Empowering Reads: 7 Books for Amputees' Support, Inspiration & Recovery

Empowering Reads: 7 Books for Amputees’ Support, Inspiration and Recovery

Reading books can be immensely beneficial for amputees during their healing process for mental stimulation and distraction, as well as for inspiration and empowerment.

Engaging in reading provides mental stimulation and serves as a distraction from physical discomfort or the challenges of adapting to life with limb loss. By immersing themselves in a good book, amputees can momentarily escape their immediate concerns, reducing stress and anxiety associated with the healing process.

Reading about others who overcome adversity or navigate life with disabilities can inspire and empower amputees. Seeing others triumph over challenges can instill hope and motivate individuals to persevere through their own rehabilitation journey.

The following amputee books cover a range of perspectives on living with limb loss. They promote personal growth and can help a person learn how to deal with an amputated limb at their own pace.

1. “Alive & Whole” by Dee Malchow

As an amputation nurse specialist in Seattle, Washington, Dee Malchow, MN, RN, provides therapeutic and support services to amputees. But as an amputee herself, Malchow offers a unique and compassionate perspective based on personal experience, which she shares in her biographical book, “Alive & Whole.” Malchow had a boating accident at 19, and her leg had to be amputated below the knee. Shortly afterward, she decided to devote her life to helping other amputees by becoming a nurse. The book not only tells Malchow’s own story, but also provides insight from other amputees whom Malchow has encountered during her decades of practice. Online reviews indicate that readers find her book informative and inspirational.

2. “AMPossible” by Jeffrey Allen Mangus

Jeffrey Allen Mangus is a below-the-knee amputee who chose to inspire others in the same situation. His book, “AMPossible,” highlights the possibilities for amputees, despite the inherent challenges. Online rave reviews show that the book is filled with practical tips as well as encouragement, an all-around amazing story of courage and bravery. Mangus is an award-wining writer who channeled his energies into writing after several major amputation surgeries and surviving sepsis. He says that the amputation actually helped him to discover his true passion in life, which is writing.

3. “The Hop About” by Stephen Mackelprang

Double amputee Stephen Mackelprang wrote this true story based on his own journey as he trekked through the U.S. and made his way to iconic destinations such as Zion National Park and Death Valley. Mackelprang’s situation came about due to drug addiction, and he is the first to admit the part he played. His amazing story is one that will entertain and inspire anyone, whether or not the reader is an amputee. The author pushes past his own demons and discovers that “we are not defined by our mistakes,” as he learns to accept himself and the importance of loved ones.

4. “Romance in Marseilles” by Claude McKay

Claude McKay wrote this fascinating novel in part to explore the culture of slavery against a backdrop of austerity. In this novel, a talented dancer in the jazz age of Marseilles loses both of his legs due to being locked inside the freezer of a transatlantic freighter. Winning a large payout from the shipping company responsible for the accident, the sailor heads back to Marseilles, where he takes up with a Moroccan courtesan. The affair is steamy, but forbidden, fraught with upheaval and dissent against their relationship. While not a true story, this tale of romance shows that life does indeed go on.

5. “How to Lose Everything” Christa Couture

This moving memoir by Christa Couture is a raw tale of just how near to the edge Couture was, after losing her leg to bone cancer at a young age. The challenges in Couture’s life didn’t end with that, however. As the book outlines, her life was filled with tragedy, from the loss of a child, divorce, an operation that threatened her musical career and more. It’s almost as if the amputation was a side note to all the other tragedies that befell the author. Yet, the underlying tone is one of survival. Each tragedy has a lesson to be learned, and the reader can learn as well, to let go of things that don’t matter, to gaining compassion for others, to keeping hope next to the heart through it all.

6. “Finding Balance” by Kati Gardner

“Finding Balance” is a poignant tale of resilience, love and self-discovery. The narrative follows protagonist Tessa, a teenage ballerina navigating life and love with a prosthetic leg. Gardner skillfully weaves a tale of strength, addressing the physical and emotional challenges with grace. The protagonist’s journey is both heartwarming and empowering, shedding light on the complexities of identity and the pursuit of dreams in the face of adversity. This novel offers a uniquely relatable narrative for those facing similar challenges, getting into into the emotional and physical aspects of life with limb loss, portraying the struggles and triumphs with authenticity.

7. “Life After Limb Loss” by Julie Gross, P.T.

Physical therapist Julie Gross wrote this helpful book for amputees as a way to share her many years of experience helping people with limb loss, just as the name suggests. The book is helpful, not only for amputees, but also for caregivers and family members, who can learn strategies, skills and techniques to help care for, understand and support amputees. The book is written with a very positive attitude, focusing on what can be done, rather than the challenges. The practical information is interwoven with real-life examples. While there is no “sugar coating,” the book remains upbeat, motivating and inspiring. As a bonus, the book offers tips on how to be realistic about both short and long-term goals, so that amputees will have less chance of withdrawing into a less positive attitude.

There’s no way that a person who has not lost a limb can fully understand the experience. This is why books like these are so important, whether they are written by an amputee, an experienced medical practitioner or someone with personal experience.

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