This line was made famous by Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun. But how does it apply to prosthetics?

I have a theory that’s still unproven, but I am sure that I am correct in saying that an amputee’s life partner experiences equal, if not more stress, than the person undergoing the procedure. I see it daily in my practice. If the one partner, be it the husband or the wife, has an amputation the other one is immediately down graded to servant status. They now suddenly have to push wheelchairs around, don and doff clothes and shoes, as well as carry hand held items around, from coffee to walking aids.

I want the amputee to think about the following for a second. The amputation happened to you and you are living the experience. This means that you are usually surrounded by a team of professionals to help you cope. However, your partner does not have this type of support. They do not have a rehab team to help them. They only have you. It is important to remember that they also mourn the loss of a life they once lived. They are bystanders that have to watch and support you and can sometimes feel absolutely helpless because there is nothing they can do if you don’t deal with situation in a positive way.

I have so often seen amputation end in divorce and witnessed life partners give in under the stress. This usually happens as soon as the amputee starts rehabilitating and sees the light at the end of the tunnel. This may be because the partner had to be the pillar of strength up until that point, and the pressure over time was just too much to deal with.

So, please, if amputation does come your way, have some consideration for the ones that love you and remember to “never leave your wing man”.