April is Limb Loss Awareness month.
The Amputee Coalition started the party and it was officially recognized by the President in 2012.
I didn’t lose a limb, though.
I also don’t use a prosthetic, so I can’t “show my mettle.”
So, since it obviously doesn’t apply to me, I’m going to get angry and cry about it.
GOTCHA! HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
Seriously, though, it seems like every year this becomes a bit of an issue. Instead of a month to celebrate and unify, it becomes a month of defining even further our differences. I’m not down with that. Jen at Born Just Right wrote a great post about this, too, and I totally agree with one of the folks she quoted who said that despite our differences, “We all understand each other to some degree.” And that’s exactly it. Whether we’re missing fingers or toes or whole arms or legs, and whether we were born that way or lost them somehow…there are so many similarities in our experiences.
Here’s something interesting to consider: All of us who are “missing something,” are amputees by definition. Even those of us born this way. “Congenital amputation is when a person is born without a limb or limbs, or without a part of a limb or limbs.” Want to know how many years it took me to realize I’m an amputee? Over 30. I remember when I broke my short arm and the ER doctor was explaining that I needed to see the orthopedist to discuss my options and I asked, “Are they going to have to…amputate it…more?” My understanding at that time was that the only definition of amputation was that of cutting something off. The truth is, though, I’m an amputee, by definition, because I was born like this.
Now, do I ever call myself an amputee? Not really.
But I also don’t feel excluded when I see Barack Obama officially recognize Limb Loss Awareness Month just because I technically didn’t lose a limb.
And here’s why…I refuse to miss the forest for the trees.
I refuse to get lost in semantics.
Rather, I choose to engage with the heart of the matter. And that is support and encouragement and celebration.
Our community – those affected by congenital amputation, amputation, limb loss, limb difference, disability, however the heck you refer to yourself – while global and not insignificant, is too small to splinter. We need each other.
Which is why I’m going to celebrate and smile and encourage those in our community to embrace the similarities we all share. And take pride in all of the amazing and inspiring people who happen to share some physical characteristics with me that most people don’t.
Now, maybe more than ever before, our uniqueness is being noticed.
And I am down with that.
Thank you Ryan! I really appreciate this post. So amazing.
That’s so good to hear. Thanks, Jen!
This line might be your best writing ever: “Our community…while global and not insignificant, is too small to splinter. We need each other.” Loved that turn of phrase.
Thanks so much, Al! Love you.
I know this is from last year but I just stumbled upon it. It is really great. My son was born with most of his right hand missing (surprise!) so it is really helpful to be able to read your perspective and experiences. We own Knorks because of you 🙂