Peer visitation, in my opinion, is one of the key aspects of a successful recovery after losing a limb. I know it made a huge difference in my recovery and my frame of mind when I first had my legs amputated below the knees. While I was still in the hospital after my accident, a young guy came in to see me. Although I had never met him before, Brent and I had a conversation that changed my life.
During our visit we talked about all of the things we had in common, such as playing sports, riding dirt bikes, and going out with friends. Before Brent left that day he let me in on his secret: he also was a bilateral below knee amputee. On his way out of the room he stopped, looked back at me and said, “You’re going to be fine and you will still be able to do all of the things in life you enjoy.” Since that day, I have kind of made that my motto when things get tough.
Many have said that losing a limb can be as devastating as losing a spouse or a child. Recovering from limb loss can be a frightening and confusing experience. One reason may be because most people have never met an amputee nor have any experience with prosthetics. When your way of life depends on something you have no knowledge of, it can be a very scary experience. Sometimes just a smile and someone that has gone through this experience telling you it is going to be ok can be just what another amputee needs: to start believing that they can make it through this unknown territory.
Because of Brent, I decided to become a peer visitor to give back what Brent gave me. I have been on many peer visits over the years and every visit is different. Sometimes a person just wants to learn about the technology and capablities of prosthetics. I have also been in a hospital room on a peer visit when prosthetics and amputation was not even brought up in the conversation; they just wanted to know they were not the only person who has gone through this experience.
On one peer visit, there was not much verbal communication. He just wanted to watch me walk back and forth across his room. He wanted the hope that he could walk again. Everyone has their own concerns about recovery and what life can and will be like after an amputation. Although every peer visit is different, there is one common denominator: everyone I have met in a peer visit is just glad to see someone who has been there.
I will always remember the difference that one visit from Brent made in my life. That is why I’m proud to be a Certified Amputee Peer Visitor with Westcoast Brace & Limb.
To learn more about Westcoast Brace & Limb’s Peer Support Network and Peer Visitation Program, please contact:
Orthotic & Prosthetic Patient Program Director
Phone: (813) 985-5000 ext 204
Fax: (813) 985-4499