This is Part 2 (click here for Part 1) in a series of 3 describing Awkward Amputee Problems. The first two articles are geared more for those on crutches while Part 3 is customized for prosthetic -wearing amputees. We want to keep the fun going around so I hope that as you read this you will relate to some of these things or will comment your own additions below!
Awkward Amputee Problems Part 2…By Ashly P. Ash
…Underwear and Socks from the washer making inopportune appearances from empty pant legs
You know how sometimes when you go to put fitted sheets on the bed and you find those socks (or even shirts!) that have somehow gotten balled up in the little corner pockets of the sheet? The same thing happens when you have empty pant legs. Since I do not put any leg through the right pant leg I often do not know something got stuck in there until it peeps out through the bottom! I’ll never forget the time a pair of underwear got balled up into a right pant leg (unbeknownst to me) and after using the restroom at a friend’s house, her husband notified his wife privately that there was underwear laying on the bathroom floor! (Presumably it fell out!) I have also found socks and undergarments falling out of pant legs at my career places, in the supermarket, and (thankfully) at home! The struggle is real, folks!
If you are laughing now then you must be an amputee on crutches too! Pantyhose are incredibly difficult to wear because they fit on like pants and have an empty pant leg as well. Instead of the nice and crisp fold of a pant leg, however, pantyhose dangle like a shriveled up skin tag (or worse) from the bottom of your skirts. If you cut the spare leg off – well – I don’t need to lecture anyone about the famous “pantyhose runs” that stem from there! Thigh Highs are a heaven-sent miracle (and you get twice the use out of one pair).
I know I have discussed before about how hard it is for amputees to not be recognized in public (there is no mistaking you for your two-legged sister, after all). But this also extends to times when I need to wear a costume. I mean, Ben Franklin did NOT have one leg, neither do princesses (and just how does a one-legged witch ride a broom anyway?). Pretty much any costume just seems a bit out of place on me and if everyone else claims they don’t think of it, well, I just give them the benefit of the doubt and ignore them. The situation does, however, force me to be quite creative. Half-eaten Surfer, Flower (leg as stem), Flamingo, my famous leg lamp from Christmas Story, Roadkill, etc., are a few of the dark places this condition has forced me to go.
…Cafeteria-style food, buffets, parties
So obviously on crutches I cannot carry my own food, drink, trays, etc. This seems obvious until you are the one that can’t do the carrying! You would be amazed the number of places I will go that everyone has a plate but me and no one thinks to ask if I want something until I speak up! Sometimes, my “buffet helper” (one who carries my plate for me) interjects his/her own judgments against me as we go down the line, “You don’t need THAT much”, “That looks fattening skip that”, “Are you going to eat that AGAIN?” “Those are nasty how can you even consider that, move on!” or even worse they won’t let me put my own food on my own plate and control my portions purposely! This is all well and good until I follow THEM down the line with their plate providing the same snide commentary! When the shoe is on the other foot, and that. (I prefer my father to be my assist he is the absolute best buffet friend one could wish for and I should probably dub him my “fatty fat friend” for that reason!) The other thing is refills. It feels so awful to bug someone to refill your drink in public. I often go thirsty for hours because it is often made clear what a bother it is to serve me more than one time. (I now carry a water bottle with me in my bag!) And lastly if I am alone I have to be very careful where I stop to eat out. There have been more than one awkward moments where I have been unable to carry my own food and forced to wait until an employee could begrudgingly carry it for me. Something so simple seems to bother so many people! I am happy to limit my outings to mostly family where it is like the Cheers bar – everyone knows.
Speaking of public places, most buffets have enough grease on the floors to fry a chicken! A little rain tracked through a store can be a huge hazard. And the showers at the Y? Well, needless to say I have found falling without being witnessed or heard is an art form I am mastering!
…How you will be buried
In their early thirties most people consider “problems” to be their children’s education, home improvement, family-friendly vehicle purchases. I worry about where and how I will be buried. My tiny right leg (I was four when it was amputated) is buried in a graveyard.
Do I want to be buried there? What if I don’t? What if I want to be cremated and the leg is not? Do I have someone dig up the leg and bury it with me (who in their right mind would want that job and is it wrong for me to inflict that on someone)? Is the leg a skeleton by now? Do I still have the grave plot paperwork and deed filed properly for when I do die? If I am buried in another county or state does that mean I have one foot in each county? Yes, having one foot in the grave I’ll gladly exchange that for some average problems!
…Keeping lots of bags handy
My mom calls me the bag lady. Now in all fairness that started before I turned four and had my leg amputated, however there is much truth in the name. Bags are critical for the amputee on crutches. I need them in stores, to carry my mail in, to move food or books or magazines from one place to another, to carry my drinks, cleaning supplies, laundry, you name it! I have backpacks and bags stored and stuffed in every crevice possible in my house and car – and a few fold up ones in my purses! Oh, and I am still waiting for the perfect pizza-box bag so I can carry a pizza! (See Part 1)
….Not being separated from crutches
And I’m not just talking about curious children taking them and disappearing with them (though that happens often). I mean adults that feel they are “in the way” so they move them to a corner or a wall on the other side of the room! Waitresses sometimes take them and don’t bring them back. I’ve been stuck on amusement park rides because the employees or people I am with forget to bring me my assists. I also worry about not having them on the lawn mower with me, since becoming stranded more than once when the mower broke down in the front yard and my crutches were out back in the shed. (Hence the bungee straps and sticks you see strapped to the mower when you drive by!) Then there is the beach where the tide has swept one away from time to time. If you want a good laugh just come along to watch the panic and frantic look come over my husband or father’s face as they dive “all in” to catch a crutch! They would put many a fishermen to shame!
…Devotees, the creepy ones, and Fakers
Like anything else there is a sexual fetish for people that are amputees. This was difficult as a young girl traveling to conferences for amputees and having to be on guard in pools, elevators, etc from the creepy men that wanted to feel your stump. I also accidentally went on a few dates with someone insisting he was not a devotee but just as equally insistent he wanted to touch my stump. (Awkward!) The monetary offers to video my stump, pornographic and prostitution offers, and online anger my husband has had to deal with because of disrespectful people is a whole new level of creepiness. There are also people that want to become amputees so bad that they pose as them and go far enough to self-mutilate in ways that can inflict amputation. They sometimes stalk real amputees and it gets weird pretty quickly. Steering clear of people I do not personally know has been the safeguard I learned to use against this. That and instructing my husband to stay out of my Facebook email that I carefully filter!
(*Over the years I have had some interesting conversations with men and women who have considered themselves devotees. I do not hold judgment to their preferences but as in any group of people there are those that are extremists and do more harm than good.)
…Children searching for my leg
Children are so sweet an innocent and when they have asked, “where is your other leg?” I have often passionately and kindly replied, “I lost it! If you find it will you please let me know?!” This usually satisfies most kids as they enthusiastically nod their promise to keep an eye out. Every once in awhile I encounter a more eager little dear that will proceed to check the flowerbeds or shopping aisles or behind furniture around where I am standing but nothing prepared me for the day that one little boy just walked over and pulled my dress right up looking for it! At church, no less! Now I only play that little search game when I am wearing pants so they can pick up the empty pant leg and search with no risk of traumatic exposure.
…Things that are curious
When a little girl we know found out she could walk “between my legs” (because one wasn’t there) I became relieved when she was too tall for that little game anymore. Indeed, though, small kids do get an enormous kick for some reason when they figure out they can walk between my legs (and crutches). Dogs and cats also get curious about my dangling pant leg and I’ve had to fight for it (along with my sense of decency) back from more than one set of jaws or claws!
Hoping you enjoyed Part 2 of this series! Part 3 will be out in a few more weeks. Don’t forget, if you have not yet visited Part 1 of Awkward Amputee Problems you will want to do that. Feel free to add things in the comments below!