Unintentional Stumbling Blocks

I saw a post today on some social media platform group that is for amputees where an above knee amputee proceeded to state that he walks better with his above knee (AK) amputation than most the below knee (BK) amputees he sees, so what is their excuse that they’re not out there using their knees because their lives are so much easier than his.

Now… I know most of us see BS like this on the internet all the time and most of the time we say a whole not of nothing. There’s this miraculous stigma we have built inside ourselves that disagreeing on the internet makes us a social justice warrior or makes us wrong somehow. We should be mature enough to just let that stuff go, right?

I couldn’t let go. Not today, anyway, and here is why:

There is a huge difference between disagreeing with someone’s politics, religion, or lifestyle choices by getting into a kerfuffle and with being a bully whether it is intentional or not.

This amputee forum is open to amputees from all over the world to get support, information, share stories, and be understood. People come to this place to be understood. To say, “hey, I walked today for the first time,” and, “I don’t know what to do when my stump looks like this (insert picture).” They come to be understood and to understand others. Most of the time, people are very kind and encouraging, recognizing that we are all on different paths on this journey, reminding one another that we cannot compare ourselves to others on the same path and that we just need to focus on being a little bit better in our today than our yesterday. It is a powerful place for many because many of the people in that forum don’t know another amputee in real life beyond who they see in passing at a doctor’s office.

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last 6 years of my life living in the world of amputees. My husband became an amputee in combat 4 months after we were married. We lived in or within minutes of hospitals ostensibly for 3 years for him and his recovery, hospitals full of hundreds of others like him, including being with other men from his unit who had deployed with him and come back as amputees as well. I remember walking into our living room one morning to see 7 or 8 amputees passed out all over the floor looking like a Tetris game because they were all visiting where we were. Every one of them a friend of my husband who had deployed and come home an amputee within months or weeks of his injury. I spent those years watching people struggle with the varying physical changes, complications, and issues that come with becoming limbless on top of the mental and emotional struggles they have battled to keep themselves sane, to accept what their body is now, and to keep from swallowing a 45 caliber bullet. Then it was my turn and I had to go through the same mental battles they did before I ever even got to the operating room.

I’ve seen others struggle with their journey and I’ve struggled myself, so when this man proceeded to spew judgments that push those who are facing a tougher physical or mental battle than his farther back into the darkness, I couldn’t stay silent.

You know what feels good about being an AK?

I walk better NOW, than most people I see walking with BK amputations.

Trust me, it is 100x harder being an AK.

At that point there’s not really an excuse… you guys still have a knee. Put that thing TO USE!


This post is in no way meant to make anyone feel bad. It’s about not having an excuse. Our mind is what sets us back. Once you understand and truly believe in that, you’ll see some MAJOR changes in your physical, as well as mental mindset.

And on a side note… Sometimes a bit of competition is healthy.

Everyone is not on a straightforward journey and everyone is does not have simple, straightforward cases for their amputation and recovery.

LOL, I’ve seen amputees with cancer do it, so why can’t you?

Why can’t I do what you’ve seen cancer patients do?! Because cancer isn’t as rare as what I have. The medical journey that necessitated my amputation is fare more complicated than an accident, an IED, cancer, diabetes, or any of the other causes I’ve seen for amputation. I have a case that appears in 1/17,000,000ths of 1% of the world’s population.

I think you can do anything if you put your mind to it. But if you let your mind defeat you than that is on you.

You’re right. I’ll just put my mind to it and it will become a nonissue! Phew!!! I feel so much better now that I put my mind to it. You were so right. Where were you when I needed you to tell me to put my mind to it so I wouldn’t have to get this amputation? I bet if I put my mind to it I can grow this fucker back too!!!

I wasn’t speaking on situations like yours. But to an extent what I’m saying is true.

Sitting around, throwing a pity party has never been my style.

Right now I’m trying to become a super fit amputee. I do HIIT workouts, jumping jacks, pushups, lift weights, squats, everything. I thought FOR SURE I wouldn’t be able to do that, let alone stand up on my leg, but now look at me.

Almost have a 6 pack.

An excuse is an excuse.

You don’t get it:

Making blanket judgments and statements like you keep making is offensive because you never know what the journey that another amputee is on is like.

Do we all have to fight that mental battle? Sure.

But to try and shame people without knowing their journey doesn’t take away from the mental battle they face. It only adds to it. What about the amputees who read what you wrote who went to their rooms to feel shame because your words convinced them that the problem with their recovery and their journey is just that they’re not trying hard enough and are making excuses?

Do you want to be the kind of human who pushes people to feeling like giving up?


Are you joking me? I mean, I understand, as far as YOUR sickness, but damn… 


Judgment pushes people to their breaking point.

I will not just scroll past on such a post without saying something so that the person who has a struggle that we do not know of knows that not everyone here agrees that if they’re not making the progress they want or the progress that you think they should that they must be making excuses and being lazy.

The kind of attitude that makes such statements pushes people who are struggling down.

It does not lift them up.

It does not motivate.

It does not inspire.

You see, as a writer I know how powerful words are:

Words create worlds. Words can tear them down. Words can bring life to someone who was on the verge of giving up… Or they can push them over the edge of the precipice. Why do these words I’m writing sound so familiar? Oh wait… I just wrote about this exact thing the other day! Words can cause others to step more lightly or can become a stumbling block before others.

Look… In this world, you have two choices when you see wrong happening:

Do something

Do nothing

Doing something means you disagree with the wrong being done.

Doing nothing doesn’t mean you agree that it is right but it also doesn’t mean you agree that it is wrong either.

We try to teach our children to stand up to bullies and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. So why, adults, don’t we do it ourselves?

There are truly wrong and evil things in this world that we as individuals have the power to impact. There are truly wrong and evil things in this world that we do not have the power to impact on our own as well.

I can’t stop female genital mutilation. It is not within my power to do so.

I cannot end child forced marriage or arranged marriage.

I can’t stop human trafficking.

I can’t change how many children are detained at the boarders right now and whether they are being trafficked or not.

I can’t change whether the children I tutor weekly go home to have dinner or not or whether they are beaten or neglected at home.

I can’t stop racism no matter what the source.

I can’t stop violence against our first responders or black-on-black crime in places like

I can’t stop drug cartels and abuse behind closed doors.

I can’t free all those who are oppressed from the oppression they face whether they are here in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

What I can do is support those who are able to fight against those things I’ve just mentioned.

I can choose not to get bogged down into political mind-games, fault finding, and finger pointing to focus on issues that impact more than just myself and my friends.

And I can stand up to bullies when I see them.

I can advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

I can use my words to build up instead of tear down,

And I can use them to inform, entertain, motivate, and inspire.

I can open my eyes to the ugly truths around me whether they are in my friends and family or whether they are in the world,

And I can choose to help those I can rather than believing the beautiful lies that are projected to the world no matter who is doing the projection.

I can choose to unite with those who are fighting evil even if the person fighting that evil is someone with whom I would not choose to build a friendship with in my personal life.

I can choose to unite against evil, injustice, and those who truly do wrong in this world at whatever level I am able to… Even if that means sometimes using my words to speak a hard or ugly truth.

Could I have scrolled past that ugly post today and pretended I didn’t see it?


But what if my clapping-back made the difference to someone else giving up or choosing to fight another day?

One thought on “Unintentional Stumbling Blocks

Add yours

  1. Yeah! My hero. You are correct, everyone’s journey is so different. One word can make them fall or stumble. How badly is up to the person who speaks out as a bully. Your words will help lots of people in all types of walks of life. They give hope and strength. Thank you. Life can be a tough road. Bless you. Aunt Joan🌹

    Liked by 2 people

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