I often compare being an amputee to being a car. I have to go in for tuneups, sometimes parts of me just fall off as I’m coasting, and WD40 never hurt anyone! Here are my embarrassing stories as an amputee!
“Angelina’s leg fell off again!“
When I was younger I used to have to go in constantly for these tuneups. I would go to the nurse’s office and she knew the drill by then. She’d call my mom at work and tell her “Angelina’s leg fell off again!” I’d be running at recess with my friends and the button on my leg would just pop off. Then my leg would follow close behind. I fell a lot, but it never seemed to make me fearful of device failure. I’d try to smoosh the button back into my leg and slide my leg back on…just for it to fall off again. That’s when I’d hobble on over to the nurse’s office.
In about the 3rd grade I was playing hot lava on the playground with my friends. We were not “allowed” to touch the sand. We had to climb all over the jungle-gym in order to avoid the lava. I was swinging upside down from the monkey bars, and off popped my leg. I went crashing down into the “lava” face first. It was not only painful, but I also lost the game!
As I got older the legs got better, and I also was more careful…maybe…no, that’s a lie. But, the falling off of my leg happened a lot less regularly. I very vividly remember my Junior year of high school; turning in my Chemistry final. I had studied so hard, and I after I bubbled in my last answer I felt so accomplished and sure of myself. My studying had paid off. I proudly walked it up to my teacher’s desk, and right before I slapped that scantron onto his desk…I fell flat on my face…I was mortified. My leg had just crumbled beneath me. I tried to quickly slide back into it, but it would NOT stay on…I was back in 3rd grade hobbling myself to the nurse’s office.
“My heart sunk as they asked me to leave”
Another memory from high school involved leg shenanigans at Six Flags. I grew up in St. Louis, and every summer we had Six Flags Season Passes. I waited in line for what seemed like a lifetime, and finally, I was set to board the “Mr. Freeze”. My sister and I got into the same car and buckled ourselves in giddy with excitement. The ‘carnies’ came by to give us the thumbs up, but when they got to our car gave the thumbs down…
They told me I needed to get off the ride. I was wearing shorts this blistering summer day, and they took note of my prosthesis. I asked them why they were making me get off & they told me it was because of my leg. My heart sunk. I asked if they wanted me to take it off for fear of it flying off of the ride. They said that I was not allowed to ride unless I had all real limbs. I felt so prejudiced against I started to feel anger. I was so upset and asked them why (still seated firmly in my car). They said if the ride were to break down I would be unable to safely get off the roller coaster.
Okay, can we pause for a second here…if the roller coaster that is about to zoom in loops at 45+ miles per hour is going to “break down” mid-ride, I don’t think anyone will be getting off it safely. If it were to stop at a perfectly convenient time for all passengers, I am quite the monkey because of my years of crawling around without my leg. I would probably be one of the quickest ones off the ride. I was also a 16 year old girl and very emotionally distraught by being called out for my handicap.
“...but my leg allows me to walk...”
Another embarrassing moment as an amputee was once again at my childhood hangout…Six Flags. This time we were at the water park. I waited in line for what really was FOREVER. A new side-by-side slide had just been finished and I was so pumped to race down it with my friends, along with a thousand other St. Louisan children.
When we finally got to the top I was told I could not go down the slide. They told me my leg may scratch the slide. I told them that was an extremely rude comment to make. They said it was clearly stated in their rules that “boys’ swim trunks with rivets were not allowed”, and this basically fell into that category. I told them that those rivets were a fashion statement, but my leg allows me to walk. They did not care, and I was crushed once again. I pretended to slip and had the ride of my life…I did not go back.
We wrote a strongly worded letter to the organization about how upset I was and how mistreated I felt by their employees. Six Flags wrote back stating that if I reviewed their rules before entering the park I would not have been put on the spot. They were worried about liability and had to put safety first. I understand now as a young adult(sort of), but as a teenage girl being singled out in front of a crowd, it was brutal. I felt like I had been put up on a stage and had everyone pointing out my flaws and insecurities.
“…Because I’m not Handicapped”
My most recent encounter with my disability embarrassing me involved the DMV. I had just moved to Seattle, WA and needed to get my Washington license. I went in to get it updated, and they asked me why my license didn’t state that I was handicapped. I replied, “…Because I am not handicapped”. They then told me I would have to retake my driver’s test to prove that I was capable of driving a car. Luckily, I passed! I now have the restriction on my license stating that I am handicap 🙁 I was unhappy about it, butttttt the silver lining is that in Seattle you can park for free at any meter if you are handicapped! Read about other free things as an amputee here.
If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about all of your stories, too! Leave a comment!