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PARALYMPIC ATHLETES | JOSH SUNDQUIST
© WWW.JOSHSUNDQUIST.COM
READ "TOP TEN THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BEING A TEENAGER WITH ONE LEG." BY JOSH SUNDQUIST
READ THE BIOGRAPHY OF 19 YEAR OLD JOSH
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The Top Ten Things You Should Know About Being a Teenager with One Leg


By Josh Sundquist

10. You will have to make an important decision when you hit puberty
After I lost my leg to cancer at age nine, I was fitted with an artificial leg that had a covering which matched the skin tone of my real leg. Then puberty struck. Lower voice, hairy leg – all the stuff you learn about in health class. But for an amputee, it’s different. After one leg becomes hairy, people are left to assume that you must be shaving the other. Not good.
So I faced a choice: I could either shave my real leg so the hairlessness was at least balanced, or I could I take the rubber and foam covering off my artificial leg, exposing the steel and carbon fiber interior. I chose the latter.

9. You can hide things in your pants
My leg is amputated from the hip, so I don’t really have a stump like many amputees. Once, while considering how we might avoid paying exorbitant rates for movie theater drinks, my friends and I realized that a two-liter bottle of soda stuffed in the top of a pant leg bares a striking resemblance to a normal length stump. Security didn’t question it, and probably didn’t even notice it. Nothing like smuggling soda bottles to add a thrill to your day.

8. Dancing can be awkward
This is a classic lose/lose situation. If you wear the artificial leg, you’ll step on girls’ feet. If you go legless, the crutches will swing wildly like some kind of primitive ninja weapon. It’s dangerous, plain and simple.

7. Swimming is tricky
When you swim with one leg, you don’t swim laps – you swim circles. If you think I’m kidding, try it for yourself.

6. You can have fun conversations in Wal-Mart
Whenever I go to Wal-Mart (or any place with lots of people), I’ll be walking along, and inevitably kids start staring. Then the kid will make some subtle remark like “MOMMY THAT BOY’S LEG FELL OFF!” At this point, the parent grabs the nearest piece of merchandise and starts beating their child and scolding them for their rudeness. By now the kid is usually crying. Sometimes, if they are particularly unsusceptible to beatings, they’ll try to stick their head up in my shorts in a search for my leg. Other times they just cut back to the question:
“What happened to your leg?”
“I had cancer. Do you know what that is?”
“No.”
“Well, my leg was sick, and the doctors had to cut it off.”
Sometimes, though, I get bored of this conversation. So I switch it up a little:
“What happened to your leg?”
[dramatic pause]
“Kid, you ever heard of Jaws?”

5. You will set off metal detectors
This is a guarantee when I’m wearing the leg. Usually they’ll just run the wand over my body and let me go. But once when I was flying out of Seattle, I was escorted by security to a back room for a “private search.” Let this be a warning: If a security guard ever asks you to join them in the back room for a “private search,” leave immediately. Cancel your flight and just walk to the destination. If your stump gets too sore just start hopping. Believe me, the time you save on the plane is not worth the atrocities of a “private search.”
On the other hand, sometimes security can be quite lax. This was the case when I went to the White House to meet Bill Clinton in 1996. After I set off the metal detector alarm, I told the guard I had an artificial leg under my pants and he just waved me through – no wand, no questions. No wonder we’re trying to increase security.

4. Go to the guess-your-weight booths at amusement parks
As it turns out, the guessers are not trained to incorporate the weight of missing body parts in their guess. (Hint to Six-Flags and Disneyworld: A leg is 18% of your body weight).

3. It’s fun to put your artificial leg in sleeping bags, on toilets and hanging out the trunk of your car
Enough said.

2. You can say goodbye to pairing socks when you do laundry
Come to think of it, I never really paired my socks before I lost my leg. At least now I don’t feel guilty about it.

1. Lightening can’t kill the one legged man
As it turns out, electricity can’t harm you unless it flows in a circuit. Normally this means in one leg and out the other. But when you are wearing an artificial leg or crutches, both of which have rubber on the bottom in the form of an artificial foot or crutch tips, the electricity can’t form a circuit and thus you are safe.*
*A note to would be Ben Franklins and pyrotechnic daredevils: Don’t try this at home, or worse, in the middle of a large field during a thunderstorm. Even though my high school physics teacher agreed with the theory, neither he nor I would bet our lives on it. (Pardon the pun).

© 2003, Joshua Sundquist, All Rights Reserved

 

DISABILITY BOOKS

"AMPUTEE IDENTITY DISORDER", "LIFE ON WHEELS - FOR THE ACTIVE WHEELCHAIR USER", "AMPUTATIONS AND PROSTHETICS" - FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SOME OF THE BEST TITLES REGARDING DISABILITY, AMPUTATION AND THE PROCESS OF REHABILITATION.

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