My name is Thomas Graybiel. I'm 66 now, and my amputation was September 9th, 1983. So I'm now 36 years with my amputation.
I've learned basically, don't let it get to you. You just pretty much do the best you can. I've learned, in a sense, always to be thankful, and I don't mean this in a mean way, but there's so many people that have it so much worse.
I see someone in a wheelchair, and I think, "I've got nothing—nothing—to complain about."
I can get around good. I'm able to work. So, make the best of it. There's nothing worse than to feel sorry for yourself and to just give up.
Let's face it, I've now been with a prosthesis more than half of my life, and I've been with these people that I work with now for more than half of that—so it's been like 20 years. These guys are my friends.
If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't get around as good as I do, because these guys don't know the word "that's good enough." It's never good enough.They always try to make my fit better, where I can get around and do more. For that, it doesn't get any better.
When I first lost my leg, I was a welder, andI was 30 years old. I'll never forget it. I went in, and all my friends were like, "sign of up for disability," so I went, and I signed up for disability, and wouldn't you know it, they turned me down.
They told me that because I had a working prosthesis that I could get around, and that I wasn't disabled, just impaired. I got so mad, and I thought, "well this isn't fair," and I just got so mad, and I thought, "forget that," and I went and I got a job and I went on.
And now I guess I can look back and think, "thank goodness," because had I gone on disability and felt sorry for myself, I'd just be a sludge. Instead, I worked for 30 years, and I did good, and I made it on my own.
You don't have to change the sock on the fake foot as often. You could go like a week on the same sock because you don't have stinky sock!
It does hurt, and it is hard. People know that. People are basically compassionate.Regardless of what you're having to deal with, don't give up on yourself. Keep a positive attitude, and you can make it.