Next To Normal?

Posted by rachelhandler76 on September 19, 2012 at 11:25 PM

Before March 3, 2012 I lead a pretty typical life, some might say, “normal.” It was great, fun and just a little crazy! In an instant my life changed forever. I will never feel “normal” again, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

When my leg was amputated I not only changed physically, but also emotionally. Who could have imagined that at 24 years old what I consider to be my greatest achievement is simply walking? I’ve worked hard in my life at many jobs, classes and auditions, but learning to walk with a prosthetic leg has been the most powerful and humbling experience of my life.

I felt like I lost part of my soul the day I lost my leg. I saw my dreams of singing and dancing on Broadway being crushed; I felt powerless and angry. My first day home from the hospital I cried for an hour, with my family by my side. My home felt different because I felt different. I knew then there was no looking back, only forward (as Obama would say).

The prosthesis I wear symbolizes power to me. At first I was worried that when I looked down at my feet all I would feel was a sense of loss. I’m happy to have been wrong. My “new leg” is truly a reminder to overcome fear and embrace life. Today I’m walking again! No more wheelchair, crutches or even a cane. I am really walking with my own two feet! AND IT FEELS UNBELIEVABLE! I have to pinch myself every time I take a step because it feels too good to be true.

I used to think of my prosthesis as “the torture device” because it was extremely painful, but now it seems like magic. Of course it’s still a little uncomfortable and my residual limb feels sore after a long day wearing the prosthetic leg, but there’s no better feeling than looking down at my 2 feet and taking a step. It could simply be a step towards the fridge to pour myself a glass of water, or it could be taking a step onto the stage.

I’m in a show now and one member of the cast had no idea that I use a prosthesis. When I walk down the street or into a restaurant, no one knows the trauma I’ve endured; if I wear long pants they can’t see that I’m different. They can’t see that I’m part of the 20% of disabled Americans. I’m thankful to be able to hide my disability and appear “normal”; some people don’t have that luxury. Yet, sometimes when people can’t tell I’m an amputee I feel guilty for hiding that part of my life. I’m not ashamed of my leg, in fact, I’m pretty proud of it!

As I move forward with my life, my goals and my dreams I find myself on the cusp of normality, but not quite there. This experience has shown me that everything happens for a reason. Even though this injury certainly wasn’t in my life plan, sometimes the most creativity happens when you color outside the lines. My injury dared me to be vulnerable and taught me to be strong. Who needs normal when it’s our differences that make us who we are?

This is a rehearsal for "The Odd Couple," can you tell which leg is fake!?


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