I’m finally buying NICE shoes. Not DSW or Famous Footwear, or…Payless. I’m treating my feet with the respect they deserve and it’s starting to feel (and look) amazing. When I got my prosthetic leg I thought I was confined to a life of sneakers and yoga pants. Lately I’ve been venturing away from the sneakers, though they are undoubtedly the most comfortable of all my shoes. A girl’s just gotta change it up!
Due to ongoing skin issues on my residual limb, I can’t wear heels yet…I can barely wear my flats for a whole day! But I’m working on controlling my fears and anxiety to allow myself to have some fun with these new shoes.
I don’t like expressing the sad moments in my life; I never post negative statuses on Facebook. But I want to open up about ongoing fears and struggles since my amputation – and why wearing nice shoes is a big step!
Each amputee faces a different journey. If anything, losing my leg has taught me that you can NEVER judge a book by its cover. Just like no two people are alike, no two amputees are alike (and no two cancer patients are alike…;). There are many amputees out there walking around without the assistance of crutches, I used to be one of them! But health problems have made me stumble two steps back.
I’m suffering from a severe case of what is called – heterotopic ossification. Basically, bones are growing outside of the skeletal structure. These bone fragments are ruining the little amount of soft tissue that I have left in my residual limb, and when they rub against my skin too much it starts to bleed. This happened in June. When that spot was finally healed it happened again in a different spot in September.
These tiny spots take forever to heal because they are on a skin graft, which is like baby skin and very fragile. When a spot opens up, it also opens me up to a higher risk of infection – which can be disastrous.
Wearing shoes that don’t have that cushiony, polyurethane enhanced sole feels really weird, and puts more pressure on my skin. But I have to start living my life the way I want to live my life, not dictated by my injury. I’ve been holding back for so long and that’s no way to live. My “catch phrase” has been – “The prosthetic leg I wear isn’t a sign of loss, but a reminder to overcome fear and embrace life.”
I think I need to change this phrase. “The prosthetic leg I wear isn’t a sign of loss, but a reminder to MASTER fear and embrace life.” I might never overcome my fears, they will always be there. But I can master the way I handle those fears. Instead of thinking about what I can’t control, I’m learning to focus on what I can control.
I might need another surgery to fix my problem and help me walk again. There are a few surgical options out there, but none of them are appealing. One requires a six hour surgery of sewing blood vessels together, the other involves losing a few more inches of my leg.
My newest prosthetic leg has a vacuum attachment that has been very helpful for the health of my soft tissue, it also looks pretty badass! Maybe this leg will be the miracle I need to heal my real leg, who knows!? But I’m not putting life on pause any longer. For now, I’ll be the girl on crutches…wearing those really cute shoes.
As I lay in bed, the scent of fresh flowers wafts through the air. I am relaxed and at peace. These beautiful flowers in my room were given in celebration of the premiere of my one woman show, “Inspiration Whore.” But that scent sparks a vivid memory of my hospital room last March. I remember the nurses saying, “We love coming to your room because it smells like a garden!” At the time I didn’t even think about the smell, I just liked looking at the flowers because they reminded me of all the friends and family that I am blessed to have.
When I was in the hospital I thought of those flowers as messages of condolence, but now I see that the meaning behind them was the same as the reason for my current flowery apartment – those flowers were given as a celebration of life!
Every day I thank God for my family and friends, for my ability to still be alive and appreciate them! When my leg was taken away in an instant, so was my freedom of mobility. It’s not until something dear to us (like walking!) is taken away that we can finally see what matters the most.
Each morning when I wake up I am thankful for my friends and family, I know that if there is a day when I can’t get my leg on, they will be there to help me through the struggle. Sometimes I slip into believing that life just isn’t fair. It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to my friends and family. Hope and faith – believing in something greater than myself – help to get me through this challenge. But what helps the most is the love and support from friends and family. Never underestimate the power of friendship and family support. It is important to be there for people going through difficult times, even if your support is just being at the other end of a phone line or a gentle hug. Even if you think they can’t feel it, they will feel you.
Due to the nature of my injury, my skin is very delicate and wearing a prosthetic leg can be damaging to that skin. It’s still painful and there are some days I worry I won’t be able to get out of my apartment! Have you ever had to worry about getting your leg on? I hope not! Be grateful!
I’m still learning to adapt to these new conditions. Yesterday I couldn’t put my flats on because I lost my shoe horn, and getting a cute flat shoe on a prosthetic foot can be quite a challenging task. A good friend was there to help me through this moment of utter frustration. I miss the days of sliding on jeans or throwing on a pair of heels. My situation is not ideal, but it’s my life and I’ve accepted it. I will wear heels again, I will be able to run again! For now, I’m at peace with waking up and taking a step, without crutches, my own step.
On March 3, 2012 I was hit by a car and lost my left leg below the knee. On March 2, 2013 I started travelling to NYC, land of public transportation and walking. The past year has been a roller coaster. There were weeks, actually months, when I didn’t think this time would come. But now that I’m auditioning again, it feels like I never stopped.
My dad whispered in my ear, “Just like pressing the restart button.” I knew he was right, and now I’ve come to realize that auditioning again isn’t just a restart, it’s a revamp.
Like throwing away a slow, old computer and buying a shiny new one. I feel refreshed, empowered and strengthened. Although my left leg still causes some mobility issues, I now have a better understanding of who I am as a human being, what I believe in, and how to achieve what I want.
I first started auditioning to pursue acting, singing and dancing. I still want to be on Broadway! But I’ve found myself gravitating towards learning more about young people with disabilities. I enjoy speaking with them, discussing our challenges, and finding common ground – regardless of physical or mental disability.
I’ve been speaking at high schools and colleges about my personal experience becoming disabled. The students I meet are a big part of the reason I’ve chosen to continue performing; their courage and honesty keeps me grounded because they’ve accepted their reality of life with a disability. But they also inspire me by learning to adapt and find the opportunity in adversity.
I have a few speaking engagements lined up, some are open to the public if you’re in the area:
Iona College – April 4
University of New Haven – April 15
Stockton – May 16
I’m also performing in a few projects!
-An independent film, “Only Those Who Limp” written and directed by Margot Cole.
-Monologue Night at Grounds for Sculpture on April 5. This evening is being produced by A Saturday’s Child. Check it out: http://www.asaturdayschild.com/A_Saturdays_Child/MNM.html
-My solo show “Inspiration Whore” on April 7 and 8, get your tickets now!!: http://tictheater.com/shows.html
-And a I’ll be playing Wendy in a children’s theater tour of “Peter Pan” by Identity Theater Company, info is on their website: http://www.identitytheater.com/
“I always say don’t make plans, make options.” –Jennifer Aniston
Plans change! Life happens! So plan A didn't work out, lucky it's a big alphabet.
I cried yesterday. Those tears had nothing and everything to do with my leg.