Recently I wrote about regaining the ability to drive my own car. That event inaugurated a big and welcome change for me. For a long time, I thought of my prosthesis as a medical device and myself as a person equipped with a hydraulic foot made of titanium. Two things changed: driving, which opened the world to me and dispensing with my cane. The cane was reminding me daily that I was handicapped. Life without a cane changed everything by freeing both my hands. Suddenly I could stand at the stove and cook or do the dishes like a responsible member of the family. As a result of standing and walking without a cane, my balance improved and my gait became what a person might almost call normal.
Yesterday for the first time in two years I went to the grocery store to get some items I needed. It was a short two-mile car trip but it confirmed the restoration of my life. It was actually funny. I got in line at a checkout run by a clerk I used to see frequently before my amputation and to my surprise he recognized me! Think of that! It had been two years, I was 70 pounds lighter and minus one foot but he talked to me as if I hadn’t missed a day!
I knew it then. I, Jim, was really back. A lot wiser, much stronger and I believe a lot better but it was not the medical me, it was the real me. Later that same day I talked to a friend who is contemplating an amputation in order to deal with an agonizing and disabling infection in his foot. He’s nearing a decision to do it but with great trepidation, so he often asks what it is like to be an amputee. My last words to him that day were “It’s not the end of the world, you know.” I could also have said that it can be a chance to restore your life and to do so on much better terms than ever before.