The Catt Box

'Frequently Asked Questions'

Message to devotees

 

It was never my intention to make the fact that I'm a double amputee a focal point of my web site....it's not even a focal point of my life. Frankly, I rarely think about it. It's all I've ever known and seems quite normal to me. It's no different than someone who needs to wear eye glasses or a hearing aid. 

The only reason I included it at all in the opening paragraph of my homepage was because it was a small aspect in what makes my life interesting...and especially because there are four of us amputees in one family. 

But then there are the questions that I have been asked all of my life. For this reason, I have decided to have a page of such questions, with their answers....and some things that you may not have thought of. I will add new questions, as I can think of them. Imagine how many I have been asked.....

 

Do I sleep with my artificial legs on?  No. I can't imagine how uncomfortable that would be. I know of no one who makes a habit of sleeping with their shoes on. You can almost think to yourself what you take your shoes off for, and that's usually what I take my legs of for, as well.

Can I swim?  Probably better than you can. I am light and can swim like a fish. I have been swimming since I was a small child.

Can I walk or get around without my legs on?  Oh, yeah...I can actually get around even better, except that I am very short without them and would have to climb around to reach everything. I can run, walk, whatever. My animals have always loved it when I take my legs off. I guess it's because I'm on their level...my cat thinks it's play-time and we chase each other and play hide and seek. You would think that by now I would have out-grown this.

How often do I take my legs off?  To take a bath or to go to bed. That's usually it, unless I go swimming. I keep them on all day and evening till it's time to go to bed. The more you wear artificial legs, the more used to them you become. Then you don't tire as easily and you're in top condition to do things. When I went to Universal Studios I walked around the entire place twice. I don't have a problem with sores and things like that because I stay in good condition by wearing my legs to death.

Do I take a bath with them on?  What would be the point in that? It's not the wood that needs a bath. No, I take them off to take a bath, like you take your shoes off. At least I don't have to shave them. I take a very quick bath. I don't take showers because it's like being rained on...I can't reach the shower head to adjust it and step in and out of the water when I want.

 And please, before you think about writing me and telling me your ideas about what or how I can do it, don't you think I've thought of everything? I can take a shower, I just prefer not to....a bath does nicely. 

I'm a very inventive, problem-solving, determined person...where there's a will, there's a way. I have always been amazed at the 'normal' people who come up with things that they don't think I've thought of. It's like if you don't have eye-glasses, yet try to tell a person with glasses how to take care of them. Whoops, am I on my soap box again....? I can't help it. People have actually argued with me about things they have no clue about.

Can I drive a car?  I sure can. I am very proud of my old 1990 Ford Ranger truck. 

I didn't get my driver's license till I was 33 years old. It had nothing to do with my legs. When I was 12 years old my parents took my sister and I to some of those 'Blood On The Highway' type of movies. They were being shown late at night at a nearby theatre. I think that they wanted us to see what happens when you drink and drive, or use drugs, or just not pay attention and don't obey the laws. That's not the message we got....I learned " this will happen when you drive a car."..so I didn't. I didn't have a desire to drive till I was 33. I use hand controls for the gas and the break. It's just one lever to control it. Everything in the car is still in-tact. You could jump right in and drive it normally, and not use the hand control.

How often do I get new legs?  That depends on who you ask....I keep my legs longer than anyone I know. They are incredibly expensive and when I get used to a pair of legs, I keep 'em. And I take good care of them. I've had the ones I've got on for about ten years. I had a pair one time for 14 years. Needless to say, they don't get rich off of me. Some people get a new leg(s) every four or five years, or so. And when you are a child, as the child grows, you need new legs to keep up with the growth. Most of my life I have been about the same size. I have to be. You can grow out of a pair of legs very quickly if there is even the slightest weight gain. The legs fit so perfectly that I can feel it if I gain a pound, so I try not to.  

UPDATE: 

I finally got a new pair of legs. I had to. I broke my right femur on November 16, 2007, and had to have surgery to repair my leg. I have metal rods, plates, pins, and screws. So, I needed new legs. This time I went totally 'high tech'. My new legs are $80,000. Yes, that's right. Here's a picture of what they look like:

I'm still getting used to them. I only got these legs at the end of February 2009. But I'm getting there. I hadn't walked in 16 months, so it'll take a while. There's more information about how I broke my leg and my recovery on my Latest Scoop page.

Can you feel this?  Probably. You'd be surprised at the people who have sat next to me, taken their foot and kicked me with it just to see if I will react. And they'll look at me like they're not doing anything. duhhhh...I'm not that stupid. Because I've worn artificial legs since I was five years old, I can 'sense' a lot more with my legs than people can imagine.

Well, Catt, why don't you just take off one of your legs and beat him/her over the head with it?  Okay...it's not that I'm sensitive about joking around...I'm not, but I have also always been amazed at the people who actually think I can do that. Who's got that kind of balance? 

And, of course, the people who say it laugh so hard....like no one else had ever thought of that before. Little do they know, if I had a dime for every time someone said that to me, I could pay next month's mortgage. It's not original, it's not possible, it's not even funny. 

It rather disappoints me once someone has said that sentence to me.  And if any of you are amputees, you know exactly what I'm talking about....it's hard to laugh at that one a gazillion times, isn't it? Imagine how long it's been since I've heard something original.

Can I climb up steps?  Yes, and I am good at it. I was raised in a house for nine years with the bathroom at the top of fourteen steps. I got good. And my house that I used to have had two floors, plus a basement. That's where my laundry was done. And I carried them out and hang them on the clothesline because I love to hang out my clothes to dry.

Why would you want to have children and take the chance of bringing a child into the world that could be born like you?  And people have been even more rude than this. I look at it like this...if a child was born like me, and she was, then at least she would be healthy and live a normal life. I see where people don't have anything wrong with them and they produce children with horrible health problems. Anyone is capable of having a child with a birth defect. And if this is the worst that happens, how privileged I am, indeed. I can still do everything. 

I have lived a healthy, full life. And for those remarks that people have had the nerve to make to me, that's like saying that I didn't have a right to be born. 

A lot of people don't realize this, but they want to talk about the rights that were taken away from people, slavery, etc., and they don't even remember or know that babies born with birth defects were murdered right on the spot...and it still goes on today. In my own life-time I have been denied jobs and even a place to live, because of my legs. I have been denied friendships because other children didn't want to go through the taunting and teasing that I lived with daily. We are the forgotten minority. 

And also remember this....Hitler had normal legs and arms. Did that make HIM a better person? Did he have more of a right to live and possibly reproduce, just because his limbs were normal?

I have more to say on this particular subject....it's on the page 'Having Children'.

I'm sure there are lots of other questions, but I can't think of them at the moment. If any come to me I'll post them here.

 

'Things You May Not Have Thought Of Before'

 

Medications  I have to be very careful with medications...I don't have the circulatory system of a normal person. It doesn't take very much, or very long for medications. I usually take a half a pill of anything. I even remind my doctors that I weigh a lot less with my legs off so that they won't over-dose me.

Caffeine  This is a big problem area for me. A lot of things, like chocolate, some aspirin products, tea, have tons of caffeine in them. If I want to sleep, I can't touch it. I check everything for hidden caffeine, and I watch how late in the day it is before I say yes to drinking a soda. I talked to a recent amputee years ago who called me to tell me that since he lost his legs he couldn't sleep and that his ears seem to have more wax in them than before his accident. Then I gave him the ol' caffeine lecture. Caffeine speeds your system up...it's a stimulant. And now that he was a double amputee, he couldn't drink as much of it as before. It really does make that big of a difference. Trust me.

Exercise  This is something that I've never had to worry much about. Every move I make is an entire body exercise to me. These legs are very heavy. And to get around  with them, you can't help but to stay in pretty good shape. I have actually arm-wrestled men. I've won once or twice. I have a lot of strength in my body. However, because I am getting older and none of us are as active in our later years as in our youth, I have a little exercise routine I do just to keep my heart in good shape...it's good for me. But, you can't imagine how difficult it was for me to find things to do to tax my muscles, so they would be exercised, without bulking up like a weight-lifter. All of my muscles are very well defined...I have 'cuts' everywhere, without even trying. So, it would be easy for me to bulk too much, and I don't want to do that.

Where I am amputated  Back when I was under-going all these surgeries and experiments, etc., the doctors would save every possible inch of a person's leg(s). They amputated mine right at the knee...I still have the patella intact (knee cap). Now days they take your leg off about four inches below or above the knee....depending on the circumstances of the amputation. With the exception of my family, I don't even know another amputee with an amputation like mine.

Around the house  I keep a very clean house, by nature, but it's a good idea for me to keep up on it because of the obvious....trip hazards. Though it is extremely rare that I ever fall, I don't want to chance it. I keep things picked up and off of the floor. I can't feel things on the floor the same way as you, so I keep the path clear. I also keep all the counter tops in the bathroom and kitchen area dry. Should the inevitable happen and I do happen to slip, I might need to grab the counter top to keep from falling. I'd hate to rely on a dry counter and instead put my hand in some water or grease. You know I'll be going down then! I learned this little lesson when I was about ten years old. See...things you may never have thought about, huh?

Fashion  Though I have never been one to feel sorry for myself about being this way, this has to be my weak spot....fashion. I'm a woman, think about it. I can't wear high heels whatsoever. There are 'single' amputees who can, but when you're double, forget it. Besides, even the doubles who can, they are able to use their own knee. They are below- the-knee amputees...big difference. 

So, I was a child in the 60's and watched all the kids wear mini-skirts, and I couldn't. Same with fish-net stockings. And who can forget the 70's with the platform shoes. Just try to imagine what it was like to find flat heeled shoes back then. It was a nightmare. And I couldn't wear things that were too tight, because of my legs. We all know the importance of legs on a woman. Let's be realistic about this. I know what you want to say, and how it ought to be, but in the real world, think about it. I have been accepted for who I am, but no one can deny that I have been rather limited in the way of fashion, and that's a little bit of a weakness.  I have watched fashion change and be my worst nightmare, or my best friend. I have spent my entire life building a great wardrobe and finding out what I can wear that will never go out of style. Now I design and make my own clothes. Not a bad deal. I can get what I want, within reason, and it's an original!

I was 46 years old in January ....and I don't have my first gray hair, yet.  And it's not anything I'm doing deliberately to do this. For one thing, it's in the genes...I never saw a completely gray-headed woman in my family. And another thing, I have great circulation (now watch, something will happen to me tomorrow because I just typed that). Circulatory problems are what causes gray hair to begin with. As we age our circulation becomes poor. Oxygen and blood have a harder time making it to the hair follicle and it becomes gray. You can tell I've been to Cosmetology school, can't you? And, because I have a shorter circulatory system, my little hair follicles are still feasting pretty well. No, I don't mind getting gray hair...I'm just telling you I haven't gotten my first one yet.

UPDATE: I finally got my first gray hair at 49 years old.

These legs generate a lot of heat.  This is great in the winter....bad in the summer. I just have to be extra careful with out-door activities in the summer...don't want heat stroke. But in the winter, I'm good to go. I only seem to get real cold when I take my legs off at night. But I have an electric blanket that gets my bed warm. I'm spoiled rotten, that's all it is.

I'm hypersensitive  When it comes to people's reaction to me. I can tell immediately who is uncomfortable and who is at ease with me. I hate being the one to tell people about my legs....I hate seeing them feel uncomfortable, or mentally scan to see if they have said the word 'leg' in the last twenty minutes. I've seen it all.

For one thing, when I meet someone, I'm not thinking about my legs. Then, somewhere in the conversation I realize that they don't know. Now I have to tell them before something is done or said that embarrasses us both....like what a pebble in a shoe feels like, or they bump my leg and apologize, and realize that it sounded more like hitting an end table. Then I tell them and wait for things to run it's course. At first it has to register...then you see it dawn on them, then their entire face changes...and it's either pity, dread, embarrassment, humor, curiosity, fear, etc. I then go in for the recovery...trying to convince them that it's okay, and do my best to smooth things over. Once the ice has been broken it's not too bad, depending on the person. There are just some things I can't smooth over. That's when it becomes their problem.

Handicap parking  No, I don't always need it. It's nice when it rains, tho, I can't run. But the looks and stares I get from people.....I'm flattered that they don't think anything is wrong with me, but I've had some very rude remarks made to me, and I don't deserve it. I have actually parked in the handicap spaces, got out of my car, and because of the people staring at me, limped on purpose just so they would leave me alone. I spent my entire life learning to walk very well, just to have to end up walking with a deliberate limp so I can exercise my right to park somewhere. It's sad. Then I get in those moods where I say something......

 

~Notice ~

Because of all the 'fake' letters I receive from people who 'pretend' to need advice and discuss a supposed birth defect, I am no longer answering questions or letters from anyone.

You can thank the game-playing devotees for this.

Another thing I got tired of was spending my time writing back to people who 'ask' for help or advice and then I never hear from them again, not even so much as a thank you for the time and effort I spent in answering them. I am a very busy person and don't have time for the games or ungratefulness.

 

 

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