So yeah, I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping my artificial leg under wraps. I don’t feel nearly as compelled to hide it as I used to be, but there are still those in my daily life, particularly at work, who I’ve never raised the subject with. When they haven’t made any comment, I can only assume that they don’t know about ‘it’*.
One of the consequences of this charade – if you will – is that either the situation arises, or I develop a close enough relationship with someone, that I feel it’s necessary to tell them. Almost always, I feel apprehensive when this time comes.
It is rare that I get a good lead-in. I mean really, how often do any of us think to drop the question ‘any major childhood illnesses or artificial body parts we have yet to discuss?’ Since the topic is something that doesn’t naturally come up, I always feel like I’m raising it out of the blue. My default opening is ‘there’s something I want to tell you…’ Yeah, I know – I’m setting myself up for awkward out of the gate. I’m open to suggestions.
Then there’s the looming discomfort about what reaction my revelation is going to receive. Generally, these fall into one of three categories; The first is the “I know”. The second being the “oh…”, followed by a look of confusion, followed by awkward silence. I still don’t know how I’m supposed to dispel the tension.
The third category is the “…Really?” My favorite variation on this theme coming in the form of “you’re joking!”…which I can’t help but find entertaining. Who makes that joke?
(I have contemplated making that joke: “No shit. After I lost the limb in a freak shark accident, I put myself through grad school by contracting my leg to mule contraband. No border guard wants to touch it.”).
Sometimes what follows is a bit of Q & A. Other times the conversation moves on to a different topic. Generally, I don’t volunteer many details. I believe if someone is interested, they’ll ask.
I struggle. I am by nature quite introverted. Decades on, telling someone about my artificial leg still feels like I’m opening up a part of my life that I’m very private about… or was private about, until I began this blog.
*Do I say ‘it’ or ‘them’ as I’ve got more than one leg to wear?