I am well aware that if I had been born in a different time or place my life would not be what it is. I might point to my eyeglasses and reference my very poor unassisted vision as one way my life would have been quite different if I’d been born a few hundred years ago. But I think that my prosthetic arm is the more obvious tie to the modern era that I rely on regularly.
I might argue that I can’t go without my glasses for more than a few minutes, and I can go without my fake arm for days if necessary, but the truth is that I don’t want to go without either. There are plenty of one armed people who don’t use prosthetics– and most insurance companies will consider them cosmetic–but I can’t imagine my life without mine.
I wish I had a cool story like the girl in A Time to Dance who was able to live her dream of pursuing a career in dance even after losing her foot because of her prosthetic leg. Yes, it’s fiction (teen fiction, to be specific), but there’s a real precedent there. For Veda in the story, it is obvious how having a prosthetic leg changed her life. It opened her to opportunities that were otherwise closed. Sometimes I can forget that that’s possible.
My prosthesis is neither here nor there in my dreams, which revolve around books, libraries, and writing. My story is nowhere near as dramatic as the usual inspirational novel. And the truth is that if I’d never had a prosthetic arm, my life may very well be basically the same.
I have no idea what I would do with my hair without my prosthetic arm, but I’m sure I would have figured out something.
The real story is this: I have had my prosthetic arm since before I can remember. It has always been a part of me. I am not sure how much it has changed my life to have had it. It simply is my life. I could probably live without it if I had to, but I really don’t want to. It does make my life much easier, and I definitely need it to put my hair in a pony tail.
My story isn’t an inspirational novel. My story is set in a world where I haven’t had to consider “Ugly Laws” or other limitations. I live after the Americans with Disabilities Act made accommodations available to those who needed them, and I’ve never need any anyway. I was able to pursue whatever career I wanted, and I never had to worry if I would be barred from anything because of what I lacked.
I am very grateful that I live here and now. But even in the here and now, prosthetics are prohibitively expensive for many.
When I read stories like A Time to Dance, I am reminded of how powerful access to prosthetics can be, how it can truly change people’s lives. I’ll never know how my life would be different without my prosthetic arm, if at all, but I am extremely grateful that my parents made it happen for me. I would love to give someone else a chance to experience what prosthetics can do. Perhaps it will be integral to their dream. Or maybe it will be integral to their sense of identity. Either way, I think it’s a worthy cause.
Consider a donation to the charity that made my prosthetic arms possible: Shriner’s Hospital for Children Twin Cities. Or explore other options for limb deficient people who find that their insurance does not cover prosthetic devices or their repair such as Limbs for Life.
Note: This is not a sponsored post, and the book was a library copy.