Never Judge a Book by Its Cover, By Emerald Kehler

Emerald KehlerDifferences- what’s the big deal? Everyone has them, and no one in this world is exactly like you. Some people have more visible differences, I am one of those people and this is my story. I was born missing my right arm just below the elbow, but since the day I was born I was a fighter and beat the odds even though life was never fair, or easy.

My first prosthetic appointment was when I was six months old for a crawling arm, it was to help me so I wasn’t all twisted trying to crawl with the unequal length of my arms. When I finally got my arm every time my mom turned around my arm was off, and I was going to get into trouble somewhere I always seemed to find trouble somewhere somehow. After a lot of fighting with me my mom gave in and just let me do things my way. I was always expected to do the same things a regular child should do and was pushed to achieve everything that I possibly could, and I did just that. I started wearing my sports prosthetic in grade four when I picked up hockey, but I still didn’t feel the need to wear an everyday one, in grade six I started wearing my everyday one every once in a while and in grade nine I wore it full time an still do.

I believe that prosthetics are a big part of many amputees lives, because they make us just a bit more normal, so society can handle our unusual differences just a bit better.  Prosthetics are a hassle compared to a regular arm. People don’t realize amputees have to make twice the effort as a “regular” person, so simple tasks can make us very tired.   Also, when people get their hands dirty they use soap and water to get whatever it is off, but when we get our gloves on the prosthetic dirty which happens very easily, it is very hard to get off and never comes completely clean things like ink, lead, and paint don’t come off and when the glove gets dirty enough we have to send our arm to the prosthetic doctors so they can put a new one on for us. Another hassle is when you break a finger you get a cast it heals, but when we break a finger on our prosthetic we have to send it away to get fixed leaving us without a prosthetic for a period of time, and you stand there thinking, “I really should really stop doing that, that’s three times this year!” Also, when you age, everything grows and matures with you at the same time.   As I grew up, I ended up with one long arm and one short!  So, it was back to the prosthetic doctor AGAIN! As a result, I am usually at my prosthetic doctor once a year if all is well.  However, if something happens unexpectedly I could be going back and forth for months because they have to order parts from other countries to fix my prosthetic properly. These are only a few of the hassles between real arms and prosthetic ones.

Beyond the physical, there is of course the emotional impact.  Sometimes wearing a prosthetic is embarrassing when people constantly stop and stare, or whisper to the next person.  It makes me feel like I’m under a microscope — I feel like such a freak! And then you get the people who will come right up to my face and mock or make rude gestures while everyone stands around, while others choose to not defend and just watch the humiliation unfold. All these things can make me a stronger person, but admittedly it can also tear me down. However, thanks to a loving family and amazing friends, I always make it through all the judgment.

Differences what differences?

Never judge a book by its cover— you may be shocked to see what it’s really all about.


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