Saturday, I spent the morning with a group of amputees at a running and mobility clinic put on by the Challenged Athletes Foundation. In the days leading up to it, we were in the process of moving, and I had been pushing my leg a bit too hard. It was in pain, and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it.
Last week was just one of those bad weeks. It was the lowest point post-amputation, and I felt like I needed recovery more than anything. The moving had taken a physical toll on my leg and my back, and the resulting limitations created an emotional toll. I simply didn’t have a lot left in the tank. Even once I arrived and parked, I hesitated ever so briefly. For the first time since amputation, I doubted myself.
Nonetheless, I got out of the car and went to the clinic. Of course, it was a great experience–not just for the running and mobility side of things, though. It was great because when you’re surrounded by people who’ve collectively dealt with countless challenges but push on–and usually with smiles on their face–it’s hard not to be encouraged.
I’ve only met a handful of other amputees, but of all that I’ve met, there’s been this perfect combination of willpower, heart, and kindness. Everyone is unfailingly encouraging and supportive of everyone else. Maybe that’s because they’ve all been through some rough times and thus share some deeper empathy, but it’s not just that. And it’s not just the amputees. Everyone involved was amazing. The organizers, prosthetists, and family members were great too. In so many ways, the event was energizing and uplifting. Through stumbles and falls, they all kept on trucking and kept on smiling. The enthusiasm and strength was contagious.
We all have various levels of challenges to overcome in our lives. Some of those days, weeks, or months are going to downright suck. All of these folks have been through the ringer in one way or another. Yet, despite some of the biggest challenges one can face, they push on. They seem to see and accept those events that are out of their control and deliberately decide to focus exclusively on that which is under their control. It’s hard to see these folks as anything other than unstoppable forces.
Through my decision to amputate, other amputees have provided an incredible amount of support. Some directly through conversations, and others indirectly through so clearly illustrating that there are no limits. So this is just a simple thanks to everyone that organized and participated in the clinic this weekend. You’re all doing amazing and inspiring things.