Life as a New Amputee
In the beginning, amputation, and the issues surrounding it, may feel overwhelming. If you are about to become an amputee, or have recently gone through an amputation, you are entering new territory and may (understandably) not know what to expect. If you are a relative, friend or caregiver of a new amputee, you might be looking for information on how to help. The information presented here is aimed at guiding you through some of the issues that you may face. Please bear in mind that each individual's experience is unique and that your own experience may differ somewhat from those we have outlined.
An amputation may be performed due to medical conditions (such as diabetes, cancer, circulatory illness) or may be necessary as the result of an accident. If the amputation is due to a medical condition, you may know in advance that the amputation will take place and have some time to prepare. However, if the amputation was as the result of an accident, everything will have happened very suddenly and without warning.
Each person reacts to the news that they have or are about to become an amputee in their own way. Some people like to know well in advance as this gives them time to mentally prepare. Others prefer to have the amputation performed right away as all they will do until the surgery is performed is worry. More simply, they just want to get on with their lives as quickly as possible. It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong reaction to the news about your amputation. It can also be helpful to realize that amputations are performed to save or improve the quality of life of an individual.
A person born missing (a) limb(s) is referred to as a "congenital" amputee. Although this section is geared towards new amputees, the articles will also be of value if revision surgery is recommended for you or your child so that an artificial limb can be better fitted.
There are many professionals who will help you through the stages of rehabilitation. The vast majority of amputees return to an active lifestyle upon completion of the rehabilitation process. You may, however, have to adjust your lifestyle after the amputation - for example, if you have other underlying medical conditions that restrict your mobility. New technology - like hand controls for driving a car - as well as mobility aids and daily living aids can help with mobility and independence. While in the beginning it may seem as though your amputation defines who you are as a person, as time goes by, it will instead become just another aspect of who you are.