Happy… Birth Day?

i don’t normally celebrate birthdays, as to me, every day is a birth day. When you wake up to a new day, it’s a whole set of new experiences, and ruminations on older ones. We are never the same person we were the day before.

That said, today is a day where my life undoubtedly was altered, physically and mentally. Two years ago the body i now live in was born on March 1, but the contractions began on February 12.

i was hit and ragdolled by an 18 wheeler semi truck.

While i immediately accepted that nothing would ever be the same about the way i moved in the world; it may sound strange to say but there was something comforting about those two months and six days in the hospital, plus whatever time i spent in the rehab clinic. While i always welcomed spontaneity in my life, prior to the accident i had particular patterns i followed. A certain predictability was comforting. My life was extremely simple- as simple as one’s life could be. i was wholly independent. i had little attachment to things; i rode my bicycle everywhere, i got what i needed from the store, whenever i needed something.

After the accident i had to depend on others to do things i suppose i took for granted- riding my bicycle to the store, picking up larger, bulkier/heavier packages, reaching items at a particular height… Even multi-tasking has been harder to do. i know it was difficult for me to form a coherent sentence (both in writing and verbally) when i first got to the hospital; given that i was able to easily respond to questions with no memory lapses though, i thought i was generally okay. The concussion i got (resulting in 6 or 7 staples in my head) seems to have latent effects, because these days, my brain gets overloaded in ways i’d never experienced before. i’m distracted at a much easier rate, and sitting and doing particular tasks for long periods of time has not been as easy.

Yes- while i have come to terms with everything that happened (and am still learning to appreciate my body in its new form- not an easy thing to do), one of the things i struggle with the most is the unpredictability of this new life. This new life is a lot lonelier. The connections i once experienced have lessened greatly. i’m not able to travel outside in the ways i once was. i am dependent on others in one way or another, if i want to leave the house and do anything significant… which means that sometimes, things are not going to get done at the time (or in the amount of time) i’d like them done. Sometimes, just getting around is painful. Some days i have happy days, where i can laugh at myself. Other days i ask myself why i even survived. Some days i feel okay with doing nice things for myself after such a traumatic event; other days i feel guilty.

When everything happened i assured myself that i wasn’t experiencing PTSD, despite this ginormous life-altering event that happened to me. i disagreed with everyone who guaranteed that this struggle would be something i’d be battling.

i suppose i had a certain image in my mind as to how living with PTSD from such a major accident would occur; like everything else major in life though, none of this comes with a handbook.

i want to apologize to everyone, and say that i was wrong.

This book will continue to be written…


Things I’ve Learned Most Since Being An Amputee…

It has been a little over a year since i both got hit by a truck and became an amputee; and while there are things i already knew regarding the ableism of the world many of us live in… there is one thing to know that in theory, and another thing to see it in action.

First, to get some context about my journey, here’s this video (note: i initially posted this on Dailymotion but for some reason this video is set to private, and i can’t seem to find a way to set it back to public).

i have learned a lot more about myself since even producing this video- so consider this post to be the ‘things i didn’t know’:

  • You will have to repeat yourself a lot. For example, even though i am an amputee i still have to ask neighbors to get packages for me. i figured since they are aware i have to scoot up and down the stairs to get mail they would automatically put things by the door, after i requested it.
  • People assume that once you get a prosthetic things will automatically be easier. People assume you can stand all day in a prosthetic, even though you are not yet great at doing so. People don’t understand that sometimes, your joints hurt standing for long periods of time in a prosthetic.
  • People are afraid of talking about you being an amputee. i joke about it a lot. It makes little sense for me to be sad about it. This is my new life. If you say something harmful i will let you know.
  • Even though i have accepted this new life i still hold a lot of doubt. My guess is that it’s because this life is still very new for me.
  • i realize i’ve become much less apt to share my feelings with people, because it’s difficult to explain that the feelings people expect me to have, i don’t have. i get asked how i feel about things in relation to this amputee journey, as well as using the prosthetic; and i honestly don’t have a lot of the emotions around it that it feels like people want me to have. The first time i walked with the prosthetic- it was a thing that happened i didn’t have any emotional revelations when it happened.
  • It actually surprised me that i didn’t have any emotional revelations when i first walked on the prosthetic. i had planned for it. i thought i would cry of joy. However, when i first did it i had massive PTSD (which i have written about). i thought i would be excited and get back to being athletic right away but the new leg traumatized me, and i avoided looking at it for at least one to two months. When i made the decision to put it on it messed up my leg, and i avoided using it again for a while.
  • Even now, as i am gradually getting better at using the prosthetic- feeling good about finally having had that breakthrough where i felt okay with putting it on; and feeling good about being back on my feet (even if one of those feet are fake)- i still don’t have a lot of major feelings about it. To me, at this point, it’s just something i need to do, if i’m going to get better.
  • People will just up and disappear when you are at your most vulnerable. We all experience things. People also respond to stress and trauma differently. That said, it should never be expected that people just drop everything they’re doing to tend to all of your needs. But to just stop ANY level of contact is just curious.
  • Accepting my new body hasn’t been very hard at all. While i am working on returning to at least a modicum of the same athleticism i had prior to being hit by a truck, it has been interesting to see the various levels of my body’s changes, from quickly losing all muscle definition while laying there in the hospital, to getting out and being surprised at still being able to carry 20 pounds after struggling with even opening a jar in the hospital. It’s the small things…
  • This new life is the biggest test i ever had to take. i can’t tell you if i’m passing though…
  • Pre-and post-amputation ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’ are VERY different from each other. (Back to point #5: things like this i can feel, but not necessarily know how to explain them)
  • i’ve learned to get around better than i thought i would. Obviously it’s not easy to navigate a wheelchair in small spaces; it would be easier to carry things as opposed to holding them in your lap (making sure they don’t fall as you roll the chair- and sometimes you have to move bigger boxes with the existing foot); and sometimes, sleeping can be rough. But with all of my limitations i have figured out how to make cooking, doing bathroom things, playing instruments… and getting in and out of the house (when i have to) work for me.
  • Little kids will stare. And stare. And stare. Obviously i knew this was a thing that happened for disabled folks, but being on the other side of it- the receiving end- is interesting. i just wave at them. And for the most part (with the exception of a couple of criers) they wave back. Kids will stare at anyone they are not used to seeing. i don’t get mad.
  • i never thought i would be reunited with old friends i never thought i would see again. While some folks opted to drop out, others have returned.
  • As much as i love cats (and would love more than anything to be in a house full of them) it might be a while before that happens. i want to be better at getting around before i make that type of commitment. This makes me incredibly sad.

There are plenty more things i have learned (and will continue to learn), but i will leave you with these for now.