Buy the Book!
  • Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability
    Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability
    by Judy Johnson Berna
  • Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability
    Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability
    by Judy Johnson Berna

    Now available digitally, for your e-reader!

Links
Search This Site
Blog Index
Navigation
Tuesday
Aug142012

You've Already Lost It

 

You’ve Already Lost It

 

There are countless ways a person can become an amputee. Most don’t have much choice in the matter. Car accidents and disease can quickly alter the wholeness of one’s body. But there’s another type of amputee, the voluntary amputee. When injuries refuse to heal or infections won’t clear up, sometimes amputation is an option to consider. But it isn’t an easy choice to make.

 

It’s hard to wake up from a car accident with one less limb, but it’s a different kind of terrible to make that decision yourself. Because I’m an elective amputee, my prosthetist has often asked me to talk with people who are considering this drastic change of life. They have a lot of the same questions I had before my surgery. They want to know about phantom pain and post operative pain. They want to know about the hardware and how an artificial leg feels. But mostly they want to know about quality of life.

 

They ask specific questions, usually starting with, “Will I still be able to…?”

 

My gut answer is that quality of life depends on you. If you’re patient with healing time after surgery and are willing to work hard at the gym once you have your new leg, you can reach about any goal you desire. Amputees have climbed mountains, run in marathons, swam with sharks: you name it, they’ve done it. But sometimes logistics get in the way.

 

A few weeks ago I met with a guy who asked if he could still water ski after an amputation surgery. Technically, yes. Realistically he might need to put that hobby on the shelf. Sure, the technology is out there, but unless he is a die hard skier, the cost and training involved will probably keep him from pursuing it. This is when I throw in the big ‘but…’

 

This is the point in our talk when I remind them of an important fact. Anything they lose from being an amputee, they’ve probably already lost. The person with the luxury of choosing whether or not they amputate has usually spent a lot of time on crutches already. They’ve been in and out of hospitals, braces and casts.

 

My water skiing friend lost that sport at the point of his non healing injury. He hasn’t been able to participate in that activity for the nine years he’s hobbled around on crutches. Amputation isn’t the reason he’ll probably never water ski again. His injury was.

 

 If he can see it that way and realize that his surgery will give him more than it will take, only then can he see it for what it is - a chance to start again. Amputation is the answer, not the problem.

 

I am also asked about the surgery day. They want to know how it feels to hobble into a hospital, lay down on a bed and sign away a body part. I remind them again, they’ve already lost it.

 

The freedom of mobility, already lost.

The sense of feeling able bodied, long gone.

The ability to run around the yard with their kids, already vanished.

 

 But there’s a good chance they’ll gain a lot more than they lose on surgery day. They’ll gain hope and opportunity. If they’re willing to reach for it, they can feel able bodied again. If they want it bad enough the ball is finally in their court; whether or not to jump in and play the game is totally up to them.

 

People called me things like brave and strong after I decided to have my leg amputated.  It was a risk, there’s no doubt about it. But by keeping that leg that didn’t work I knew my future would definitely be a life of immobility. With a prosthetic leg there was a good chance things could improve. I preferred ‘good chance’ to definite immobility.

 

I have a leg that snaps on in the morning. Most of my days are spent like every other two-legged person I know. Besides the occasional ‘bad leg’ day, when I need an adjustment of some kind, I don’t miss out on much in life.

 

As an amputee I have found a life of victory. I don’t run marathons or climb mountains but I have found success in my own way. I never think of my amputation as having lost anything.

 

In my mind it was pure gain.

 

 

 

References (22)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Surfing Equipment
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: Play roulette
    Hi my loved one! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and come with almost all important infos. I would like to peer extra posts like this .
  • Response
  • Response
    NFL is seriously a single of the greatest sports in America. It has a main following.
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: medicaid utah
    Accidents of particularly common types are investigated to identify how to avoid them in the future. This is sometimes called root cause analysis, but does not generally apply to accidents that cannot be deterministically predicted
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: senuke
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: Knoxville TN SEO
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: agen bolatangkas
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: essay writer
    I, completely agree with the author not only me but everyone who thinks about the change in the society will surely agree with him. And yeah there are countless ways that a person can become amputee and you've explained it well than any other. Thanks for the share.
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: Ceuticell
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: Skin Essentials
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: visit website
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It
  • Response
    Response: visit website
    justonefootbook - Encouragement - You've Already Lost It

Reader Comments (4)

Just read this as I am contemplating amputation. This made a great deal of sense to me as this is what I was thinking and feeling but to read that someone else had the same thoughts is very reassuring

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Woolard

Judy,

I finished your book yesterday. I was thinking that I wished I had read this before I made my decision through most of it, until the last couple chapters. My story is completely different from yours with the exception that I also made the amputation decision after 28 years of disability.

This is Phase 3 of my adult life. In 1984 I was what would today be called an extreme skier. While on a Heli-skiing trip in British Columbia I took a fall shattering my left leg below the knee. Waking up in the hospital being asked to give consent for amputation began the nightmare of Phase 2. I felt that I'd rather die than loose my leg. Little did I know. I never would have missed a season had I consented. Instead I endured 15 surgeries on that leg and asked the orthopaedic surgeons more than once why can't we cut it off and just a get store-bought. The last 5 years have been increasingly more difficult, decreased mobility and significantly increased pain. More days were spent on a cane than not. I went to see a Vascular Surgeon and he gave me the option I had sought before, above knee amputation. Since the breaks were so close to the knee and it had been so damaged the knee had to go, too.

My cut-off date was July 16, 2012. I got my new leg 3 weeks ago and have busted my butt to learn how to walk once again. Whereas most AKAs spend 2 weeks between parallel bars and then a month on crutches, I was on a cane only a week later and am currently weaning off that. All those years of pain are gone! The fatigue I feel now after doing my exercises and practicing with my new leg is invigorating. It feels like the old days when I was in the gym 3 times a week and on the slopes 3 or 4 days a week.

Thank you for expressing your feelings in such an open manner in your book. It has helped me understand some of the emotions I experienced. Some have encouraged me to write a book, too. You may have given me the inspiration to do so!

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Judy--First heard of your story on the Amputee Coalition site and have already purchased your book. My amputation is scheduled for mid January and even though I feel mentally, emotionally and physically ready to start this new and better chapter of my life, reading these words tonight just helped to cement it for me as it is very easy to go back and forth with ones thoughts on a selective amputation. Saw my doctor today and he stated several times the fact that mine is an elective procedure and I couldn't help but think "Elective?" I would have rather elected to not have the cancer in my foot, 20 plus surgeries, radiation and loss of any normalcy over the past 13.5 years, but that was not to be. Reading tonight how I have already lost my limb just again reinforced to me that I am making the right decision and that in reality I have everything to gain and nothing to lose in doing so. Thanks for being such an inspiration Judy--I will continue to look for your inspiration as I prepare for, go through my surgery, rehabilitation and the start of my new, improved life.

December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Cavallin

My son had a amputation in August 2010 he was 14.5 years old , his was a trauma accident he was on a 4 wheeler when a vehicle hit him broad side at 70 mph , he was very fortunate to live but it crushed his left heel, and traumatized the lower leg, I remember the night the surgeon came out and told us they would have to amputate because there was no way of rebuilding it and if they could he would probably lose all function in his foot.. As a parent of a teenage boy that was very active , I remember telling the surgeon he would rather die then lose his foot. The Dr. Looked me straight in the eye and said I promise you mam he would rather live and we will let him decide that way he can come to peace with it.. So the next morning the team of Drs came in and explained to him what his choices were and I remember him looking at them and he said if I can go back to playing baseball like I love to do then let's do this, by march he was back to playing baseball and hasn't looked back. He is going into his senior year now and this week end will be going to Enid Oklahoma to play in a college preview game and also headed this week to try out for another college.. I am so proud of him for never giving up and pushing himself.. Life goes on after amputations, he is proof of this like so many more that has followed this same path.. May God bless you!

May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Green

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>