My Life As An Amputee In Five Pictures
In our series "Five Pictures and Me" people with amputation introduce themselves by sharing their favorite pictures with us. Today: Stephen Mackelprang (better known as Real Mack Steve) - is an above knee as well as metatarsal amputee, adventurer, author of a great book, comedian, and so much more. And today, he shares five of his favorite pictures of him with us and lets us in on some aspects of his life. Lean back and enjoy.
The World Is There To Be Explored
People call me Mack, the law calls me Stephen Mackelprang. It takes a book to explain the intricacies of my disappearing limbs. Yes, limbs. I’m an above-knee amputee of my left leg and metatarsal (foots cut in half) of the right. What I have for you is five pictures of places becoming an amputee hasn’t stopped me from going.
Here I’m returning from the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park. The last half mile is treacherous with a chain linked rail to give something to grab to stop people from plummeting over a thousand feet to their deaths. Over a dozen people told me they wouldn’t have done the last half mile if they didn’t hear “a one-legged guy is doing it.” Hearing that sure made the trek easier for me. Spending time in nature – hiking particularly – has helped to sooth my mind and heal my soul.
Bloomington Lake in Idaho, August 2022. Checking out the rope swing. And then, taking my leg off and attempting a double backflip. Only made one and a half. It’s fun giving people a story.
This picture tells the tale. I summited White Mountain Peak in September of 2019, which is the third highest peak in California. I started at 4 AM and made the over seven miles to the summit around 11 AM and back to my car by 6:30 PM. The box had the perfect sticker on it already, “WHO SAYS I CAN’T?” Not me!
This is after hiking over seven miles and 3400' vert to the top of Telescope Peak in Death Valley at 11,049'. Best view I've ever had and slept on the peak. The sun was beginning to set.
I never try and hide my prosthetic leg. It’s got form and function. It’s great I can go in and out of the water with ease. It’s the only thing I need. Location: Temple Fork Sawmill trail.
And here is a bonus one: The book I wrote covering how I lost my leg and how I found myself. Things are only tragic if they are viewed that way. Otherwise they are just another one of life’s experiences.
Desire to have a child as an amputee
(amputee parenthood special I)
Today we start with another special. A series of articles dedicated to a one special topic, one specific challenge or one impressive person. And this week it’s all about being an amputee parent. Even without a limb difference, the idea of suddenly being responsible for a child can be daunting. Immense joy is regularly mixed with feelings of fear and being completely overwhelmed. Often even more so if you are an amputee. So throughout the course of this week we hear from four amputees, learning about their thoughts on parenthood. Jasmin, a young women from Germany with an above knee amputation - and a regular contributor to The Active Amputee - kicks-off our Spring Special. read more
Pregnancy after surviving an avalanche
(amputee parenthood special II)
Joanna lost her leg in a mountaineering accident. She has what is called a Chopart amputation. That means that she has retained a load- bearing heel bone and heel pad. However, due to a needed shortening her amputation presents as a Symes (which is an amputation through the heel bone). Joanna can walk short distances without a prosthesis. Only a few years after her accident, Joanna is expecting her first child. In this personal article she shares her experience of being pregnant while still getting used to her new life as an amputee. read more
Oh baby, we are going to have kids
(amputee parenthood special III)
Oh no! This can’t be right! I looked at the positive home pregnancy test again. Come on, make that color change some more. I sat still for a while and waited. Pregnancy was not on my list of things to do right now. Nine months earlier I’d lost both legs above the knee and my right arm just below the shoulder in a train vs car accident. I learned to walk with prostheses using a quad cane and was planning to move back to Los Angeles where I would live by myself and finish the last nine months of my Radiology residency. My thump-thud, toy-soldier walk was loud and looked funny but got me where I needed to go. Doing things with one hand was becoming easier. But am I ready for a pregnancy? read more