I became a quad amputee around my 50th birthday after having strep throat which developed into Toxic Shock Syndrome. I had total body organ failure. To save my life, they gave me medicine to raise my blood pressure. It saved my vital organs but created a loss of blood flow to my extremities. It caused gangrene and, I hate the word, but mummification of my hands and feet. At that point, it was life or limbs. They waited five months to let my hands fully die on my body before amputating them. That was a freaky time to deal with.
My story started when I was in the Reading Rehab. I was brought over to IM ABLE for a field trip to meet with Chris [Kaag]. At the time I wasn’t able to ride bikes. But as soon as I got my prosthetics, I literally immediately applied for a grant for adaptive equipment. In the meantime, I met with Scott Barrows of Lancaster Recumbent. He built a bike around my disability. I should have prefaced this by saying I was an active hiker prior to my quadruple amputations. The bike became my outlet. Getting the actual equipment and participating in the Duathlon and actually completing all 16 miles.
I was hooked, the wind was back in my hair. It has meant freedom to me. By being able to get stronger in a way that helps, I don’t want to say eliminate the pain, or stop it, but I’m bypassing the pain through the exercise. From that point, I was hooked. I have been in every race and developed an amazing competitive spirit. I knew that exercise and activity would keep me out of a chair and help me into the future. I eventually began working with a personal trainer through the foundation and because of that, I’m doing adaptive crossfit.
The increased strength has helped me with transfers and, well, it’s just helped me everywhere, completely. Ten months of being bedridden affected my ability to do anything. Now I’m working out and have gym envy. I guess I shouldn’t say that, but that’s what it is. The foundation has helped me reduce my total dependence on my husband.
Being a former hiker and thinking that I’d never be able to get back into the woods because of my inability to stay stable while walking over rocky surfaces, a mountain bike would enable me to get back into my truly serene place. I’ve hiked over 4,500 miles and would love the opportunity to get back to the Appalachian Trail again. With the support of the IM ABLE Foundation, the foundation’s equipment, and some friends I’ve made here, I’d be able to get out there again.
One year, I had birthday cake and coffee at the Pinnacle (a local peak with a great view), and I am going to do that again. It was February. My cake was mostly frozen but it was the best birthday I’ve had yet.
My second half is just beginning and I’m enjoying it.
Our generous donors and volunteers made this possible and we can’t thank them enough.