These are some questions I either get often, or questions that have stood out to me. My sense of humor has developed over time and I can now laugh when initially all of these questions would have made me cry. Some of these have been asked by friends, family, strangers in person and strangers online, and acquaintances…and this is how I truly feel about them!
1. How did you lose your leg?
So, this is going to be the extremely short story version because many of you know what happened to my leg and if you want a detailed version then you will just have to attend one of my speaking events in 2018 🙂
You like how I slid that self-promo in there on the cool?
When I was ten I was hit by a drunk driver as a pedestrian that pinned me between two vehicles instantly severing my right leg.
As I am writing this I am internally laughing because I have told my full story a million times, and have explained to my nephews a million more times what happened to my leg. I see them almost daily and it never fails that I get asked probably once a week “Aunt Ki, why do you have a robot leg?”, “Aunt Ki where is your real leg?”, or my favorite: “Did you leave your old leg at your old house?” They are 9, 5 and 3 so I try to give age appropriate responses to the younger ones like: “My other leg is in heaven”, “the nice doctors knew I needed another leg to walk so they made me one”. Those responses are unsatisfactory to them lol! They need answers all.the.time.
2. What is airport security like?
Usually it flows pretty smoothly because I already know what to expect. However, sometimes I get stuck with the TSA agents that are inexperienced when it comes to the special screenings I have to do, which causes delays. The last time I traveled to New York was late October and I basically had to tell the DFW TSA what to do. I consider myself a nice and generally patient person. This particular day I was losing my patience. I really am fine with the additional screenings, I just ask that the female assist is experienced doing them. I don’t have time for a 30 minute delay in the security line. Not only is it frustrating, it is embarrassing. I stand out as it is, now I have to wait while passengers pass me, staring like I really am hiding something in my prosthetic…my belongings sitting all alone at the end of the conveyor belt all while answering questions the TSA agent is asking me because they don’t know the proper procedure. Next time I will try saying this script in one sentence: “Hi, yes, I am aware of the additional screening, I’ve traveled a bit…No, I don’t need to go to a private screening room…yes, It is okay if you use the back of your hands to pat my boobs, hips, inner thighs…yes, you have to pat down my prosthetic side and I am fine with that…it is also fine if you pat my hair…I understand the swabs that you have to give me on my hands and leg to check for traces of explosives, its fine”. What I really want to say is: “Just do what you gotta do quickly and stop asking me questions so I get catch this flight before you catch these hands”. But I know I’d probably go to jail. If I went to jail I need the hashtag #justiceforKiara to go viral to help get me out because Lawd knows I wouldn’t make it!
On the way back to Texas I hopped in the security line that JFK airport offers specifically for people with disabilities with the thought: “yessssss! I’m ‘bout to be out of here in no time”. WRONG. They didn’t even have extra agents to perform the screenings. At least I wasn’t alone while I waited for the airport to get their life together and calibrate the necessary machines. I was in line with other amputees, people in wheelchairs, people with internal devices, etc
3. Does your microprocessor knee move for you?
Nope. Just like the other knee, by shifting my weight over the toe, I am able to allow the knee to bend (I don’t know how to clinically explain this, sorry!) I love this knee though because it keeps up with me whether I walk fast or slow, I can put it in different modes for different activities, and it has stumble recovery (the knee locks so I don’t fall if I misstep or something) which I often forget about until it activates.
4. How long do you wear your prosthetic leg each day?
Usually from the time I wake up to the time I shower at night. Sometimes I have days where the last thing I want to do is put it on…I call those my “Lazy Days” if I have nothing pressing to do. I like having my leg on because it allows me to independently complete tasks. I had a custom wheelchair made for me once but I’m not sure where it is…probably in my grandma’s garage with the rest of my large items. I haven’t used it in ages. I also have crutches that I am supposed to be using when my leg is off. SUPPOSED to be using…lol
5. Do you experience phantom pain?
Yes!!! First of all, I will explain what it is. Phantom pain is a sensation that comes from a body part that is no longer there. Weird right?
For me, there are sensations that do not hurt, like tingling. Kind of what it feels like when your hand or foot falls asleep and you get that strange prickly feeling. I have this sensation frequently and it is usually pinpointed at the bottom of my stump. The sensations that hurt are usually felt in my “toes” or “foot”. The sensations range from severe itching, stabbing, sharp pain, or burning. The burning sensations feel like the devil himself is breathing his disrespectful, fiery breath on me #nottodaysatan.
I can usually feel when I am going to get it. A heating pad, back massage, leg massage, tightening and releasing muscles, positive visualization, and/or taking my leg off usually works wonders.
Do you have any questions for me? If so, fill out the form on the contact page with your question! There will be more parts to this post.