10 Things You Should Never Say to an AMputee

Standard

10.“Do you know {insert the name of a random AMputee} ?”

Contrary to popular belief, AMputees don’t all know each other. We don’t have meetings at midnight to discuss secret AMputee stuff or rub our nubs together. Sorry to disappoint. Though we share common experiences, we don’t all frequent the same places or do all of the same things. We are all different people. While it might have seemed perfect for your two AMputee acquaintances to meet, fall madly in love, be soul mates, life long nubby buddies or whatever other fantasies you have, it doesn’t work like that! This is not the Life Time Network and you are not a match maker. Chill.

9. “Don’t worry, It’ll grow back.”

I know it can be awkward meeting an amputee for the first time. You’re caught off guard, and with your mind blank you want to say something to make things better. We understand. Just pretty please don’t say this. EVER. We’re not lizards. We don’t have the power to regenerate lost body parts. Our limbs aren’t growing back. If they did, there wouldn’t be AMputees. Duh.

8. “I know how it feels because ______.”

Empathy is nice, but in this situation it just doesn’t have the same effect. Broken arms and legs may put you out of commission for a couple of weeks or months, but you must consider the fact that being an amputee requires a complete and permanent change in lifestyle. When you use statements like these, you do so with the intention of forging a bridge of common understanding. However, this statement actually discredits our personal experiences. You can’t know unless you’ve actually been there. That being said, we admire your sensitivity to our experiences and your efforts to understand. Thank you :).

7. “Just let me do it for you.”

The last thing you want to do to an AMputee is make them feel powerless. Lending a helping hand is completely fine, but you should always leave it up to the AMputee. Always ask. If your help is refused, be supportive and patient. We realize that it’s hard to watch your loved one struggle with something, but please know that it’s even harder to be the person struggling. Every day we must think of new ways to complete even the most simple of tasks. It’s frustrating, discouraging, and sometimes unbearable, but we still manage to get things done. Patience is key for us and for you.

6. “I don’t want to hear your sob story.”

This one always stings a little. Personally, it’s hard for me to express my feelings about being an amputee, so in the rare instance that I do choose to open up it takes a lot of courage. Sharing your story is so risky! If someone chooses to open up to you it’s because they trust you; they see something in you that allows them to feel comfortable in the midst of their vulnerability. Statements like these compromise all of that and make it harder to open up to others in the future. Be considerate and listen. You never know what you’ll learn about us, and about yourself.

5. “Oh My Gosh! I feel so sorry for you.”

Your pity doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t need you to feel sorry for me because most of the time I don’t even feel sorry for myself. Our life’s purpose isn’t to remind you how much your life sucks a little less because you’ve got all of your limbs. Everyone has their own hardships let’s not make this a competition.

4. “You’re different. You’re not like other amputees.”

While it’s great that you’ve found one person to challenge your preconceived ideas about people with physical disabilities, it doesn’t leave room for you to truly dismantle the entirety of these prejudices. AMputees are individuals who live drastically different lives. We won’t all be war heroes. We won’t all mope around. We won’t all be nice. However, I can guarantee that we are all human. Approach each new interaction with this in mind and you’ll never fail.

3. “I don’t know what I would do if I were you.

First off, no one asked you. Like NO ONE. Second, if you were in our shoes you’d have one of two options:

  • Make things work and live a meaningful life.
  • Throw a pity party until you get fed up and choose ‘Option 1’.

It’s that simple.

2. Using the words “handicapped” or “crippled”.

We are not broken, so don’t describe us as such. I personally don’t receive a government sponsored disability check, nor do I have handicapped parking privileges. As long as I’m not getting either, I prefer not to be categorized in such a way. If you want to call us anything, just call us by our names.

1. Whispering and/or staring.

*PLEASE NOTE: Just because we are AMputees does not mean we are deaf or blind. While some of us may very well be visually and/or hearing impaired, the rest of us see and hear you. Your pointing, long stares, awkward glances….all that. WE SEE YOU! In addition, We hear you. It’s not like you’re good whisperers anyway. When you think your subtly gesturing to your friends to look our way, know that we’ve probably already seen and heard your breathy “whispers”. Trust and believe that we want nothing more than for you to simply ask when you have questions instead of assuming and making a scene. Just Ask.

**The statements and circumstances listed above are based on a true story.

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13 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Never Say to an AMputee

  1. DeAndrea

    I think readers should really take heed to this list. I am sure there are a lot of people who are so ignorant to these tips. Love your work keep it up!

  2. Monique

    AND TO THINK I WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO THE BEAUTIFUL WRITER AND DIDN’T KNOW IT. I APOLOGIZE FOR #7 BUT TO MY DEFENSE I WOULD’VE HELPED ANY 6 YEAR OLD WITH A KNIFE:-) I ♥ what your doing.

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