Life After Amputation

I’ve always been a fairly active person, working, taking care of my home and grandsons. Then, in November of 2008, my life was turned upside down when a motorcycling accident landed me in Shock Trauma for 28 days. From there I spent another 2 weeks a rehab hospital.

While in Shock Trauma, my lower left leg was amputated. I was kept in a medically induced coma for the first 3 weeks. When I was finally brought out of the coma, I discovered the amputation. I had suffered a severe injury to my ankle, and infection set in. Amputating my leg was the only way to save my life.

I found out that the stump, even after it was well healed, was a very tender spot. Getting used to the “pins and needles” sensations took a while. That was the EASY part; finding out my leg was gone.

Luckily, my husband was home sick the night of the accident. I say luckily, because he wasn’t hurt or injured, and was able to help me when I was released from the hospitals. I had rode with a friend as a passenger. I rode my own bike, but mine wasn’t running that night. I didn’t think I’d ever ride again. I didn’t know IF I even wanted to get back on a motorcycle!

While on crutches, I learned how to watch a 11 month old, who was still crawling, and a 3 yr old. I was the only babysitter my daughter had. Thanks to the very mature 3 yr old, and the baby gates, I was able to keep up with them. Cooking and cleaning were other things I had to learn how to do on crutches. Even with learning all this, I was determined that I would not be “handicapped’ by this.

I had months of physical therapy before I even got my prosthetic leg. Now the WORK began. Once I had my leg, it was another couple of months of therapy learning how to ‘walk’ again. We don’t realize there is a certain way we are supposed to walk. When we have both legs, it just comes naturally.

What I had to learn was what I’d always taken for granted…putting one foot in front of the other, right? Wrong! True, we put one foot in front of the other, but it’s HOW we place that foot. I had to learn that when we walk, we put the heel down first, with knee straight out in front of us. Then we smoothly follow that with ‘rolling’ to the ball of the foot as we bend the knee, and follow through, bringing the other leg up and in front. First I started ‘walking’ while using both crutches, then as I got better, down to one crutch, and finally walking with just a cane.

Another thing that we don’t realize, is that we have ‘sensors’ in our ankle and foot that tells our brain just where that foot is. When you ankle and foot are gone, so are the ‘sensors’. As a BKA, I have gotten my left foot (the prosthetic) caught in toys, rugs, etc.. You go to take a step and don’t realize you didn’t lift that foot up enough. Whew, so much to re-learn!

Now that I am back to actually walking, it is a whole lot easier doing the housework, and cooking. I even take and/or pick up the oldest grandson (now 4 yrs. old) from Pre-K;, taking the baby (now 2 yrs old. [& WALKING] ), with out any help. Before, while still on crutches, I needed help to get the youngest out to my SUV. Now, my family treats me just as if I had both legs. By that, I mean that they no longer are rushing to cook for me or to carry my plate and drink to the table for meals. The only thing I don’t do is the laundry. I just started going down the basement steps. There is no railing, and the steps are a little steep and narrow. I still need to hold onto the rail or wall or have my cane nearby if I’m going to do steps. One day I’ll be able to get up & down as easily as I did before the accident.

It feels so good to be able to do all the things I did before the accident! Yes, I’ve even rode on a motorcycle again, as a passenger. It was both great but scary too, at first. I can’t wait to try to actually drive one again. My bike is old and I’m leery of riding it, due to the way it runs. I don’t know if I’ll be able to shift the gears with the prosthetic foot or if I’ll have to have a bike modified. I keep telling myself it’s just like learning to ride a bicycle or a horse; if you fall off, get up and get back on it. I WILL ride again.

All I can say; is what a difference a year makes! Wow, when I look back to where I was a year ago, to where I’m at now, it’s mind boggling. I’m now doing all the things I’ve done before, except actually working outside of the home, and that’s only because I’m taking care of my grandsons while my daughter works. I’m fortunate that I can do this.

Life is NOT over because you lose a part of your body. You just have to persevere and maybe find new ways to do the things you once did, but YOU CAN DO IT. Having and maintaining a positive attitude is just as important as not thinking of yourself as ‘handicapped’, and Believing in yourself to be able to do most, if not all of what you want to accomplish. Life goes on and so must we.