Born As An Amputee
My name is Diane. I'm 45 years old. I am the oldest of 3 and the only one born with a disability within the family. When I was born back in 1972 the technology of sonograms weren't available. So to everyone's surprise out I came without my lower limbs....yes I was born an amputee. Not knowing my fate, doctors insisted my parents have a priest come to baptize and give me my last rites, because we are Catholic. Doctors performed all kinds of tests and the results were the same...we found nothing and everything came out fine. We have never seen a case like this and don't understand how such a thing can happen. Five days later both me and mom were being discharged. With fear in her stomach, mind full of stress and a heart filled with love we were on our own to figure out how I would make it.
One day after being fitted for my arm prosthetics someone saw how sad mom was. She told her that sometimes when parents are faced with an abnormal child the best way to move on and not think so much about it is to have another child. Being that there aren't any disabled people on either side of my parents generations this kind of thing happening again wasn't likely. My mom went home continued crying and heart breaking daily decided to take the advice of the individual at the hospital. A year later mom and dad were expecting their second child. To there surprise...TWINS. Yup, mom had fraternal twins...a girl and boy. Now 23 years old mom would have 3 children under a year and one with a physical disability. Mom elated with love and joy about having 2 healthy babies but .....TWO. Panic struck. Feared she wouldn't be able to handle 3 babies alone all day and all night but still a glimpse of hope that the tears and sadness would finally come to an end.
How I learned to be independent despite being an amputee
As time went on mom got her routines down and found depression was a thing of her past. The individual at the hospital was right and mom found it was the best advice she'd ever gotten. As I got older and school was in my near future it was time to figure out how that was going to happen.....Not many public schools in a 10 mile radius of my home accepted children with disabilities. On a big yellow bus I found myself each day at 7am making rounds picking up other disabled children who were attending the same elementary school I was. For the next 6 years I'd be put on a yellow bus at 7am to arrive at school for 9:00am and not return home until 4:00pm. Yup, I was the first one picked up in the morning and the last dropped off. I would be spending 3.5 hours traveling to and from school 5 days a week for the next 6 years!!!
Just when mom had her routine down school puts a monkey wrench into it. She now was going to be faced with getting me up and ready for 7am. Thankfully my siblings had another year before starting school. Mom found herself having to wake up at 4:30am. She'd wash up, get dressed and at 5:00am off to wake me, wash my face, brush my teeth, dress me, fix my hair, feed me breakfast, make my lunch, carry me and my wheelchair up 8 steps and on the bus I went. That's right...an hour and half every day to get me ready for the day...crazy right?? As my first school year came to an end mom had to figure out how to get 3 kids out of the house by 7:30am.
Mom quickly realized it took too much time getting me ready and was time I needed to figure out how to do that ON MY OWN... Yikes!!! One Saturday morning mom set her alarm for 7am and woke me up. As I sat up in my bed I saw my clothes laid out beside me. Confused, I asked why I was going to school today? Mom said no school but you will be learning something more valuable that school cannot teach you... confused yet again...mom said you'll stay in this bed until you are fully dressed and do not call me to get you until you've completed this task. Panic stricken I did the only thing that made sense... CRIED!!! An hour passed and I knew mom wasn't fooling around and if I wanted to start my day and eat I'd have to figure something out.
Making Dreams Come True
My life went on, I continued learning and as I grew so did my independence. As a teen I was quite popular. I went on to finish high school, graduated college with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, and furthered my education going to graduate school studying Rehabilitation Counseling and getting certified as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor. I dated, I had a career as a Counselor working with mentally ill adults, I drove my own car and just when I couldn't be happier...or so I thought...my heart found its other half making me whole. My disability never stopped men from dating me or in this one particular case...asking me to marry him. I WAS GETTING MARRIED!!!
I met my now husband at the end of 1997 and we were married in 2000. Wait for it...on Friday the 13th...yup you read correctly. The best day of my life...until we had our first child. As we made plans for the big day, venues, dresses, guests, food, transportation, flowers, but wait what about me? I'd never dreamed about my wedding day like most little girls but I have dreamt about being able to dance with my dad. I've seen my parents dance throughout the years. I've seen my sister dance with our dad at her sweet 16 and other family events and I've always wanted to. So now would be the only chance I'd have and I would find a way to do just that!! With most of the planning set I began thinking about my gown, going down the aisle, being in front of the church, my first dance with my husband. How was I going to make these things happen? Cause I will make them all happen...but HOW?
I knew I was NOT going down the aisle in my wheelchair. I knew I couldn't walk because I stand 3 feet 9 inches and my husband 5 and a half feet tall...too awkward!! I began doing my research on braces for my legs... yup going back...but with a twist. I was going to walk down the aisle at least 4 feet tall and without crutches cause that's how my dreams went. I found a wonderful prosthetic company upstate about 2.5-3 hours away from my hometown. That's right!! My fiancé and I traveled twice a week for 9 months to practice. My therapists thought I was completely nuts. I was basically learning and training to walk on stilts if you will and yes I was only a foot shorter then my fiancé with them on. I was going to do this no matter what!! Only people who knew about my prosthetics were our parents, my siblings, and my maid of honor. Everyone else was going to find out on the wedding day. I couldn't wait. The day finally came and oh boy was dad nervous. He filled his tuxedo pockets with Allen wrenches, nuts and bolts "in case" something happened. You see dad could fix and build anything. Instead of this being a happy ball of nerves Everyone who knew was so nervous for me. No need folks...I GOT THIS!!
The prosthetics were long and heavy. My gown was long and heavy, but my dream of dancing with my dad was going to come true. My thoughts of walking down the aisle and having my first dance with my husband was going to come true. On this Friday the 13th in 2000 was going to be a day DREAMS COME TRUE!!! I had 204 people in complete shock, not a dry eye in the place...literally. I DID IT. I MADE IT through without any issues. A day I'd never ever forget. I danced, I walked around greeting and thanking all of our guests, it was wonderful and I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to take off these prosthetics and I never wore them again. Even years later I found that I'm so much more comfortable and independent with my own parts. But on that day my dreams came true and I'd do it all over again if I had to.
I'm as independent as they come
I'm able to care for myself in terms of dressing, showering, doing my hair and make up. I love to cook and prepare all of the meals for my family and I'm able to feed myself, I drive, write, and lots more. I was blessed to find an extraordinary man who was made just for me 🤗 and together we were blessed with 2 beautiful gifts from god. I carried both children full term and delivered both C-Section. As a young teen I was given 2 opportunities to have surgeries of all four limbs and at the time my parents allowed me to decide because it was something that would effect me forever. There were no guarantees that it would be successful and there would be years of therapy and rehabilitation. I opted out. I felt very comfortable in how I came into this world. I knew I'd one day live a wonderful life because I knew all I was capable of. I found with the body I was given I was able to do so much more with what I had and I did. I dated, went to bars and clubs, graduated with a Masters Degree in Rehab Counseling and I'm certified in ASAC. I found the love of my life, left my job to be a stay at home mom, and have a wonderful family and I WOULDN'T CHANGE A THING 🙏🏼
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