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Disability Experiences: Writings and Perspectives
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Why Me? Why AEP?
September 7, 2012
The following personal experience offers hope and encouragement to people faced with the challenge of a limb loss or limb difference. Thank you to Carrie Davis for sharing her experience and the Amputee Empowerment Partners e-community resource.
I would like to welcome you to our Amputee Empowerment Partners e-community; soon to be the largest and furthest reaching on-line resource for information, guidance, and perspective on issues related to limb loss and limb deficiencies for patients, families, care-givers, co-workers and friends. With nearly 4,000 members in just two short years, it is clear to see that we grow daily.
This is our community and your participation in forums and blogs will help to make this site the best resource for real-life information from the people who really get it. Again, welcome and thank you for being here.
When I was a girl growing up, I spent many moments staring in the mirror at my reflection with my shiny, metal hook peeking out of my shirt sleeve. I often wondered, “Why me?” Why did I have to be born without my arm? Why wasn’t it someone else? Why weren’t there any other people like me?
I felt alone quite often and didn’t really know how to talk about why I felt that way. More importantly, I didn’t know who to talk to. Who could possibly understand what I was feeling? Though I wanted to pretend that not having an arm was “no big deal,” at times, it was all that I focused on. I used to get so frustrated trying to figure out how to do everyday things that everyone else took for granted like tying my shoes, putting my hair in a pony tail, cutting my own food on my plate. Ugh…why me?
With years and with experience, the answer to that question has revealed itself over and over to me. It’s answered when I visit a school and teach students that the only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves in our own minds. It’s answered when I can sit with young, concerned parents who have a child who was born without a hand and I can show them that everything is going to be OK; that their baby will be able to become anything that he/she dreams of becoming. It’s answered when I teach a 70 year old woman to use her new prosthesis to peel vegetables for the first time in her life or to teach a 13 year old boy to tie his shoes. Why me? These are my answers.
And why AEP? Because every time a connection is made between people who really understand what each other is going through or has gone through, we become stronger, wiser, more aware and more empowered to see that we do not hold the potential to become all that we want to be in our extremities. In my opinion, our hands and our feet are bonuses, and if they’re lost to an injury, accident or disease or if they were never there at all, we will overcome and rise to the challenge to redefine and invent ourselves in our best light.
Losing a limb should impact a person significantly; but it does not define or limit him/her. It is our challenge to find meaning, purpose and hope in the face of our struggles. It comes easy to some and to others, it’s more difficult. Thus, Amputee Empowerment Partners; providing encouragement, support and help to those who need a little nudge getting over the hurdles. Wherever you fall in that continuum, know that there is a place for you here.
Why me? Why AEP? Because this was meant to be.
AEP National Coordinator
Upper Extremity Patient Advocate
Congenital below-elbow limb deficiency
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