My name is Madison. I am a nineteen-year-old amputee. I lost part of my right arm on July 21, 2018 as a result of a work accident. I want you to know that I understand everything you are going through right now. Whether you are lying in a hospital bed trying to absorb all the changes that have taken place in your life, or flipping through this guide wondering if a prosthetic is right for you, I want to encourage you that you have hope and a bright future! Changes in life can be scary and daunting, especially when getting used to life without a part of you. When I was in the hospital looking at a similar guide while an SRT representative explained all my options to me, I felt overwhelmed and unsure. I knew I wanted a prosthetic to take the place of my right hand, but I felt scared about having something mechanical attached to me. How would the prosthetic feel? How would I work it? Would a prosthetic really benefit my life? Is it really worth it? What would I look like? Maybe these are some of the questions you are asking yourself. I hope I can answer them for you!
- How will your prosthetic feel?
My prosthetic is so much more comfortable than I ever imagined! I envisioned something hot, bulky, heavy, tight, and hard. Well, I have found that my myoelectric arm has been anything but what I imagined it would be. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that my arm was comfortable! The prosthetic cushioned my arm with just the right amount of pressure, which, if you are an amputee like me, you will find that some pressure feels great! (It will feel similar to a shrinker stocking that you will be given to help your swelling). Yes, my prosthetic felt strange and a little heavy at first because I lived a whole five months without having that normal weight of my full arm. But you will get used to the weight like I did. In about a month, you will not even think about the new sense of weight. Your prosthetic will become so much a part of you that you will miss it when you have to take it off.
- How will your device work?
You will learn to work your prosthetic device with ease! Your SRT prosthetist will work with you every step of the way to make sure you feel confident and enabled to live as closely to your old sense of normal as possible! Because each device is different, your SRT team members will train you to work your specific prosthetic. With patience and perseverance, your device will become a part of you as you work it. There is something really marvelous about watching the immediate reaction of your prosthetic in response to your brain, muscles, and nerves!
- Will a prosthetic really benefit your life? Is it really worth it?
Yes, yes, and yes! My prosthetic has greatly benefitted my life and is completely worth the training, time, and patience it took to learn to use it! I have heard some people say that they do not like their prosthetic because they feel limited or encumbered. From my experience, your prosthetic will liberate you! You will be able to do all the things a two handed or two-legged person can do. Even if you can get along alright without one hand, like I can, you will quickly find that there is no substitute for a helper hand! Your prosthetic will enable you to do more things than you ever thought were possible. You can have complete confidence that your SRT team will give you everything they possibly can—the best device (or devices), technology, and support—to ensure that you leave their care knowing your choice was worth it! As a team, SRT will guide you along the way and make every effort to give you the confidence and independence you need to carry on with your life.
- What will you look like?
There is truth in the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Looking at myself in the mirror five months after my accident when I tried my arm on for the first time, I thought that my new hand was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Yes, it was black. Yes, it was a robotic hand. But it was my hand! At that moment, my prosthetic felt like it belonged there—at my side, on me. There will always be people in our lives who look at us differently because we’ve lost a part of ourselves. Remember that your scars are what make you real and truly beautiful. You are beautiful and valued not because of what you look like on the outside, but because of the person you are on the inside—and the inside of you does not change just because the outside of you changes. You will find that your prosthetic device looks beautiful to you, and that you will like seeing it on yourself. Your new arm or leg will be a part of you and make you unique and special.
One day at a time, one step at a time, will get you where you need to be. I once heard motivational speaker Coach Vera Jones say, “Don’t let the things you can’t do overshadow the things you can.” As you move through this process of adjusting to your new normal, remember that as time goes, you will be able to do more and more things. Right now, you may feel limited. That’s normal; I understand the feeling. But do not let your perception of your limitations now pull you, your courage, your motivation, and your hopes down. Right now, is not forever—it is just now. I heard another man say, “Your condition is not your conclusion.” Your life will keep moving on and keep changing, and so will you. Your attitude is everything for you right now. It is your key to opportunities and progression. People say, “You are what you eat.” Maybe, but you definitely are your attitudes and thoughts. How you choose to face the changes in your life will affect your progression or lack of it. I would like to challenge you to look at every hard, new thing as a friend or tool that has come to change you for the better. Hard things shape us. Think of a precious stone—its hardness largely determines its quality and value. See your challenges as the tools that shape you and make you more precious. Hear them call your name and ask, “Will you come to meet me, or will you run from me? Will you let me show you what good I can do for you, or will you resist me and cause yourself more pain?” It’s okay to feel afraid about what is ahead, but do not let your fears and worries pull you down, locking your confidence and courage in a box. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is the ability to move through your fears. You have got this, friend! Always know that there are people out there who care and understand what you are going through. You are not alone. There is always a new day, a fresh start, and new hope. Never give up!
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and be apart of my life for a brief moment. I want to tell you something that I know would never make it into any publication just because some people would be offended by it. I have felt very convicted to tell you though. At first, I wasn’t going to say anything at all, but then I realized what a fake I’d be if I didn’t. When you have something drastic change your life, the loss of a loved one, an accident, an illness…etc., your ability to get through your loss and pain goes beyond your attitude and having a positive outlook on life. You must have something much deeper and more real than the breath you breathe every minute to survive. You must have faith in God—the only unchangeable, reliable, constant God Almighty. Maybe at this very moment you’ve closed your heart to what I just said. But hear me! I am proof that this is true if you’ll look! Without my faith in Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The instant my arm was taken from me and I saw myself as I would be for the rest of my life, my first thought was, “This is me for as long as I live!” It was a scary, panicky moment like I was waiting to suddenly be jerked awake from a nightmare. But in the very next moment, my next thought was, “God knew this would be me.” That settled it for me. I had immediate peace with everything. The thought that my God knew—my God was taking care of me even in the worst moment of my life so far—that thought gave me peace and acceptance for something that my whole being would have struggled and fought against. How could I possibly know this? Because I believe, by faith, that Jesus Christ died and rose again for my sins, that He is living and working in my heart, and that my life is completely His. He loves me with an everlasting love that doesn’t change even though my body, my circumstances, and everything else in my life changes. Even though you may not understand this, it is true. God has fought for me through everything! He gave me the best doctor to do my surgery, the best team of people to help me with my prosthetic, and the sweetest therapy ladies to work with me every day. God dealt with every mental issue you’d think someone like me would have after going through such an experience. I have never had a bad dream about my accident. I have never been afraid to remember what happened and accept it. He’s helped me move through everything because He loves me and has something far greater for me than what I can imagine. Where would I be without Jesus? I’d be lost, depressed, angry, and alone. Where am I with Him? I have hope every day, a future, and the ability to move on. I have the only One in the world that’s able to fight for me, to keep me secure, and to love me—on my side! Do you know Him? He can be your God! He can change your life too! God wants to. He has made a way for you to come to Him. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He loved you so much that He died for all your sins, your failures, your brokenness, and your inability to be perfect. He died and rose again so that if you believe in Him, you can have life, peace, wholeness, and forgiveness. You will never be good enough to make it to Heaven. When you believe in Jesus, He clothes you in His righteousness so that you can go to Heaven one day. All you have to do is “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). He will do everything else. If you were in an accident today and were about to die, do you know where your soul would go? I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if death came for me today, I would go in the arms of Jesus to my Heavenly home. What about you?
My faith in Jesus is the only thing that’s gotten me through this. I want you to know Him too and be able to experience His companionship in Your own life. Everything else that I wrote, and firmly believe would help someone like me, is just extra encouragement I’ve received from God.
Thank you for reading this and even considering me as a patient to help with your project. I hope you, as the reader, have been a little encouraged too.