Amputee Coalition

@amputeecoalition | partner
The Amputee Coalition offers answers and personal support for people affected by limb loss and limb difference.

Celebrating Limb Loss Awareness Month This April

April is a special month for me. Not only do the flowers starting to sprout in my garden to make me smile, but the warmer temperatures leave me feeling energized and happier. Even more important than the weather and our garden, April is Limb Loss Awareness Month. This special designation is a time for those impacted by limb loss and limb difference to celebrate their diversity, spotlight their accomplishments and to educate the general community about issues impacting our lives. According to the Amputee Coalition, there are more than 500 amputations every single day in this country. With nearly two million people living with limb loss/ limb difference in the United States, our community is rich with experiences and diversity. Everybody has a story, and April is our time to celebrate that which is far too often shunned. While much emphasis of Limb Loss Awareness month has been placed on preventing limb loss, obviously a worthy endeavor, self-acceptance is an issue close to my heart. I will never forget the struggle and the feelings of confusion and isolation I felt after I became an amputee. I was the only one I knew missing a limb, and I felt alone. Despite its pitfalls, the Internet has done a lot to break down the barriers of isolation by allowing amputees to connect and share experiences. Using social media, this month amputees across the country and around the world aresharing their limb loss stories. Although every journey is different, our strength lies with our numbers and with our stories. During Limb Loss Awareness Month, the community is united to empower and to educate those who are struggling with limb loss as well as those who may be impacted in the future. Recognizing the power of the individual story, this year the Amputee Coalition launched the #AmplifyYourself initiative.  Starting in April, those living with limb loss and limb difference are invited to share their stories on a dedicated website (www.amplifyyourself.org).  This database of limb loss and limb difference stories will stand as a testament to the resiliency and the diversity of the community. I hope you will join me in sharing your story on The Mighty, on social media and with the Amputee Coalition. Who knows, maybe your story will be the one that offers that glimmer of hope to a new amputee, pushing them to persevere and push forward despite setbacks and pain. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Sportpoint. Continue reading this story...

Disability Activist At Women's March Turned Into Mean Meme

I have always felt passionately about politics, but I would never consider myself to be politically involved. I vote in every election, and have on a few occasions put out a yard sign for specific candidates. Other than those minimal efforts, I have stayed out of the political arena. As I approach middle age, I find myself delving into political activism. With the current administration’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I feel obligated to lend my voice to the collective outrage. The classification of prosthetic devices as Essential Health Benefits (EHB) is in peril. Without the EHB classification, amputees could face unrealistic lifetime and yearly benefit caps. We would return to the pre-ACA reality where mobility and prosthetic devices were luxuries for the affluent. The rest of the other two million amputees living in this country could become more disabled by their financial means and insurance coverage than by the loss of their limb. I joined the hundreds of thousands of other civically driven protestors on the streets of Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March. I was fortunate to be supported by a handful of strong women who also believe in keeping prosthetic devices available to every amputee who has both the desire and the ability to utilize them. With my newly printed signs, I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto the streets in protest. The experience at the march was surreal. I felt strengthened and empowered by the numbers of strong-willed and determined people who took part in the effort.  I held my “Maintain Essential Health Benefits” sign over my head as I represented my niche issue with strength and pride. I left the march feeling uplifted, unstoppable and determined to utilize my newly discovered voice. The next morning I woke up and logged onto Facebook, eager to read the comments from my photos and to see updates from my fellow activist friends. My feelings of empowerment and strength quickly dissolved into self-doubt and embarrassment when I realized a troll had come out to play the night before and turned my photo into a “mean meme.” The meme read “Trump got more fat women marching in one day than Michel Obama did in 8 years.”  Seeing my photo hijacked for such a misogynistic, hurtful sentiment was humiliating. The fact that the troll who created the meme had failed to correct the spelling and grammar errors before posting was irrelevant. I felt belittled, disgraced and irrelevant. After a few hours of wallowing, I decided to channel the strength I discovered a few hours earlier. The purpose of the meme was to belittle and silence the protestors. Once I made that realization, I vowed to remain undeterred from my goal. I was marching for everybody who needs, or who will need, a prosthetic device. Instead of being a victim, I opted to take back my power by sharing the meme. Words such as those written on that meme can hurt. But words of support and love can heal. By publishing the meme, I reclaimed ownership and reestablished my voice. In many ways the photo has become even more special. Not only does it capture an amazing day, but it also epitomizes my finding my inner activist. I was never a mean meme before, and this experience has added to my sense of empowerment. Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .