The last Saturday in April is “Show Your Mettle” Day. It is a day set aside to encourage amputees to show their devices like wheelchairs and prosthetics.
I was 4 years old before I took my first steps. I was 4 years old when I got my first pair of legs. My grandmother wanted me to be just like everyone else, as much as I could be. She wanted me to walk and well, she wanted me to just not be so disabled.
Over the next few years I would get my legs replaced. I had the best “leg technician” (I know that’s not what it’s called, but it’s what I called it) ever. His name was Andrew and he works at JK Prosthetics and Orthotics. My grandmother absolutely loved him! I absolutely loved him. I may or may not have had a small, tiny, long-term crush on Andy. Andy gave me my first and my last pair of legs. I specifically remember Andy would design my legs to look like real ones, toes included. I always painted where I thought the nails would be. I always got in trouble. My point is that I had these legs so I could fit in.
So I said that my grandmother wanted me to be less disabled. She didn’t want the kids at school to stare at me or make fun of me. This persisted even when I was in college. She would give me blankets to throw over my legs when I used my wheelchair. Hide them. Cover up. Don’t let my nubs show. When I did wear my legs I had to always where pants because they’d show. She wasn’t embarrassed. She just wanted me to be like everyone else. I can dig that!
But here’s the thing: I didn’t care! I welcome the stares. I welcome the questions. I want you to see my metal. My metal is how I get around. My metal legs covered in “brown skin” is how I walked the hallways of K-12. My metal wheels, now complete with a motor, is how I gained more independence. I chose to use my wheelchair fulltime when I got to college because, it was easier (go figure) and I wanted people to see me as I was. Take me as I am. I did not want to go another 4 years trying to explain what that weird bar near my back was or why my foot was able to turn backwards (the screw was loose). I just didn’t wanna! It was then that I began to embrace me as me.
It was then the world could begin to embrace me as me.
If you are an amputee, then realize that is a part of who you are! Even walking of metal legs I still had a point in school (5th grade) when I got teased…and not even because of my legs!! We were born without limbs or had them removed. But then, we became bionic men and women. We became shatterproof!
I am not afraid to show my mettle! Will you show me yours?