A Journey, a Little Reminder and a Lot of Believing

I’ve been talking for the last few years about wanting to take a break in life to be able to attend some type of conference that being an amputee, or being involved in the amputee world, is the common focus of the event.  So when I got the phone call from Ottobock asking me to join them at their booth as a C-Leg patient model for the Amputee Coalition National conference in Orlando, FL; you can guess I jumped at the opportunity. I have been to smaller scale, and local nonprofit events held to support amputees in the past, but that was the extent of it.

Talking With Strangers At The Airport On My Way to the Conference

I headed out to the airport on a Thursday after work on the way to the ACA conference in Florida from my home in Minneapolis. Typically when flying I will make it easy for security and myself by just rocking a pair of shorts or a dress. In my mind it makes the process that much quicker. As I walked the zigzag line to make my way to security I felt eyeballs staring at me and lots of them. Usually this isn’t even something I notice at all anymore, especially because I kind of draw attention to my C-Leg, with the fancy cover I rock! It was just an odd thing to notice.  I walked the long haul to my gate only to realize there was, of course a few hours, flight delay. So I found a nice little spot away from everyone and started getting some work done.

Shortly after sitting down I noticed a man in a pilot uniform take a seat not too far from me. Within a few minutes he was very openly asking about my leg, what happened to me  and everything under the sun. Lucky for him and me, I am an open book. After about ten minutes of chatting, the guy in the next row over got up to come over and ask if he could join our conversation because he heard about the “interesting prosthetic talk we were having…” and how can you pass up on that? So he sits down across from us. We continue where we left off in talking about phantom pains, C-Legs, and life experience.

 It couldn’t have been another ten minutes before the guy to the right of us two rows over, got up and walked over to us. He looked at me and asked if I would mind if he joined our conversation because he heard us talking was intrigued by our conversation about prosthetics and my story. I literally burst out laughing because I thought someone was maybe messing with me. But I welcomed him to the convo as I did the first guy. It sounds cheesy but I really appreciate the opportunity to teach someone something that they maybe didn’t know before our conversation. I’m a big people watcher and love learning new things from other people with very different experienced than me. Next thing I know they are boarding the plane and it has been three hours or so of talking about everything with total strangers.

A three hour random conversation, with three random strangers, was the most interesting and insightful conversation that I have had with people in a long time.

Our conversation was a friendly reminder to me that I am on the right track. One of them looked at me and asked how I got to the place I am? He asked me how I am doing so well mentally and physically. I told him that really I never would have thought that I would do as well as I am doing, but that I have amazing support system in many ways. I told him truthfully I believe that just about everyone would bounce back the way I have if they had an amputation. He looked at me a little crazy. I explained that you have to make it work because what other option is there? To let your life be consumed with ill will towards something that you cannot change?  That resonated in my mind as I met each amazing person during the ACA conference that weekend.

Arriving at the Amputee Coalition National Conference

When I finally made it to the conference, I was a bit overwhelmed walking in, not in a bad way, but in a “this is crazy awesome” kinda way! Clearly I realized it was a convention for amputees, but it was great to see so many of us at once in the same place. It really was mind blowing to look around and think that there are so many of us there for the same reason, and that we all have had such different paths in getting here. Andrew who was an upper limb patient model at the Ottobock booth also was awesome, innovative and incredibly inspirational in what he is doing to improve his life as an upper limb amputee.

Kate at the Amputee Coalition National Conference in Orlando, June 2013.
Kate at the Amputee Coalition National Conference in Orlando, June 2013.

I met all different kinds of amputees and heard some unbelievable stories, but I must say one of my very favorite things about attending was going into the women’s discussion. I felt a little strange because I was a bit unsure of how the conversation might go. I sat in the discussion and just listened at first as I was a few minutes late getting there. I think listening to the conversation and what was on minds of other women, of all ages and are amputees as well, was exactly what I needed. I was surprised to hear how different individual thoughts were, yet the same as a group.

No offense guys, but I think I am so used to hearing a man’s opinion, it was very refreshing to hear the voices of some ladies talking about being amputees and the things that come along with being a woman amputee! I was really able to appreciate the conversation as it was really open and emotional for some, but it was a good healthy, funny and positive discussion by the end. I would highly recommend getting involved with any women’s organizations/discussions whenever possible. I couldn’t have realized that the women’s discussion that day ignited the fire within me. I left there wanting to build some stronger connections and relationships with the women in my life already. And soon after I realized or  that is what got the ball rolling.

For travel tips read our post here If you enjoyed Kate’s blog post, comment below. Also be sure to sign up so you don’t miss our latest post from our resident bloggers as well as our guest bloggers.

If you or someone you know is a new amputee, Ottobock has a great resource page for you here.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer Erdman Peterson says:

    Hi Kate – My mom is a recent amputee and is also a C-Leg wearer. She is doing great, amzing, inspiring..possitive and more – she is struggling a bit to gain her confidence on her leg. If you are in the MPLS area, could we come out to meet you and/or share stories? It would be great for her. THANKS! jennifer – jennifer.peterson@genmills.com

    Like

  2. Jennifer Erdman Peterson says:

    Hi Kate – My mom is a recent amputee and is also a C-Leg wearer. She is doing great, amzing, inspiring..possitive and more – she is struggling a bit to gain her confidence on her leg. If you are in the MPLS area, could we come out to meet you and/or share stories? It would be great for her. THANKS! jennifer – jennifer.peterson@genmills.com

    Like

  3. Kate Ross says:

    Hi Jennifer, thanks for reading my blog and thank you for reaching out! I am sure that your mother is amazing, and I would LOVE to meet with you both as I am in the Minneapolis area. How long has she been wearing a C-Leg? I think it’s pretty common to struggle a bit in gaining confidence, or at least a new confidence that we didn’t have to have before. I bet we have a lot in common and that we would have a lot to talk about and share. I will contact you and set up a time to meet with you ladies! Thanks again for reaching out! Talk soon, Kate

    Like

  4. Melisa Anne says:

    Kate,I consider myself to be one of your best friends and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post. I feel like I have learned so much about what a typical day in the life of the beautiful, amazing, inspirational and completely normal Kate Ross is like! I also need to tell you that from being there from day 1 I couldn’t be more proud, excited, inspired and encouraged by this step you have taken. You are truly a beautiful light in this world. I cannot wait to see what life has in store for you!!!Keep up the great writing! You are already changing lives and making an impact.Love you.

    Like

  5. Kate Ross says:

    Melisa- Thanks for the comment! You are one of my very best friends and have been there since the start of this new and crazy journey I call my life. Thank you for all that you do and the inspiration you put out to the world! Keep up the amazing work lady because it encourages others to work just a little harder to get where they want to be. SO lucky to have you in my life. Thank you xo Kate

    Like

  6. Nikolai Wedekind says:

    Thanks for the great and encouraging read! Your contagious personality and willingness to actively engage with others will go a long way in helping others lead fuller lives.As a combat veteran and eventual occupational therapist, I have several friends going through the process of dealing with limb loss. Your story is a bright reminder that there is still much more to a fulfilling life. :)All the best to you!

    Like

    1. Kate Ross says:

      Nikolai, Thank you so so much for your very kind words! I hope, at a minimum, to provide support or insight to even one person and I will be happy. The route your life is taking sounds rather amazing, so please keep doing good for the world because it’s worth it 🙂 Thank you again! Kate

      Like

  7. Chris says:

    Hey. I am an MD in Chicago, and I am amazed at your attitude in dealing with what you have been handed. Make sure you continue to do as much patient education as you can. If more patients had your attitude, outcomes across the board would be so much better. Sorry you had to experience what you did, but thanks for not letting it swallow you up and in the process letting the butterfly effect improve a lot of people’s lives!

    Like

    1. Kate Ross says:

      Hi Chris! Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate your kind words!! I do my best to make the best out of every situation. With the loss of my leg I know that it is something I cannot change. That is why it is so important to face it head on, grow with it, accept it and continue to learn about it. I try to meet with patients as often as I can because peer support is key, and that is the main reason I am a part of this blog- to hopefully change even one person’s perception of limb loss. I hope to be able to help others accept things. Thank you again and I hope you continue to follow my blog! Many thanks.

      Like

  8. Kate Ross says:

    Hi Chris! Thank you for the comment, I really appreciate your kind words!! I do my best to make the best out of every situation. With the loss of my leg I know that it is something I cannot change. That is why it is so important to face it head on, grow with it, accept it and continue to learn about it. I try to meet with patients as often as I can because peer support is key, and that is the main reason I am a part of this blog- to hopefully change even one person’s perception of limb loss. I hope to be able to help others accept things. Thank you again and I hope you continue to follow my blog! Many thanks.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s