I Lost Both Hands, but Not My Sense of Humor and Willingness to Live
My name is Konstantin Deblikov, and I am a Russian cyborg. I call myself one because have bionic prostheses to replace my hands, and because I don’t feel like a “disabled person.” My life turned upside down when I lost both of my hands, and I’m learning to live my new life to the fullest. If you are curious about what cyborgs can and cannot do, and what people without hands can offer to this world, keep reading.
Especially for Bright Side, I’d like to share my story and tell you what’s it like to be a real-life cyborg.
In 2014 firecrackers exploded in my hands.
I was 22, I was studying journalism and doing fire shows. I was lucky I only lost my hands, because it could’ve been worse. When I woke up the next morning, I was shocked I was alive. My friends had already started raising money on the internet for my prostheses, and from the very beginning I had no doubts that everything was going to be alright.
Of course, this kind of accident is very hard to get over, but my family and friends helped me through this hard time. Everyone around me was incredibly supportive, and staying positive helped a lot. If you experience something like this, my advice to you is to surround yourself with the people you love, do something you love, and move forward, without seeing any obstacles.
I’ll never be able to play my guitar again.
Of course, my life has changed. Although I still struggle with some demons and try to stay positive, I still have trouble accepting my body the way it is. I used to play guitar, but I can’t do that anymore. I switched to drums and electronic music and still play in a band. However, some very determined people without hands can play the guitar with their feet, and I think that’s pretty cool.
I can do literally anything, it just depends on me.
You have to be re-learning everything, all the time. Every new move and action takes time and effort to learn and to get used to. Whenever I get a new jacket with a new zipper, it feels like I have to go back to the beginning for a while, trying to figure out how to interact with it. And this happens with every new object.
But even with prostheses, everything is possible. There’re different types, some are more suitable for different activities. I literally have a hand bag: a pair for photos, a pair for daily life, and another for the gym.
I hate coins. No matter what kind of cool protheses you have, if they fall on the floor, it’s super hard to pick them up. Or, for example, a plastic card. You can just leave the coins on the floor, but you have to pick up your bank card. So if I accidentally drop it, I have to lean down to the floor in the middle of a mall, trying to grab my card for half a minute while everybody stares at me. It’s very uncomfortable. But it can happen at any time, and those moments are a constant reminder of how different you are.
People with disabilities are people first.
Nobody really knows how to react when they see disabled people, because most of them stay at home all the time, and others don’t usually interact with them. So, whenever I get on the bus in my hometown, I literally feel like I’m on a stage. People constantly stare at me, ask stupid questions, and try to take pictures. I don’t think anyone likes this kind of attention, so try to treat disabled people in a normal way, like you would want to be treated yourself. Be respectful, nice, and don’t cross any boundaries.
I feel like I live 2 lives. One where I am a cyborg wearing a t-shirt and I don’t mind being the center of attention. The other one is where I am a regular person wearing sweaters in the summer, because I am grocery shopping or when I’m just riding the bus and don’t want any attention.
My life is more interesting now.
I cannot say whether I’d change anything if I could, because the price is too high. But because of this accident and the following publicity, I’ve gotten to meet many interesting people and try out various spheres like acting, modeling, and public speaking.
Now, I run my blog on Instagram where I post photos and occasionally make jokes about hands, star in a TV shows, participate in commercials and social projects. Suddenly some doors I never even thought about just opened right in front of me. I try to take advantage of all the opportunities that I am offered, try new things, and accept various interesting proposals.
“Finally did an x-ray. Everything’s fine, I still don’t have hands.”
But most importantly, I help other newly enrolled cyborgs.
My main activity is social work. I help people with amputations get prostheses from the government. In Russia, anyone who has lost a limb has the right to get a prosthesis absolutely free, but it’s a very difficult procedure. But it is crucial to go through it and to get good quality prostheses, because that’s the key to be able to live your life to the fullest.
“Like, if you don’t like manual labor.”
People don’t prepare to lose an arm or a leg, and when they do, they have no idea what to do next. They don’t even know their rights, so I help them. Also, in Russia, nobody teaches you how to use a prosthesis. You just get a piece of plastic, and have to figure out how to use it yourself. And the better you can use it, the more you are able to do. Many people write to me asking for advice, and I help everybody with whatever I can.
I run communities on social networking websites that provide all the important information for people in similar situations. I am planning to create a non-profit that will unite these people. Hopefully, it will help to get subsidies and grants and help support anybody who has found themselves in such a difficult and truly life-changing situation.
Was there an event in your life that divided it into “before” and “after”? Please share your story in the comments.