All of us at one time or another have been asked the question, “What happened to your leg?”. Whether you’re new to the IDEO or not, it’s likely you’ve had some type of brace or device for an extended period of time and have been answering this question for quite awhile. Let’s face it, people are curious. 🙂 The IDEO doesn’t fit the image of a regular brace, yet it’s not a full prosthetic either, which leads people to believe that whatever is on your leg must be temporary and therefore, it’s okay to ask. Here are a few questions I’ve been asked in the past week alone: “Is that for shin splints?” “Did you sprain your ankle?” “Oh, I have one of those.” “Did you kick him back?” “Those are all the craze these days.” “How did you hurt yourself?” “Were you wearing that last week?” “How much longer do you have to wear that?” “Ouch, what happened?” “Is that for your ankle?” “Are you in the military?” “What is that for?”
Having worn some type of brace/cast for a few years and now the IDEO for nearly two years, it’s fair to say I probably answer these types of questions at least three times a day. I used to think I had to explain my story to everyone who asked, but recently I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to give a complete explanation to every single person, especially people I will never see again (aka random people in the elevator, grocery store, restaurants, clothing stores). It’s taken me awhile to come to this realization that it’s okay not to share all the details on my injury. Just because someone asks you, doesn’t mean you have to give out your full story. It’s okay to say: “It’s a permanent injury…” and then just move on with your business (of course, keep smiling!).
On the flip fide, I’m more than happy to share my story with people I have relationships with or people who I can tell genuinely care. You can spot the difference between the people who ask because they are curious or ask because they genuinely care and want to know more about you. It’s your body and your story, not anyone else’s and because you will likely be answering these questions for a long time to come, it’s important to have a game plan so that you don’t feel emotionally invested every time someone asks you.
Looking back, when I first got injured, I didn’t mind one bit random people asking me what happened, because to me the injury was temporary… but as time passed and my injury became more permanent, my mindset shifted to this is who I am now. I think once you get to the place where you accept that you have a permanent injury, you can move forward knowing that this a part of who you are and with that acceptance comes peace of mind and wisdom on how to respond.
#beYOU. #beAMAZING. #IDEOnista
I usually say, “I had way too much fun in the Army.” Sometimes I get people who want details, so I ask them really personal questions or give them really uncomfortable answers 🙂
Every once in awhile, I’ll meet someone who is curious about the IDEO, so we talk more about that than my injuries. I made a friend named Lilly at REI doing that :-P. She was in a walking boot and checking my bionics out…Now we’re buddies! Little kids are the best, they are fearless when asking questions!