The following Aberration Nation interview of a teenage amputee was conducted by a teen:
Of the many struggles life brings about, I find physical strains to be the biggest nuisance. I have a slight case of juvenile arthritis, and I hardly manage. Ordinary pain fills most days: walking up the stairs, running down the street, participating in gym class. Every day is a hassle on bones and muscles, especially those of the legs. Disease or not, everyone experiences some sort of relief when getting a chance to sit down, when getting the ability to relieve the pain that overtakes our knees, ankles, toes. We all complain, and we have both legs in tact.
Josh isn’t so lucky. After having his right leg amputated, this seventeen year old is faced every day with a challenge most can’t even begin to imagine. I wanted to ask him just how the amputation has affected his life, and what he has learned from it.
How long has it been since the amputation?
It’s been about two years.
Peripheral arterial disease. My arteries hardened so my limbs were injured, and my leg had to be amputated.
What was the hardest part about losing your leg?
The phantom pains were really bad, but I guess just getting used to the idea of my leg not being there was worse. It was so strange to look down and have that empty space.
How did you manage with the emotional pain?
It was really difficult to cope. But I just had to let out the things I built up inside. Talking to my family really helped, and my friends were supportive, so slowly I started to accept my situation.
Have any positives come from this experience?
It’s taught me many things. I learned how to face fear, since I know what it’s like to be scared for my life. I also learned to be optimistic, to find the bright side. I could have lost more than a leg.
I’ve learned to be thankful for the leg and arms I still have.
Have you emotionally recovered fully? Is there another step to the rehabilitation?
I think I’m pretty close to getting over it. I’m hoping to get a prosthetic leg, though. It would be amazing to walk again.
Any advice to fellow amputees?
Just not to dwell on the negative in the past. That’s a waste of time. It’s better to move on and look towards the future. That’s where you can actually change something, because the past is done with.
If you’ve been following the Pieces of Penelope posts, consider that up through age 17 (tomorrow’s post), I lacked the insight to connect my loss and loneliness with family dynamics. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I was too close and too young, brainwashed, in a way, by the dysfunction. Instead, I looked to my social environment for reasons and answers, and in the end always blamed myself.
Just as Josh can never grow back a missing leg, I suspect Lisa and I will never fully replace or replenish the lack of love and acceptance we felt as children. But we can all find positive avenues that enable us to live productive, happy lives. After all, life isn’t about what you’ve lost, it’s about what you find.
The book trailer for my novel Aberrations asks, Are you missing pieces of yourself? This seems like a good time to share it again. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll take a look.