Saturday, February 2, 2013

Found Inspiration

If you are a follower on my blog you must have realized my last couple of posts have not been as uplifting or optimistic as they have been in the past.

As I explained in my last post, sometimes you reach a point where reality is not on par with what you had anticipated. As I have been trying to come to terms with my reality, I started searching on the Internet for other bilateral above knee amputees, to see if I could communicate with someone in a similar situation.

Believe it or not I located a gay man in California who is also a bilateral above knee (AK) amputee. My new friend is a Marine still serving but in a different capacity than before he was severely injured while serving this country, resulting in the loss of both of his legs both above the knee.

I am not sure he wants me to use his real name, so for the sake of anonymity I will call him Bruce. Bruce who became a double amputee in 2011, has already accomplished so much in his pursuit of walking again.

Bruce walks full time unaided on his "short legs" and can also walk almost always unaided in his full length C-legs (c is for computerized). Of course after having spoken with him on several occasions, I voiced my concern about my own progress or lack thereof.

Bruce told me, as I had already suspected, that the environment he was privy to was a rehab gym full of amputee war veterans. This group of heroic veterans were at a great advantage over me, in that they were inpatient men working together at the same time striving to reach the same common goals. In other words they were there for each other as a support system.

He assured me that if my circumstances were the same as his, that I too would be much further down my path than where I find myself. Bruce also cautioned me against making comparisons between two incomparable scenarios.

Bruce's ability to recover as fully as he has in more ways than just walking, has been a real concrete inspiration to me and my life circumstances. Finally I have spoken with someone who not only understands what I am going through, but also has been very encouraging to me as an individual.

In the past week I have already increased the amount I have been walking on my short legs, not dramatically but significantly and he told me he was proud that I have already made "strides" in the direction I want to go.

Bruce asked me if I drove my car while wearing my short legs. I said, Are you kidding? I have never even gotten into my car wearing those legs. Suffice it to say the next day I did just that, I walked on my short legs from my wheelchair to my car and after much trial and error, figured out a way to climb up and into my car. Next, I got out of my car and walked back to my wheelchair.

This new friend, Bruce, a bodybuilder, with an incredible physique, has now challenged me even further, advocating fully for me to return to the gym. I have asked him many questions about working out and he has done all of it in a public gym while wearing his short legs, incredible.

My new friend and now mentor, Bruce has come along in my life at just the perfect time and through his knowledge and encouragement, I feel rejuvenated.

I am not saying I will accomplish all that he has by tomorrow, but now I have someone with whom I can completely identify, who has also showed genuine interest in helping me help myself.

Please do not think I am slighting all of the professional clinicians who have already helped beyond words.

This however, is a fellow bilateral AK amputee and he is a gay man also. Who better to understand me, my fears, anxieties and self doubts than Bruce? In addition Bruce is a competitive bodybuilder with vast knowledge of what an amputee can expect to accomplish with respect to working out at the gym.

It is my hope that over time Bruce and I will establish a bond that can only be formed by people brought together through this common amputation and made stronger by our shared commonalities.

I realize I have not known this guy very long but I can already sense that he cares and is capable and more importantly willing to share his time and knowledge with me, just to make sure I live a happier and more satisfied life.

Without going into specific details Bruce has overcome so many losses in his life, not the least of which were the loss of both of his legs, to become a powerful force of life.

I like one of his mottoes that is a reflection of wearing short legs, "Half as tall, but twice as strong."

Thanks Bruce for your continued inspiration, it means so much.

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