Facing Amputation

Look around you when out in public. I find there are more amputees out and about, or maybe I am more aware of this population after I was told I would be one if I didn’t have the surgery. I am so impressed with those I have met that choose to lead very normal lives, even those that are wheel chair bound.

While heading to the grocery store from the parking lot, a tall slender man walked quickly past me. When I looked down I was surprised to see he was a double amputee. You would not have known if he hadn’t had shorts on. While at the acupuncturist with my husband, a young girl in her 20’s literally came running down the long stairs. She, too, was a amputee. I stopped her to find out what had happened. She told me she was in a shipyard accident and her leg was crushed and couldn’t be saved. She was very positive and was planning on running in a marathon this summer. I have seen children, as amputees, who probably adapt better than any of us. They seem to carry on as if nothing was different.

To me attitude is everything. Bonnie is one of those people. She is positive, a role model for others and is busy in her community. Sure she could have stayed home and felt sorry for herself, but she didn’t. That’s why I want you to hear her story. If you are following her story, you know she has had more that her fair share of set backs during this discovery of Charcot, amputation and hospital stay. She was merely told if they couldn’t save the foot they would amputate during surgery.

I wondered how I would take the news. I know my surgeon told me he would make sure his patient understood the consequences and expectations. In doing research on amputation, I often find researchers say that if a part of our body is lost, amputated, we experience the grieving process much like death. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book on Death and Dying outlines five stages of the grieving process. Omal Bani Saberi, LCSW, CCHT has put these in context of limb loss as follows.

1. Denial and Isolation. “This is impossible. It’s not really happening! I feel nothing at all.”
2. Anger. ‘Why is this happening to me? I’m enraged! God is unjust.”
3. Bargaining. “If I promise to do such and such, maybe I’ll get my old life back.”
4. Depression. “I feel hopeless. Everything is beyond my control. Why bother trying? I give up.”
5. Acceptance. “I don’t like it, but the amputation is a reality. I’ll find ways to make the best of it and go on.”

There are many factors including those prior to the event. How well do, or did you handle problems? Your support group of family , or friends, cultural values and norms and of course socioeconomic factors in.

Bonnie had so many things going on, I think she went quickly to step 5. I am sure she spent only a short time on the other four.

Remember there are 225 amputations of diabetic feet or legs each day in the USA.

Annita Shaw, founder

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation