Tag: Dr. Judd Cummings

I Am Who You Say I Am

I Am Who You Say I Am

How My Faith Saved Me and Made Me Who I Am Today…..

HIS!

Faith: the assurance of what is hoped for, with the conviction of what is unseen.

 

This podcast goes deep as I share the other half of my story, the side of my story that I have only just recently shared with people outside my circle.  This story that gives you a glimpse into my Faith and belief system that has been in place all my life but really grounded me the most the past several years…. especially the months right before my amputation.

 

I don’t want to go into much detail here as I hope you listen because the raw emotion that spilled out during my recording I don’t share lightly, and am sort of embarrassed by as I don’t lose it like that when I record my episodes.

This side of my journey is special and a sacred part of my journey that I have decided was time to tell, in hopes it may help someone else.  Please listen, please share, please subscribe to my emails so you don’t miss an episode.

 

This past week I was blessed to go speak to a women’s Bible study group and share my faith journey. This stirred in me that people want and need to hear these type of stories, if only to build hope in this world we are living in.

Thank you to my good friend, Laurie Porter, for inviting me to speak, and to the ladies of the Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church, here in Arizona, for allowing me the time to speak and share my story with you. I am truly blessed to have met each of you and call you friends.


Grateful to these ladies for opening up their study group to me so I could share my story
and to my Dad who is in visiting from Illinois. What a trooper being surrounded by all these women!

 

 

My first socket-I chose a saying that helped me get through those hard firsts of prosthetic wearing.

 

Today’s is simple;

If you believe then really BELIEVE. God has got you no matter the circumstance, no matter the fight or battle you are in. Let go and stop trying to control the situation. Listen, be quiet, see what He is trying to say to you.

If you aren’t a believer then ask questions. If you are intrigued by my story and the words I spoke then please reach out to me. I’d love to share more with you and answer your questions. You are never too late to find this unique relationship I spoke of.

 

And as Always:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!!

 

Much love,

Angie

Starting Point

Starting Point

Again, and Again, and Again…..

Starting Line to my 1st race as an amputee, and as a St Jude Hero.

 

If someone asked you where your life began, or where you started out, you might answer, when you were born. Others may answer where they started their career or life as an adult, when they had to be responsible for themselves and maybe a spouse or significant other.

For me, my starting point is always changing, and comes around…OFTEN!

Of course we all start life at birth, then we grow, move out and start our own life.

If we get married and have kids, those are all new points, starting once again.

At 40 something years old, I thought most of my starting points were behind me but in December 2018 my life shifted greatly. I elected to amputate my left leg above the knee, and start over. This was a huge discussion and was quite tough to make. Many questions came to me, like- Would I die during surgery? Would I get an infection? Will I really learn to walk again, or hike or ski, for that matter? Did I have the energy and strength to begin again and learn to do everything I knew how to do (with 2 legs) now with just one?

When I woke after surgery I started over. A clean slate. A new beginning. As scary as that was, it was also a moment of new hope. I could dictate the outcome of my decision, to some degree, with my attitude, mindset, and fight. And that’s just what I did!

In this podcast I discuss what it’s like starting over. And how as an amputee we “start over” A LOT! Every new socket, the change in weather, a new pair of shoes, a change in prosthetics, from walking leg to running blade, etc.

Another new socket fitting by Randy West 5/3/2021

 

Stop and rest now and then. Life is a marathon NOT a sprint!

 

All of that feels new, and changes our perspective and outcomes of that moment, day or week.

This was my 3rd ski trip as an amputee-the first one without instructors!

 

Starting over isn’t for the weak or faint of heart.❤

And sometimes we succumb to the constant newness of our circumstance. I discuss options you have on how, as an amputee, you deal with these obstacles, and how your support system can help you navigate day to day living.

Remember, it’s all about your mindset, but even the most optimistic people hit roadblocks they struggle to get around. Give yourself a break. Have grace with yourself and don’t hold on to those struggles. They are inevitable, and we all deal with them. Take a step back, breathe, then move forward-head held high!

Roadblocks are a part of life. Embrace the challenge and ATTACK!
Smiling’s my favorite! 😁

 

You are a warrior! Press on, good and faithful soldier, press on.⚔

 

This week, I want you to look in the mirror, and look deep within yourself.  Praise yourself for how far you’ve come. Recognize your successes, let go of fears. Press onward. If you haven’t made a vision board yet, give that a go this week. Check out my own vision board HERE  for an example.

If you have a vision board already made, then maybe now is a good time to refresh and renew your dreams, goals, thoughts and mantras.  Good big!! Aim for the stars and realize that you can achieve what you put your mind and heart in to.

As always, I would love to hear how you are doing. Reach out to me. Follow me on Instagram at @angie_heuser and/or @bawarrior360. DM me our email me. Leave a comment here and let me know how your goals are coming along, if you need help, or if your are struggling.

I’m here for you!

And as always:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!!!

 

Much love,

Angie

Head, Shoulders,…..Knees? and….Toes?

Head, Shoulders,…..Knees? and….Toes?

Physical Therapy After Amputation is Vitally Important to Your Success as an Amputee

My Tribe

 

Everyone needs a tribe. A group of people who are there for you, care about you, make you laugh when you want to cry and support all of your crazy ideas.  These are my people and I am so fortunate to have each and everyone of them in my life.  Some of them have been in my life since I was a teenager (my husband), others for the last few years, and others have been my medical team that have helped me through my journey into amputation. They have become friends, confidents, and the people I care about in my life. They’ve seen me at my worst, and they have watched me rise and been there watching and helping me achieve my goals. These people are priceless!

How many people can say that about their physical therapists? Some people curse those who put us through pain so we can heal, not me, they have only wanted to see me succeed…whatever it took. They never said it would be easy, but they never left my side. They worked with me, helping me get to where I wanted to go and, only then, began to let go, so I could soar.

I am excited for you to hear my interview with Dan and Kelly, the two PTs that got me up and walking in a prosthetic and running in my blade. They continued to work with me even when I got that crazed look in my eye and said, “Could we try….?” You name it, they did it. They stopped being surprised when I’d walk in saying I have something I’d like to do and just started asking what the new goal was. They continued to build my confidence and never backed down to my challenges I’d present to them.  They were my support system, and if they thought I could do it, then I could do it.

 

Relationships. It’s truly all about relationships. You see, I’m a relationship kinda girl. I love being around people, talking with people, and getting to know someone new.  My medical team is no different. The way they listen to me, hear my goals, dreams, and fears brings us closer, and we begin to work together and create a bond like no other. They have all seen me through some seriously hard times, but also the best of times. They have watched me shed tears of frustration and doubt, and laughter after accomplishing something big.

In this interview I talk with Dan and Kelly, from Touchstone Rehabilitation, about the importance of physical therapy, pre and post, amputation and how to find the right therapist for you. Not all therapist are the same, just like I said about prosthetists. Your therapist should have a ton of experience with amputees and listen to you and what’s important to you, never making you feel like what you want to accomplish is impossible- You want the therapist who wants to help you reach your goals, no matter the size.

Take a listen and take notes. Know that you have control over who you see and that you should feel confident and comfortable in their presence. Go with your gut and don’t settle. You deserve to find your tribe, too!

My “Surf Crew”- Mark, Mariah and Jovanni

 

Stopping by to say hi to the people who got you on track-it’s all about relationships!

 

This week I want you to get out and get active everyday! It doesn’t matter how long, just that you set a goal, and do it!

If you struggle walking in your prosthetic for more than a block then set a goal of walking a block. Once you do that then add another block, and continue to get out and move EVERYDAY! Don’t quit! Give yourself one week, to push yourself just a little bit more each day. At the end of the week you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come.  It takes time to build a positive habit, give yourself time to do just that.  Even after the week is up, continue, just use this week as your starting point. The sky’s the limit and you can do anything you put your mind to.

Reach out to me. Tell me how it’s going. Share your accomplishments, tell me your setback. We can do this together!!

I’m here for you!

 

Until next time:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!!

 

One foot in front of the other- that’s your starting point.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Not All Sockets (or Prosthetists) Are Made the Same

Randy West, myself, and David Banks

 

I consider myself so fortunate to have been directed to The Limb Center by my doctor, Dr. Judd Cummings, as I was planning for my amputation. And I think I am a good judge of character, so when I went in to meet Randy West and David Banks for the first time, pre-amputation, I knew I was getting the best care out there!

Fitting my running blade and trying it out for the first time

 

When I told Randy I wanted to surf and I brought him some surf leg plans he graciously went to work and built it for me,
just because he knew it was my dream!

 

Cheesy, but priceless, photo op with Randy, the Blue guy and my new surf leg!😎

 

They listened to me. They actually HEARD what I was telling them about my dreams, goals and aspirations….as well as my fears and doubts about going through with this surgery.

Not often, but in my situation, I was able to take my test socket out for a “test drive”

 

…and test drive it I did!! A 5K hike! It ended up being a great fit.

 

I had visited another prosthetist’s office before I knew of The Limb Center, and I had a pretty good experience there, too. I also met an amazing young lady who was an above knee amputee and a fighter, while I was there. However, three major factors first swayed me to Randy and David, before I really knew them. 1) They took my insurance- this is VERY important and the other office did not! 2) My doctor was very familiar with them and worked with them directly and, quite frankly, I trusted my surgeon and his opinion in this matter, and 3) David was an above knee amputee with 20+ years of experience being one. He could see things and understand an amputee better just by living it.

Amazing attention to detail, and always teaching me how to be independent,
by showing me how my prosthetic works and fits.

 

Then once I got to meet them and talk through my decision to amputate, I knew that we had a connection far greater than me being an office visit here and there. I had their cell phone numbers, could call or text whenever there was a problem, and time and again, they showed me that I mattered to them.

This is the type of relationship you should have and that you deserve with your prosthetist.

Randy and David join me in this podcast as we discuss the right “fit” in your relationship with your prosthetist, insurance and getting the right coverage, steps to getting your first socket, and when to turn around and walk out of that office and find the right relationship you need to be a healthy, happy amputee.  It can happen, but you need to push that for yourself and know when to do it.

Knowledge is power, and I want to arm you with as much knowledge as I can so you can feel confident and ready to advocate for yourself in the medical field, in your doctor appointments and when finding and working with your prosthetist. When we have knowledge, confidence, and opportunity we can access limitless possibilities in our lives.

 

 

People don’t realize that who you see for your prosthetics is so very important-it can make or break your desire and ability to really live your life after amputation, and it’s a relationship, like family.  You’ll be working with them for years to come so you’ll want to make sure you trust and enjoy working with them.

As always, if you have comments or questions, for me or our guests, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help.

Time to do the research and leg work- no pun intended. Talk to people, find social media groups that work with amputees, reach out to the Amputee Coalition and your doctor to see who they recommend as a prosthetist for you.

Once you have found a couple, make an appointment to go talk with them. Read their body language and how they talk with you. Do they want to hear your history, problems, dreams and aspirations? If not, move on to the next appointment. You deserve better, and it’s out there!

Make sure you address insurance issues and coverage with the prosthetist’s office. This is expensive equipment and will need to be upgraded over time- remember, it isn’t growing back so we need to make sure we have some help in coverage of costs.

If you have a prosthetist that you are unhappy with, and they don’t seem to listen or invest any more than your short office visit then you really need to find the courage and tell them it’s not working. If you are seeing someone who,  when you tell them you’re hurting or something doesn’t feel right, and they tell you that it doesn’t get any better and you need to deal with it…that’s a red flag! Time to research other places and prosthetists and find someone who can help.

This is YOUR life and YOUR body. You need to push for the best care so you can live it to the fullest. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights. I’m telling you, there are really good practitioners out there, you just need to look and ask the right questions to find them.

I wish you all well, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help.

 

Until next time:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.”

-Randy Pausch

 

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

 

_

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!