Here is something I wrote two years ago when I started running again; for the first time in 28 years. As a teen, running was my love and outlet. I never wanted to pursue it as an amputee because I was convinced that the feeling could not be re-created as I remembered it. Until the blade. How I love that blade.
The journey through re-discovering running turned into so much more for me. It further cultured an acceptance of my body, my self and a respect for the way it carries me through life. It fuelled
my desire to push how society defines disability as a negative and to challenge the perceptions we all carry within us regarding our own abilities.
I recently was asked how many people look at me, now I've had the amputation, and it got me laughing. I laughed mostly because I hadn't actually noticed. I'd spent eleven years with a tremendous
set of scars on my left leg and a deformed knee which I quite happily displayed in skirts, shorts etc. I also spent a lot of time with sticks or in wheelchairs, all of which garnered a large
amount of attention. I think I'd gotten so used to it by this point that I didn't see any difference post-amputation, I'd never thought to calculate the numbers. Staring never really bothered me
in the first place, I was always of the mindset that no amount of staring would ever stop me from dressing or being the way I wanted. Whilst they saw me very clearly, I began to see them less and
less, until eventually starers became invisible to my eye.
In our last article of The Active Amputee’s Spring Special on amputee parenthood we hear from sepsis survivor and quadruple amputee Wendi Locatelli. Wendi talks openly about her physical, mental
and emotional challenges. She talks openly about her fears that her children are teased because of their mother’s disability. And she talks about the immense relief of having a husband, a family
and wider community to fall on onto, to rely on, to help.
Yes, there are times when I think that it just sucks being an above-the-knee amputee. Obviously. And often this feeling creeps up on me when I am around my kids (three lovely kids, the youngest one is six, the other two are 13 and 16). When I want to do things with them and have the feeling that my amputation sets unwanted limits. When the fact that I have an artificial leg seems to dictate what I can and cannot do with them.
I remember how I wished I had two legs when our little one was crying in the middle of the night. When I just wanted to get up and carry him around for a bit so he would fall back to sleep within minutes. Instead I first had to switch on the lights, get into my prosthesis and make sure it fits properly. Only then could I pick him up and start walking around. By that time he was normally fully awake. Or when we were in the mountains and it was mainly up to my wife to carry our baby - and later our toddler - up and down then peaks without me being much of a help. Or when we are near the sea, a lake or just the local swimming pool and I want to run around with the kids, dash in and out of the water, be silly, have fun. Or now that the youngest one is about to learn how to ride his bike and I am not able to run next to him, support him, show and teach him how its done.
But while some of this has been annoying for me, it‘s not really an issue for the kids. It never has been. And now, as I am looking back at the last few years and how they have been growing up, I actually think it‘s been good for them to have an amputee dad. Honestly, I think it‘s an advantage. Collateral good, so to speak. Why? Well...
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.
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.
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 often mixed with feelings of fear and being completely overwhelmed. 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.
Anoushé Husain has been a regular contributor the The Active Amputee. she has recently been featured in a short film that will run in the "Women In Adventure Film Competition 23019". Here is what Anoushé has to tell.
"Over the summer I went for my first proper outdoor climbing trip. The idea of being so far away from home, in a completely new environment with my health being so erratic was terrifying. It took a lot of planning from two of my amazing friends who took all the variable into account to make my trip as easy as possible.
We have captured my trip and the challenges in a small video that’s been submitted for a film festival. We share the barriers and fear ahead of the trip and the challenges I experience during it. But see for yourself."
When I was asked to do this article I felt I was at a flat point. That I had nothing to say? I feel I've pushed my story so far that perhaps people weren't interested anymore? Than I made a promise to myself and nobody else, that 2019 was going to not just be a good year but a GREAT year! My focus was going to be new and my perspective a little changed! I may not be your typical Active Amputee but I don't let that hold me down! As you can see when you read my story.
I was recently interviewed by Scott Davidson from The Living Adaptive Podcast. We chatted about
a wide range of topics, anything from the importance of accepting difficult times in your life to getting rid of the victim label, from the need to accept the consequences of your decisions to
taking responsibility for your own healing journey, from being an amputee dad to my new plans for 2019. But listen for yourself.
Welcome back! This is the first post of 2019. This year will be another exciting year for The Active Amputee. Loads of new things in the making. But more about them in another post soon. Let's first take a look at my first big live event of the year.
Christmas is less than two weeks away and 2018 is slowly coming to an end. I will take a little break over the coming weeks. But before I go offline I want to share some exciting news with you. Something about an event I have been working on for some time.
Since I heard about Erin, the double amputee circus artist, in early 2017 I have been a great fan of her and her work. She recently shared some of her plans for the coming year with me. And I would like
to share them with you. Exciting developments, if you ask me.
Paradox Sports is trying to break down barriers and make climbing, and the climbing community, accessible to all. Since 2007, Paradox has run transformative adaptive climbing weekend trips in the most iconic climbing destinations in the United States – Yosemite Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Red River Gorge, The Tetons, Ouray Ice Park, and more. These trips have been a place to connect, push limits, and change beliefs about what is possible for people living with a disability.
Fancy trying water-skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, biking, kiting or skiing? All suitable for amputees. Access Adventures is a non-profit organisation, aiming to improve the quality of life for people with physical disabilities through organising outdoor adaptive camps.
Less than a month and there it is: Christmas. In my eyes Christmas is all about quality time with loved ones. It’s all about long days out in mother nature followed by even longer evenings in front of an open fire place, a good book in one hand, a huge mug of hot chocolate, coffee or mulled wine in the other. Yes, followed by a good whiskey.
For me it’s a time to wind down and focus on the important things in life: As a cancer survivor that is first and foremost being thankful that I am still around, that I can be active and live a rewarding life, often out in the great outdoors. Being thankful that I have a loving family and are part of a supportive community of people who want to make a difference; people who want to make this world a better place. All the rest is background music.
For me Christmas is also the time to dream of new wild and daring adventures. The small ones just outside my doorstep and the big ones half way around the globe. The ones which are physically demanding and the ones which are an emotional rollercoaster ride. All of them have their place. Dreaming up new adventures is good for the soul. And doing something for your the soul is a bit part what this time of the year is all about - at least for me.
But as things go, Christmas is also closely associated with…, yes, presents. With getting things for the people around us. And it seems, this idea of getting something nice for a family member, a friend, a colleague, a neighbor or the guy helping out with the football training in school stresses some people out.
To take some of this stress away from you, here is my list of great presents for active amputees. I hope there is something for all off you. (Full disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links. That means that I earn a small commission if you purchase any of these products. This is of no extra costs to you.)
So, let’s see what we have!
I am a passionate traveller. And I have travelled far and wide, often off the beaten track and by local means. As I try to encourage other people with limb differences to go out and explore the world, I regularly share travel tips and travel experiences on my blog. Most of them are inspirational and just provide tested advice. Some of them cover less pleasant experiences to highlight some of the extra challenges people with disabilities face. And today I would like to share a story I recently saw on Linda Olson’s blog. Linda is a very active triple amputee who lost both of her legs and an arm in a train versus car crash in Germany in the early seventies. Linda is not one to give up easily and always tries to make the best of the situation. Even if the situation is degrading and completely unnecessary. Here is her story (which was originally published on Linda's blog in June 2018).
Sometimes even the most active of amputees needs a bit of couch potato time. A day off at home. A big mug of steaming coffee. A fire burning in the fire place. And some videos to watch. Here are my top picks for the week.
Christmas is approaching quickly. And for many people, Christmas is the time for long holidays in exotic locations all over the globe. Amputees and other people with limb differences are often as keen to travel and explore off-the-beaten track places, meet new people and experience exciting cultures as people without a disability. At the same time, many of us are much worried about the potential challenges we might face. This often means that people with disabilities shy away from visiting the places they dream of.
Fortunately there has been a lot of awareness work focussing on accessible tourism in recent years. On the one hand more and more locations improve their infrastructure and expand their services to make it easier and more enjoyable for people with disabilities. On the other hand there is an increasing number of very experienced tour-operators providing all the hands-on assistance and the local knowledge that is needed to enable people with disabilities to have the time of their life. For today’s article I teamed up with Access2Africa Safaris from South Africa to present one such company and their incredible work.
People who have been following me - either here on my blog or on Instagram - know that I love being active. I feel even better if I can be active in the great outdoors. This passion for being
physically active out in mother nature did not change when I decided that it was time for my leg and me to go separate ways. On the contrary, it actually increased as after almost 20 years of
being limited by my endoprosthesis I finally had the feeling that everything was possible again. Being active in the outdoors might need a different approach than before, but suddenly the limit
was the sky.
In 2004, Dr. Dani Burt was involved in a motorcycle crash that put her in a coma for 45 days. After she woke up, Dani knew her life would never be the same again. She felt lost, confused, hurt
and in many ways hopeless. But her life was not over. It took many unexpected turns, opened many new doors and offered her countless amazing opportunities. Today, Dani works as a Doctor of
Physical Therapy at Sharp Memorial Hospital, the same hospital where she was a patient of more than a decade ago. A career she chose because she wants to be there for patients after they go
through the darkest moments in their life to show them what is possible. Here is an interview with Dani, talking about her road to recovery and the many ways in which she now gives back and
supports people who faced life-changing events.
Im ersten Teil dieses Interviews haben wir Jasmin und Andreas etwas näher kennengelernt. Die beiden haben ihre jeweils ganz persönliche Geschichte mit uns geteilt. Sie haben uns erzählt, was sie in Zukunft noch so vorhaben und welche Ansprüche sie an eine Prothetikversorgung stellen.
Andreas und Jasmin testen zur Zeit das überarbeitete Genium X3. Das Gelenk als auch einige andere Passteile wurden den beiden für einige Wochen von Ottobock zur Verfügung gestellt. Heute werden wir mehr von ihnen hören, welche Erfahrungen sie bis jetzt mit dem Knie so gemacht haben.
In the first part of this interview we got to know Jasmin and Andreas a bit better. The two of them shared their personal stories with us. They told about their plans for the future and what they expected from a prosthetic device to help them live their dreams.
Andreas and Jasmin are currently testing the revised Genium X3. The knee as well as some other parts are provided to them by Ottobock so they can test them for a month. Today we will hear about their experiences so far.
Diese Woche habe ich das Vergnügen, mit Jasmin und Andreas aus Deutschland zu reden. Beide sind oberschenkelamputiert. Beide sind dies noch garnicht so lange. Beide haben vor ihrer Amputation eine lange Kranken-Odyssee hinter sich. Und beide testen zur Zeit das überarbeitete Genium X3 von Ottobock.
Heute möchte ich euch die beiden kurz vorstellen. Und morgen hören wir dann mehr über ihre Erfahrungen mit dem Kniegelenk.
This week I have the pleasure to talk to Jasmin and Andreas from Germany. Both are above knee amputees. Both haven't been amputated for very long. Both have had a long odyssey before their amputation. And both are currently testing the revised Genium X3 by Ottobock.
Today I would like to introduce them to you. And tomorrow we will hear more about their experiences with the micro-processor prosthesis.
It is a fact, in many countries around the world, that some people face disadvantage when it comes to getting involved in sport activities. There are particular subgroups that have nuances and requirements that we need to cater for in order to ensure they can participate fully. So the question is, if we know these challenges exist what do we actually do about it? How do we take action on inclusion in our sport clubs and organisations? How do we talk about it?
In this post you will learn:
At the end of the post I will provide some additional resources to help you put things into action.
The START foundation empowers amputees in life through sport, by providing grants to purchase sports prosthesis or adaptive equipment to help them achieve their sporting dreams.
Pulling a 45,000lb fire truck isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the hobbies of the people around you. And this thought is even more impressive when the person you are thinking about is an amputee. But that is exactly what Dan Nunnelly from Dallas/Texas did. He is one of the growing number of strongman (men and women) and power lifters who are amputees. Here is his story, which was originally published by yoocan.
At the moment, the eyes of many sports interested amputees are focused on Sydney. Between October 20-27, Sydney hosts this year’s Invictus Games, an international adaptive sports event in which wounded, injured or ill armed services personnel and veterans take part in sports.
I have been working on social change for the last 20odd years. Since the late 1990s I have been earning a living as a trainer, consultant and advisor for conflict transformation and peacebuilding projects, mainly in Asia and Africa. Since I have started focussing on disability issues, I have applied many of the skills I honed during my years abroad to this new passion of mine. I recently had the chance to talk with students about what’s it like to be an amputee. I loved the interaction with the kids, their genuine interest and open-mindedness, their creative ideas and willingness to work towards inclusion. If you are interested to engage with schools, youth clubs and the like, here are some practical ideas to make things easier.
As a last post of this mini series, Enock shares what it takes to take on demanding projects and see them through. He talks about community, about gear, about training and preparation – and last but not least about which big adventure is next on his list. Enjoy this last post of the first ever The Active Amputee Special – The Enock Glidden Week.
Wow, what an unbelievable feat: Climbing Astroman in the Yosemite valley, using fixed ropes and several thousand pull-ups. Today Enock lets us in on his thoughts when coming back from his first trip to California.
Yesterday - in part one of our Enock Glidden special - Enock mentioned that some years ago he found a new passion in rock climbing. And in October 2016 – two years ago this week – he attempted to climb the most iconic big wall in the world of climbing: Yosemite’s El Capitan. The 3,000 ft wall is a dream for many and attracts climbers from all around the globe. Climbing El Cap is demanding for experienced climbers who are in full control of all their limbs. Tackling the wall as a climber with a limb difference seemed almost impossible. But that didn’t prevent Enock from giving it a go. But see for yourself.
Starting this fall, there will be several new features on The Active Amputee. One of these new features is a quarterly special. Once every three months there will be one week dedicated to a special person, a special topic, a special challenge. During this week I will publish more than the usual number of posts. I will provide you with additional resources and background information. And hopefully I will motivate you to try out something new and head off to more mindboggling adventures.
Yes! I admit it. I am a huge fan of podcasts. Anything from ‘The History of India’ to ‘Trumpcast’, from ‘The Smart Cities Week’ to ‘Smart Passive Income’, from ‘The Intercept’ to ‘Serial’. But despite my love for podcasts, it’s been only recently that I started listening to podcasts about amputees and others with limb differences. Why did it take me so long? To be honest, I have no idea. Guess it’s been just a matter of never actually searching for one until I stumbled across my first amputee podcasts more or less by coincidence. And that got the ball rolling.
To spare all of you a good degree of missing out on something great (without the FOMO effect, I guess), let me share some of the shows which I think you should give a try. My top five, so to speak.
So (drum roll please) here we go!
Last week saw the 8th edition of the annual PACE Rehab conference. This year’s topic was „Beyond the Clinic Room – Outcomes in The Real World“. The conference was all about transforming patients’ lives and enabling them to live an active life. Something that has been close to my heart for years, and a theme that has been the leading light for this blog from the very beginning. As it happened the event fell onto the very day that marks the 13th anniversary of my amputation. So it was a nice surprise to learn that a picture of me and my little one was chosen to head the invitations, the poster and program for the day.
As most of you know, I am a strong advocate of bringing a fresh wind with a more personal touch and a wider personal choice to the prosthetic world. Artificial limbs and other prosthetic devices do not need to be skin-coloured boring tools that are designed according to purely practical considerations. So since the start of The Active Amputee I have regularly featured companies that broke new ground, provided prosthetic covers and enabled people with limb differences to develop their personal style and proudly wear their artificial limbs in public. I would like to introduce U-Exist to you, a creative company from France that adds its vision and voice to the ever growing movement of personalized prosthetic devices.
Here is my interview with Mrs. Cindy Habchi, responsible for social media within the U-Exist team.
Taking the plunge into a new business venture can be daunting in some respects, especially when you have a disability. However, with a couple clever strategies and some handy tools, you can successfully navigate the transition into a new career. Plus, delving into the world of entrepreneurship offers several noteworthy benefits to those who are disabled such as:
If your interest is peaked, here’s how to get started in your pursuit of success!
I am pretty steadfast in my belief that the body is self-organizing and self-healing given the right conditions. Mind you, knowing those conditions is another thing. I had to let go of “why” this was happening and “what else can I do”. Interestingly, when I began to explore the option to amputate, some incredible experiences “appeared” in my life.
On May 20, 2018 a group of determined, inspirational people set off on an amazing challenge to become the first amputees to climb Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales.
Amy, a young woman from Nashville has a soft spot for sarcasm, coffee, and fitness. A few years ago, she discovered her love for boxing, almost by accident. Here is her story.
As you all know I set up The Active Amputee to provide information, to share inspiration and to create a community. And these last weeks have been amazing in terms of creating a community and
creating new collaborations with people far and wide. Here is just a quick run down of all the new relationships I am so excited about.
As part of my cooperation with yoocan, I would like to share the story of Lisa Ludwig. Lisa was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. While the osteosarcoma took her leg, it never took her spirit and positive attitude. Several years later she is an active mentor to other cancer patients and amputees and - for some time - had taken up the role as brand ambassador for a company that produces prosthetic covers.
Who would have thought that lats week’s article - A simple introduction into paraclimbing as an above knee amputee - will be greeted by such a positive response. After the post went live on Wednesday, it took only minutes until the first reactions, additional questions, comments and thank you notes started coming in. Wow, that is great. I really wasn’t expecting that.
Climbing is an amazing sport. Full stop. No matter if you are into bouldering or top-roped routes at a local climbing wall, prefer pre-bolted sport routes outdoors or love the thrill of proper multi-pitch trad climbing or a deep-water solo, the sport has something for everybody. And I mean everybody, no matter if you are able-bodied (what ever that is) or not.
All of you know that I am an above the knee amputee. Most of you know that I am an outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the hills and mountains. And some of you know that I have been a regular visitor to Nepal and had the chance to hike in the foothills of the Himalayas. So you can imagine how thrilled I that Nepal’s Tourism Board has just announced its first accessible trekking path in one of the country’s most breathtaking regions: Pokhara. The 1.2 kilometer trail is fully wheelchair accessible, is equipped with handrails and additional facilities are soon to come. Visitors are greeted by the stunning panorama across the Annapurna and Manaslu range.
I got into motorbikes as a teenager as it was a good, cheap mode of transport to get to college, work and to see my girlfriend who lived in the next town.
I quickly got bigger bikes until December 26, 1988 when I was hit on a straight and clear bit of road by a newly licensed driver turning across in front of me. The accident resulted in a
traumatic through knee amputation of my right leg and near death due to blood loss. After surgery I ended up with a transfemoral amputation and after eleven days I was home wondering what to do
The newest high-tech prosthesis is of little use if it is not well connected to your body. Over and over again the socket proved to be the weakest link that can be the make it or break it point determining the activity level of an amputee. And as our bodies change over time, so do our demands towards this connections between our residual limb and our prosthetic device. Working with a liner system combined with a movable seal-ring is one of the options we have to create a well-fitting socket with a strong vacuum suction.
It has been more than a year since I started The Active Amputee. In the initial months I was guided by three leading themes.
With all of this done, it was finally time to think about a logo. And after a lot of to and from, of designs being drawn up and binned, of font types being tried out, changed, ridiculed, praised and changed again, I have finally settled on my new logo. Et voilà: Here it is.
Dreaming big - and making it happen. Imagine a time and place where many amputees, possibly hundreds of them, come together from different parts of the world. They come together for a common purpose. Simply to enjoy health & fitness activities including Sports, Yoga, Dance, all movement arts etc. There are no awards, no medals, no validation of your participation. The experience is its own reward. That is exactly what Sanjay Arora is working on.
This page is made by amputees. And it is made for amputees and their families. The Active Amputee wants to enable you to make informed decisions by providing unbiased information. The Active Amputee wants to inspire action through the sharing of stories. And the Active Amputee wants to build a community of active amputees by encouraging engagement and mutual support. Nothing more, nothing less. It‘s as easy and simple as that.
The people involved in The Active Amputee love to hear from you. Give us feedback about this page, send in your stories so that we can share them with others, let us know about events that are of interest for amputees, suggest topics you would like to read more about, ask questions. Really, anything that relates to amputee issues is of interest for The Active Amputee and could be featured on this side. Here is the contact form.