Starting last year, I’ve begun wearing my prosthetic arm(s) more. And hopefully, in 2016, I’ll start wearing one of them at least once a week.

My lifelong relationship between myself and my right arm(s) has lead me to a lot of reflecting. Prosthetic arms are different than prosthetic legs (duh). A leg can assist you with most activities of daily living, you don’t necessarily need an arm to do those. I tend to favor my myoelectric arm out of the three prosthetics arms that I have currently. But I have mixed feelings when I walk around with two full arms.

I immediately feel the benefits of wearing a fake arm. I usually have a good bit of upper and lower back pain, but with my prosthesis on, I just feel so much better. This is probably 70% of the reason why I want to wear an arm. It balances me. It’s a feeling that I could of never imagine had I never worn an arm before. I consider it therapy.

Another reason that I didn’t see coming, was that I finally have a hand to hold. Some of you may not know how strange it is to never know where to put your one hand. It can be incredibly awkward. But with a fake hand, I have something to grasp. It’s a very weird feeling of completeness. Most of the time, I never even turn the arm on. Simply hanging from my shoulder, giving me a hand to hold is enough.

Though holding my hand is exceptional, I can’t help but have negative feelings that I am covering up my real arm. There are countless times throughout the day that I touch my right arm. I rub it when I’m nervous, grab it when I’m thinking, lean on it when I’m feeling lazy. But when I have my prosthesis on, I can’t get to it. It’s inside of silicone, fiberglass and acrylic resin. It can sometimes give me feelings of sadness, like I am betraying a piece of myself that I love so dearly.

And with that, I have to ask myself if the pros outweigh the cons. Pro: it’s balancing my body and giving me a different (but not bad) sense of completeness. Con: I’m hiding a body part that is part of my identity. At this moment, I’m not sure which is the best practice but I am deeply enjoying learning what my body and mind need. I have a feeling that only time will tell me the answer.