I have received a lot of positive feedback from my post dated December 12, "Yes, I'm Talking About Sex." I appreciate everybody sharing their stories with me. I know that opening up about such a delicate issue is difficult. It seems that regardless of the location of limb loss, one common factor remains: issues surrounding intimacy.
I was surprised how many amputees shared their feelings of embarrassment concerning their residual limb. In particular, it seems that many of us have issues looking at our newly shaped limbs. I suppose when somebody feels that a particular part of their body is ugly or grotesque, it is difficult to be completely relaxed and comfortable during intimacy. At least, I have found it to be true.
My amputation occurred over 6 years ago. I look at my stump every day. Every evening I examine the limb for abrasions or sores in an attempt to avoid an infection. When I am looking at my stump, I find that I turn off my emotions. I concentrate on my purpose and avoid thinking about what I am doing. In a sense, I guess I look at my stump, but I avoid really seeing it.
On the rare occasion that I allow my emotions to intervene and I see my stump, I become self-conscious and sad. I appreciate that my limb is healthy and functional. I hesitate to admit this, but I still think that my residual limb is ugly. It has an odd shape, strange bumps and is covered with hair. For me, it is not a vision of beauty!
I used to believe that acceptance of my amputation would necessitate at the very least neutral feelings concerning its visual appeal. I have given up on that notion. I continue to feel that my stump is unattractive, I have evolved into a well-adjusted, happy and in many ways, a thriving amputee woman. It has been a relief to learn that adjustment to my amputation and a visual acceptance are not necessarily correlated.
I don't like having my stump touched. In addition to being ugly, it has pockets of nerve bundles which have created sensitive spots. I prefer that the limb be ignored when uncovered which includes during intimacy. In many ways my stump has become a non-entity during intercourse.
I have learned to function with my limb and appreciate its value while ignoring the its unsightliness. Sometimes emotions sneak up on me, and I find myself staring at my stump. I start to feel grotesque. Usually Robby and Scott will come into the room, and I am distracted from my wallowing. I put on my leg and I shake off "the uglies" and keep going. It is the only coping mechanism that seems to work for me.