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CSUSB Toastmasters Club: Becoming a Hip Amputee

On April 20th, I did my fifth speech at California State University, San Bernardino Toastmasters Club. My speech was called Becoming a Hip Amputee, and I talked about my experience of being a hip amputee and the different struggles and challenges I have to endure on an everyday basis.

For instance, I talked about what is a hip amputee, which is the loss of three joints: the hip, knee and ankle. A person living with an above the knee amputation is 10 times harder than somebody living with a below the knee amputation, and being a hip amputee is 100 times harder.

Simple things such as walking, standing, sitting, kneeling and lifting can be difficult for the hip amputee. I also talked about my 13-year experience of being a hip amputee, and three stories of my past that were embarrassing and troubling at the time when they happened, but I now feel comfortable with myself to share these stories.

For example, I talked about when I came home to visit my parents during Christmas break from college and my family from Australia came out to visit also. I went to my room to take off my prosthetic leg, and when I opened my door I saw my cousin who was four years old at the time in my door way.

It was her first time seeing me without my prosthetic and she asked me where was my leg and I had no answers for her, because I knew she wasn’t going to understand what really happened to me. So I panicked and told her I lost it, and she gave me a confused look because she couldn’t understand how could a person lose their leg.

My second story was about when I was finally able to walk in public with my prosthetic leg, which took me about a year to accomplish. I decided to go into the bank and five steps into the bank my pants fell to my ankles. My fellow Toastmasters thought it was funny and I laughed along with them.

My last story was about my first semester at California State University, Long Beach. The professor said next class was going to be cancelled, but the students had to come by his office and slide their homework under his office door. I knew that I couldn’t bend down that low because of my physical disability, so after class I talked to him and asked if there was another way I could turn in my homework. He said I could turn it in at the journalism office in the front.

I went to the journalism office and saw the secretary. I introduced myself by saying my name and said I’m a student the professor and he said I could turn in my homework here. The secretary said to me, “Why? Why can’t you slide your homework under the professor’s office door like all the other students? Are you on the basketball team or something?

I looked at her and said, “Look… I’m physically disabled and I’m a hip amputee. I have a prosthetic leg and I can’t bend down that low. I already talked to the professor and he said I could turn in my homework here.”

She eventually took my homework, and that experience affected me mentally because at the time it was only my first semester at CSULB. I said to myself… wow I have to deal with this for the next four more years. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced anything like that again and I ended up graduating four years later.

For my fifth speech, I think I just did ok, because I feel like I’ve could have performed better. I feel when I talk in front of crowds, doesn’t matter big or small I will always be nervous. I need to learn how to control my nervousness.

The advisor of the Toastmasters Club was also my evaluator, and she said I need to slow down for emphasis because I have hard-hitting content that people could connect with emotionally. She also said I was courageous for telling my stories, using great descriptions and personal examples of where my mind state was at during the time of the event, and how I was able to move forward.

When the club meeting was over, she pulled me aside and said that I’ve come a long way since my first speech. Hearing those words made me feel good, because from the outside looking in it seems that I’m making progress.

* I posted and left some marketing materials around the High Desert (flyers and brochures). I went to the Victorville public library and Victor Valley College. I was able to post 11 flyers and left 10 brochures. I’m looking to post more in the next coming weeks.

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