Real Life Stories //
Michelle M. | Unilateral Below-the-Knee Amputee
"In the Saturday morning hours of June of 2003, I was heading out with 2 friends for a charity poker run on my custom built '69 Triumph Chopper. The very next thing I knew, I was on my back with Brenda holding my head to the ground. I asked what happened and was I OK? She, being the strong and amazing person she is, said, "Yes, you'll be OK. A a car ran the red light and t-boned you though. Just stay still help is on the way." Next thing I remember is waking up in shock trauma half a day later, after the apparent helicopter ride and the surgeries. Meanwhile, my Dad had flown up from Georgia and was in the room with Brenda waiting. I, of course, was heavily medicated upon awaking and I looked and saw my leg was half gone. It is told that I said "Hey my leg is gone! How's my bike?" I'm sure that's exactly how it happened, fits my personality. Upon clarity, later that week in the hospital, as I was coming to terms with this, I realized my life had just changed forever.
I grew up in a pretty decent middle class household, was a bit spoiled as the only child but yet core values were instilled in me. You want things, work hard or two jobs. If something happens, adjust and continue. So I was ready for the challenge. I knew my tennis life and running were done but I also realized that as I healed I would get some kind of leg built so I could walk. I was already picturing how I could fashion some bionic music to it when I walked. This is me.
Many surgeries continued through the following years since it was so brutally smashed off unlike the, as I call them lucky diabetes patients, where it's just cut off and sewn perfectly. Sure I shouldn't say that but it's my story and that's me.
Fast forward now a few years, maybe '06. Honestly all the dates and surgeries became a blur of time to me and still are. A dozen surgeries complete and I am pretty healed so the first training leg has been made. Of course you don't just get to shove the leg on and go. So much I had to learn during the painstakingly long process from accident to walking. I spent the next 6 months crutching up and down the street 3 or 4 times a day with the fake leg, it's what I call it, I can it's mine. I was so scared to drop those crutches and take a step. Was this leg really going to hold my weight and I can walk. No I don't think so. Finally the day came when I just said, "Do it!" Drop those crutches and see if you can take a step. So I did it, I let them fall to my sides and took a step. And then another. Tears filled my eyes, I couldn't believe it, I was a human again no some crippled people were always eyeballing everywhere on crutches with a half a leg.
Fast forward about 3 more years I wanted to get back to work. I was a career Master Bartender that made fat cash and our household was struggling. I did it, I went to work, no limb no problem. I was still the fastest and most efficient but I paid the price dearly. My stump, residual limb - none of us call it that, was always sore and blistered. It became a vicious circle of healing almost then pounding the leg and then healing and so on. I didn't understand that the stump unlike your hand per se, that always fits in the same size glove was quite different. It would swell, shrink so the prosthetic never fits 100%. Many adjustments always being made stuffing socks in to try to get a better fit, going to prosthetic place constantly. You eventually learn to get to a point and just deal with it and the pain. You can either be one of those people that puts it on in the am and deals with it or complain all day about it. I choose the former. Some days I can't wear it. Those days are long. I am a very go go person. I do not work anymore, my spouse makes enough so I don't have too. I'm very active, have a crab boat and spend my time doing that, house and yard projects and whatever I fancy.
This is my story, a small glimpse of if that is still going on."
Real Life Prosthetics Patient since 2006