Two Blogs – A Different Kind of ‘Gear’

Lately I’ve been reading two blogs that each offer an unusual glimpse into an experience with disability. A great majority of the thousands (millions?) of blogs on the Internet deal with the ins and outs of everyday life. These personal blogs are a long-standing tradition (as long-standing, at least, as things go in cyberspace), and certainly have their place. The two blogs under discussion today, though, have a much narrower focus.

Each one deals with a specific experience, and sticks closely to the topic at hand. Each has a great deal of practical information to offer others who are going through similar experiences. I think they’re good enough to be considered ‘gear’ — part of the tool kit that makes life work — as it’s loosely define it here at GearAbility.

Image of a High-Tech Prosthetic FootSteve Kurzman’s blog My New Leg details the process he’s going through as he replaces and adapts to a new prosthetic leg. As of today, Steve is the only contributor, but he’s put out a call for contributions from others who can write about any of the following:

  • your recent or upcoming amputation or surgical procedure,
  • getting your first prosthesis, or a “new leg”,
  • trying out new feet, knees, or other components,
  • learning how to work well with your prosthetist,
  • your ongoing thoughts about your amputation, prosthesis, and what it all means,
  • or your own idea — let me know!

Limb is potentially a great resource particularly for anyone facing the daunting process of acquiring and fitting a prosthetic device for the first time. Steve’s posts do a fine job of emphasizing the importance of a constructive collaboration between prosthetist and the person who wears the prosthesis, and he offers some useful tips about how to get the job done most effectively.

Image of Han with a ScarfHannah Millington’s Diary is a different kind of animal. Early in 2007, at the age of 25, Hannah was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in one leg. Her diary is an unsparing account of the treatment process she’s been undergoing ever since. Hannah is rather an irrepressible spirit, kind of an ‘everyperson’ with a lot of spunk, but she pulls no punches when treatment is tough. Her posts are a great antidote to the sterile descriptions of chemotherapy; it’s helpful to know that you might experience hair loss and nausea, for example, but Hannah’s openness gives a much better idea of what these side effects actually mean in one person’s life.

Here’s part of an entry from March 12, 2007:

A much better day and no sickness….hooray!! I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until this evening but have felt a LOT brighter today, even managing three proper meals and a few phone calls! I knew it wouldn’t take long until I was up for a gossip! . . . I’m definitely looking more pale and withdrawn and noticed last night when I had a bath that quite a lot of hair came out and it’s starting to feel very fine. To be honest, I couldn’t care less now, I’m prepared for it and as long as it means the chemotherapy is working then sod it!! If Britney Spears can do it, I’m sure I can… bald is IN!!!

The posts aren’t always quite this cheery, and when things get really rough, Hannah’s fiance Gareth (also known as “Gaz”) updates the site. It’s not always a pretty picture — sometimes there are some literally not-pretty pictures (Gaz took some heat for posting a particularly colorful ulcer) — but if I ever face similar circumstances, I’ll feel much better prepared because Hannah chose to share this chapter of her life with a host of people she’ll never meet.