Today someone posted an article 10 Most Inspirational Athletes With Prosthetic Limbs to the Fibular Hemimelia and Limb Lengthening Awareness Facebook group. These are amazing examples of what hard work and a little technology can do (or in some cases no technology). They are all very impressive.
Personally though I am more inspired by the videos of children with standard prosthesis learning to walk and living their lives. Or kids with fh whose parents chose lengthening doing the same. I guess I feel like there is an over emphasis on athletics in the limb difference world. On both sides to an extent. This is not an attack on anyone for sharing these stories with me or in our group (they’ve been arriving in my inbox for years). Some of those athletes have inspired me too. Amy Mullins in particular, but not because she is a gorgeous model and athlete… it was her TED videos that I have shared on this blog. Because it’s how she thinks about differences and how she inspires others to think differently that inspires me.
Will my child’s overcoming a limb difference be less inspiring because he’s not an athlete? I don’t think it has been so far, but so many people ask if he can play sports. It’s the first thing that’s often asked and I don’t get it! I guess I do get it to an extent, at least when it’s parents of a child with fh who ask. They want to know that if they choose lengthening their child will not have limits. But doesn’t every child have limits? Not everyone is athletic. Not every family can afford all those organized sports. Not every kid wants to do it anyway.
Look if athletics was my first priority I suppose I would have chosen amputation for Nick. Preserving his own functioning leg was more important to me. Yesterday Nick spent 3 hours outside walking and playing! That’s the stuff I wanted for him when he was a new baby and I didn’t know what the future would hold.
Does Nicholas need to be an athlete for his treatment to be considered successful? Is he less awesome if he is not an athlete? Nick just started swimming lessons. He already knows how to swim but he is learning the strokes and such. He loves it and has already mentioned the possibility of joining our local swim team. I am excited that he wants to do this, I will support him and cheer him on, but it’s because it’s a healthy activity and it makes him happy. Not because I want him to be an athlete or to be able to say that my kid is an athlete.
What about the children who could not possibly ever climb a rock wall or kick a soccer ball? Some children’s bodies come with limits that in the physical sense can’t be overcome. Are they less important or less inspiring? I don’t think so.
What message are we sending when we put athletes on pedestals over and over again and what’s the price?