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.
Originally published by AmpTriLife.
For this blog I interviewed Craig Towler, who started an organization called the Amputee Concierge in order to help people find answers to their questions and connect them with resources following limb loss. I first heard about Craig shortly after the incident that lead to amputation of his legs happened, and was recently connected with him through my friend Nicole DeBoom. Craig is extremely insightful about amputation and life in general, so I hope you enjoy reading the thoughts that he was gracious enough to share below.
One of the very first things you are going to think about when you learn your child will have a limb difference is what your child is not going to be able to do. That is understandable and human nature. It is also a waste of time and energy – and you should do your best to get rid of those thoughts immediately. Every single one of us is predisposed with things we can and cannot do. It’s just the cards we are dealt in life. What you need to do is focus on what your child can do.
My wife, Kelley, and I found out about Clay’s condition shortly after his 20-week ultrasound. Like his older sister, Sierra, we decided to wait to find out the baby’s gender until they were born. So, whenever we went to ultrasounds we very purposely avoided spending too much timing looking at the screen. At the 20-week ultrasound for Clay, things did seem a bit off based on the behavior of the ultrasound technician. But, we did not find anything out at this point. Our intuition was confirmed when we were told to schedule another pre-natal ultrasound. This was concerning, but we were assured that most of the time these were precautionary. In our case, we found out there was an issue with Clay’s development. He was missing his right leg from just above his right knee.
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.
This past Saturday I got to be the test subject for a study being conducted at Regis University in Denver. I was their first amputee subject, so I got to be the guinea pig (which tends to happen a lot in my life). This particular study was gathering data to show the differences between running on a walking prosthesis versus a running prosthesis. They were testing muscle firing, so I had electromyogram (EMG) sensors stuck on various parts of my body. They were also looking at biomechanics, so I had LED sensors stuck all over me as well. Once they got all the gear on me, I looked like a human Christmas tree.
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.