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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
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Attitudes and self confidence

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Hi

what are your experiences with other's attitudes towards your disability? Do you find that people change when they find out you are an amputee?

When I meet people for the first time (my job dictates that i always have new colleagues) I sometimes find that they show discomfort when i tell them about my leg..as in, we'll be talking and they will go quiet, or look shocked and uncomfortable. Im really positive about my amputation but Ive found that over time this has kind of knocked my confidence a little. I realised while out clubbing recently that I feel slightly apprehensive when women approach me. Its not a big deal I know but I used to be unfazed by anything

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Hi Martin, long time no speak... good to 'see' you...

I know what you mean, though I think this is wholly internal, within ones self, it's easy to think it's about others and their reaction to the news or realisation you're different in some way. I think that is affected by how you present yourself. Without realising it, I think being very positive and making people realise it's nothing to do with who you are, affects the way people think of you more than anything else.

It's easier said than done, but I find if I prevent myself from recognising or respecting any reactions from people I could interpret as negative or injurous to my confidence, they are won round very quickly and it ceases to become an issue, on the contrary, it often becomes a big positive when they see how little it affects you.

At the end of the day, it's their problem, don't make it yours.

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Hi Ian hope alls well mate

Yes I can see what you're saying, and to be immune to negative attitudes would be ideal. I dont even know why it irritates me!

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I have noticed that people are different toward me until they realize how comfortable I am with my amputation. I simply go about life as much as normal as I can. Talking about the leg and making light of it can be good at relaxing the atmosphere. I will admit though, the most comfortable I am and the place where I have the most fun is at the ACA conference where most of us are amputees.

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Hi Guys... I hope you don't mind my sticking my 2 cents in here..

I think that a lot of times, what we see in people's reactions are the fact that they don't know just what to say when they find we are an amputee... What I see usually happening is, if I am wearing jeans or slacks, they will look to try to figure which leg is prosthetic..Then, they just aren't sure what to say..I think, from my experience, that they are more afraid that they will embarrass themselves, before they will be put off by my amputation..

As OBL said, in the end, it really is their problem not yours.. Keep your chin up..

And as for Neal, you gotta watch that guy, he can get you into trouble at those conferences. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: But, he is right, I don't think there is an amputee that thinks twice about what someone thinks while in the midst of 900 other amputees..The fellowship, and friendships are awesome......

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Yes I think that illustrates the point well in that we feel more comfortable amongst other amputees compared to the general public. In the circumstances of being with just amps I would expect that we would lose any inhibitions and be more self confident

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will admit though, the most comfortable I am and the place where I have the most fun is at the ACA conference where most of us are amputees.

It is a great place to be. When I attended my first conference, I felt normal for the first time in a long long while.

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That was my experience too, Marcia... I actually feel pretty "normal" most of the time, but my time at the ACA conference was the first time in a long while where I was actually in the MAJORITY. That may be the most tiring thing about being an amputee... the fact that you are often "the only one" in a given situation. Even if you function just fine... even if you're with good people... there comes a point when you'll be reminded that (1) you're to some degree "different" than everyone else around you and (2) even the best, most understanding AB person will not know what that "difference" entails.

I was recently at a family birthday party. A good number of the folks there were people I see only occasionally, which means that I'm still somewhat "exotic" to them. They get concerned if I stand up to walk...they want to take my plate as I go through a buffet line...if I'm standing and talking to someone, they may well keep asking if I "want to sit down, now." It's all well-meaning, but it's also quite irritating!

At this particular birthday party, I suddenly became aware of...another amputee! I'd never seen the fellow at gatherings before. He was an HD/HP, and he was hopping around sans prosthesis. (Despite all the warnings about hopping, I'm terribly impressed by an amp who can hop!) Turned out that he was a "friend of a friend" of my virtual nephew. As I passed by him on the way to the buffet table, I stopped and introduced myself: "Hi, I'm Cheryl...I'm the OTHER amputee here." His face lit up and he scooted over, and we shared our stories and some "tips" with each other. It was your basic "getting to know another amp" conversation, and it was simply NICE to speak with someone who had some idea about the oddities of amp-life. I mean, I'm a LBK and he's a RHD/HP...and we're a generation apart...but in some very important ways, we had more in common with each other than with anyone else there. When we wrapped up our conversation, he summed up what I was feeling: "Thanks for coming over; it was nice meeting you. Makes me feel not-so-different."

I think that being reminded that we're "different" -- even if it's pointed out in a well-meaning or sympathetic way -- is what can rattle our self-confidence and tire us out. It's simply hard work to ignore all the actions and words that can bring you down...but if you can do it, the uneasiness on both sides will eventually disappear.

And if it doesn't...well, that's THEIR problem!

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I agree with everyone. I find that some days it can frankly wear you out being positive to people and trying to always make them feel at ease. I work for a company where there are thousands of people. I know alot of them, and I'm not sure some know exactly what happened to me. It's hilarious, some think it was something much worse, and some think it wasn't anything very serious :rolleyes: The things some of them have asked me would absolutely crack you up or absolutely tick you off, hahaha. Of course, my coworkers and friends know what I've gone through, but it's not something I go into with people I don't know. Before my surgery, I was always positive, athletic, outgoing and never worried about much in life at all, I was very lucky woman. Now after...iI'm still very positive but it is hard at times not to feel quite as confident about myself which is understandable. I'm still trying to get prosthetics that are correct and I think that will help alot when that gets accomplished. I think you just have to get to a point where you accept what has happened and build from there. I don't want it to stop anything for me, but it has made me have to change some things. I'm still a bit new to this, and am still learning from all the great people here on the forum and that is one of the reasons I was so sorry to miss the conference this year... I'll take this opportunity to thank all of you for reaching out to everyone who comes on here that needs help, you are all wonderful...

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I get the "do you need to sit down?", "do you need some help?", "can I get that for you?", etc. etc. I politely tell them I'll sit down when I need to, I'll tell you if I need help, blah, blah, blah. People mean well. They just don't understand. Sometimes I need to STAND UP because I've been sitting too long in a prosthesis! I'm stubborn because most of the time I try to prove that I don't need help.

It's a different normal life we live. But it IS normal...whatever that is!

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I get the "do you need to sit down?", "do you need some help?", "can I get that for you?", etc. etc. I politely tell them I'll sit down when I need to, I'll tell you if I need help, blah, blah, blah. People mean well. They just don't understand. Sometimes I need to STAND UP because I've been sitting too long in a prosthesis! I'm stubborn because most of the time I try to prove that I don't need help.

It's a different normal life we live. But it IS normal...whatever that is!

Yep, know just what you mean Marie.

Since the revision, am now wearing a different type of leg with a gel liner which restricts my knee movement, and makes stairs a bit more challenging, but its getting better, with practice. Anyhow, last weekend hubby and I were out shopping at a local furniture shop, and yes I do know they have a lift but chose to take the stairs. Anyhow, there I am on my way down the stairs, thinking I was doing OK, when this assistant comes charging after me, asking me if I knew they had a lift and that next time I should use it!!! So ok, realized that perhaps I didn't 'look' like I was doing that well, but told the chap, ' yes, I did know they had a lift, but had chosen to go down the stairs' he looked at me a bit oddly (obviously didn't understand).

Generally speaking though, don't have any problems with people's attitudes, I have been walking on prosthetics since I was 12 so its pretty normal to me. Years ago, didn't really need to tell people, I live in a smallish community and most people I knew, knew anyway, nowadays I tell people and find they are really quite interested.

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I agree with everything flip says. I suppose before my amp I never had any worries or problems as such and thought things would always be this way! Wow what a bolt from the blue when I was told I had to have my leg amputated. It is very tiring having to reassure other people and I still find it difficult to think of a suitable answer when people ask me what happened to my leg.

Yes I also get the 'do you want to sit down' and 'I can carry that for you' but I am also stubborn and like to do things myself!!

The ACA conference sound great as I havent had much experience of meeting and talking to other amputees...except on here and when I go to the prosthetics centre..........so usually I end up asking a hundred questions.

I suppose all of my friend treat me as normal most of the time, which is nice, but sometimes you do get the pitying looks!!I feel ok most of the time but we wouldnt be 'normal' if it didnt get to us now and again.

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I have only belonged to this special group for a very short time, however I have used leg braces, canes, cructhes, and a wheelchair for over 10 years. I have been stared at every where I go and and I always get the same statements as you all have posted. For me I tend to look at it as they were raised right by their parents and are doing there best to make this world a better place by helping someone out that may need there assitance.

Even tho i generally dont, I think after you have a disability that changes your world we all become very stubborn and have the need to prove to everyone else we can still do things for ourselves. I am glad that I was given an attitude that I generally do not care what others think about me or my situation, as others have posted on here its their problem not mine. The stares have never bothered me, I usually get a chuckle from them. I had one lady comment on my leg braces which had the american flag design on them, that they were very stange socks.

I politly took my cane and slaped them makeing a nice loud noise showing her that indeed they were not socks, she promptly turned a very bright shade of red and walked away. :biggrin: I to some extent embrace the fact that I am different from most. What does bother me is when my family thinks I can not do something, but I think that is because they picture them self in our shoes and think that they would never be able to do those things, so they assume that we can not either. Again their problem not mine! I find most of the time as long as I do not let there assumptions of what I am or am not suppose to be able to do they are more comfortable about the situation.

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The stairs....now that is a tricky thing for me. I go one step at a time, like a little kid, so it does look odd for an adult. As a BK, I know I'm supposed to be able to do foot over foot but I've never mastered it. I have a very short limb so I think that has something to do with it. And confidence, I'm not confident that I can do it. So I just do it like I do it without fear of falling. That sometimes makes people want to help me and I understand that. If I have a good rail to hold onto I can go look pretty normal. But I'm never offended if someone wants to help me I just politely let them know if I need help I will definitely let them know.

Now my husband is a different story...he used to hover - quite a lot - which really got on my nerves - but now when we're walking I think I could fall down and be laying on the sidewalk and he'd go a mile before he realized I wasn't right there! :laugh: He has more confidence in me now than I sometimes do.

I think we must always have a sense of humor whether we're whole or missing some parts. It makes life a whole lot better. :smile:

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The stairs....now that is a tricky thing for me. I go one step at a time, like a little kid, so it does look odd for an adult. As a BK, I know I'm supposed to be able to do foot over foot but I've never mastered it. I have a very short limb so I think that has something to do with it. And confidence, I'm not confident that I can do it. So I just do it like I do it without fear of falling. That sometimes makes people want to help me and I understand that. If I have a good rail to hold onto I can go look pretty normal. But I'm never offended if someone wants to help me I just politely let them know if I need help I will definitely let them know.

Now my husband is a different story...he used to hover - quite a lot - which really got on my nerves - but now when we're walking I think I could fall down and be laying on the sidewalk and he'd go a mile before he realized I wasn't right there! :laugh: He has more confidence in me now than I sometimes do.

I think we must always have a sense of humor whether we're whole or missing some parts. It makes life a whole lot better. :smile:

Hahahahahaha Marcia!!! Good one!!!! Your husband would notice if you fell down....well at least before walking on another mile, hahaha! Yes, a sense of humor is definitely what we have to have!

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The stairs....now that is a tricky thing for me. I go one step at a time, like a little kid, so it does look odd for an adult. As a BK, I know I'm supposed to be able to do foot over foot but I've never mastered it. I have a very short limb so I think that has something to do with it. And confidence, I'm not confident that I can do it. So I just do it like I do it without fear of falling. That sometimes makes people want to help me and I understand that. If I have a good rail to hold onto I can go look pretty normal. But I'm never offended if someone wants to help me I just politely let them know if I need help I will definitely let them know.

Now my husband is a different story...he used to hover - quite a lot - which really got on my nerves - but now when we're walking I think I could fall down and be laying on the sidewalk and he'd go a mile before he realized I wasn't right there! :laugh: He has more confidence in me now than I sometimes do.

I think we must always have a sense of humor whether we're whole or missing some parts. It makes life a whole lot better. :smile:

Hahahahahaha Marcia!!! Good one!!!! Your husband would notice if you fell down....well at least before walking on another mile, hahaha! Yes, a sense of humor is definitely what we have to have!

I totally agree with Cherylm......that there are times when I feel different. I'm surrounded by close friends/family and all

of a sudden I will feel like the one who doesn't fit in. Those feelings don't last very long but I do have them. I think more so in the summer.

Mary

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