Living Without A Limb

Falling asleep, waking up and everything is just like it was before – the wish of many  amputated people. But unfortunately, an amputation is an irrevocable change. Any  amputation of a limb means a loss off the body and, consequently the loss of his/her physical integrity. “The loss of a limb is equivalent to the loss of a close relative,” says Dagmar Gail, chairman and founder of the Amputierten-Initiative e.V (Amputees Initiative) in Germany. Even the most sophisticated technology is not able to fully replace the loss that one experiences through amputation. A toe, or a finger. A hand. A foot. Or an arm or leg. Each one is as extreme as the next. Cleanly removed through a planned surgery or ripped from the body by some extreme, unexpected catastrophe.  No matter how hard you work on accepting your new body and learning a new set of skills, and no matter how long you have lived without your limb ….

There will always be days when you will wake up and wish like everything was like it was before.

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Brrrrrr.

I got a feeling that this is gonna be a hard winter. The pain is already setting in my bones and we haven’t even had any snow yet. But the chill is in the air. The frost is covering everything in the early mornings. And my spinal cord has become tight as a result. The back of my head and neck are stiff and pull against the skin when I move. Both of my knee joints feel like they each need a can of WD40 connected to a steady IV drip as they are unable bend properly. Making walking really difficult.

And it’s not even winter yet.

Sigh.

I Didn’t Get That Memo

There are plenty of things a person should not be able to do after they lose one of their arms.

But I guess I didn’t get that memo ….

I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

Yes. My physical situation makes me stand out from other ppl. A lot. But Being told I can’t do something just makes me work harder and more creatively.

My life is very complicated. But you know what? Thats ok. I’m lucky to even be alive right now!

I’m different then you. But that’s what makes me who I am!

I’m An Amputee With PLP

Don’t know what PLP is? Well here’s some info about what I’ve been experiencing since losing my arm in a car accident a few years ago. 

Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) refers to painful and lasting sensations that seem to be radiating from a limb, extremity, or other body part, that is no longer connected to the body. The suffering that PLP causes isn’t uncommon, either: between 60-80% of all amputees experience some kind of phantom sensation in a lost limb.
A mysterious condition that is still being researched
Though the exact cause of PLP is unknown, the pain is thought to be caused by signals traveling from the brain to the spinal cord getting crossed. Nerves that originally sent impulses from the limb to the brain continue to send information, until the brain “rewires” itself and adjusts to the changes in the body.
Identifying the pain and symptoms of PLP
The length of time in which this pain is felt varies from person to person, occasionally lasting only a few minutes, to hours, days, or more. Phantom Limb Pain most often occurs soon after amputation surgery, rather than limb loss due to accidents or sudden injuries. The feeling of the pain can vary from tingling or burning sensations, to itching or pressure.
Pain can arise from once normally routine activities
While the brain is adjusting to the absence of the body part, it finds new nerve pathways to send neural “information”. This can cause PLP to trigger from activities that did not involve the original limb, such as touching another part of the body, going to the bathroom, changes in outside barometric temperature, or fluctuations in blood pressure.
The pain can sometimes be avoided by identifying the activities that trigger it, which may include:
Changes in diet

Irregularities in the gastrointestinal system

Smoking cigarettes, drug use, or alcohol abuse

Spikes in blood pressure

Sudden rises or drops in barometric pressure (such as storms, or traveling between low and high elevations)

Not necessarily always a pain
The feeling derived from a phantom limb may also be a non-painful”or even pleasurable”sensation, as the brain works to “understand” the newly-modified nervous system. Documented reports have painted the spectrum of sensation from feeling like wearing a piece of jewelry or clothing, to feeling like the limb is attached and still moving as it used to.
Treatment and living with Phantom Pain
Fortunately for most people, Phantom Limb Pain is a fleeting experience, with symptoms that disappear over time. In some cases, however, lingering pain may persist for quite a while. Some studies have reported that medications such as acetaminophen and other NSAIDs can help reduce phantom sensations, and there have been reported successes involving low-frequency stimulation of the brain with electromagnetic therapies.
Other reported ways of easing PLP include:
Gently massaging the area that the missing limb was once attached to, or the other existing limb

Supplying cushioned support to the afflicted region

Changing the surrounding atmosphere to a more relaxing one with music or lighting

Most sufferers are unwilling to report phantom limb pain, believing it’s just in their head.
Phantom pain isn’t just in the mind, it’s the body’s way of adjusting to a new experience. Though patients complaining of it used to be dismissed in years past, PLP is a real, medically-recognized problem, and can be treated with a physician’s help. Phantom Limb Pain should always be reported to a doctor; it may be an indicator that something is happening during the body’s natural healing process. Together with your doctor, your body may be able to say goodbye to the departed limb more quickly and with less discomfort.
Sources: 

Limb loss resource center: Amputee Coalition.Phantom Limb Pain (study): Lone Nikolajsen MD, PhD & Troels Staehelin Jensen MD, PhD.Phantom Limb Syndrome: NYU Langone Medical Center.Significant Reduction in Phantom Limb Pain After Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Primary Sensory Cortex (study): AMSUS.

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

Ok so there has been this thing going around on facebook lately regarding self esteem and self love. People are being tagged and asked to post 5 pictures (aka selfies) that represent 5 different times in which you felt beautiful; pictures that reveal your own true genuine beauty – in your own personal opinion.

I don’t think it should be just kept to facebook so I’m bring my post here as well. Healthy self image is something that should be encouraged every day. A lot of us, including myself, struggle daily with being able to see our reflection and not cringing, muttering some very cruel things in response, because loving ourselves is something we have never been able to do. We don’t want to feel this way and it feels as if there will never be a day that we will be able to look in the mirror and think, damn! I look good! I say ‘we’ because I know the majority of us feel this way.

How can we change this? How can you start loving yourself and stop the self hatred? I’m not sure, to be honest. I haven’t figured that out. But going through some pictures and picking out 5 that make me feel beautiful could be a start.

Now I challenge YOU. If you’re reading my post right now, you can do this too. 5 pictures. Let all of us see how truly radiant you are, even if you just crawled out of bed and your hair looks like a haystack. If you accept my challenge, link back to me because I would love to see your pictures.

Here are mine:

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This is a rare picture because I simply refuse to have any taken of me that show from my shoulders down. But I felt so proud that day. I had just married my soulmate and I had my mom, the most beautiful woman I know, standing right beside me.

 

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I am an amputee. I have no left arm. I do not wear a prosthetic device of any kind. A part of my body was torn away from me in a car accident. But I am still beautiful.

 

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I love experimenting with my hair. The funkier the colors, the better I feel. Different is beautiful.

 

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I am enough.

 

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This picture represents a different kind of beauty. I am strong. I am a fighter. I. Am. Alive. And now, I consider life a beauty in itself. After several suicide attempts and then a near fatal car accident, I accepted the fact that I am meant to live. So I began fighting. After 10 weeks lying flat in a hospital bed with a broken body, with the aid of doctors and therapists, I was able to sit up on my own. My mom took this picture of me the first time I was lifted from the bed into a special chair. After many tears, she wiped my face and I smiled. I was a survivor.

The room triggered the PTSD

I’m trying to make sense of what exactly is happening to me right now. I spent the night in hospital last night. It all started with some dull chest pain that wouldn’t go away. As the day progressed it kept getting more crushing and it was starting to get difficult to breath so I begrudgingly went to the ER. It ended up being a pulled chest muscle.

But spending the night in the exam room triggered the PTSD and the portal opened. Images of my unconscious, lifeless body lying on the stretcher with people running in and out, trying to stop my bleeding (when I had a car accident and lost my arm) Connecting me to catheters (which I unfortunately remember clearly) … and sometimes I wake up in a panic because I dream someone is standing at the foot of my bed trying to put a catheter in me.

Another incident was when I was lying on the stretcher with 2 nurses working on me, one on my arm and the other on my feet. Trying to get needles into me. So I lay there on my back and just glanced up above me on the wall at the bare bulletin board. I was immediately brought back to the many many times I have been there, in such a horrific mental state, and the boards had to be stripped for safety reasons. Staples and all tacks were things I’d grab and hack away at my skin.

Those are just 2 of the things that kept happening to me throughout the night. And now, at home, it continues.

My psychiatrist has diagnosed me in a full blown manic stage now. Maybe this is a part of it?

Look At Me … Now

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It’s not every day that I stop and view myself like this. I don’t like to stare at the scars. Especially the big one with the little marks on each side from the staples. If I ever develop skin cancer it would go unnoticed for a while because I don’t like to look at my skin. I shower, dress, undress, have sex … without making direct eye contact with my body. It’s not all due to self image problems, though much of it is. But I don’t like the memories ….

Of life before I became a broken, scarred, torn body. Of my arm – before it was ripped to shreds and torn away from my neck. Of my breast – when it was round, voluptuous, full … intact. When my nipples were parallel with each other. Now I have a partially concave area of skin that is rippled with scars and a nipple that is far from centered. A breast that while it should be a very sensuous part of my female body, is nothing but a dead, mangled, shapeless piece of useless flesh. Serving the purpose of none other then to remind me …

Of the car accident that almost took my life several years ago.

Although it literally tore away several of my body parts, I’ve been known to be stubborn a few times in my life, and this was one of those times because I’m not ready to go yet. It’s going to take more then that to make me leave this world so sorry guys. You’re stuck with me.