One of the worst things about losing your leg in an accident like this is not the leg itself, but the loss of security that is implied in the incident. You go through life thinking that you’re generally okay. You know that bad things are going to happen to you, but you don’t think that they will be so bad that they will change your outlook on absolutely everything. You also figure that the worst things in life will happen to someone somewhere – you sure are going to hear about them on the news – but they just aren’t going to happen to you.
Then you lose a leg and you realize just how vulnerable you and everyone else really is. You can really lose a lot of your confidence that way. I honestly felt that was almost as bad as losing the leg itself, if not even worse. I was eighteen years old when this happened, and I still hadn’t formed my own identity. When you are still in the process of working out who you are and what you want out of life, it’s going to be that much harder for you to really adjust to living like this. Becoming an amputee is really hard at any age, but I really think that it’s even harder for people in their teens or twenties. I think that if this had happened to me at thirty, things would have been a little bit easier.
The other thing is that you can’t get over all of the ways in which your life could be different if this had not happened to you. I had a very different college experience compared to able-bodied people. My high school graduation was completely altered by this disability. My professional life, my professional goals, and my professional ambitions all had to change as a result. The leg itself was just flesh. The emotional aspect of losing it and the lifestyle changes that followed were the worst.
Finding my own niche in the world made a huge difference. Joining the disability community and getting the associated support also made a huge difference in my life. Having the love of family and friends certainly got me through some difficult times.