Nine Years as a double amputee

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Once again the anniversary of the crash that claimed my arm, leg and nearly my life is here. I usually take this time to reflect on how things have changed for the better.  I celebrate that I chose to continue my life. I also thank my friends and family that have helped me along.  I have struggled a bit lately on how I want to share my journey via social media and blogging. I have been incredibly reluctant on really sharing anything except the highlights and boobie pics. So here is an attempt at a more balanced look into my last 9 years.

My first few weeks as a double amputee was spent in the hospital. I spent 10 days at queens medical center and 7 days at a rehab hospital. During this time I mostly focused on keeping my friends and family calm. It is strange to think about, but focusing on their struggles and concern while assuring everyone that I would be ok kept me from really taking in what had happened. It wasn’t until day 18 that it really hit me. This was the first day I was alone. Kaylyn had gotten up early and gone to work. I sat up in bed and saw myself in my mirrored closet door. It looked like someone had photoshopped my head on another body. Not only were two of my limbs missing I had lost about 20 lbs. I sat there looking at myself in disbelief. I was frail. I was permanently altered. I cried.

It took four years, a bankruptcy, offer and compromise with the IRS, and a reconstructive surgery called an Ertl procedure before I could really focus on anything else. I didn’t notice at the time how difficult this was on me. I gained weight, struggled with depression, pain, and was embarrassed to be seen in public. I didn’t want anyone to see me struggle to walk or in a wheelchair, so I spent most of my time at home in pain. The financial toll led to getting on food stamps and Medicaid which I was also embarrassed by.
I try to portray an unrelenting strength and confidence which I would say is accurate most of the time. With the exception of unrelenting phantom limb pain, most of the time I don’t feel any different than the day before I lost my limbs. The crash that happened 9 years ago put me into a category of people called disabled, handicapped, crippled, and amputee. With the exception of amputee, I have never felt any of the aforementioned words describe me. I have however noticed it is at times the first thing people see and think. There are also times that it is the first thing I think when someone treats me a certain way. Anytime someone assumes I am unable to do something. Parents trying to keep their kids from pointing {kids pointing does not bother me}. Times I am rejected or ”friendzoned” by a woman. While these times are rare (especially the being rejected by women part :P), I do at times feel marginalized, condescended, and underestimated.

Though it has been a bit of a struggle, I feel like it has opened me up to feeling more deeply. Anyone can wade in the shallow end of life, but if you really want to experience the whole ocean one needs to struggle. Nine years after that head on collision I stand, walk, run, dive off cliffs, and sail across oceans by myself. I am completely debt free and inching towards a lifelong dream at a brisk walking pace. Sailing has given me a new lifestyle and outlook on life. It has also introduced me to a new community of cruising sailors, which I love being a part of. I live and love as if I am here on stolen time. I follow my heart and dreams as I did when I was a child. I now look to the horizon as I looked to the stars as a child, with curiosity, hope, and wonder. I thank those who have wronged, marginalized, condescended, and underestimated me. Without you I may have never known what I was really made of. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for everyone that helped me through this and believed in me. Without you I would have never known how much love and support I have in my life. I am quite literally living my dream on a sailboat my friends and family bought for me.

 

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