April has officially been dubbed "Limb Loss Awareness Month" (thanks, Barack), but for those who were simply born with a limb difference, this month can be somewhat confusing and insignificant.
In an effort to include all amputees (congenital and trauma alike), The Lucky Fin Project has chosen to use the term "Limb Difference Awareness Month," which to me is a more fitting title.
Whether you were born with a limb difference, or lost a limb, there's still a great opportunity for both parties to educate and inform the misinformed. Here's an interesting fact:
“More than 2 million Americans live with limb loss, and that number grows by 185,000 each year,” said Susan Stout, Amputee Coalition president & CEO.
Am I An Amputee, Though?
When I first started modeling, I always referred to myself as the 'amputee model' (Bionic Model wasn't a thing yet). Ultimately, that confused a lot of people who sincerely believed that people born with a limb difference aren't, in fact, amputees.
Sure, I didn't lose a limb due to trauma, illness or surgery, but I still consider myself an amputee. I think of the word 'amputee' as a very vague and broad term. We can go with the phrase "congenital amputee" if that makes a difference to anyone, because after all, I'm still missing a limb.
I proudly wear my Touch Bionics ilimb quantum. It's something that not only gives me character, but it also opens up numerous opportunities to educate people about limb differences.
Let's get one thing straight, I wasn't always a fan of prosthetic arms. I love you, Shriners, but I cringed when my parents insisted that I use my mechanical arm as a child.
A prosthesis is not for everyone, and I hate when parents think it's the answer for their limb different kids. It's not. I made the decision, as an adult (22), to get fitted for a prosthetic hand, and I use it more knowing it was a decision I made.
I think prosthetic hands are extremely useful, and I absolutely love my ilimb quantum. But at the end of the day, it's a matter of preference.