These Boots Are Made For Walkin'

Posted by rachelhandler76 on November 21, 2013 at 11:55 PM

I’m finally buying NICE shoes. Not DSW or Famous Footwear, or…Payless. I’m treating my feet with the respect they deserve and it’s starting to feel (and look) amazing. When I got my prosthetic leg I thought I was confined to a life of sneakers and yoga pants. Lately I’ve been venturing away from the sneakers, though they are undoubtedly the most comfortable of all my shoes. A girl’s just gotta change it up!

Due to ongoing skin issues on my residual limb, I can’t wear heels yet…I can barely wear my flats for a whole day! But I’m working on controlling my fears and anxiety to allow myself to have some fun with these new shoes.

I don’t like expressing the sad moments in my life; I never post negative statuses on Facebook. But I want to open up about ongoing fears and struggles since my amputation – and why wearing nice shoes is a big step!

Each amputee faces a different journey. If anything, losing my leg has taught me that you can NEVER judge a book by its cover. Just like no two people are alike, no two amputees are alike (and no two cancer patients are alike…;). There are many amputees out there walking around without the assistance of crutches, I used to be one of them! But health problems have made me stumble two steps back.

I’m suffering from a severe case of what is called – heterotopic ossification. Basically, bones are growing outside of the skeletal structure. These bone fragments are ruining the little amount of soft tissue that I have left in my residual limb, and when they rub against my skin too much it starts to bleed. This happened in June. When that spot was finally healed it happened again in a different spot in September.

These tiny spots take forever to heal because they are on a skin graft, which is like baby skin and very fragile. When a spot opens up, it also opens me up to a higher risk of infection – which can be disastrous.

Wearing shoes that don’t have that cushiony, polyurethane enhanced sole feels really weird, and puts more pressure on my skin. But I have to start living my life the way I want to live my life, not dictated by my injury. I’ve been holding back for so long and that’s no way to live. My “catch phrase” has been – “The prosthetic leg I wear isn’t a sign of loss, but a reminder to overcome fear and embrace life.”

I think I need to change this phrase. “The prosthetic leg I wear isn’t a sign of loss, but a reminder to MASTER fear and embrace life.” I might never overcome my fears, they will always be there. But I can master the way I handle those fears. Instead of thinking about what I can’t control, I’m learning to focus on what I can control.

I might need another surgery to fix my problem and help me walk again. There are a few surgical options out there, but none of them are appealing. One requires a six hour surgery of sewing blood vessels together, the other involves losing a few more inches of my leg.

My newest prosthetic leg has a vacuum attachment that has been very helpful for the health of my soft tissue, it also looks pretty badass! Maybe this leg will be the miracle I need to heal my real leg, who knows!? But I’m not putting life on pause any longer. For now, I’ll be the girl on crutches…wearing those really cute shoes. ;)


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Reply Margot
10:54 PM on December 4, 2013 
Hi Rachel, it's me. I was thinking about you today and happened to find this post. It's nice to see you finally update this blog. I'm sorry you are having so many health issues. I am learning to master some of my fears now so even though I'v been disabled since birth I kind of understand where you are with that part. Those shoes are adorable and the idea of a vacuum attachment leg sounds so cool! It looks like a real leg. Crutches can be wonderful. They keep me sane ;) Best of luck!
Reply Rachel
7:59 PM on December 6, 2013 
Hi Margot, thanks so much for the kind words! The way you adapt is how I want to be. I'll be back in NYC, I'll be sure to get in touch!
Reply Margot
1:02 PM on December 21, 2013 
Rachel says...
Hi Margot, thanks so much for the kind words! The way you adapt is how I want to be. I'll be back in NYC, I'll be sure to get in touch!
Sorry I did not see this post sooner. You're welcome Rachel! How sweet of you! You are already adapting so well. Now that it is winter I can tell you I wish they invented crutches that were built for use in the snow. That would be a dream come true! Great! I'v got some new projects in mind so I have a feeling we will be seeing and working together again soon. :D