The answers make me uncomfortable: “Oh no”, “I’m sorry”, “I’m sure you are very strong.”
With dating apps, I don’t want them to take into account that I have this strength. I don’t want to talk about chemotherapy. I really need to be in the mood to talk about it. In the apps, I just want to know if we can go out for dinner or a drink on Friday evening.
When I think of Rob I know I dodged a bullet, but I also wonder what would have happened if we’d seen each other if I hadn’t mentioned my leg. My friends tell me right away that it wasn’t for me and they are right. However, would it have been a good thing to see us? Maybe.
I doubt Rob has ever dated an amputee before. I suppose men who haven’t met amputees have their opinions on what dating is all about. Many have prejudices about women who look like me: They see us as potential friends, but not as potential friends.
If I hadn’t mentioned the leg, Rob and I would have met for dinner. On his arrival he might have been surprised by my limp when he noticed my prosthesis. Maybe he wouldn’t have liked it either. But he would have had no choice but to talk to me and let me in as a real person for at least a moment. And I would have hoped that from that night on, when Rob saw another woman with an amputation, he could no longer escape unfounded and misconceptions and generalizations about who we are.
I should have given this idea a face. Maybe I would have remembered the night and thought about it, and maybe I would have come to consider how little it meant then. Even if nothing had happened to me after that, it would have been valuable if I could just humanize the abstraction. Aren’t there changes individually? After all, there have been a lot of Robs in my life.
Rob doesn’t know and never will know that as a medical student I walk 16 hours a day with a prosthesis that comes down from above the knee. You don’t know that I swim twice a week, that I am part of an adaptive climbing group, that I ski with one leg and go dancing on the weekends.
Little do they know that I am a summer camp counselor for teenagers with amputations or that I am planning educational events on missing limbs across the country. They don’t know that I don’t mind showing my prosthesis in public, that I take care of my body proactively and that I travel independently.
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