“Always be prepared”.  Cliché as it may sound, this simple motto can, and should be, a major part of an amputee’s life.  Whether you are new to the amputee community or you are a seasoned veteran, being prepared can save a lot of time and headaches.  Obviously, different situations require different preparations, so the real trick is to become conditioned to preparation in itself.  At the beginning, it’s better to have too much stuff.  Streamlining will get easier as you get used to your life as an amputee and learn all your daily or situational needs.,

My first few times traveling, I brought everything I had that was prosthesis-related, even though I was only going to my parent’s home three hours away.  I brought extra sleeves, both liners, every sock that was given to me, medical supplies and I even brought tools.  I had an entire “go bag” that was dedicated to carrying everything I could possibly need. Over the years, packing just the necessities has gotten much easier…though I still find myself going through a mental inventory of items each time I travel.

Preparing is not just about prosthetic needs.  Mental preparation, walking route preparation, pain management preparation, possible adaptive-measure preparation; these are all large parts of the new life we live and should be taken into consideration.  I feel that mental preparation is probably the most overlooked by many amputees.  Preparing your mind for situations is very beneficial.  Here’s a short list of things to consider:

1. You may fall. Eventually, most of us might catch a stair, get tangled in weeds, or misplace a step on uneven terrain.  Knowing that it could happen to anyone and not just amputees, can ease the blow to your ego.  On that note, learning how to fall properly, through a martial arts school or physical therapy, can save you some aches and pains. 

2. People will likely stare and some may even ask personal questions. Accepting the idea that people are naturally curious and sometimes rude in their approach, will make it easier to brush it off when/if it does happen. 

3. There will be things that you will need to do differently now. Notice that I didn’t say “things you can’t do anymore?”  There is a huge difference between the two.  The old adage of “crawling before walking” comes to mind here.  There really aren’t any limitations, just new considerations. 

There are many more mental preparations that you could add to this list, but these are a few of the things that I feel important to discuss in our new reality. 

 Preparing for pain management is self-explanatory. If you know that you’ll be walking more than normal, having items to ease the potential pain is important. Whether it’s ice packs, compression bandages, medication, or any other means of pain relief, having these on hand is a must.  The key element to this is being able to relax and repair at the end of the day.  Being able to do that can mean the difference between doing things multiple days in a row, or needing a down day in between excursions. 

Planning outings may take a bit longer than before but it’s well worth the extra time.  For example: If you plan on traveling, researching things like airport procedures, how far you’ll need to walk, terrain you’ll encounter, if the hotel provides accessibility equipment, etc., is very wise and will make being able to relax and enjoy yourself much easier.  I personally take inventory twice before I head into the woods.  I make sure I have not only my necessary equipment, but also anything else I may possibly need.  

 Has life changed?  Certainly, but it hasn’t stopped.  We aren’t limited and life will continue.  We are all capable of amazing things and will surely experience grand new adventures.  Taking a little extra time to prepare may seem daunting in the beginning, but once you have your system down, everything will fall into place.  Will it be tough?  You bet it will.  However, many things worth doing are exactly that; tough.  Keep charging forward, keep trekking, and keep living.

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