ladder of our life, we need to look down and see how far we have already climbed. Who knows we may learn to enjoy the view from this height, if not, we will climb higher.

The point is we need to stop and enjoy the view from where we are, be thankful and proud we were able to reach the point where we now find ourselves, and realize the long climb has already been worth it.

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Friday, August 31, 2012

My Mother's Death

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of my mother's death. It is hard to believe it has been so long. It is funny how as time goes by, and even though you have a lot of memories of the people whom you have loved, it almost becomes like a dream.

The longer you have been seperated from someone because of their death, your memories become more and more hazy. I hate that.

I remember seventeen years ago when my youngest sister, Delpha, called me to tell me our mother had passed away in her sleep, it was a Thursday. At first I didn't believe what she was telling me was true, not because I actually thought she wasn't telling the truth, but rather that she was mistaken.

My disbelief was so strong I asked to speak to the EMT who was still there at their apartment, to ask whether what my sister told me was true.

After I hung up the phone I collapsed on the floor crying hysterically for quite a while, I was in  shock and disbelief. My Mom was not in the best of health but I had just talked to her two days before and  I had no indication that she was in any  imminent health crisis.

As it turned out I was in Indianapolis for the Labor Day holiday weekend, I had not been home for a visit for two years. I called my Mom on a Tuesday to tell her I was in town and that I was planning a pool party at my friend Mark's house on Saturday. I asked her to come to Mark's for the party, of course I offered to pick her up and bring her back home afterward.

On the day I had originally planned the pool party, we buried my Mother.

As I have stated in other blog posts I keep a picture of my parents hanging on the wall in my bedroom. I talk to the picture all the time.

I know in my heart my Mother is still with me but I can't physically see or hear her in our physical plane. I am grateful that neither one of my parents lived long enough to see me go through the loss of both of my legs, I know how hard if would have been for them and all of the subsequent worry that would have ensued.

My Mother lived a difficult life, the loss of a child, two divorces, numerous medical and mental issues, and I have known for quite some time that she is in a happier place, free from the constraints and hardships of this life.

I just wanted to take the time to acknowledge her death and to voice how much I miss her.

Mom, wherever you are I know you are always watching over me with loving eyes and loving thoughts.
Thank you for contributing to the kind of person I am today, I hope I make you proud.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

It Is All In How You Look At It

Last week was packed full of medical and other types of appointments.

Monday I had to have blood drawn at the lab at Rush University Medical Center Professional Building immediately followed by an appointment with my Rehabilition Doctor. There are now more strigent requirements being placed on patients and healthcare providers by MediCare, resulting in more actual doctor appointments. Effective immediately MediCare will no longer accept any other healthcare provider's notes as criteria for reimbursement for services provided, this includes prosthetists and physical therapists.

What does all of this mean? It means more trips to the doctor, longer waiting periods for treatment and longer wait periods for receipt of prescribed medical devices.

Tuesday I had an appointment with my prothetist, Jason. I was supposed to receive my new right "short" leg but of course it could not be completed because of the aforementioned new procedures being implemented by MediCare.

Wednesday, I had my usual physical therapy appointment with Chris.

Friday I had an appointment with my caseworker, Lisa, here at my home, followed by an appointment with a prospective roommate, who incidentally cancelled.

You may be thinking who cares? The reason I am writing this is because I want those who are new to the amputation and prosthetic arena to get used to these appointments. Not only get used to them but also welcome them into your new reality. Being an amputee means, among a lot of other things, being relegated to seeing healthcare professionals on a regular basis, most likely for the rest of your life.

The physical therapist will probably be the healthcare professional you will see most often, especially at the beginning. This is especially true  if you are like me, and desire to learn to use your prothesis to the best of its intended advantage. Believe it or not, I have had at least one PT appointment every week for the last year.

Because I am a bilateral above knee amputee, I am in a somewhat unique position. First, there are not a lot of bilateral AK amputees who are capable and or willing to put forth the work necessary to regain their mobility and secondly, learning to walk without the benefit of either knee component is a daunting task, to say the least.

It may seem strange for you to hear me say that if you have only lost one leg you are lucky. Moreover, you are even luckier if on that one leg you have lost, you have been able to retain your knee component. The advantage to having one remaining natural leg is endless, compared to losing both legs and these disadvantages are multiplied ten fold if you include the loss of both of your knees.

Those who have been able to keep one leg, can expect your PT session period to be shortened a great deal over those who have lost more. Speaking from my own personal experience, you can lead a fairly normal and certainly productive life with one natural leg and one prosthetic leg. Things become dramatically more complicated and difficult with the loss of both legs, particularly if that includes the loss of both knees, some, if not most, will find walking impossible.

I have touched upon in past blog posts about the important role the prosthetist plays in an amputee's life. As an amputee, you can expect to see your prosthetist several times a year. As a rule of thumb, the earlier you are in your adjustment to living with a prothesis, the more frequently you will see your prothetist. After a certain period of time, your visits may become less frequent, however, you will be seeing the prothetist for as long as you actively use a prothesis.

If you are going to live a happy and fulfilling life, you must learn to accept that your new reality will be one that involves seeing healthcare professionals, like the rehab doctor, the physical therapist, and the prosthetist.

The outlook you choose to take with regard to those whom you will meet at regular intrevals can determine not only the results you receive but also how happy or unhappy you make your life.

I would advise not to dread your upcoming appointments but to realize the benefit you derive from having such dedicated professionals involved in your life. It is all in how you look at it.

You can choose dread regarding your appointments or you can appreciate the help that is being offered to you. I, of course, choose the latter, it has served me well.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hang On For One More Day

When a person has been through a devastating loss, as I have, through the loss of my legs, a lot of things change in your life. Not just the obvious inability to walk, but more often than not you are unable to perform the job you were doing before your loss. This is not always true but in my instance it is, as my work was very physically demanding.

With the loss of your job of course comes the loss of income and on it goes. Currently I feel as though I am being barraged by a multitude of circumstances that seem to be out of my control.

First of all, I have been trying for the last two months to find a roommate to help share living expenses, specifically the mortgage payment. One would think that this would not be a difficult endeavor, however, it has proved to be most challenging.

My experiences have gone from people promising to come over at a specified time and not showing up or even bothering to call, to others who reveal irrelevant details about their lives and ask me to do them favors, even though I have never actually laid eyes upon them. I have also had two people and their dog asking me to let them move in for 4-6 months,  when my ad states I am looking  for one person, no pets, and a year lease. I don't get it.

Meanwhile I have been trying to get a loan modification through my lousy mortgage company, CitiMortgage, for the past 6 months and it has been a complete runaround. On numerous occasions I have provided  to them at their  the endless requests, tons of paperwork and documentation  and a week before the decision is alledgedly going to be made, they request more senseless paperwork, thus prolonging the decision yet another month. This has happened at least 5 times.

While all of these things are going on simultaneously, I am trying to stay focussed on my disability and all that that entails. Needless to say my stress level is at an all time high.

Normally I would not write a blog post while in this state of mind and yet I feel it is necessary to express my level of concern about my life and my well being.

Try as I may, through prayer, postitive statements to myself, being thankful for what is and counting the many blessings I do have in my life, I  just cannot seem to make any progress toward solving any of my concerns at this time.

It is so easy to allow yourself to become overwhelmed by so many problems happening all at the same time. I realize that the best way to approach problems is to solve each problem one at a time. This is my normal system of resolving multiple issues but there seem to be so many things  over which I have little or no control.

What am I going to do? I am going to put the burden on God's shoulders, I am going to let go and let God show me the solution to all of these circumstances.

When you feel you have done all that you can do, you must let it go and quiet  your mind and body, then listen to that still small voice inside of you. A voice so faint it is barely audible but if you listen intently you receive the guidance you seek.

It is now three days later since I began writing this particular blog post and I feel a little better today, even though since I began this writing, I did receive written notice from my mortgage company and they are NOT going to modify my mortgage. Surprise. Surprise.

I have had a couple of conversations with friends about my various predictments and have received some reassurance, which made me feel better. No concrete solutions were found but talking about things to my friends have made me feel better.

Even though many people have told me how strong they think I am, occasionally I have real feelings of discouragement and weakness. Generally I don't like to show my weakness and vulnerability but we are, after all, only human and as much as we might try to disguise our self-doubt and an inability to cope, if only slightly and  temporarily, it is a comfort to know you have others to turn to for support.

All of the things I have mentioned are solvable, there are solutions to be found, maybe not right this minute or even today but things will be resloved one way or the other.

As my dear friend, Ruthie, pointed out to me, you have so many people who love and care about you, no real harm will happen, no one is going to idolly stand by and let you lose your home. Ruthie says when she has one of those days she just says, "I'm done" then she either pours herself a cocktail or goes to bed or both.

Not a bad idea...... tomorrow is another day.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why Bother?

Life would be so much easier if....

Sometimes I think to myself my life would have been so much easier if I had not lost my legs, however, that is not what happened.

It may be easy to fall into a trap of wishing things were different than they actually are. I think about how hard I work to regain my mobility, to get into my car, to change clothes, the list goes on and on. Occasionally I wonder why I bother to do anything at all. Why do I lift weights or struggle to pay my mortgage or even take a shower?

We as human beings want our lives to have meaning and purpose. We want to feel as if our existance on this planet postively affected someone to some degree.We want to better ourselves in whatever way we can so that we have some level of self-satisfaction and know we have made a difference to other people and to ourselves.

We want to effectively affect the lives of those whom we love or to help others live happier and more fulfilling lives,  without this type of purpose or reason our lives can become meaningless. We become empty shells going through the motion of  livng life aimlessly.

We bother to do the things we do because it is important and meaningful and what we have done or what we will do affects other people who are around us. When we leave this planet for good, at least in this lifetime, we want our legacy to have been one of honor and hopefully one of inspiration.

I for one do not want to live a life of quiet desperation, as Henry David Thoreau has pointed out, not bothering to search my soul and find purpose for my existance.

Introspection can be a scary thing. It can be scary because of what we find when we look inside ourselves or when we look back on the things we have said or done. Hopefully upon examining our lives we will find that we have learned from our mistakes and have grown while on our journey through life.

We bother to do things because the alternative, doing nothing, leaves us worse off than we would be if we had not tried to the best of our ability to accomplish goals, be autonomous individuals and seek fulfillment and happiness.

Is it a bother for me to climb 22 steps to reach the sundeck in my building? Of course it is a bother, but after that, I can enjoy being outside, listening to an audio book, write posts for my blog and have a change of scenery.

It is not selfish for us to do things simply because doing them makes us feel alive. We could have a bother- free life if we just sat and did nothing but there is no challenge in that nor is it a healthy way to exist.

Mere existance is devoid of challlenge, excitement, fulfillment and ultimately happiness. Sometimes I do wonder why I bother to do the things I do, but then I remember without bother there would be nothing to challenge me and that lack of challenge would be the bane of my existance.

Who would want that? Not me.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Face It and then....Embrace It

I finally stepped (or rather rolled) out of my comfort zone on Sunday. When I was at the the prosthetist's office last week one of my prosthetist, Eric, gave me a flyer about a picnic type of event at the lakefront hosted by an organizaton called, "Adaptive Adventures."

The flyer talked about having free food, drinks, music, and for me, more importantly, kayaking and riding a hand controlled bicycle. After my usual vacilating, should I or shouldn't I go, I decided to give it a try.

OMG I had a great time. I met several people, traded email addresses, and got some interesting viewpoints about life as an amputee. I am so happy I went.

First of all, the kayaking was a blast. I was in a two person kayak, I was seated in the front and an experienced kayaker was in the back. We were out on the water of Lake Michigan about 45 minutes, it was great. It was a wonderful experience, something I definitely want to do again.

After the kayaking I wanted to grab something to eat....too late ALL of the food was gone except for  a small amount of pasta salad and some questionable chicken. Live and learn. I guess you have to get to the food part as soon as it is presented or you are out of luck. These people did not have disabled appetites.

One of the men I met at this event was named Jorge. He was well known to most of the people in attendence and is apparently an intregal part of promoting amputee and disabled persons  participation in sporting events like softball and basketball. Jorge is very funny and very easy to talk to.

I expressed to Jorge I had misgivings about surrounding myself or immersing myself in the amputee and disabled person's culture. I said it may sound like I am a jerk or that I feel "above" other disabled persons but I didn't want to be defined by my limb loss.

Jorge explained to me that my feelings were not unusual, many people feel the same way. As he continued, he explained   that not everyone wants to be surrounded by fellow amputees or disabled persons.

It sometimes comes down to whether you want to embrace your new lifestyle as an amputee/disabled person and really take advantage of all of the life experiences you can realize when you participate in the amputee/disabled person community. Some people are content with life as it is and others seek to broaden their experiences and not allow their disability to hender them from living life fully.

A lot of concerned people  ( both able bodied and disabled) have worked very hard at establishing laws to protect and enhance the life of persons facing disability. Not so long ago there were many inaccessible places ( some still exist), including sidewalks and parking lots that were not designed for wheelchair users. It is funny before I became disabled myself  really didn't give it much thought, as most people don't, now I am of course very aware as are those who's lives I have touched.

One of the realizations that was made manifest to me on Sunday was that I have faced my disability head on and most people have told me admirably and what I am attempting to do now is to embrace my disability. Part of that embrace is to get out more into the community, be seen, and participate in the special programs specifically geared toward persons like myself who have special needs.

Like everything in life, it is a matter of evolving into the best person you can possibly be, given your circumstances. I feel I have made as healthy an adjustment to my life as a bilateral above knee amputee, with respect to my mental and emotional outlook as possible and now it is time to address other issues.

Those issues include going out into the community more, taking advantage of the special programs instituted specifically for disabled persons and trying to be more confident about where life has placed me. I realize this is no small order, but at least I believe I am at the point where I am willing to give it more of a try than I have in the past.

It should go without saying that endeavoring to do more means learning easier and more efficient ways to get into and out of my car and letting go of making excuses as to why I can't do things.

This Adaptive Adventure's barbecue taught me that there are a lot of people like me who refuse to let their disability stand in the way of their living their lives to the fullest, regardless of how difficult getting to their desired destination might be.

It  is a natural transformation that occurs, first you become disabled, then you face the disability, and if you choose, you can embrace your disability, and by doing so,  help to create a more fulfilling and happier life.

I will keep you posted on upcoming events and I will do my best not to lose the momentum I have acquired in part, because of attending the Adaptive Adventure's lakefront event.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

I have been following the results of a series of questions posed by a woman on a website called, "Empowering Amputees." These questions were about what people experienced through their limb loss.

The results were varied and the attitudes of the respondees ranged from optimistic to down right bitter. I would say the overridding common responses were that people should not believe all that they are told with regard to what they will be able to achieve after the loss of a limb. Often times thay can achieve much more than what they were originally told.

It should come as no surprise that the amputee is as successful in their attempt to "overcome" their disability as their particular attitude, willingness to work, and their experiences with various heathcare professionals, especially, the prosthetist and physical therapist.

I was surprised by the number of amputees in the survey  that had experienced problems with their prosthetic limbs and or their prosthetist. Granted, we will all have problems with our prosthetics and  some will have difficulty with their prosthetist. Perhaps we should not look at them as problems, but rather  a new reality. Learning to accept your new prosthetics, learning how to use them, and realizing it will take time to get the right fit and build up a tolerance to wearing them, is now a part of your life, don't look at it as a problem, just reality.

What I have learned throughout my ordeal is that prosthetic limbs are like a car engine, it needs to have adjustments made periodically, like rotating the tires or changing the oil. The job of a  prosthetist is a daunting one, trying to mimic the natural abilities of  natural legs or arms using a mechanical device.

I learned early on that you need to establish a good relationship with your prosthetist, if that is unattainable, you need to find a new prosthetist. A good healthy bond between you and your prosthetist is essential, after all they may be a critical deciding factor in your success, and more likely than not, be a part of your life as an amputee.

I remember when I first started dealing with a prosthetist, I felt I was complaining to them about every little thing, I felt I was being a nuisance. This could not be farther from the truth. A prosthetist can only be as good a problem solver as you are in your ability to explain what you are feeling when you wear your prosthetic limb.

A prosthetist can't read your mind nor can they try to fix something unless they  know a problems exists and what the problem is.

The degree of your limb loss can and does vary greatly among amputees. I know from personal experience that being a bilateral transfemoral amputee is much more difficult than having lost only one of your legs or being a below the knee amputee. Having a knee component on at least one leg or being a below knee amputee puts you at a great advantage over someone who has neither knee component, be thankful for that.

Several of the participants in this survey, I spoke of earlier, explained that they were told they would not be able to do this or that. The fact of the a matter it depends on each individual. Some may have thought that I, being a bilateral above knee amputee, would never be able to sustain myself, maintain an independant  living environment and live alone, and yet I have.

You learn new ways to do old things. You find ways to shower, to drive, to use the bathroom, cook, do laundry, etc. Your ability to be creative in approaching new ways to do things you used  do easily, is critical. Don't assume you can't do it, instead figure out a way to do it,  but do it differently, while at the same time still accomplishing the task. Of course some things will be impossible, but more are possible than are not possible, and that has to be your mindset, if you are going to be successful.

Having a correct attitude, being creative, working toward achievable goals, and establishing a good relationship with the healthcare workers you deal with, will make your life as an amputee, a little easier and hopefully, a lot happier.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I was driving to physical therapy last week and I drove past a man who was a double above knee amputee sitting in a wheelchair, begging. It touched me to my core. It touched me first of all because I can relate to his situation probably better than anyone I know and secondly because it made me feel sad for him. I wondered how he was in that situation?

The whole scenario made me feel thankful for all that I have despite the fact I have lost both of my legs. Sometimes we can get caught up in our own lives and our own predicaments and forget how fortunate we really are.

It is easy in our day to day lives to forget those whose lives are wrought with basic problems like lack of food, shelter and clothing. Perhaps my seeing this disabled man begging for money, reminded me that if it were not for my own insistent longing for the betterment of my life, I could be that man.

Sometimes I question where  a person's motivation or lack of motivation really comes from. Are we born a certain way or are we a product of the environment we were exposed to as children and molded by the events that occur in  our lives as we grow into adulthood?

Whatever the answers to these and so many more questions may be, it makes me thankful for my home, my family, my friends and even my lifestyle. Granted, my life has taken a turn that has put it in a place of perceived hardship, but seeing someone like the man I described earlier makes me realize and appreciate all that I have.

As I was writing this particular blog segment, I received a phone call from a friend of mine named Sylvia. Sylvia was my in home physical therapist, who helped me through a lot of my post-operative traumas including many of the by-pass operations and ultimately through the loss of my leg, both times.

Sylvia seems to have called me at just the right moment and I told her I was writing about my thoughts and feelings regrding the bilateral above knee amputee in a wheelchair. I have always held Sylvia in high regard, she is a very intuitive and spiritually aware person and has offered me her insight on several topics many times.

Sylvia believes, as do many people, that our lives are a product of the choices we make. At the risk of sounding unsympathetic, she said she thought that it is possible that the man has chosen to be in his situation. When I say chosen, I don't mean he chose to be a beggar in the street, but rather that he chose not to fight to overcome his situation. In short, he may very well be content where he finds his life.

Sylvia believes it is best to try to accept people and their situations for what they are, being as unjudgmental as possible and of course offering help to those who want to help themselves.

Those of us who feel we are compassionate human beings, look at other people's lives and their subsequent perceived happiness or unhappiness, then make  our own assessment of their situation based on what we want from our own lives.

As I  have written about on other occasions, we can never know what another person has gone through to arrive at where they are, nor should we make assumptions or judgments about where they are now.

I guess in an atempt to make some coherent sense of my ramblings, I will say that I am thankful and  appreciative for my life, and how I have managed to keep my spirit alive despite some very difficult obstacles. I am thankful God has given me the wherewithal to continue down my path with optimism and compassion for my fellow human beings.

May God's grace and love be with the man I saw in the wheelchair, that he may lead a life of peace and happiness.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Family Reunion

I returned from a week long visit to Indianapolis last Friday. As expected, I spent most of my time floating around in my sister and brother-in-law's swimming pool.

One of the main reasons I went to Indy was to participate in my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding celebration, which was combined with a long overdue family reunion. This was the first time since the loss of my legs I have seen many members of my extended family.

I must admit I was a little apprehensive about seeing all of my cousins and my Aunt Lynda and Uncle Joe because of being in a wheelchair.

I don't know how other people in my situation feel about seeing long lost relatives for the first time after such traumatic physical losses occur, I can only speak for myself.

I felt so comfortable with everyone, so at ease, and there were no awkward moments. I thought people might ask me to go into details about what has happened to me, but that never happened.

My Aunt Lynda was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a few years ago and this was the first time I had seen her since her diagnosis. I am so proud of my aunt and how she meets her health challenges head on with strength, confidence and dignity.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this particular blog passage was to use it as a tool for other people who might be facing a similar situation as I have just described.

Seeing family and friends for the first time after there have been physical changes can make a person feel ill at ease. My trip home turned out to be a great experience for me because it was a kind of coming out of the disability closet, so to speak.

Many of my cousins, I have not seen in over 20 years and most of their children, my second cousins, I had never met. We all had a great time meeting and reacquainting ourselves with each other, reminiscing about our past and talking about where our lives are now.

I have been told by some people in my life that I think about things too much or over analyze things, that may be true, however, those persons are not in my position and don't have to think about appearing differently than they always have (except for the usual changes caused by getting older.)

I can tell you if you are contemplating attending a family function, or any type of gathering with persons you have not seen in quite a while, especially after having had a life altering physical change in your life, often times those concerns or apprehensions turn out to be non-issues.

I was completely accepted by my family with no reservations. In fact my cousin, Dee, was particularly accommodating, always asking me if I needed anything to eat or drink etc.

I know we all sometimes feel like doing this or doing that is more trouble than it is worth, but in the final analysis, when we look back, it was in fact worth the effort we put forth.

After having left the reunion, and having time to reflect upon it, I am really proud of my family. I never realized there are so many artists in my family, painters, musicians, dancers, photographers, and writers. I was pleased to learn  there were so many talented and gifted people in my extended family.

I found my extended family to be a group of really interesting people, with diversified outlooks on life, it was refreshing and uplifting.

I am certainly glad I put my apprehension aside, went to the trouble (with a lot of help from my sister) to attend, I feel like I am a better person for having done so, you can't ask for more than that.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are these the"Good Old Days?"

I remember about three years ago I was at Cheetah gym and I believe it was a holiday because for some reason all of my gym buddies were there at the same time. This was unusual because certain of my gym friends only came on the weekends and others were normally there only in the early morning. Whatever the reason was that caused us all to be there simutaneously, I remember a smile crossed my face.

I smiled because I knew this would probably not happen again, if ever, for a very long time. I knew these feelings of well being were fleeting moments in a world of ever changing events and I wanted to savor it and consciously focus on remembering it. I am smiling as I write this because sure enough it never happened again and I am so glad I paid attention to the uniqueness of those moments.

Another favorite memory of mine was the time I was in Provincetown with Bill about 6 or 7 years ago. I walked out onto our balcony late at night and I was awe-struck by the magnificence of the star lit sky. Never before nor since I have seen such a star filled sky, the beauty of it took my breath away. All I could do was stare at the beauty and vastness that presented itself to me. I thought to myself I want to take a mental picture of this beauty and this moment to indeliably etch in my memory. The feelings I felt were ineffable.

You may be wondering why I am rambling on about these memories. It is because these particular memories I had made at the time of their occurance, a conscientious effort to place them indeliably in my memory. There have certainly been other occurances previous and subsequent to those two particular events, however, rarely did I take time to place a bookmark in my memory so that I could readily and easily recall it not only visually but also recollect the mental feeling of well being also.

So much of our lives pass us by without real consciousness of the circumstances surrounding some really great events. If we pay attention to what is going on around us, particularly if it is something fun, exciting or new, we can recall it in the future much more vividly. Why would we want to do this? Why wouldn't we?

There are so many hills and valleys we pass through and over on our journey of life. Sometimes when we find ourselves in a valley, we can recollect events in our lives that were happy and joyous, and those reminiscences will help us climb our way out of the valleys of life.

I know it may sound ambiguous to those of you who have read my words about the importance of staying present and yet if we can grasp some happy memory of our past that can make unpleasant ongoing present circumstances more bearable, than we should do it.

The real difference is that we are not living 100% of our present, reflecting on the past, we are consciously reflecting on the past to make the unpleasant present more tolerable at this given moment . Does that make sense?

I think some of the lyrics contained within  Carly Simon's old song, "Anticipation" are true. "These are the good old days."

Often times when we are living our present lives we only complain about what is not going well, and yet when we look back at these times our minds seem to filter out a lot of the unpleasantries and remember the good things. It is like self preservation, remembering happy events and forgetting many of the unpleasant details, thank goodness for that.

Similarily, five years from now, when we look back at this time we will feel these were the good old days.

Bookmarking  important, particularly happy events in our memory, not only makes them easier to recollect but also those memories are more vivid and filled with more of the details that composed that memory.

It is possible and I feel healthy to live in the present, while at the same time being cognizant of the happy events of our past.

Who knows maybe those pleasant memories we are recalling happened in the first place, just so we could call their memory forward when we needed them most.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

The "Short Leg" Saga Continues

At my regular Wednesday morning physical therapy appointment with Chris, Jason, my prosthetist also joined us. Chris, my physical therapist, had just returned from a conference in Tampa with Kevin Carroll, the man who developed the "Short Leg Graduated Protocol" program I am currently undertaking.

Chris had texted me after returning from the conference saying in her text, "we gotta push things." I knew right then and there that things would become more intense.

As I have mentioned before, I have problems with endurance and after having had a doctor's appointment with my vascular surgeon, Dr Chad Jacob's Physician Assistant, Melissa, it was determined that in all likelihood the endurance issues were not vascularly related, and  that was a relief.

That leaves one of two possible issues, one: I need to strengthen my hip flexor muscles and/or two:  adjustments need to be made to my "short legs."

Even though I exercise daily, including exercises specifically for developing and strengthening my hip flexor muscles, more needs to be done. What strikes me as odd is that I see videos of people who walk much better than I despite the fact they are ostensibly in worse shape physically, some being older than I and most being overweight.

Jason, always cutting edge and direct in his approach, demonstrated some exhausting excercises that should help me develop my hip flexor muscles. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get to be where I want to be?

Chris said that she had spoken to Kevin Carroll specifically about my case. Kevin said to her that every time I sit back down in my wheelchair, I am undoing all that I have accomplished up to that point. I'm not sure I agree with that statement, I may be prolonging the accomplishment set before me, but I don't feel I am "undoing" it.

The point is they want me to try to not use my wheelchair at all, to spend the entire day walking with the short legs, taking rest periods in regular chairs or the sofa as needed.

Consequently, I find myself in a can't win situation, my endurance level is such that I find it difficult, if not impossible, to spend the entire day walking on these short legs and by not doing just that, I am allegedly "undoing" all that I have tried to accomplish up to that point.

It's like which came first the chicken or the egg, which came first, the endurance to walk on the short legs through exercise, or walking to increase the endurance?

Chris, through no fault of her own, added more fuel to the fire by saying I need to step outside more. I thought she meant, be outdoors, which delighted me as long as it was  in a controlled enviroment. However, what she meant, or what Kevin Carroll meant was, to step outside into the world and use the short legs in public places.

As we know I have made significant progress regarding allowing myself to be seen by people other than those in my inner circle, which is not to say that I have the wherewithal to go to a restaurant, a store, or even walk down the sidewalk wearing the short legs. Would you be able to do that?

As time goes on I wonder if I have what it takes to accomplish what is set before me? Is there any truth to the fact that if I wanted it badly enough I would do what it takes?

You can well imagine how I am feeling right now, a little beaten down by it all.

I hope and pray I find renewed ambition and vigor that will carry through my journey. Sigh.......

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Putting Yourself in Another's Place

As much as we might want to try to empathize with another person's plight, we will always fall short. We fall short because we live our lives from our own personal experience and prospective.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to actually put ourselves in another person's position. We may try to understand where another person is coming from, but our ability to do so is hampered by our own personal judgments and an inability to truly feel what another person is going through.

All we can do is try to be there for the other person in whatever way we see possible. We can offer our support and in so doing,  show the other person we care about what they are going through whether we understand it fully or not. This show of support in whatever form, is the humane way of letting another person know they are special to you and that you want to help them to best of your ability.

Through my leg loss scenario,  I have sought and received  a lot of help and support  from others. It is not always easy to ask for and graciously receive help from others, in fact it has been especially difficult for me. Sometimes I feel as though I have not shown my appreciation enough, something I have written about previously. This is a self created paradox, that if left unaddressed, can lead to feelings of guilt.

If we are not careful, we can begin to feel guilt for the situation we find our lives in. Guilty because we may feel, on some level,  we caused or contributed to our predicament. I must admit there are times when I feel  a little guilty about how I got to where I am. When faced with these feelings, I remember that no sane person would knowingly contribute any action that would result in the loss of their legs.

I am not saying that one should completely absolve one's self of all contributing aspects of bad things that may happen, however, more times than not a person does not deliberately set out to to harm one's self.

On those times when feelings of guilt should arise, I try to realize that affixing blame to one's self or feeling responsible is counter productive to moving life forward in a postitive direction. Guilt is not unlike anger in that they both produce emotions that are harmful both to one's self and others envolved. In short, those emotions accomplish nothing and can lead to depression.

I am sorry things have changed in my life with respect to my leg loss, however, I do not feel sorry for myself. Feeling regretful that our lives may have taken a unexpected or unpleasant turn for the worse, does not mean we are relegated to a life of  self pity.

It is our responsibility to ourselves to strive, sometimes against seemingly impossible odds, to prevail and attain personal happiness.

I remember not too long ago, after changing clothes to go out to dinner with my friends Marguerite and Paul, I said to Paul, "getting dressed for me is like dressing a life-size Barbie [or in my case Ken] doll." Paul said we (people in general) just don't understand what it takes for you, do we?

Paul's question resonated with me because it typifies what he and so many others really don't understand, nor should anyone understand who has not been in my situation. It would be wrong of me to expect people to understand what I go through on a daily basis.

I  can't begin to tell you how many people have said to me over the last few years, "I can't imagine what you go through." It is true they can't imagine.

By the same token I can't imagine what they, or anyone for that matter goes through, none of us can.

You are you, they are them, how would anyone of us, in any circumstance, possibly hope to feel what another feels. We cannot, as the saying  goes, walk a mile in another's shoes, that is particularly difficult for me because I have no feet.

Understanding each other to the best of our ability is all that we can hope to do for each other, and I am thankful for those who do just that, as I attempt to do the same myself.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Happiness in the Present

When faced with challenging situations or circumstances, we search for answers. How do I fix this problem or how do I change these circumstances to more desirable ones?

What I try to do is visualize what I want my life to be like, bearing in mind that some things, like the loss of my legs, are beyond our control. And yet there is one thing that is always within our control, ourselves.

No matter what your particular life circumstance may be, there are others whose circumstances are better and others whose situation is worse.

Remembering and reminding ourselves of the blessings we have in our lives help to keep things in their proper perspective. Focussing on the good things we have in our lives allows us to have hope, hope for a better day, hope for a better tomorrow, and hope for our future.

Whenever we focus on the negative aspects of our lives we are robbing ourselves of the happiness we all deserve. For example, I am sitting on the sundeck (surprise surprise), surrounded by a blue sky, puffy white clouds and a  cooling breeze. What a wonderful thing.

Right now at this very moment all is right with the world for me. I am writing this blog, free to write whatever I choose, free to share my thoughts and feelings with you.

If we concentrate on life as it comes, moment by moment, not plagued by events in our past, or worried about what will happen in an hour from now, we can find hapiness. Happiness occurs only in the now. We only have this very moment to experience true happiness.

We could waste our time worried about what we did or what was done to us in our past that caused our present predicament, or we could accept that what has happened is over, it is finished, it is time to move forward with our lives.

No one knows what the future holds and I for one am glad. I certainly at the age of say 40, would not have wanted to know that at the age of 50,  I would lose my right leg and everything else that followed. Life is designed such that we should be happy now, because now is the only predictable  moment we ever have in our lives.

Everyone, including myself, is guilty of living either in the past or in the future instead of staying present in the moment.

Staying present in the moment brings with it clarity of mind, a thankfulness that can only be attained at this very moment. I have been trying to stay a little more present and a little less nonpresent.

It is not easy to stay in moment,  especially if the  moment is unpleasant, and even if we aren't present most of the time, those moments when we think about it, we are actually being present. The act of thinking, or in this case writing, about presence brings presence itself.

We miss out on a lot in our lives when we live them in the past or spend the present thinking about the future.

We should all try to concentrate a little more on living in the present. I think the present moment is the only true happy moment we ever experience ..

Try it and let me know what you think. I hope it brings you the clarity and happiness you are seeking.

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