2017 is slowly coming to an end. I will take a few days off over the Christmas season. And so will The Active Amputee. This short break will provide me with the time I need to work on a few new ideas for The Active Amputee. It will allow me to reach out to more people and organisations and invite them to share their stories on this page. And it will give me the necessary headspace to develop a few new features for the site.
In early April of this year, I started The Actice Amputee as a resource page for amputees and their families. My initial ideas was to inform amputees about anything from dealing with phantom pain to new developments in the prosthetic sector. I wanted to inspire them by sharing the stories of other amputees and what they are up to. And I wanted to encourage amputees to be active and try out new things. Nothing less, nothing more.
What a glorious final to this year‘s series. Thanks to everybody involved. Putting on four excellent events and drawing in so many gifted climbers is not an easy feat.
Rebecca Sellar, a 25 year old below-knee amputee from Scotland loves coaching and playing tennis, took part in this year‘s paraclimbing series and recently competed for Scotland in a national debut match against the Netherlands. And all that when only a few years ago she did not consider herself a sporty person.
Today - that is December 3, 2017 - is the International Day for Disabled People. The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has just released a new collection of short inspirational films. The mini series is called „Me, Being Active“. Anoushé Husain who you have met here before features in one of the videos, explaining how being active is key to her lifestyle and comes with immense benefits for her overall wellbeing.
The work of EFDS is supported by Disability Rights UK and funded by Sport England. The new videos follow the EFDS‘ „Being Active Guide“ providing relevant information to people with disabilities who want to live an active life.
If you want to learn more about the EFDS, what it does or get their guide, then head over to their webpage.
As you all know, I am an amputee. I am active. I travel. Actually I travel a lot. For the last 20odd years I have been working in various capacities in the wide field of international development assistance. I have visited, lived and worked in more than 30 countries, sometimes only for a few days, sometimes for several years. I have lived and worked next to a tropical beach with a stunning corral reef just a hundred meters off the coast. And I have lived and worked in war zones. I had beautiful encounters with amazing people all over the world. And I had horrible experiences, often when you least expect them. And looking back I don‘t want to miss a single one of these experiences. They made made me who I am today. Well, thinking about it, one thing I wouldn‘t miss for a second are security checks at airports. While they often make good stories afterwards, I generally find them at least annoying, often dreadful, sometimes outright humiliating. Here are some of my experiences from recent years.
Today I want to recommend a new climbing movie to you. “Stumped” featuring Maureen Beck. Maureen may have been born missing her lower left arm, but that hasn't stopped her from going hard. She pushes her “stump” to the limit, takes whippers on 5.12, and crushes overhanging boulders, while shotgunning beers between burns. She certainly isn’t making excuses for herself though, ”I don’t want to just be a good one armed climber,” says Beck. “I want to be a good climber.” So if you have the chance the watch this movie, go and do so.
For more information check out the Reel Rock homepage.
With sea kayaking not being an option for this week end, I opted for an early morning walk in the Shropshire Hills. The Long Mynd just to the west of Church Stretton is one of my favourite walking areas around here. The weather forecast warned about morning mist and fog - which sounded good to me. The hills in Shropshire offer stunning views. No doubts about that. But when autumn is setting in and the weather gets colder and wetter, that‘s when the area shows a rougher kind of beauty. That means less people out and about. That‘s when I really enjoy the walks out there.
What a day. I am just back from the Neue Traunsteiner Hütte - a mountain hut at the boarder between Germany and Austria - using the Wachterlsteig. And I am not yet sure whether I actually enjoyed the walk itself or not. But I am sure that I am immensely proud of myself. And for good reasons as this hike was incredibly important to help me regain my confidence.
Today hardly any text, just pictures.This was the third leg of this year‘s paraclimbing series. There is one more event this year. December 10, 2017 in Newcastle. Come and join us. It‘s great fun.
Building on her two recent articles on The Active Amputee, Anoushé Husain explores the challenges people with invisible disabilities face in their day to day lives. She builds a strong argument for finally creating those badly needed safe spaces that allow honest, constructive and healthy conversations.
A weekend in late October, the weather forecasts announces sun all day and a clear blue sky, I have someone to take care of the kids and some people who want to go climbing outdoors - what a great opportunity to finally approach my first multi-pitch climb.
My work often brings me to countries in the tropics. Sometimes just for a few weeks. Sometimes for years. And while a high-tech knee is a great plus when it comes to being active and mobile, they soon hit their limits when water, sand, mud and rice paddies are involved. A simple backup option is needed. And often this can be done locally. As it was in my case, in Timor Leste back in 2009.
Two weeks ago I stumbled across a BBC headline about Rob Jones, a retired US Marines veteran who lost both his legs during deployment in Afghanistan. In October and November, Rob will run 31 marathons in just 31 days. Besides raising awareness regarding the struggles many war veterans face, Rob aims to raise 1,000,000 US$ for charities supporting wounded veterans.
Fay Keegan was only eleven years old when she was involved in a train accident that crushed her foot. After more than four decades in which she battled feelings of denial, anger, grief and loss, Fay decided to say goodbye to her foot and start anew. Fay regular shares her thoughts on her blog 'missing foot notes', where this article was first published in May 2017.
There are plenty of accounts from amputees on Instagram. Some of them really amazing, inspirational in so many ways. Here is my top 15 of personal accounts. Each of these stories resonates with me. All of them have moved me in one way or another, left a deep and lasting impression or motivated me to try something new. So I thought I share them with you. Have a look. They are amazing.
Chaos.Cat hat als Kind Knochenkrebs überlebt. Aber danach fühlte sie sich gefangen in einem Körper, in dem sie sich nie wohl fühlte. Nach Jahren der Traurigkeit und des Frustes, entschloss sie sich zu einer Amputation ihrer Beines. Dann, so hoffte sie, könne sie ein neues Leben beginnen, hätte viele neue Möglichkeiten, und wäre endlich wer sie immer schon sein wollte. Und ihr Mut wurde belohnt. Lies ihre Geschichte hier - entweder im deutschen Original oder in der englischen Übersetzung.
Chaos.Cat survived bone cancer when she was a child. But it left her trapped in a body which she never felt at ease with. After years that were marked by sadness and frustration, she took the brace decision to have her leg amputated. This, so she thought, would enable her to start a new life, open up new possibilities and finally allow her to be who she always wanted to be. And it did. Read her story - both in the German original and the English translation.
The Active Amputee has been up and running for a good six months now. And over the months, some amazing people shared their stories on the blog. This week‘s weekend edition follows up on some of them, giving you updates on what they are currently up to.
My personal experience of birthing and raising a daughter with a missing tibia and knee cap inspired the set-up of The IREDE Foundation. I wanted to share the comfort I had with other parents and the abilities in disabilities. In addition there was a desire to pour out my heart by writing out my daily frustrations and concerns as I managed my daughter. The need to reach out with a message of hope to child amputees and their families continually spurs me to action. We at The IREDE Foundation are out to educate and create awareness on amputation and limb loss among the general public, hoping to reduce stigmatisation to the barest minimum. We also run a support group to reach out to the families and the amputees themselves. Thirdly we empower amputees via the provision of prostheses and mentoring.
Six months ago I started The Active Amputee. The first article went live on April 1, 2017. And four days later I announced the existence of this new resource page for amputees and their families to a wider audience. Since then I have published one article per week. Normally you would find a new post every Wednesday. Mostly long reads, with a good mixture of articles by me and guest posts by other inspiring people. And as the feedback has been very encouraging, the plan for the time being is to continue with this format. One longer article per week.
But as there is so much happening, I will add a second, shorter weekend post from now one. Often only a paragraph or two. Sometimes a few pictures, a link or a list. I hope you find this new feature informative and fun. Let me know what you think about it. And if you want me to continue with it.
This new feature is kicking off today with some snapshots from a recent day out in the Peak District. Kat Sizer from PACE Rehab teamed up with Belinda Fuller and Robin O‘Leary, the two coaches of the British Paraclimbing Team, to offer amputees an opportunity to have a go at outdoor climbing. So on October 6, 2017, eight amputees met at Stanage Edge in the Peak District. Some of them have been climbing for years, others were novices to this sport. With the sun out, with great coaching and a very supportive environment, all of us had an amazing day. „Thanks Kat from PACE Rehab, thanks BE and Robin!“
Aristotle Domingo, also known as Todd to his family, friends, and social media followers, has never understood the meaning of “limits.” After surviving septicemia in 2001, Todd lived with peroneal nerve injury (foot drop) until his recent left below-knee amputation in 2017. He spent 16 years battling infection, pain, and other medical issues due to complications. Below is an account of his speedy recovery from his recent amputation surgery to participating in his first 5K race.
Back in April when I launched The Active Amputee, I kicked off with a series of articles called ,My Journey To Losing My Leg‘ describing the long battle between first being diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1980s to finally making the decision to have my leg amputated in late 2005. A lot has happened since. And as many people asked how the journey continued, here are some snapshots what my life is all about.
I recently published a short overview over various companies producing prosthetic covers (you find the full article here), pointing out how the recent developments in 3D printing allow people with amputations to express their individual style through by choosing the look of their artificial limbs. I then ran an interview with McCauley Wanner from the ALLELES design studio in Victoria/Canada (you find the full interview here). This mini series about prosthetic covers is continuing today with a post by the Brazilian company ID Ethnos.
„Open to all aspiring paraclimbers, the British Mountaineering Council and Climb Scotland Paraclimbing Series is a friendly competition aimed at giving people an authentic competitive experience.“ That‘s what it says on the BMC‘s homepage.
The series is made up of four events and aims to give people with a disability an opportunity to have a go at climbing in the competitive environment. It‘s a great format to try out something new, to meet other climbers with a handicap of one sort or another and to see some amazing climbing at a very high level.
The first event took place at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena in Ratho last week end. Here are some impressions fro the day.
The first paraclimbing competition is just two days away. If you have a chance, come and be there at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena on Saturday, September 9. You won‘t be disappointed. Amazing climbing, a great atmosphere and loads of inspiration by people who have overcome immense challenges in their lives. Join us for the day. More information can be found here.
Throw back to 2015. Some time during the summer I was browsing the internet. And by coincidence I stumbled across an article about the British Paraclimb Series. As I had been climbing for some time - on and off, nothing regular - the article caught my interest. „On Saturday, September 19, the British Mountaineering Council‘s/Mountain Council of Scotland‘s Paraclimbing Series is kicking off“, so it said. The first round was to be in the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena. And while it‘s quite a long drive to get up there, I new right away that I wanted to be there for this event. It would be a special gift to myself to celebrate my 10th anniversary as an amputee. September 19, 2005 was the last day I walked - or better limbed - around this planet on two legs. A day later I had my left leg amputated and started a new chapter in my life.
For today‘s guest blogger, 27 years of being an amputee has been a never ending journey of pushing her mind, her body and soul to be the best it can be. And she sure has done a lot of things to be proud of. So no wonder she can't wait to see what the next 27 years have in store for her.
I recently published a short overview over various companies producing prosthetic covers (you find the full article here), pointing out how the recent developments in 3D printing allow people with amputations to express their individual style through the look of their artificial limbs. As several people expressed an interest to learn more about the choices we amputees now have, I decided to run a series of articles over the coming months, showcasing some of the companies developing and producing these stunning covers. And we kick off this series with an interview with McCauley Wanner from the ALLELES design studio in Victoria/Canada.
My name is Yoav Gaon and I am one of the co-founders of yoocan. Yoocan is the world’s leading empowerment site for people with disabilities. In 2008, my son Erez was born with a rare disease and complex cognitive and physical disabilities. This was the beginning of an emotionally challenging journey for me, Ruthi my wife, and our family. It brought us together in many ways, but it was hard as we needed to adjust to a new way of living. Over the years we have come to do that in our own unique ways. Erez has certain limitations, but they have definitely not prevented him from living life to the fullest!
Summer is here. And with it come endless opportunities for being active in, on and around the water. While water sports are generally great fun, they are especially well suited for lower limb amputees: They offer the added advantage of the water carrying most of our weight. An advantage not to be underestimated for many amputees.
Anoushe Husain was born missing her right arm below the elbow, is living with multiple health conditions, is a cancer survivor, a Muslim and coming from an ethnic minority. She has never let what society or culture thinks she should do limit her or dictate the direction of her life. She is constantly breaking the mould and challenging not only her own beliefs about her own potential but also that of society and her own culture. In her last post we got to know her and her story. Today she tells us about how one instance of discrimination impacted on her life.
Okay so obviously I'm not an amputee. I was born without the lower part of my left arm and just as someone with two hands would learn to use two hands I have learned to use one. It‘s all I've ever known and therefore I wouldn't allow myself to be phased by any tasks that someone with two hands might achieve.
Fay Keegan was only eleven years old when she was involved in a train accident that crushed her foot. After more than four decades in which she battled feelings of denial, anger, grief and loss, Fay decided to say goodbye to her foot and start anew. Read all about her long journey in an article that was first published in Great Walks, October–November 2014.
No more excuses not to be active as an amputee. There are plenty of opportunities for amputees to be active, to get involved and try out something new this summer. Besides the big events for professionals, there are more and more taster sessions for amputees offering a safe and encouraging environment to have a go at a new activity.
You want to make yourself stronger, improve your adaptability and raise your stress threshold? Yes, but how can that be done in a safe and dosed manner? Who has the right expertise and experience to help you with this? Not only physically, but especially mentally and emotionally? Three time cancer survivor Michael Robbert Brans found the right challenge for himself: The Unbreakable.
I guess most of you still remember the days when artificial limbs - generally speaking - were ugly. Designed for function, not for style. They were off the shelf models with a standard look. While many prosthetists offered some sort of cover or another, more often than not they tried to imitate the look of the remaining limb. And often, very often, it wasn‘t even a good imitation.
Though he was born without a left forearm and hand, Tony Memmel taught himself to play the guitar by building a homemade cast out of Gorilla Tape that secures a guitar pick to his arm, and allows him to pluck and strum the strings.
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.
Daily activities can be a little bit challenging when you’re missing a leg. Now add the weight of a pack, and varying elevations on uneven terrain out in the mountains and you are definitely going to see how not graceful I am. But so what? This post is going to talk about how to get outdoors and see these beautiful places even as an amputee.
My name is Liam Twomey. I am a 23 year old from Melbourne/Australia. I grew up in a great family with my Mum, Dad and older brother. It was all great until I was diagnosed with a Ewing sarcoma in my right tibia when I was age seven. My life was turned upside down, although at that age I was still quite unaware of what was happening. I wasn’t able to see the severity of my situation and what was to come.
I’m a woman, born missing my right arm below the elbow, a Muslim and have a few invisible health issues. None of that matters. What matters is how I choose to live my life.
April was Limb Loss Awareness Month. And it was the month that more and more bitmojis for people with limb differences started showing up. Hedgehog1171, as he is known on Instagram and other social media platforms, is one of the creators of a variety of the small icons. A student from Wales, hedgehog1171 has just posted picture #100 on his feed. And he was so kind to send us a few to use on The Active Amputee. Thanks!
You are an amputee? You think about getting into cycling? But you just don‘t know how to start? Maybe you are even a bit fearful that as an amputee cycling is now off-limits for you? Well, then Sonia Sanghani‘s Stumps and Cranks - An Introduction to Amputee Cycling is just the right book for you.
During a recent visit to India, a friend of mine mentioned Malvika Iyer. A bomb blast survivor in her teens, Malvika is now a well-known motivational speaker and disability rights activist. He offered to introduce me to her and shortly afterwards I had the pleasure to get to know her during a phone interview. Right from the moment our Skype connection was live, I felt that Malvika is someone with an immense spirit and an almost unbreakable will. Here is her inspirational story.
Adenike Oyetunde is a lawyer and radio presenter from Nigeria‘s economic and cultural powerhouse Lagos. She lost one of her legs due to bone cancer when she was in her early twenties. Adenike, always full of ideas, recently founded Amputees United, an initiative to assist cancer patients and amputees. "I want to help them wade through the storm, because honestly, I went through this, that I may help them on their journey. We at the Amputees United Initiative would love to help them come to terms with their new reality."
Losing both legs is a major challenge for any person. Even more so when you are a circus artist. Erin Ball struggled hard until embracing her new reality led to a fireworks of creativity. Her amputations are now an integral part of her show.
Our constant focus on the latest prosthetic developments coupled with our aspirations to get the latest high-end products on the market lets us forget one important aspect: The prosthesis is only as good as the system by which it is connected to the human body.
Raising awareness about people with limb differences and the issues they are struggling with needs to happen on all fronts. And all of us can play a role in it.
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.