Getting around as an amputee

Hi everyone! Hope your previous week has been great! 🙂

Today I’m going to be talking about getting around as an amputee as I feel there are a lot of misconceptions about what some of us can and can’t do – and I hope to make people aware of the struggles that are sometimes overseen or forgotten easily.

What Is PFFD?
Proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD), also known as Congenital Femoral Deficiency (CFD), is a rare, non-hereditary birth defect that affects the pelvis, particularly the hip bone, and the proximal femur. The disorder may affect one side or both, with the hip being deformed and the leg shortened.

Because of this condition, I personally have had to wear a prosthetic leg from birth, and undergone operations to fix the deformed leg including having the foot amputated.

I’ll start by saying that as always I’m only speaking for myself so every other amputee out there could very well have had a completely different experience in terms of accessibility and getting around. 🙂

A common misconception about myself as an amputee is that I can join in with sports to the same standard as anybody else; for me this isn’t the case, I cannot run or bend down because of my prosthetic leg.

When I was younger in school (about ages 5-11) I always avoided joining in because of my low self esteem and I felt silly trying to join in when everybody else was so much better at running and getting around.

Now that I have a lot more confidence I would be much more interested in joining in with sports and keeping fit but I have to admit, the fact I can’t run or simply bend down to pick something up is difficult and upsetting at times.

Many times I’ve had people ask me my opinion on being a Paralympian JUST because I’m an amputee.. this is pretty strange and odd considering I really don’t like sports at all!

Everyday things can be quite difficult when you have a prosthetic leg! I struggle to put my own shoes on and walking up the stairs can be a challenge after a day of walking around.

Leaving my house means I’m subjected to even more problems unfortunately; I really struggle to walk on uneven ground as well as walking uphill and downhill.
Things like gravel and sand are really hard for me to walk on, my prosthetic leg seems to sink in the sand and then my limp has to drag it out (if that makes any sense!).

Weird question, but have you ever felt the weight of a prosthetic leg? They are SO heavy so limping (lifting one leg up and swinging it with every step) really takes a toll on your lower back.

The unfortunate struggle with sand makes going to beaches basically impossible because of the pain and when I’m going to new places I’m always worrying about what the ground will be like.

Ramps are a very popular option for places to stay accessible, but when you’re an amputee (for me anyway) walking uphill is just as painful as using the steps so my ideal location is 100% level ground.

My shower is a wet room and I have a chair fixed to my bathroom wall so that I can sit as I shower – something that has made washing SO much easier for me!
Whenever I go to family or friends houses and I have to use their showers I usually sit in the bathtub (with help from somebody getting in and out) or sit in the bottom of a shower.. standing would be very dangerous on one leg.

If only every house could have a sit-in shower with a chair! 🙂

I have to use my crutches or my wheelchair whenever I’m not wearing my prosthetic leg, which means the second I take my leg off I’m unable to do most things and would class myself as immobile.

I have to say.. when you’re exceptionally comfortable in bed and realise you need something like a glass of water or the toilet, the thought of putting on a heavy and uncomfortable prosthetic leg is so annoying!

I can only dream what it’s like to be permanently whole – to just get up out of bed and be free to walk around.. it’s such a process to strap on my prosthetic leg and fit it on properly before I even stand up.

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My prosthetic right leg.. the straps are around my waist and have to be secured painfully tight in order for the leg to feel ‘on’.

 

As mentioned above stairs are a manageable struggle but the main problems occur when there is no banister or anything for me to hold on to as I walk up the steps.

My balance doesn’t seem that great so I think that’s the main reason I need a banister or something to hold on to as I walk up stairs to feel safe.
If there is no banister I have to rely on whoever I am with to help me up the steps; but if I’m alone I have to avoid the stairs altogether.

A few people have said to me that the problems I have with my prosthetic leg could be due to the fitting being wrong, but there hasn’t been a time in my 18 years of wearing a prosthetic leg (genuinely since I learned to walk!) that I have felt like the prosthetic is comfortable and pain free at all.

I see many amputees online that seem to be able to do the things I’ve mentioned here with ease, and I’m honestly not sure why I seem to struggle so much!

Could it be the type of amputation? The type of prosthesis? The fact I use NHS healthcare for my prosthesis rather than some people that opt for private care?

Who knows! I know that above knee amputees (like myself) seem to have more problems mobility wise than below knee amputees though, so this could contribute too.

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Young me on the beach without my prosthetic leg, my Dad used to carry me so I didn’t have to walk in pain!

I’d love to hear from other amputees about what struggles they face getting around to see if I’m not alone with mine! I’d also love to hear peoples opinions on why some of us struggle with certain things and others don’t – is it a simple case of we’re all different?

I hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to get in touch with me via social media located on the top right of this page!

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Have a fantastic week all! 🙂 ❤