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S**t People Say To Amputees

"Can I ask a personal question?" "No."

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"How did you lose your limb(s)?"

Response: "Aren't you gonna buy me a drink first?"

This is the obvious one, and it comes in varying degrees of rudeness. For many of us, the day we lost our limbs was the single hardest day of our lives, and we don't consider "extreme trauma" to be an appropriate subject for an icebreaker.

"Mommy, look at that gross lady!"

Response: *smile, nod, really hope she's a good mom*

Kids can't help it. They're curious, and they haven't yet learned tact. This is a teachable moment. But when you're just trying to buy toothpaste and some kid is pointing at you and screaming about how gross and weird and scary you are for the 8th time since you walked into the store, you find yourself with amputated limbs AND amputated patience.

"You are such an inspiration!"

Response: "Thanks, but, this is the first we've spoken and all you've seen me do is use a gas pump..."

This is appreciated, but maybe get to know the person first. Find out what great things they actually do before telling them you're inspired. It makes the compliment much more genuine.

"Are phantom limbs real?"

Response: "Yes!"

Sensation is controlled by the brain, not the flesh. You can cut off a leg, but you're not cutting off that part of the brain. It's different for everyone. Many people who were born without limbs or who lost them at a young age don't experience it at all. It's common to have a lot of pain in the beginning, as your brain tries to proprioceptively "locate" the missing limb. Imagine your feet folding in half and making fists- that's what mine felt like in the beginning. Then, it usually subsides to a constant pins-and-needles in your hand/foot, with occasional pain spikes.

*TL/DR version: Yes.

"If you don't want to get stared at, you need to cover your stump, or don't come out in public."

Response: *Try to look strong, try to think of a good comeback, but probably cry*

People never believe this one is real, but sadly, it is. And far too common. Hearing this just once is too much.

"Do you know (random name)? He's an amputee too."

Response: "Probably not."

People with uncommon or extreme amputations (joint disarticulations, double above-knee, double above-elbow, triple or quadruple) actually do tend to get connected with other people who have the same cuts. (That's me, in the very front, with the red crutch- hanging out with a bunch of other double above-knee amputees.)

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