Last weekend I climbed a mountain. OK, it was more like a 5K on flat ground. The reason I refer to it as climbing a mountain comes from some of my first thoughts as a new amputee. I remember lying on the coach, all bandaged up, thinking ‘How am I ever going to get back to a normal life?’ I thought this must be what it is like to climb a mountain. I knew where I was starting from, and I knew where I want to go. I didn’t know what tools I would need, what path to take, or how long I would take to reach my destination.
Since then, when I set a goal, I picture it as a new mountain I have to conquer. When I decide on a new challenge, I plan it in a similar way as someone might plan scaling a mountain. First I find a knowledgeable and capable guide. For me, this guide has been my prosthetist Bridget Lawler, CPO at Westcoast Brace & Limb. Together, Bridget and I plan out the journey. First we decide which tools, or prostheses, I will need. Next, we plan an appropriate path to get me to where I want to be. Finally, the duration of the journey is a lot like predicting the weather: you can have a goal in mind, but you have to remain flexible.
My most recent goal was to run my first 5K race. In June Bridget and I started planning how to make this happen. After some research we decided on Ossur Flex Run feet. During my fittings, we tried different alignments and once we nailed it, it was time for me to start training. My goal was to be ready to complete the run portion of the Crystal River Triathlon. This was a Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) event. Since they have helped in the past, I really wanted to represent them well.
The morning of the race I was unbelievably nervous. This was different than any bike race I had been in before. In a bike race if you are unprepared, you just don’t compete well. With running in a race there was a chance of me falling in front of all of these people and bruising my ego, or even worse.
As my relay partner entered the transition area all of the nervousness went away. Now it was my turn. This was it. All of the training I had done was for this moment. Soon after I began to run I realized that I had lost suction on my right leg. I could have stopped and used this as an excuse, but I knew Bridget had designed my prostheses in a way that I would be fine even if this had happened. I pushed myself really hard until the finish line was in sight. From there, I looked around and really appreciated the “mountain top” view that I worked so hard to enjoy.
With the varieties of prosthetic devises available and the knowledge of a trained prosthetist, you too can be a “mountain climber”. You can reach most of your goals and even some dreams you have not even thought of yet. So, find a great guide and enjoy the journey.