Before we get to the main list, there’s one amputee-hosted podcast we’ve been meaning to feature for several weeks. Angie Heuser, a frequent Amplitude contributor, launched a weekly show called Be-You-Tiful Adaptive Warrior back in February. She’s packed some killer guests into her first nine episodes, including the surgeon who performed her amputation, the physical therapist who helped her resume an active lifestyle, and the running-blade innovators at Levitate. In her latest episode, parasurfing champion Mike Coots describes how he overcome fear and self-doubt to return to surfing after losing his leg in a shark attack. You can find all nine episodes at Podbay or at Angie’s website, www.bawarrior360.com.
Podcasts like BA Warrior play an essential role in helping amputees connect with each other. The episodes listed below reach outside our own tight-knit community and convey the experience of limb difference to listeners who might otherwise know nothing about it—or who “know” things that are completely untrue. In the spirit of Limb Loss Awareness Month, here are five amputee ambassadors who are sharing their stories and educating the unaware.
Billy Davis & Nikki Kimbrough / Artist Care and Feeding
Davis describes his adjustment to limb loss beginning at about the 50-minute mark, but don’t skip ahead—you’ll be entertained by the conversation about Kimbrough’s theatrical career and the weekly Zoom show she and Davis host, “The Amputee and His Girl.” Since losing his left leg above the knee in 2012, Davis has excelled as a paratriathlete and raised thousands of dollars for Wiggle Your Toes and other organizations. Quotable: “I grew up in a household with two disabled [visually impaired] parents who lived and thrived in a world that did not agree with them. You just figure out, ‘How are we going to make this work?'” Hear the episode.
Dr. Neil Hopper / Audible Bleeding
This episode is titled “Both Sides of the Knife,” because prior to losing both legs to sepsis, Hopper performed hundreds of amputations as a vascular surgeon in England. His personal experience has made him a more compassionate advocate than ever for his patients, as well as a fierce crusader to improve support services for amputees. Quotable: “What I didn’t expect is that your place in society completely changes overnight. You don’t quite know what your role is. . . . . The other thing that changes is how other people see you and interact with you. Everybody does that balance between being overcaring or not wanting to look like anything’s changed. It’s really jarring.” Hear the episode.
Megan Harmon / Hiking Thru
Harmon is trying to become the first above-knee amputee to hike all 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada along the spine of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. A former Paralympic snowboarder, she covered about 600 miles of the trail in 2019 before desert heat and leg pain forced her to stop. Quotable: “Putting my leg on in the morning always hurt. But once I got moving and got warmed up, everything would just calm down. I think my skin toughened up after the first couple of weeks.” Hear the episode.
Frederick Downs / Standing Ready
This is the first full episode of a new podcast focused on the Veterans Administration’s history of medical innovation. Downs, an above-elbow amputee, helped usher in the era of bionic limbs as the longtime director of the VA’s Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service. By the time he retired, he’d built the organization into a global leader in research and development. Quotable: “The other obstacle I had to overcome was the Central Office didn’t want to spend any money on prosthetics. There wasn’t any motivation or passion to do that. . . . . I said, ‘Wheelchairs and prosthetics are an extension of who we are as disabled people. Are we going to deny a [disabled] veteran a device because it cost couple thousand dollars more?’ And I slammed my hoof on the table.” Hear the episode.
AMP1 Basketball / Winging It and Winning
Four of the five starters on the AMP1 basketball team (including our old friend Troy Druppal) logged in for this episode. While their stories of limb loss run the gamut (two congenital amputees, a childhood cancer survivor, and an accident survivor), these guys are united in their motivations. In addition to the camaraderie, fun, and sheer love of the game, they play to change attitudes and alter perceptions about disability—an ideal message for Limb Loss Awareness Month. Quotable: “This is something that people are telling me I can’t do? No, I’m gonna do it. The doubt that I could still [play] pushed me to say, ‘I’m gonna do it.’ And I’m gonna love those people who doubt me, and I’m gonna use that as fuel.” Hear the episode.
Still looking for good conversation about limb loss? We posted a couple of additional episodes at our Facebook page. Head over there for the links—and don’t forget to like / share / follow.
You can also check out our roundup of favorite podcasts from last summer.