“I am not my amputation”

I was 13 years old. I had been helping my grand dad on his property after a few trees had fallen down all over the yard. After moving one tree I grabbed the rope we were using to tie the trees down and I jumped on the back of my grand dads truck. We were on a gravel driveway and part of the rope was dragging the ground. The rope got caught on a root and it literally ripped my arm off because of how I had been holding the rope.
I was rushed to the emergency room and after 18 hours of surgery my arm was re-attached. The re-attachment lasted 6 weeks and then my arm became severely infected. At that point, I, at 13 years old, had a decision to make. I could either have my arm amputated the next morning or go through nine years of surgery once a month to only have 20% use of my arm. At 13 years old, in that moment, I went from being a normal carefree teenager to being faced with a devastating decision that I thought I knew would limit my ability and desires. That moment I decided to have the amputation the next day.

I am told a lot that I couldn’t or can’t do this or that simply because I have one arm. So for a while in my life I accepted that I would never be able to do certain things. I still have people ask me on a regular basis, “Hey, you need help with that?” “Do you got that?” It causes me to stop and think, “no why would I need help?” I still struggle with pushing myself to the limits. Maybe I want to find what I can’t do so everybody can be correct in the assumptions. In return for pushing my boundaries I have done things that others with an amputation may never try with the belief they can’t do it.

Around 6 years ago, after being submerged in the tattoo world since age 16, I started to realize the passion I had for tattooing. I had always loved drawing and creating was very natural to me. But, the one thing I feared would hold me back became something that pushed and motivated me beyond words. “I only have one arm, how would I be able to tattoo people? How would I be able to pursue this passion? How would people trust that I could create beautiful work on their bodies?” With gracious gratitude, I did not let these questions hold me back. I went for it. I pursued a dream with what everyone else saw as a limitation. And for the past 6 years I have been tattooing and now own my own tattoo shop in Augusta, GA. I am unbelievably thankful for the support system I have and the success I have had and the amazing things that are still to come.
I some times question where I would be having two arms, what would I be doing, or would I have fallen into the routine of life? But so not to harp on those questions I know that I can do anything I set my mind to. We all can. I will never let the fear of failure hold me back and I will never let what seems like a limitation to others define my ability. I am not my amputation!