All the things you ever wanted to know but never dared to ask. About phantom limbs and pain.
I’ve got one. Or rather I haven’t got one.
You can’t see it, but It’s there. MY LEG OF COURSE!
I lost my left leg above the knee in 2010 following a catastrophic MRSA infection. Total bummer 🙁 What I didn’t know was it would always feel like it’s still there. I call it my invisible leg.
A lot of people are naturally curious about what it’s like to be an amputee. We aren’t that common. So here’s what I find are the most common questions people would like to ask, but never ever dared or had the opportunity.
1. Does your invisible foot feel cold? ✔ Yes it does. If my right foot feels cold, then my invisible foot joins in. Only difference is I can’t warm it up and it stays cold until it decides to warm up by itself! I call it attention seeking.
2. Does your invisible foot get itchy? ✔ Yes it does. For reasons best known to itself! Only difference is I can’t scratch it. What do you call an itch you can’t scratch? A bitch.
3. Does your invisible foot smell? Whaaaat? No, not even my real foot smells. I get a bath!
4. Does your invisible leg hurt? This is always the first question children ask me. I just say no. Obvs.
But to you grown up guys I have to say yes and no. On a daily basis because of the medication I take it doesn’t hurt although I can feel it’s there.
However out of the blue, but sometimes due to stress, I get electric shocks. Big big big ones. Total bummer yet again 🙁 These are the kind you see James Bond get when he’s being interrogated by the baddies. Often it feels like a taser to my big toe, or a lightening bolt to my heel. They can go on for days, every 30 seconds, bang bang bang. Get much sleep? None at all, unless I take my magic gummies. Without them it’s too painful and without a break from them it’s exhausting.
5. Do you take medication? ✔ I have been taking meds since 2010 because without them the phantom sensations were too intense. Without the meds my invisible leg can feel like its bent double, like it’s wrapped and twisted behind my back or like boiling water is being poured on it. Sticking with the 007 vibe there. So no surprise I will probably take meds for the rest of my life.
6. What do you call your leg now? I have to admit I’m not a fan of calling it a stump. I’ve always called it my little leg, because that’s what it is. Sometimes my old physio worker would call it a residual limb and I could have slapped her. How impersonal. Would you call a thumb a pollex? (Google it) I’d probably call mine Tom. Make it more friendly.
One parting little known fact I’ll leave you with is that over time my invisible leg has become shorter. Initially it felt like the same length and my foot was on the floor. Twelve years later though it feels like my invisible foot is where my knee would be. Go figure!
So I hope you like my phantom phacts and find this answers some of your questions.
One final thing I’ll leave you with is that it’s not polite to ask any person with a disability what happened to them, or what’s wrong with them. Don’t ask someone to share details with you that may take them back to a traumatic time or incident. The details are private and not up for polite discussion with strangers. We won’t ask you what happened to your manners. Deal? ✔
Much love as always,