„After all the highs and lows in the past four years I’ve learned to accept this amputation that I can’t change“, says Dave Klar. „I accept limitations but knock down perceived boundaries of people with a ‚disability‘!“
Up early, grabbing a quick breakfast while fixing some food for the trip. Getting all the gear ready, checking the weather forecast and Magic Seaweed to get an idea about the waves, the wind, and when the tidal times. It all looks perfect. So the Welsh coast it is, one of Europe’s most stunning coastal areas.
When you are living the life of your dreams in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and then the unimaginable happens. You are attacked by an alligator. That is what happened to Deise Nishimura. She fought for her life and survived. And after her having recovered she returned to the place she loved: The Amazon. Here is her amazing story.
What a nice surprise: I have been featured in Rob and Michelle’s Outdoor Adventure Blog as the Person of Adventure for the week starting April 30, 2018. „Thanks Rob & Michelle!“
You find the link to the full interview here. Enjoy!
My story started when I was 15 years old. And although the diagnosis from back then has little relevance for my life today, those days have had an immense impact on me - also in a positive way. Those days have shaped me and made me who I am today. From one day to the next my life changed completely. Suddenly nothing was as it used to be.
Meine Geschichte beginnt als ich15 Jahre alt war. Auch wenn die damalige Diagnose keine große Relevanz mehr in meinem Leben hat, hat mich diese Zeit extrem geprägt und verändert – und das auch positiv – und hat einen großen Einfluss darauf, wer ich heute bin. Von einen auf den anderen Tag hat sich mein Leben komplett verändert. Plötzlich war nichts mehr wie es mal war.
Just a quick one today. Regular visitors to The Active Amputee will remember the story of Malvika Iyer. Her story was featured as one of the first guest posts on this page. Malvika lost both her hands in a bomb-blast when she was a teenager. Her road to recovery was tough. But then again Malvika is not someone to give up easily. With immense willpower and the never-ending support of of mother she managed to not just finish school, but do so as one of the best students in her year. Malvika went on to study and recently got her Ph.D. degree. She is an outspoken disability rights activists, a TED speaker, a member of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, a model for accessible fashion and so much more. She was recently awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar Award, the highest award for women civil society actors from the President of India. And just recently her incredible story has been turned into a graphic novel: MAI - A Graphic Novel by Sriram Jagannathan.
I'm not sure how many times I have been called inspirational in my life. If I was given a penny for every time, I'd have a mansion by now. The word makes me hugely uncomfortable and I know I'm not the only one who is differently-abled or different that feels this. For this article, I decided to dig a bit deeper and work out why I feel the way I do.
The Active Amputee recently engaged in a new partnership with yoocan, a global collaborative community for and by people with disabilities. We join hands to share more inspiring stories by amazing people with a wider audience. Expect a new article from this cooperation about once a month. And I am very happy to open this collaboration with the story of Audrey Cakin, a double amputee from the Caribbean.
April is Limb Loss Awareness Month. And it started well for me. Very well, indeed. Earlier this month I received notice that I am part of this year’s team of athletes of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). I am very thankful for the CAF support as it will enable me to to further develop my climbing skills, both indoors and outdoors. I will keep you posted about the developments in this regard.
Limb loss is a traumatic experience, regardless of the reason for amputation, and can impact different areas of the amputee’s life. After amputation, there are many things amputees cannot control - when to get the first socket, triggers of phantom pain, the number of ply socks required for comfort, and so on. But feeling alone in the journey should not be one of them. For me, this is something I can control and I choose to do something about.
While the games are on and all the attention is on the competitions, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to enable athletes to give their best. Here is a behind the scenes video from the Ottobock PyeongChang2018 Repair Service Center. In this centre Ottobock technicians and welders do anything from building protheses to repairing ice sledges, from sewing clothes to forming new covers to support all athletes during the Paralympic Games.
Three years after the end of a 5,000-mile solo run across Canada, during which real-life superhero Jamie McDonald raised more than £250,000 for children’s charities, the fundraiser has announced that he will be running across the United States of America, again dressed as a superhero. Due to his year-long visa, he is in a race against time to complete the challenge, and will be running a marathon most days to complete it.
Dr. Malvika Iyer just received the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar Award. You all might remember Malvika Iyer, an inspiring young woman who survived a bomb blast as a child and became one of the leading disability rights activists of our time. Malvika’s story was featured as one of the first stories on The Active Amputee. If you did not have the time to read the article back then, treat yourself to it today. It’s a good start into a new week; one with an immensely encouraging message.
In early 2015, the life of Sebastiana Lopez almost ended. A horrible motorcycle accident left her severely injured and resulted in the amputation of her right leg. After weeks in a medical induced coma, after depending on others for her daily routine, Sebastiana decided to use this life-altering experience as an opportunity to start anew. And she came back stronger than ever. „Who cares if the odds are stacked up against us, bring it on. We will not be defeated and when we fail. We will learn and emerge stronger, faster, well informed.“ Here is her amazing story.
I am a regular visitor to Nepal and I just came back from my 13th journey in the last eight years. And I still can’t get enough of this country, its people, its culture. As an amputee Nepal isn’t the easiest country to travel. But it isn’t the hardest either. And if you are willing to give it a go, you will be rewarded with an amazing time. Even if you only stay within the Kathmandu valley, you can easily fill a week’s itinerary with an exciting mixture of world heritage sites and stunning nature. Nepalis are immensely friendly. Hospitality is genuine and you are welcome with open arms. Yes, Kathmandu is very touristy, but at the same time Nepal’s capital is an authentic city with its very own culture, its very own charm. There is so much to explore and little gems can be found everywhere, sometimes only a few steps off the main tourist hubs. The earthquake has damaged - and partly destroyed - much of the city’s historic architecture, but the old temples and palaces are being rebuilt at the moment.
Covering a 1,300 meters difference in altitude in a day - first up and then down again - is a demanding task, even if you have two legs. Trying to do so as an above-the-knee amputee is even more of a challenge. Adding the fact that the hike between Budhanilkantha and the peak of Shivapuri is mainly made up of several very long sets of steps and you know that your remaining leg is in for an XXL workout. And that is just what I wanted.
My own journey really began on February 24, 2001, on the icy slopes of Ben Nevis in Scotland.
I luckily survived a winter mountaineering fall from a beautiful, exposed 600 metre-long route called Tower Ridge, which tragically killed my climbing partner, Neil, leaving me to freeze
overnight with significantly disabling, and life-long, injuries. The physical injuries were, over time, recognized for what they are, adapted towards, decisions made on a way forward based on an
awareness of these imposed limitations (and opportunities for growth). That's when my journey began.
Good news from Edinburgh. Below the knee amputee Keith Lynch has set up a climbing club especially for people with disabilities. The Scottish Paraclimbing Club is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom providing opportunities for people with additional support needs to get involved in climbing and progress in the sport.
In my line of work I travel a lot; in recent years mainly to Asia. Between 2009 and 2015 I regularly visited Nepal. Ever since my childhood I wanted to travel in the Himalayas. One of the first adventure books I ever read was by Alexandra David-Néel, a French woman who travelled to the then forbidden city of Lhasa in Tibet in the 1920s. And while I never made it to Tibet, I developed a special love for Nepal and its people. And after a break of several years I soon will have the chance to go back and visit Kathmandu and its surroundings once more. And to get into the right mood, I want to share one of the stories from my last trip to Nepal. I hope you enjoy it.
Today is World Cancer Day. A gentle reminder not to take anything for granted, not even life itself. A gentle reminder to celebrate that you are a survivor. A gentle reminder to be thankful for all those people along the journey, who were there when you needed them most.
And here is my way of marking this day special. Out in the hills, with a pack on my back, wind in my face and spectacular views all around me. What more could you ask for to be happy?
"For the first time, in April 2015, I travelled far away from France. For years, I wanted to discover other cultures. So when I finished my studies I didn't hesitate and bought a flight ticket to Japan. Three amazing weeks! During these vacations in the country of the rising sun I caught the travel bug and I realised this passion was about to become a central part of my life." That's how Aurélie's amazing story started a few years ago.
Climbing is a great sport. And there is no reason why people with a limb difference shouldn‘t give it a try. I have been climbing for a couple of years now and I tried a variety of set-ups for my prosthesis; i.e. completely without any artificial limb (no socket, no knee, no foot, no nothing) and with the C-Leg (but with my normal day-to-day foot) before settling on the ADK climbing foot. The ADK foot is a rather unspectacular piece of gear but it works surprisingly well for me. It‘s a simple construction that I mount directly underneath my socket. And while the foot has a few issues I would like to change, I am generally satisfied with it.
Over the Christmas break I finally had some time to reach out to other amputees I had been following on Instagram for some time. I wanted to see who might be interested in sharing his or her story on The Active Amputee. One of the people I contacted was Jenna Rivera - @amplifiedyogi on Instagram. I wanted to learn more about how she uses yoga and meditation in her recovery process. And right after the first few sentences went through, I got a first reply. Which read: „Hello Bjoern! Did you sent this because of the mail I set earlier? Because I shared my story with you earlier for you to share on your site.“ No, I hadn‘t seen her mail. What an amazing coincidence. A bit of serendipity to start the new year. So I opened my inbox and this is what I found. Jenna‘s story.
Welcome back! I hope you all had a peaceful Christmas season and a good start into the new year. I hope 2018 will be an amazing year for you. A rewarding year, a year to try out something new, a year full of mindboggling adventures.
The Active Amputee took a month off and this is the first post in the new year. And I am back with plenty of new ideas to keep The Active Amputee interesting, informative and fun to read.
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.
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.