Hello! My name is Ashley and I come from a small town in Kentucky! I’m a southern girl through and through. I grew up in a single-parent household, just me and my mother. She’s my best friend and my biggest supporter. I work as an Executive Assistant for a non-profit organization in the equine industry. I love anything outdoors from camping, boating, fishing, 4-wheeling, etc. I also love crafts, blogging, writing poetry, scrap booking, traveling, and spontaneous road trips!
I lost my right leg when I was 14 years old after a 2 year battle with cancer. I was diagnosed when I was 11 years old, right before my twelfth birthday. After a long bout with chemotherapy and numerous surgeries to try and salvage my leg, amputation was the only option left in order for me to get on with my life and to do so healthily.
We tried every option that we could possibly think of. My orthopedic surgeon (who was absolutely fabulous) was known for “limb salvages” as they like to call it, so the word amputation was something that he tried to avoid at all costs, but this is one instance when it couldn’t be avoided any longer.
Strangely enough, I had been preparing myself for amputation. I was scared/nervous but knew that it would be my key to get on with my life and live it as normally as a 14-year-old can live. I had come to peace within myself, which helped tremendously.
Have you ever experienced any ‘phantom pain’ that we always hear about in movies?
Oh yes! It’s the strangest feeling, ever! Right after my amputation the phantom pain was quite severe and would happen often, but now as the years have passed it only happens every now and then. It’s something that I have learned to deal with and can pretty much ignore for the most part, unless they become severe which does happen from time to time. Although, I do still have phantom sensations which feel funky! Your “missing limb” will itch, which just totally sucks because you can’t scratch it! Ha!
Do you have a prosthesis? How long did it take you get used to it? Did you try several different prostheses before you found one that you liked?
I do have a prosthesis. I was fitted for one two months after my amputation. The first time that I stood up on it, I was terrified that it wouldn’t support me. My crutches were my best friend for a long while. I endured physical therapy for a lengthy amount of time, and still learn something new every single day. (10 years later).
Do you have different ones for exercise, wearing heels, etc? How often do you need to replace a prosthesis?
About once a year I end up having to get a new prosthetic device, simply because of building muscle mass/losing weight etc, which makes the current prosthesis not fit as it is supposed to. I actually only have one prosthesis which allows me to do everything that I need to do in my daily life. I am able to wear high heels although I haven’t mastered this. I just learned to run about a year ago, and am able to do that as well in my current day to day prosthesis.
How does having a prosthesis effect your daily life?
My daily life is pretty normal compared to yours! (If there is such a thing as normal!) There are instances when I have to come up with a different way of doing things than most, but that doesn’t hinder my ability to try. Going up and down stairs take me longer than most as I have to take one step at a time, but it’s not something that is life altering. I believe your prosthesis only affects your daily life if you allow it. You have to take charge and allow yourself to live the life that you want, not what you think you can/can’t do.
How do people react when they notice that your leg was amputated?
It seems as the younger generation is okay with the fact that I have a prosthesis and have had my leg amputated. They ask the basic questions of how it happened and don’t treat me any differently than anyone else. I have come across the older generation of people reacting differently, not knowing what to say, saying crude remarks, stares, etc.
I’m sure lots of people are unsure of the “appropriate” reaction when they discover that you’ve got a prosthesis. I imagine that people want to look at it and ask you questions, but that’s not necessarily polite. How would you prefer people to behave?
I know that seeing a young woman with a prosthetic leg is not something you see day to day, so you naturally can’t help but look or stare. I would love nothing more for people to come up to me and ask questions, than to stare and gawk. If you see someone out with a “disability” of any sorts, please don’t stare or treat them any differently than you would want to be treated. They are a normal human being that just happened to have a different way of life than yourself.
Do you know anyone who’s had something amputated? A friend of mine lost his left pointer finger in a metal press when he was a furniture maker! Any questions for Ashley?