I was asked the other day, “what is the hardest thing about having a prosthetic leg?”… “having (awkward pause)…no leg?”.
Believe it or not, my mind went BLANK.
You would think a list a mile long would come to mind but I went absolutely blank. Sure, there are a lot of little things that are frustrating and complicated and challenging such as having to pull my thigh up every time I walk because it falls down, or the fact that I get asked at least twice a day why I’m limping or that I can’t run to shelter when it starts bucketing down mid way through my walk or that because of the texture of my prosthesis I have to put a sock on EVERY SINGLE TIME I want to put on pants or that I have to walk up stairs one step at a time (sorry to the person behind me) but for me, those things don’t seem excessively hard. To me they are no different than getting a pimple when you don’t want it or getting cramp in your foot at an awkward time… both annoying and seemingly uncomfortable but nothing to sit and sulk about. You’re probably thinking oh come on mate, there is no way you can compare having no leg to a pimple but honestly, it’s been my life for so long that it is just that. A bloody pimple.
But regardless, I thought for awhile about the question I was given, “what is the hardest part…?”, then I replied:
“You know, if I had to pick the hardest thing, it would be trying to seperate what I think I can do from what I can physically do.”
If you’ve been following me for awhile you will know by now that I like to set myself huge (read: seemingly unachievable) goals. For instance this time last year I was coming to the realisation that the goal that I’d set myself of running 10km by December (having only run 600m in what I’ve come to refer to as my ‘second life’/with one leg) was probably not going to happen. When I told myself in January that I was going to achieve it, it seemed easy. I was like cool, that would take someone with two legs maybe 3 months to do so double that + tax and you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time Jess. But I was wrong. I still haven’t run 10km. Hell, I still haven’t run 1km.
Again, something as simple as walking on sand seems so easy, until I realise my foot doesn’t have the mobility of my other foot & I’m halfway down the beach wondering if I’ll have to set up shop and become a mermaid.
So I guess that’s the answer. The constant battle of understanding the difference of what my mind wants & thinks it can achieve compared to what it physically can. And yes, it’s frustrating as hell but it’s all a mental game. It’s my brain trying to make the connection that I’m not the same as I was when I was born. But I think it’s important to understand the difference between hard and impossible.
I’ve grown up with people being astonished by this mindset at which I just stare blankly at their astonishment. What I don’t think people realise is, if I gave up every-time something was hard, I probably still wouldn’t be able to walk to the letterbox. I learnt VERY young that you simply can not sit and stare at your wounds forever. At some point you must go ok, that hurt but lets find a way to do it differently. & repeat that until you get to where you want to be. No circumstance, no shortcoming should be an excuse for achieving your goals, your desires. The only excuse that should exist is that you simply just don’t want it enough.
I could return the question back and say, “what’s the hardest thing in your life”, it may seem small but I can GUARENTEE you that no matter what it is, it’ll have the same impact on your life as mine does. Because we shouldn’t live by comparison. The mountain I climb everyday has the exact same effect on my life as the mountain you climb. Sure, our mountains may have different heights, widths, obstacles but at the end of the day it’s the mountain we’ve each been climbing. It’s a familiar surrounding. We know the twists and the turns. We don’t get to choose the size of the mountain, we simply just get to choose whether we climb it or sit at the bottom and hope someone carries us up.