I am so grateful I am not in a wheelchair. I have often thought this throughout my life when things were tough with my leg. At least I can walk, I can live a life without too many limitations; I would tell myself when the self-pity threatened to roll in.
But being confined to a wheelchair for shopping trips or outings that are too far for me to crutch has cemented my gratitude.
I don’t know how I would cope were I to have an accident that would permanently confine me to a wheelchair.
Knowing what it is like to walk around and not have to worry about things like fitting a wheelchair into narrow shops, or getting into places without a ramp or the constant stares and averting of eyes when people see you; to suddenly be in a wheelchair for life would be impossibly difficult.
I have a greater understanding now why losing a leg must be so difficult for people as opposed to being born without one.
It’s because they have known a life of simplicity of walking without pain, of simply getting up, throwing their legs over the bed and standing up. Of being able to do whatever they physically wanted without a second thought.
And to go from that, to pain, to a leg that will never truly be a substitute for a real one, would be incredibly difficult.
It may have been a difficult journey for me but it is all I have ever known. It is the only way of life that I have ever experienced and so I make the most of it and just get on with it.
But knowing what a normal life is would just put their new life into a sharp contrast. Knowing the ease of walking with a real leg would only make wearing an artificial limb seem more uncomfortable.
While being born with a disability sure isn’t a picnic in the sunshine maybe the adage ‘better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all’ doesn’t quite apply to legs.