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Life is good

by Adam Hills

20th November 2005

Every now and then, I am asked to have a chat to a friend of a friend who has a disability. Sometimes it is a child who was born without a limb, sometimes it is an adult who has just lost a limb, occasionally it is someone struggling to overcome a hurdle of some kind, whether physical or emotional.
At first I didn't really know what to say. "Buck up little trooper", "Don't let it get you down" or "Turn that frown upside down" were the only phrases that came into my head. I feared I was about to turn into a one-legged Anthony Robbins. Then a friend said, "It would be great if my daughter could see that you still have a full life. That's all she really worries about."

So, in the interests of anyone reading this column who shares these worries; anyone afraid that their impending/recent/congenital limblessness may see them spending the rest of their life confined to a dungeon while a carer visits once a week to throw food at them, I would like to supply a list of some of the things I have done, regardless of having an artificial foot.

In no particular order, they are:

Patted a cheetah in South Africa, watched a sumo wrestling tournament in Tokyo, learnt yoga. I have played a number of sports to various levels: tennis - A grade; football - 'kick around at the park' grade; golf - "he's got a good swing, if only he had some consistency" grade; Rugby League - "I'm not tackling him, his false leg will kill me" grade; mixed netball - "This is the most knackered I've ever felt" grade.

I have sprinted down the sidelines of a Rugby League game as a camera assistant, danced at a jazz club in Stockholm, abseiled down a fifteen-storey building in Adelaide, learned to practise Reiki, taken part in a tandem sky-dive, and swum in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. I have been lucky enough to live in Sweden, Ireland, England and Australia, and have performed comedy in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia, Asia and Africa.

And in case you think I am one of those fanatics who feels the need to live an 'extreme' lifestyle, I have also spent an enormous amount of time sitting in front of the television playing with my X-Box and watching DVDs - yes, I have seen all four series of 24, and am currently working my way through series five of The West Wing.

I drive a car, walk to the shops and back, and all in all feel as though I have a happy and fulfilled life. On top of all this, I don't feel that there is anything I truly want to do but can't.

Right now, however, I'd like to wander off on a tangent. I was hanging curtains in my front room last week (oh yes, the glamour!) when the couch I was standing on tipped over and threw me into the wall. My knee collided with the window sill, and is both causing me persistent pain and turning a strange shade of yellow. It even forced me to miss my weekly game of football last night.

My point here is that you're more likely to be hampered by the everyday - and in my case, clumsy - injuries of life, than you are by having an artificial limb. Don't worry so much about having a prosthesis; instead focus your attention on whether the couch upon which you're balancing yourself is stable enough to support your weight.

I have a friend who, as a result of foot-troubles as a child, was told he would be unable to walk past the age of twenty-five. Three years ago he celebrated his thirtieth birthday by dancing until dawn. Which brings me to my final point.

Not only is it possible to lead an exciting and full life while missing a limb, but it's important to ignore those who say you can't. Maybe 'ignore' is a harsh word. Perhaps it's more appropriate to say: "listen to them, then prove them wrong".

If any of the above has come across as self-aggrandising, I do apologise. I guess all I'm trying to say is that I've had a great life, with or without a right foot, and that you can too.

I'm gonna take a little break from the columns for a while - no reason, just need to refresh - so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Ouch for giving me this opportunity in the first place. I'd also like to thank any and all who read the columns and submitted their feedback, as well as all the fellow contributors to this site.

I'll be back out on tour next year with a new stand-up show, and would love to see you there. In the meantime, have a safe holiday period, and I wish us all peace and love for the year ahead.

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