I was recently looking through old photo albums and I came across an article about 8-year-old me that was published in The Shreveport Times on February 28, 1993. How funny it is to look back at how this reporter captured my attitude towards being an amputee even at age 8!
One of my new favorite weekends of the year just happened – the LIM359 Kid’s Activity Camp. I was fortunate again this year to participate both as a parent of campers and as a volunteer helping facilitate activities. This is the second year LIM359 has held the event and this year was even better than the first. We had three age groups this year and the camp consists of rotating the groups among various activities for two full days. This year, the camp was open for siblings to participate in all activities, which I thought was great. So Clay, our 3.5-year-old who wears a right leg prosthesis, was with the under 5 “ocean animals” and Sierra, our fully limbed 6.5-year-old, was with the “monsters.”
You might think that a camp involving kids that are missing legs, arms, or some combination of both, would require specialty treatment of activities. The reality is that it doesn’t. The reality is that it looks like any other kid’s camp: lots of laughing, competitiveness, ganging up on grown-ups, and kids trying their hardest and having a lot of fun playing basketball, soccer, golf, human hungry hippos, and doing track and field events.
One thing I remember clearly from my first race – the Bellco Colfax 5k – in 2013 is how utterly exhausted I was upon finishing. Zach and I went to Denver Biscuit Company afterwards and all I really wanted to do was take a nap (even before devouring my sleep-inducing biscuit with sausage, maple syrup, apple butter, and a fried egg). I had just started running about 2 months before, and my pace of 11 minutes per mile was the fastest I had ever run that distance before. I was super proud of myself for what I had accomplished.
If you had asked me back in 2013 whether I thought I would ever run a half marathon or hold anything faster than a 10 min/mile pace for anything longer than a mile, I would have laughed at the thought and moved on to a new subject. However, time has shown that the 2013 version of myself was utterly and totally wrong because that 2013 version of myself discounted the value of hard work and determination.
In addition to missing a bone in my leg, part of the condition I was born with means that my left leg is 7+ inches shorter than my right. Nearly 3 inches of that difference is in my femur (the part of my leg between hip and knee), and that difference gets made up for in height by making the part of my prosthesis longer so that when I stand I don’t have one leg that’s shorter than the other. However, a negative side effect of this is that it means my left knee comes up way higher in my upstroke than my right, which leads to me kicking myself in the chest – especially if I’m in any semblance of an aero position.
By Emily Harvey
For this blog I interviewed my friend Alina Miller who elected to have her leg amputated following a traumatic injury. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are different, but hopefully others might find Alina’s story helpful in their own journey whether that journey involves choosing between amputation and saving a limb or any other tough decision you may be having to make in your life. Alina has come out the other side of her tough decision as such a strong and beautiful woman, and I am so lucky to call her a friend.
The territory of the unknown is one often accompanied by fear. This was the case for Kelley and Steve, when at 20 weeks into their pregnancy, they learned that there was an issue with their baby; its lower right leg had not developed correctly. The baby’s femur, the bone above the knee, was where the limb ended.
This unexpected news was difficult to process at first. They worried for the future of their child. How were they going to prepare for this? What questions did they need to ask? Suddenly, Kelley and Steve were thrown into a world they knew little about: the world of limb-loss and limb-difference.
As a prosthetist, there are constantly new products coming out that I have to evaluate and decide if this is better or different in any way. I get somewhat amused at the names that manufactures call their feet – the Panthera, the Triton, the Truper, the Renegade, Elation… A new one that I recently encountered is called the “Game Changer.”
Being perceived as a strong and independent woman is something I have always clung to as very important in my life, even when I was a child. I don’t know if it’s something inherent or something I acquired as a kid growing up with a disability, but regardless of the genesis, it’s something I recognize in myself. Asking for help has historically been tough for me because I’ve always thought that if I ask for help it’s a sign of weakness, and that tarnishes my self-perception of being strong and independent.
Ironic then, that I’ve chosen triathlon as my sport of choice. Perhaps it doesn’t immediately make sense that triathlon would force me to let go of my above-described view of myself, but let me explain . . .
LIM359 members traveled 2 hours into the mountains west of Denver for horseback riding on August 22.