Saturday, August 16, 2008

"The Big Question"

No, this isn't the big question that you would normally think was "the big question". This question haunts the daily life of every amputee, especially those who are social or have a job that thrusts them into public life.

I get it at least a few times a week: "How did you lose your arm?"

My face gets red and a nervous cold sweat immediately starts to appear. I try hard to hold back what I really want to say. "Its none of your business."

Then I realize that this question is truly innocent, and not everyone runs into amputees every day (including myself, and I know lots of amputees!). People usually ask because they want to learn something, or because they want to hear a good story. After all, doesn't being an amputee shape who we are in some way?

Some people are rude about it and let their inquisition fault their politeness, while others might be excited because they happen to know an amputee.

I then calm down, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and tell the person the true story. It happens so often that you'd think I'd be used to it, but the same reaction occurs time and time again.

So, if you're an amputee, how do you feel when you get that question? Also, how do you deal with it?

And for you non-amputees, are you really comfortable asking such a personal question? Is it hard not to ask? Does your need to know often suppress your will to be polite and move on?


Hugo said...

For me I do not need to know if you do not want to tell me, I do not know any amputees but I have known someone who had burned both his hands and a large part of his body to the point where his hands did not function fully anymore and while I did think about how it might have happened I never asked and it did not interfere in my interactions with him.
I only found out the true story when I saw a documentary on him, in a way I'm happy not to have asked because it was a very emotional story and I was not on that level of friendship with him (and have lost touch now).
So it is always in the back of my mind that "the story" may have such a baggage and that is why I always wait and let the person come to me and if it is the right kind of friendship I will try to show that I'm open for talking.

Interesting blog, you're added to my reading list, I need to learn speed reading ;-)

atheistamputee said...

@hugo: I think we've all done it! When I'm around a group of amputees, we usually end up asking each other what happened. Perhaps its a different situation though, since we're all together and don't have to worry about judgmental behavior.

I'm glad you're interested in reading this blog! Thanks for stopping by!