My next interview is with Alicia. I got in touch with her on Fetlife, a site dedicated largely to BDSM lifestyle, but it has an amputee & devotee community as well, with a number of amputees participating. Alicia will refer to “Fet” in this interview. She’s 28, from California, and she’s a right leg above the knee amputee (the featuring pic was shot in a mirror). Alicia is single and describes herself as heteroflexible.
How long have you been an amputee?
“11 years currently. I’ll be 12 years as an amputee on July 29th of 2016.”
How did you lose your leg?
“I was diagnosed with stage 4 Osteogenic Sarcoma, which is adolescent bone cancer. The main demographic to have this type of cancer is usually white males aged 18-25. I was under that age range, I was female and I’m only half white, so needless to say I was a rare case.
I also had two doctor’s opinions: one to save my leg with a higher recurrence of cancer, or amputate with a lesser chance of recurrence. I chose amputation in hopes that it would lessen my chances of dying. But I really thought I was going to die, so – as a 17 year old – I didn’t think of how being an amputee would affect me after that point.”
How did the amputation change your life?
“I always tell everyone that being an amputee is a double edged sword. There’s been good in my life because I’m an amputee, but there has been plenty of bad, and in most cases, bad wins out over good because I live in a city that glamorizes people like the Kardashians, and amputees are only ever seen as the butt of a joke in a movie or a fucking zombie victim (Los Angeles, am I right?).
Before my amputation, I already had a lot of adversity family wise and self-esteem wise as well, and the illness and amputation only exacerbated that. Yes, I did choose to have my leg amputated to have a greater survival rate but in all honesty, I thought the cancer would kill me, so what would it matter if my leg was gone, right?
At 16 years old, I made a véry adult decision not thinking how it would affect an adult Alicia, because I didn’t think there would be an adult Alicia.
I’ve been an amputee for over 11 years now, and I still battle with the fact that I could have saved my leg and maybe not be jaded about my body and life in general…but then again I could have died too either way. I constantly battle with ‘WHAT IF I had just…?’.
I am clinically depressed and have anxiety attacks because of my amputation, and how I’m treated by others because of it. I have a hard time trusting now, because pretty much all my relationships have failed due to my amputation and because my own biological father used my amputation and illness for his own personal gain, as an excuse to get out of the Iraqi war and be deployed home. And then he never made his way to see me once he got stateside.
How does one recover from something like that? Literally every boyfriend I’ve ever had has either left me because their parents convinced them that they could do better than a ‘crippled girl’, or that I’d die on them so why invest in me. Some of them cheated on their way out of my life. How do you trust after 11 years of this?
Let’s not forget all the job discrimination I’ve dealt with in California as well. Being disabled in this state equates to mental incapacity apparently. How could a girl in a chair sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and type? Seems impossible to companies apparently, but not to me, someone who is more than willing to take a job that some two-legged snob would turn down for $15 an hour…just saying.
The bad I can rabble on about forever, but there have been positives too, and that’s where I struggle most.
The healthy part of me knows that there’s nothing wrong with me, or my body, or being an amputee, because of all the good I’ve had and seen. But the unhealthy part of me doesn’t register that as enough. All it sees is that I’m not a whole person and that life took my leg, half a lung (cancer also), an ovary (benign cancer also), my fertility potentially. All it sees is that I’m not in love, living at home, not where I’d want to be career or finance wise and that’s the focus, no matter how much therapy I’ve been putting myself through.
My cancer story and my amputation made college an amazing experience for me, but it made high school and adulthood after college extremely difficult. In college, because of my amputation, I made tons of friends, saw a lot of amazing sites and it was a very happy, fulfilling 8 years of my life.
In my adulthood I only get that happy feeling as an amputee when I go out into the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning) community because they have always been accepting of my amputation and celebrate me putting myself out there.
Although I struggle with my feelings about my amputation, it has never made me a shut in or shy about going out. I am a social butterfly and love meeting people and having fun, but it has hindered me from befriending other amputees or devs. It wasn’t until this past November that I started opening up more and meeting other amputees (once I joined Fet pretty much).
My sexuality has never been affected by the amputation, in fact it’s escalated it. I’ve always been a sexual person, even with my self confidence issues. I feel I know how to display myself clothing wise and it covers whatever things I disliked about my appearance. Getting sex is easy, especially with a gimmick as it were. College guys (frat guys in my experience) love to be able to say: “This one time I fucked a one-legged chick.”
I was popular, but no one wanted to love me and that was hard for me sometimes. Still is.”
How does being an amputee influence how you’re looking at yourself?
“I have a very strong love hate relationship with myself because of it. Like I had said, making an adult decision as a kid can really mess with someone’s head. I feel guilty all the time like I made a stupid decision but again the healthy part tells me that I could’ve died the other way too. It’s a constant nagging.”
How do you feel about your body? Did that change over time?
“Currently, I’m starting to be less jaded about my body but that is due to over 30 pounds of weight loss last year and also due to joining Fetlife.
Trying to be more open minded helps you see yourself differently sometimes.
I started doing mental training with someone I met on Fetlife and physical training on my own to get myself in a mental headspace that allows me to be open and loving about the body I’m in.
I still have battles and I’m far from being in love with my body. But I’m better now than I was a year ago, that’s for sure.”
How big a role in your life does being an amputee have?
“It’s part of who I am. I always have to plan 5 steps ahead to make sure I can go and do the things I like and want to do. It literally is part of everything I do. Part of me enjoys that he – my stump; more info on that in a minute – is part of my everyday planning because it’s an extra challenge for my brain to figure out. But on days where my mental illness wins out, he seems like a burden, if that makes sense.”
Do you feel people in every day life look at you differently? And if so, can you describe how?
“I feel that strangers look at me differently but they are obviously the ones in the wrong. Staring is rude. What bothers me more is when I’m looked at differently in the workplace as I had stated before. And like I had stated before also, the gay community loves me whole heartedly, so it’s interesting to be accepted on the social side of my life, but not the business side.”
What would be your main exasperations in that respect?
“The Rehabilitation Act needs to be reformed in the workplace so that more disabled people can be hired. I choose to not wear a prosthetic and use my chair and just because I don’t “look” like the rest of the staff that does NOT mean I’m not capable.”
What would you most like to be different in how people look at you as an amputee?
“More of the above: DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER. I’m more capable than you give me credit for society.”
When did you first become aware of the existence of devotees?
“When I was 22. I started using online dating sites for the first time and I was contacted by 2 devotees.”
What was your initial feeling about it?
“At 22, I was freaked out by it. I was still trying to learn to love myself and the idea of a guy wanting me only for the attribute I hated most at the time didn’t settle well with me.”
Did that change over time? And if so, what changed your view or feelings, and why?
“Over the years, I’ve had A LOT of negative devotees who sexualize me for just my stump. I’m nothing more than meat to them, and for a long time, those type of guys gave me a very negative view.
But the older I got and the more heartbreaks I had to nurse from guys who just deal with my amputation, I started thinking maybe I should be looking for someone who finds it attractive, so the issue of my amputation isn’t an issue.
I started online dating again and met a few devs who were interested in me as a whole, but it wasn’t until I got onto Fet and met a specific dev that made me really reconsider how I looked at devs. He showed me the sensual and extremely sexual side of my amputation and that has made a difference. I’m more open minded to it in my adulthood because my body and mind know I need a connection with someone who understands my amputation and feels for him like I do, if that makes sense.”
If you could give devotees some advice, what would it be?
“Amputees are whole people even though they aren’t. Get to know the whole person, not just perv out and ask a thousand questions about their stump. There are devs out there who find the adversity of amputation attractive and they get to know the person as a whole, and that I appreciate.”
What do you think of this blog?
“I think it’s great that you have a resource like this for amps and devs. I enjoyed the interviews I read immensely.”
And finally, is there anything I didn’t ask that you would have loved to tell?
“As a coping mechanism, I gave my stump a name and personality. His name is Bubba Stump a.k.a. Mr. Stumpy. I draw eyes on him at parties and make him dance. He’s on Facebook as Mr. Stumpy :)”