Bridget Wireduah Addo (Bri Wireduah) is an amputee who loves to create awareness about differently abled people, and also support less privileged people with the same challenges. Bri’s condition was congenital, so she has been a below-knee amputee all her life.
According to Bri, being an amputee isn’t the easiest thing but it’s not the worst fate ever either. She revealed that she was fitted with her first prosthetic limb when she was 10 months old, and her parents did not hinder her from being active because of her condition.
“They let me crawl around like a normal baby and at just 11 months old I was walking! Took me just a month to learn to walk with a new prosthesis. And I was quite on the heavy side but still managed to carry my weight,” she said.
“Imagine how much I’d have been delayed if I’d been held back. We need to encourage amputees to be active not tell them to sit down,” she added.
The restrictions she faced
Bri was born in the UK and started her education there before moving to Ghana with her parents. She continued her primary education at Soul Clinic International School and later had her senior high school education at St Mary’s Senior High School.
She recounted how she was restricted from participating in sporting activities in school because of her condition even though she really wanted to.
“I remember in upper primary and JHS, I was always asked to stay out of PE [Physical Education] when I was just as capable of participating. I’d get dressed in my PE uniform every week, and every week I was kicked out and told to sit down.”
“It sucked! I was always so embarrassed and really wanted to play tennis and basketball etc with everyone else.”
“In SHS, I’d sneak out to the field with my crazy classmates and we’d at least get some small jogging done before our PE madam would come out and tell at me for trying to create problems for her by coming out for PE. Madam would get super frustrated and would sometimes accuse me of trying to kill her with my antics! The expression on her face! Those were fun times!”
The role her parents played
According to Bri, the reaction of her teachers whenever she tried to engage in physical activities “was quite funny” because of how she was raised by her parents.
As a toddler, my parents would take me to the playground every single day and encourage me to get on the monkey bars and other climbing stuff. Though I’m sure it was just to ease my climbing itch so I’d stay out of their wardrobe, which was my personal climbing wall.”
“The thing is my parents didn’t let me be lazy, they didn’t treat me differently and they made sure I was walking perfectly well. My dad was like a drill sergeant or something and we always went on walks… You get driven to school only in the morning… After school, we’re walking home. Whines went unheard.”
“I was taught to ride a bike and yi yi styles on it. I was made to understand I could do anything… and I did. Whenever I fell down or off something no one would pick me up… especially mum. She’ll just say sorry, get up. And as a rule, no crying until you get up and dust yourself off. By that time the crying has switched off. So all that really helped me master my prosthesis,” she added.
Bri further revealed how influential her mother still is in getting her to undertake physiotherapy to deal with the complications that come with being an amputee.
“Even today I wouldn’t dare not carry my behind to the gym or physiotherapy because my mum will come to find out why… that woman knows my schedule better than myself… and drag my lazy behind out of bed. I’ve lied a couple of times that I’m too weak to get up because I wanted to sleep more but mum would just drag me to my feet and push me to go do what I’m supposed to do. And I’m grateful. It built my endurance,” she said.
Complications of being an amputee
Bri revealed that just like any condition, there are some complications that come with being an amputee.
She indicated that aside from the regular phantom pain, limb fatigue, skin irritation, blisters, boils and others, she has also been diagnosed with arthritis in her good knee because it carries the majority of her body weight. Due to this, she now wears a knee brace on her “good knee” which helps her to continue to be active and minimize the pain, while undergoing physiotherapy including lots of muscle training to deal with it.
She has also been diagnosed with spondylosis, which she says is not amputation related. “That’s actually a spinal condition that’s not directly connected to being an amputee,” she said.
“In simple terms, I’ve got several vertebral discs that are herniated, worn or shifted… those in my lower back especially are shifted out of position thus straightening the portion of my lower back that should be curved and those in my neck are a little worn and out of place. This puts tremendous strain on my nerves which are not at all pleased and like the divas, they are be bitching and moaning all the dang time!” she explained.
“So I have excruciating pain in my legs from the tops of my thighs to my ankles, lower back pain, shoulder and neck pain plus loss of strength and coordination in left wrist and fingers and constant pain in my right arm. I’m getting treatment for that too.. and as unpleasant as all that is being inactive is the worst thing for spondylosis or arthritis. So I keep living my normal life and spend lots of time working out, so I guess the upside of this is I get a toned body? See? Silver linings,” she added.
Supporting other amputees.
Through the St Ann’s Foundation which she co-founded with her sister, Bri leads a team to create awareness and also provide support for other amputees, aside from helping needy children. “Our current project will be focusing on amputees in northern Ghana who can’t afford a prosthesis at all,” she said.
Bri Wireduah – Her fashion brand.
Bri is a fashion designer with training from renowned Ghanaian fashion school, Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design.
Bri’s fashion brand is named after her (Bri Wireduah). She describes her brand as one with an eclectic style that blends African and western influences. “We seek to make all our clientele look and feel good irrespective of body type, age, social status or gender,” she said. She won the Best Womenswear Designer of the Year award at the 2018 Fashion Ghana Honours.
Her fashion brand has worked on campaign ads for large corporations including GTP and ATL. Some personalities she’s worked with include Oheneyere Gifty Anti, Anita Erskine, Gloria Sarfo, M.anifest, Nikki Samonas, MzGee, Vicky Zugah, Selley Galley and Queen Eshun.
Forever loving herself
“It’s been quite the journey and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Bri said. “Everything I have ever faced has made me the warrior I am today and as conceited as it may sound I’m hella proud of myself. I pat myself on the back all the time!… it does wonders for the psyche.
“The best part of being an amputee for me is being bionic. I just adore that bit. I see myself as a sexy cyborg.”
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