Tag: possibilities

Rise To The Challenge

Rise To The Challenge

Run The Race Set Before You

 

It’s time to get off that couch and put your leg on. Let’s do this! If not today, then when?

I will tell you that the amputation wasn’t the end of a journey but the very beginning of another. Life is a journey so I don’t know why I thought any different with amputation. Now the real work comes in. You need to heal, and then get your socket fitted and THEN learn to walk all over again!  No one can truly prepare you for what’s to come with amputation but I will tell you that no matter what you are facing with yours, you CAN do anything! You just need to press on and learn to adapt.

For me it was about perseverance, distraction and goal setting. You will have good days and bad days, and knowing this will allow you to “bounce back” when the going gets tough. I didn’t realize this, at first, and when I began to struggle I thought it was going to be down, down, down, with no recovery…. that’s how my last 7 years had gone with surgeries, so why would this be any different? But then over the course of these past two years I realized that my residual limb changes size and shape and that will dictate how my socket fits, which, in turn, dictated some of my struggles and pains. But those bad moments, or struggles, were short lived and then good times would return. NOW that I know this I can take those “bad” days in stride, and not lose sleep over them (although, sometimes I do because of  the phantom pain 😉 Haha! Humor is good medicine, by the way.

Humor helps get through hard days. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

 

I started my journey, back to walking, by deciding to give virtual races a try. I am highly competitive with myself so when I set a goal, I will succeed. My 1st race was 175 miles in 3 months. I started this one just a couple months after getting my prosthetic! I figured, what’s the best way to get use to your new leg- use it, and use it A LOT! I would need to put in 2 miles everyday to catch up since I registered a little late. You know what? It was hard! But I stuck with it, logged all my miles and made the goal of 175 miles! And the pure joy of receiving my finisher’s medal stuck with me…so I registered for the next one, which was 150 miles! and then the next one- 150 miles! I finished all of those and then began smaller more condensed goals of completing 5k walks/runs, virtually.  The idea of doing a race within a day put more pressure on me to compete at my highest level. I had to complete 3.1 miles all at once and some days that was really hard. Some of them I raced for better and faster times, other times I had to be content with just finishing.  You need to know your body well enough not to do harm but also to know when and how hard to push.

My first medal as an amputee! I’m very proud of this one!

 

 

These are all that I have completed since July 2019!! Each one of them I picked with purpose.

 

I have enjoyed all the races I’ve completed. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment seeing all of my medals I’ve earned over the past 2 years as an amputee. These races have given me a purpose, goals, and independence as an amputee. I look and feel better then I have in a long time, and my mental health is at its peak. Listen  in to my podcast to hear more about how to get moving and what hurdles I overcame to finish all those medals these past 2 years.

Now it’s YOUR turn!

 

Check out these virtual races and register for one of them. Take baby steps to get there but get there! Challenge yourself to do and be something more. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish when you set a goal and get moving. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself, and you’ll start making strides in your physical, mental and emotional state, plus you and your prosthetic will become friends! 😉

Check these out:

Virtual Strides

Virtual Pace Series

Gone For A Run

Will Run For Bling and Charity

This last one is where I met some amazing people and did my first 3 BIG long distance races (175, 150, and 150 mile races over a few months) If you want a challenge, check this site out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each one of these holds meaning to me and I love every single one of my medals! They show me, when times get hard, that I can do it, I can succeed, and that my amputation doesn’t define or inhibit me!

 

Your Call to Action is to register to do a virtual race and do it by the end of June or if you need to, register now and build up to finishing by the end of July. Just don’t open that package until you’ve earned it. That’s how I did it because then I had something pushing me to finish. You’ve got this!!

You know I’m here for you! Send me a message, let me know how it’s going.

And as always:

Be Healthy,

Be Happy,

Be YOU!!

 

Cheers,

Angie

 

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

 

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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