Being an Upper Extremity Amputee and a Candidate for a Hand Transplant

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This isn’t a geek topic, however it is this geek’s topic.

Being an upper extremity amputee means there are challenges in everyday life doing things that most people take forgranted such as washing dishes tying your shoes or even driving a car. There are many things that I am just unable to do because they honestly require the use of two hands (just try cutting a steak one handed)

The things that I am unable to do are the least of my worries though, because becoming an amputee by traumatic accident also means phantom pain.

If you have never heard of phantom pain this is what it is and what it entails: phantom pain is not a physical pain although it feels like it, when you are born your brain is programmed with the ability to recognize your body as a whole and has the ability to send signals to every part of your body and receive information back in return.

After amputation by traumatic accident your brain still has a complete image of your body even though your body is no longer whole, the result is your brain sending signals to a part of your body that no longer exists and those signals bounce back to your brain, these bounce backs confuse your brain and the only way your brain can understand them is by interpreting them as pain which is why phantom pain is considered a neurological disorder.

Phantom pain can be as simple as feeling like your amputated extremity fell asleep, you know that little pins and needles feeling that everyone has had at least once in their lives.
That however is at the best of times, at it’s worst phantom pain can make you feel like you have the worst itch you have ever felt in your life, with no way to scratch it because it doesn’t truly exist.

Phantom pain can also cause pain so extreme that it feels as though your amputated extremity is being crushed or on fire sometimes even both at the same time.

Pain that doesn’t truly exist can make it feel as though it is impossible to go on, but there is no choice you must go on you have a life to live and you have to live it.

There are other things related to being an amputee that are a little harder to describe, but I will do my best to try.

The first thing is the reaction, what I mean by the reaction is what people do when they see you. For me this has ranged from the very polite “May I ask what happened to your arm?” which I am always happy to answer, to the not so polite “Oh my GOD, what the F@#%* happened to your arm?” which I am equally happy to reply to, the person however may not be too happy to hear my answer.

There have been times when I’ve been discriminated against without have been given a chance to even try “I don’t know if I should hire you, I don’t think you could do this job” is the one that stung the most.

There are also times that I’ve felt more love and compassion from people than I ever have in my entire life.

The most exciting thing that has happened recently is my candidacy for a hand transplant, after 7 years of being an amputee and trying to live my life the best way I can one procedure would have the ability to change everything.

A hand transplant would end not only the grieving for my lost limb but the phantom pain as well. It would mean I would once again be able to be self reliant and do everything on my own, not that I can’t accept help from others it’s just different when you have no choice in the matter. A hand transplant would also mean that I could go back to school and back to work allowing me to be off of disability and allowing me to once again become a productive member of society. This is what I want in the bottom of my heart and soul.

I want more than anything to feel complete once again, to have both hands to touch with, to feel with, to be able to do every day tasks with. This is my dream.

Dreams can be a wonderful thing being a dreamer IS a wonderful thing.

I dream of one day being able to walk down the street with my husband and my son and holding both of their hands.


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