Is Amputation Right For You?

Is Amputation Right For You?

Advocating For Yourself When You Reach That Moment

-My First steps as an amputee
-This was pure joy: a new life had been opened up to me
-The possibilities were endless

-My amazing nurses that saw me through
several days of recovery
-This was just before being discharged
-Excitement mixed with nerves

-Dr Judd Cummings, my amazing orthopedic surgeon

 

That moment had come, in my mind. I had done everything to make my knee work the way it was suppose to. I spent years in PT. I tried medication, pain management, dry needling, cryotherapy, holistic/Eastern medicine, blocks, non-invasive surgeries, and allergy testing. NOTHING helped. When I came home from Europe only to find out I had a blood clot and could’ve died in flight was it then that  I realized  that was it, the end of my pursuits to regaining mobility with the knee I was born with.

Enter Dr. Judd Cummings.

He listened to my concerns, had a real grasp of my years of trying to make things better and let me know that I was in the right place, checked off all the boxes, and that amputation was definitely a route he could help me take.

Was this an easy thing to talk about? No way! For a while I couldn’t even say the “A” word. If I did, it became real and I wasn’t emotionally there yet. I got several other opinions before heading back to Dr. Cummings office. One opinion even told me that I’d never walk again if I amputated!! Can you believe that!?!?

The reality is, you need to be in the right state of mind to accept it and go forward with this surgery. How did I know it was right for me? I knew I had exhausted all my options. I had started talking to people in that world who had success with their amputation, and I knew that I was NOT living my life. I was defeated. I was tired of working so hard for something that wasn’t working. I missed doing things with my family, my boys, who were growing up so quickly before my eyes while I watched from the sidelines.

I once had a doctor tell me that I would be a good candidate for amputation however I wasn’t there, yet. I had no idea what he meant by that….until my blood clot. It was like a final slap in the face. The final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. At that moment, in the ER, when the doctor told me I had a blood clot, I knew right then and there that I was physically ready for amputation.

I spent over a month getting second opinions, even though I knew I wanted Dr. Cummings to do the surgery, but I was doing my due diligence. Making sure I heard everything loud and clear from several medical professionals, asking a lot of questions, and sometimes hearing things I didn’t want to hear. Each one of those appointments lead me to the final decision, with conviction.

After I set the date for December 18, 2018 I had 3 months to mull it over, ask more questions, worry, get confused, doubt my decision and have nightmares. It was not an easy road leading up to that fateful date. But in those months I gained mental strength that was needed to rise above and succeed in my endeavor. By the time I woke, the morning of my surgery, I was in the best spirits, the weight of my decision was in God’s hands and I was ready! My Faith drove me forward, gave me confidence and conviction.

-I did it for them❤

When I woke after surgery, the moment I actually feared the most, I never felt better. Even my family was shocked by my recovery (I usually am very groggy and sick to my stomach when I come to), and my chirper behavior surprised them.

As I speak with Dr. Cummings in my interview you’ll hear some things that can help you succeed, if this is the path laid out for you. We discuss advocating for yourself in the doctor appoints, gaining perspective through talking to others who have been there, and knowing when to seek another opinion. Dr. Cummings also tells us what things he, as a professional, looks for when deciding if amputation is the best avenue for his patients.

This is not an easy road but it is possible to live your life once again. Yes, I look different. Yes, I have more hurdles to jump over when doing everyday chores. Yes, there are good days and bad days, but everyone has those. It’s ultimately your mindset and the attitude you take about your circumstance that can determine the success you have or don’t have.

Take a listen. Hear what we are saying and know that you, too, can live a full, healthy, and active life as an amputee.

Find joy in where you are, and hope that new adventures can still be had after amputation!

This week, if you believe you may be a candidate for amputation, or you’re leaning towards it, OR your doctor has told you that this is the way you should go then I want you to do a few things to help you in the decision making process.

  1. Check with your insurance on their coverage. This is a lifelong journey, not done once surgery is done. You’ll need to really advocate for yourself with your insurance company for the surgery AND the prosthetic care afterwards! Call them, multiple times, and make sure you always get the same answer to the questions you are asking: for example, is amputation covered? Is my prosthetic covered? Find out what type you may get-some insurance companies won’t cover an electronic leg and you need to know what that means to you.
  2. Talk to a prosthetist or two. Get to know them. Ask questions that you have thought about, like what type of leg you could get based on your physical activity level. There’s a K test they do to see where you are and insurance companies use that to determine what they will cover.
  3. Ask those prosthetist for people that would be willing to do a peer-to-peer. Talking with amputees, especially successful ones, will bolster confidence that you can do it too, and also give you an idea of their day to day routine and struggles they’ve overcome. I also learned through my peer-to-peer visits that they all had a common thread: they all had a great, positive attitude and all of them set goals for themselves for AFTER the amputation. Goals setting is so key, but attitude can make or break the situation you’ll be in.
  4. Get second, third and even fourth opinions about the surgery from different doctors. It’ll be insightful to hear the different takes they each have.

You have your work cut out for you until next week. Reach out to me if you have questions. I’d love to talk!

Until next time,

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!

-My first “real” photo after I got home- I hadn’t “shown off” my new look until this moment

 

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Embrace your new life. Except it and then you can find true happiness in the choice you made OR the choice that had to be made for you. You’ve got this! I know you can do it.

-Much love,

Angie

 

Facing Fears, Overcoming Obstacles

Facing Fears, Overcoming Obstacles

What’s Holding You Back?What if I told you that you can overcome your fears. What if I told you that you could rise above your circumstances and that they do NOT define you?

You need to hear Mike’s story, but not just what happened to him, listen to how he speaks about it. Listen to his message of the hope, and how he looked toward his future and NOT his past. Hear his heart and about the faith he had that this was all part of a bigger plan. We could all learn a thing or two from his approach to living a full and rewarding life and how his positivity and mindset might be just what you need to be inspired to make the most of your circumstances.

I met Mike while we were in Kauai on vacation a couple of years ago. I didn’t know his story before meeting him but was intrigued to hear that he lost his leg in a shark attack and went right back to surfing.  Talk about facing fears! Wow! I find his story inspiring, not just because he went back to surfing but because he took a life changing event and made the most of it. To become a shark advocate and to be face to face with them so he could photograph them and show the world what beauty lies within these ancient creatures is, to me, the ultimate sign of courage and strength.

What I realized after talking with Mike, in depth, is that we ALL have that capability inside of us. We can all make the choice to see the positive in any situation. We can get knocked down a hundred times but rise 101 times. We control the power within ourselves to be great and live a full and meaningful life, no matter what hand we are dealt.

Mike and I meeting for the first time in Kilauea, Kauai

 

I really hope you hear the message Mike presents in our interview, and understand that it’s possible to find happiness in tragedy, hope when you feel hopeless, and success in overcoming fear. You can do this! You are strong enough and you have a story to share with others. Through your fight and your journey, you, too, can and will inspire.

 

Call to Action:

Decide if you are playing the victim and throwing a pity party because life didn’t deal you the hand you think you deserve or are you looking at that circumstances as a way to rise to the challenge and going to make the best of it.

Then decide if you want to make a change and start living your life.

If you are choosing to take back control of your life, what do you need to make this happen?

Do you need to change your thinking? Then start by seeing the positive- I try to remember that I am lucky to be alive and healthy and can now do the things I couldn’t do just 2 years ago. I also realize that there are people in worse situations than I am and that I should have a a heart of gratitude.

Do you need help? Reach out to a family member, a friend, a close co-worker or find a support group. Sometimes it’s just plain tough to go it alone and a healthy, open relationship is just what you need. Be honest with yourself and your family about how you’re feeling. Sometimes just talking through your feelings will release your anxiety and allow you to grow.

Once you figure out what’s holding you back you can begin to move forward and make the necessary changes to improve your outlook on your life, and begin to have a positive, healthy mindset that will translate to a more profitable lifestyle for you and those around you.

This week I want you to work on your thinking and how you perceive your life. Be positive, upbeat, lose the negativity and smile. The simple act of smiling increases the release of endorphins and serotonin- a pain reliever and antidepressant, respectively. Try it!

I want to see you soar! I want to see you live a healthy, full and wonderful life. It’s there for the making.

 

Next week join me as I speak with Dr. Judd Cummings, the Orthopedic surgeon who performed my amputation and helped me get my life back.

Until next time:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!

 

 

 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Using Fear to Grow and Overcome Obstacles

What holds you back from accomplishing your goals, your dreams?

What stops you from moving forward, creating anxiety within you?

If you are crippled by fear and can’t seem to move forward in pursuing your goals just know you are not alone.  Everyone has some sort of fear: fear of failure, fear of acceptance, fear of being alone or in pain. The issue is never about whether you have a fear or not, it’s about how much it controls your life.

I use to tell my sons, when they were little, that it was ok to have fears, as long as it doesn’t control you or stop you from being healthy, happy and living your life.  Fear is defined by Merriam-Webster as an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; anxious concern. Fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually a loss of courage.  Sometimes fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger or pain, whether the threat is real or imagined.

For most of us, we experience fear based on past, unpleasant experiences. It makes sense. If I went rock climbing a year ago and my foot slipped and I went sliding down the face of the rock, scrapping up my body, I might instantly feel anxiety well up inside of me when a friend suggests we go rock climbing today. As adults, we tend to hold onto past experiences, good and bad, and file those moments away, only to have them resurface when we perceive that we are walking into a similar situation.

However, this only becomes a problem when it creates a roadblock in our living. If we allow that fear, that anxiety, to stop us from experiencing life, then we’ve allowed it to define us.

Once we realize that fear is just a part of human nature then we can learn from it, and dare I say, use it as a tool to help us grow and actually enjoy new experiences. We don’t grow in our comfort zones, we grow when we get pushed  into uncomfortable situations. It forces us to improvise, it heightens our alertness and makes us aware of our limits, helping us to push our minds and bodies into new, unchartered territories.

This is how I have felt since becoming an amputee. Each day I feel that there is something that makes me become more alert, anxious, or even fearful. When I first learned to walk in my prosthetic I worried about falling and hurting myself, or making myself look foolish in public. Then as I got better at walking I tried to run. I’d put on my running blade, but would only go out at night so no one could see me stumble, look awkward, or stare at me. Fear of not being good enough stopped me from getting out in daylight, when it was safer and easier to see the road. I eventually got past that enough to go out earlier, but I still felt uncomfortable. Each day would bring it’s own set of issues, anxiety and discomfort. I tried a lot of new things like sled hockey and surfing, for the first time as an amputee. And each one of these was a test of my fortitude on pushing past my own insecurities. I am a perfectionist and very competitive with myself and others.

If you can do it, so can I.

If you tell me I can’t because I’m missing a leg, I’ll show you that I can. (That might actually be the stubbornness in me).

Skiing in Colorado March 2021

 

In today’s podcast I share with you my journey at getting back to skiing and how fear of falling takes away from the experience. I want to enjoy skiing again. To be outside, breathing in the fresh air, getting exercise and making a connection with my family.

So what do you do when fear takes hold? How do you push past discomfort and really start living your life?  It’s a mindset. It’s positive self-talk, your own personal pep-talks.  It’s about goal setting.

This goes back to the vision boards I talked about in the last episode. If you didn’t hear that podcast you can take a listen here

My vision board

A vision board is a place to put your dreams, goals, positive messages. Once you’ve created it you will have a place to go to keep yourself motivated. When you start to worry or doubt yourself or your capabilities, look to your vision board. You also need to remember that goals take time, and the bigger the goal the more grace you need to have with yourself and the setbacks that may occur. I remind myself, daily, that baby steps are still steps.

When we went skiing this past week, my first day on the slopes wasn’t my best. I just wasn’t feeling it, my movements were tense and unsure. We didn’t ski again until the end of the week, and quite frankly I couldn’t help but worry that I was going to feel the same way as before. Part of me would have been content with not skiing again….but I decided to push myself into uncomfortableness and try again, and you know what? I had a great day of skiing! I relaxed, worked on breathing, remembered some techniques I had been taught by my adaptive ski instructors from the previous year and enjoyed my day (and yes, I even talked to myself, affirming my skills and capabilities as a skier). When all was said and done, I was grateful I pushed myself out of my comfort zone that day. I wiped away the negative memories of the first day of skiing and replaced them with healthy, positive ones. The funny thing about that, I am the only one who saw my progress, because it was internal. It was the way I felt out there and how I moved from being uncomfortable to comfortable. This was MY victory. I conquered my fears and came out on top.

You need to remember that you CAN do anything. You set your goals, you speak and write affirming words to motivate and push yourself forward, you surround yourself with a tribe of people who can support you-mentally, emotionally, physically.

It may not be easy, but you can accomplish your goals, and when you do, when you learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, it’ll be then that you will truly be living your best life. And nothing will be able to stop you.

Call to Action:

This week, write down a fear you have. Something you want to conquer. Decide on the goal and the steps you’ll need to take to get to that goal. Add the desired outcome to your vision board or tape it on the mirror in your bathroom, somewhere you can see it everyday, someplace that will be a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish. Now go for it!! Reminder: some days will be better than others (remember my first day of skiing was the pits) but don’t give up. I challenge you to enjoy the journey, with its ups and downs. Get after it, have grace with yourself. If you take a step backward, don’t GIVE up- GET up, and attack it again. You can do this!!

Finally, lean on someone. Ask for accountability and support from someone you trust. If you struggle with that, reach out to me, let me help you.

Make sure you let me know how you’re doing.

Tell me what your goals and dreams are in the comments below, or email me. I’d love to hear about your journey. I’m here.

Best wishes on conquering your fear(s).

Speaking of conquering fears, next week I have a special guest. My friend, Mike Coots, joins me from Kauai, HI. He is an amazing photographer, shark advocate, surfer, and an amputee who lost his leg in a shark attack! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

Until next time:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!

A Vision of Hope

A Vision of Hope

Creating a vision board when times get toughLife is a journey. Embrace it.

It has ups and downs. Be prepared for it.

“Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight”-Chinese Proverb

You are not alone in these two certain facts but we need to be able to cope and heal and thrive when times get hard. That’s when your mental and emotional game need to prove their worth. Like strength training, or the runner training for a marathon, learning to cope with adversity is something you need to prepare for and train for. Training comes when you are in the midst of it and what mindset and attitude you take into your storm. If you prepare for it and acknowledge what could come your way then you are helping yourself by preparing your mindset to thrive through the hard times and even come out on top. I’m not saying you won’t get beat up, battered and bruised through some of these valleys, even trained runners can get cramps and blisters, right? The difference is when you understand that life works with highs and lows then you won’t feel like you’ve been punched in the gut when it happens and you’ll also have a healthier train of thought that assists you when you get knocked down.

And when you get knocked down you will be able to fight to stand again, and again, and again!

Will there be harder days? Days where you struggle to get back up? Of course, everyone has those moments, so we rely on the people in our circle to help, and we learn about ourselves, and make adjustments for the next moment.

I don’t live on those harder days, I don’t dwell on them, but I don’t ignore them and pretend they won’t happen or, even worse, pretend that I’ve never had any hard days. That would be fake, ingenuine and that is unhealthy for me.

I own every circumstance I’ve been through. I tell people about them so they don’t feel alone. My goal isn’t to be perfect, just to be transparent, in the hopes it will help someone overcome their own struggles.

Listen to today’s episode to see where my journey has gone the past week to see a struggle I’m in the midst of right now and what I’m doing to cope and come out on top again.

Call to Action

Make your own Vision Board. I have pictures of mine above and below. I discuss how to create one in this episode as well. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or to share the vision board you created. I’d love to see them and hear how they have helped you.

Enjoy the journey-the highs and lows, because without the lows we cannot appreciate the highs.

Until next time;

Be Healthy

Be Happy

Be YOU!

Empowered, Active Lifestyle with Levitate

Empowered, Active Lifestyle with Levitate

About 2 weeks ago I reached out to Levitate on Instagram searching for someone who appeared to have mastered using a running blade. I had been out of my blade for over a year between socket adjustments, nerve pain and surgery. I was ready to try again now that the stars had all aligned but I knew that I need some tips and tricks to start moving again.

Enter Levitate.

I reached out to them in a DM on Instagram and they wrote back with 30 minutes! I just asked if they had some wisdom on getting me to trust my blade once again and how I could strengthen my residual limb. They sent me a video of a few exercises to start with and we got into a discussion about their company. Their mission was simple yet profound. They strive to create quality sports blades that the average person could afford, while empowering them to become active and healthy in a community that supports one another!!

WOW!!! I knew, right then and there, that they had to be a guest on my podcast and soon! I have heard from so many amputees about how they would love to get a running blade (or sports blade) but just couldn’t afford one. I felt that this company would be the answer to so many prayers and wanted to help them grow. They are located in Copenhagen, Denmark and wanted to get more following in the United States so getting their name out there was important, but making sure their mission was heard, by as many people as possible, was vital. I think they have something great and I want everyone to have a chance to be a part of this, empowering the amputee community to have the lifestyle they would like to have, to have a choice NOT dictated by price.

I hope you feel as excited and inspired as I am by what they are doing and what they are about.

Now is the time to live your best life.

The choice is yours, thanks to Levitate!!

Check them out on Instagram: @Levitate.sport or at www.letslevitate.com

Embracing Vulnerability

Embracing Vulnerability

Wow! What an experience I had! To think that I felt totally at peace and right with my amputation, yet coming to terms with it, through a horse, and finding that I had some deeper fears that I wasn’t allowing myself to show-like it was a sign of weakness instead of courage! It was such a profound moment for me, one that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

I am in awe of the grace and yet strength and connectiveness of horses to the people around them. It’s like they have a 6th sense to detect what we would otherwise ignore or try to hide.  They live in the moment and expect the people they come in contact with to do the same. I will be forever changed because of this experience and I am grateful that Cherokee taught me a hard, but valuable lesson, about myself.

Listen in the hear my story of the time a horse taught me to let go.

Me with Cherokee- The horse that forced me to open up and be honest with myself
Never Quit, Never Surrender!

Never Quit, Never Surrender!

No matter what I went through those 3+ years prior to amputation, Dr. Shaun Palmer never gave up on me or my hope…nor did I! I was going to walk again! I was going to get better, whatever it took! In this episode I chat with my PT that I saw from my knee revision surgery through amputation. You’ll get to hear his side of my journey and how he adapted my therapy to fit where I was physically and mentally. I want to show you what is possible when you advocate for yourself in the medical world, and what kind of relationships you can build with the right mindset. Unleash the warrior inside of you! Fight for your health! Bring your hopes, dreams and positivity to your provider so they can best serve you.

Dr. Palmer is also a co-host on the Doc Doc Goose Podcast (DDG Podcast) that you should check out for great information and entertainment.

Be sure to subscribe to Be-YOU-tiful Adaptive Warrior Podcast so you don’t miss an episode. I have big things in the works and some very special guests lined up. Check my Instagram account for updates as well: @BAWarrior360 and @angie_heuser and some upcoming Live Interviews with some amazing people.

Until next time, Be healthy, Be happy, Be YOU!

Starfish Arms and Lizard Tails

Starfish Arms and Lizard Tails

It won’t grow back so it’s time to change your thinking!

The road I’ve taken to get where I am and to be the person you see here has been long and filled with bumps and bruises along the way. I got knocked down-over and over again but I chose to get back up. Today, I share my journey with you for the first time. From injury to amputation, this is my personal story.

To be transparent is to show the world your weakest side, your weakest moments in hopes of inspiring and motivating others. I hope my story gives you hope, makes you laugh, and maybe even shed a tear because you  know this story all too well, as it mirrors your own.

Mine started in taekwondo. That’s when I felt like my train derailed. Little did I know what the next several years would bring, who I’d meet along the way, and the lessons I would learn.

Know their is hope in your story. That journeys serve a purpose, and that your perception and attitude will help you rise up and conquer whatever is in your way.

It’s time to unleash the warrior within you! Listen to my new podcast episode here! You can also click the link to your favorite podcast platform (Apple, Spotify, iHeart Radio) on this page.

After you listen, add your Call To Action comments here so I can see where you’re at in your journey and respond.

Thanks  for listening and please subscribe and don’t forget to share my link with someone you know that needs encouragement today!!

 

Starfish Arms and Lizard tails

Starfish Arms and Lizard tails

New podcast episode is on it’s way. In this episode I want to delve into my history up to my amputation so you can understand where my experience comes from and what I’ve been through. Amputation happens all the time, and for so many different reasons: accident/trauma, disease, infection, and elected.  To understand my view point and my drive- what makes me tick- you must first know who I am and what I went through. Let’s call this the starting point of our relationship, our first date, in some ways. You wouldn’t spend time or energy on someone you knew nothing about unless they led you to believe there was something worth getting to know. In this episode I will do just that. Time to get personal and share my story.  You will understand what makes me…. Me! And my hope is to reach you, my listener, so that you can relate to parts (or all) of my story and feel comfortable with the topics at hand and why I am sharing. I want to help others, who have struggled in life, reach their potential no matter what their circumstance. To give hope to those who feel they have none and to show you how to stand strong and live your best life through the ups and downs, and ins and outs of my journey.

Fasten your seatbelts as we jump into my pre-amputation life- it was a wild ride for about 6 years!

This Can’t Be MY Life!

This Can’t Be MY Life!

Welcome to my trailer of Be-YOU-tiful Adaptive Warrior. This is a quick introduction to what you will be hearing about throughout my episodes. My journey through healing and living my best life, and how I can help you achieve that same success.

For more information please contact Angie at: BAWarrior360@gmail.com