Share your stories! How long does it take an average person to recover from an amputated body part?

For instance, say I am in an accident and I lose a leg (for argument’s sake make it an above the knee amputation). If you have had one below the knee, by all means share your story, and include recovery times as well.

Now for something like losing a leg, I would imagine that would require a long hospital stay at the minimum, PLUS, I would think they’d want me to re-learn how to balance myself and learn to walk with crutches (if even possible) while coming to accept my new life in a wheel chair (or crutches, or both). There is a LOT to re-learn, and I get that. But what kind of recovery time am I actually looking at for something like this?

Bonus points for anyone who has had this happen to them (very sorry for your loss, of course, but would love to have your information/experience.)

If you have lost another body part, share that. I am trying to get a handle on a story my doctor told me (don’t want to reveal just yet, because I don’t want to spoil anyone else’s story). But what I was told kind of shocked me in terms of my expected recovery times, so I’ve delayed things a bit.

So, share with me your personal losses if you would, and what you had to do to get back on track.

Not my own story:

I immediately thought of the story of Dana Bowman

Dana Bowman was a member of the US Army’s Golden Knights skydiving team, and in 1994 he collided with a teammate during training. He lost one leg above the knee and one below the knee.

I remember seeing him on a TV show, and he said how long the doctors told him rehabilitation would take, and he said he needed it to go faster because he had a buddy getting married in a few weeks. They said attending the wedding should be possible, and he said, “You don’t understand. When somebody in our unit gets married, right after the bride and groom say ‘I do’, the wedding party jumps out of the airplane.”

The article on him I found says he was walking without canes in 3 days, which normally takes “several weeks”. He wore out 4 sets of legs in 6 weeks, and helped to design prosthetics that would allow him an active life.
5 months after the accident, he was in that wedding party. 9 months after the accident, be became the first double amputee to reenlist in the US Army. (The versiaon I had heard says to returen to active duty, suggesting he had never left the Army, but his bio on his webpage calls it reenlisting.)
Retired from the military, he is “the only double amputee certified commercialy helicopter instructor pilot in the world”.

I think it’s going to vary a lot. I know of at least one Peace Corps volunteer who lost a leg and returned to service (she got a horse get around with). They generally won’t keep you in service if you are put more than a month or two.

But if you are somewhat older, not in shape, have other health problems and are just looking to recover (as opposed to being driven by some external need) I could see it taking a LOT longer.

I have a friend who had her leg amputated below the knee, and she was back at work on crutches in a week or so. She is one of those who is determined to get things done quickly and will push herself. I would have been gone much longer.

One Doper, JayJay, did an “Ask the Amputee” thread.