Mary was the first person in Ohio to receive a Hero Arm back in 2019. A super-user of prosthetic arms, Mary wanted something new that would be more intuitive for the everyday.
You only need to spend five minutes with Mary to feel a boost of positivity. For Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness month we asked Mary to share what body confidence means to her, and how she’s rediscovering things she loves at 40.
Mary, we want to capture your confidence in a jar and share it with anyone who needs a boost.
It has taken me a long time and a lot of work on my self-esteem to have confidence. I feel like in my 40s I only now understand what self-love really means.
I think as I got older I started to realize, I can’t change other people’s mindsets, but I can my own.
What would you say were your main barriers to having body confidence?
I was born with a limb difference, and thankfully have always been surrounded by a close community. But even with the closest of family and friends, self-doubt and struggles with my own identity played a huge part in the sorts of opportunities I pursued.
Since a young age, I always wanted to dance, and while the support was always there I let myself get in the way of exploring all avenues that made me happy in dance. Not anymore! I love teaching dance, dancing around my home, I even use it as a way to relax and unwind. I don’t hold back anymore.
Do you think your limb difference played a part in self-doubt being so prominent?
Yes, being different, it’s a struggle to understand your own identity. It was only when I was 18 that I met another person with a limb difference like me, and I think that made a big difference.
The biggest surprise of all was that the pain in my shoulder went away, my posture improved which had such an impact on my day-to-day. The Hero Arm has become a part of me. I love to dance and it gives me joy to see how gentle I can flex the bionic fingers in a ballerina pose.
How did you overcome doubt?
I think as I got older I started to realize, I can’t change other people’s mindsets, but I can my own. Growing up, adults would stare at my arm definitely more than children. Children are so bold and inquisitive, whereas adults would pretend they’re not starring and create an awkward atmosphere.
But now you wear the Hero Arm, and people still stare?
Yes! Haha, but the interactions are so positive, it almost lifts people’s moods to see technology like this used in an everyday setting. Children would come up to me just to say my arm is so cool, and I love it.
Let’s go back a little to 2019, you’re the first person in Ohio to get a Hero Arm, how did you find out about it?
I was experiencing quite a lot of pain in my shoulder, I think it was from a mixture of wearing heavy prosthetics and poor posture. So I really needed something that I could wear with ease and use daily. When I visited my prosthetist, he mentioned that these medical professionals have just come back from the UK to see a demonstration of a new bionic arm, and my limb presentation would be suitable for it.
After insurance and a medical assessment, I was fitted with my own Hero Arm!
When I go to church and all the lights are dimmed for prayer, people say the light on my Hero Arm is my halo glowing, which I love.
How does the Hero Arm compare to other prosthetic solutions?
I’ve worn myoelectric, and cosmetic arms before, but the Hero Arm is different. The speed of movement when I move my muscles is instant, which was new to me. When I wear it out, it doesn’t get anywhere near as hot or sweaty. It’s nice to also be able to tighten it on my limb presentation to do different activities.
Have you noticed any changes while wearing the Hero Arm?
Yes, both emotional and physical. The biggest surprise of all was that the pain in my shoulder went away, my posture improved which had such an impact on my day-to-day. The Hero Arm has become a part of me. I love to dance and it gives me joy to see how gentle I can flex the bionic fingers in a ballerina pose. I also love to zumba and work with people. I’d love to be a motivational speaker one day to share what I’ve learned on my journey to self discovery.
The Hero Arm is a lightweight, breathable prosthesis that’s built for comfort. Download brochure and request full pricing to start your bionic journey.
What do your friends and family think of the Hero Arm?
When I was first fitted people were stopping me to ask about it because it’s nothing they have ever seen before. Since lockdown, I have been quite careful and following guidelines, but when I go to church and all the lights are dimmed for prayer, people say the light on my Hero Arm is my halo glowing, which I love.
How has it been through COVID?
It has been quite hard. Unfortunately I’ve had quite a few surgeries for carpal tunnel and disk replacement so I’ve been feeling quite vulnerable. Not being able to do things I love like dance is even harder.
What are your hopes for 2022?
I want to get back to dancing, I used to teach, so that would be amazing to pick up again. Also, I want to work with amputee community groups to show that it’s never too late to work on your own self-esteem and turn those wish lists into dreams come true. I’d love to speak at a conference or do more peer visiting.
Will the Hero Arm be going with you?
Absolutely, I still think so many people don’t know about this technology. And I love the fact I can customize my Hero Arm with multiple covers to match my outfits, so it will definitely be coming with me.
If you would like to find out more about Mary’s journey, follow her on Facebook/ Instagram and register if you would like more information about the Hero Arm.
To find out more about Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month, follow #LLLDAM across social media channels.