Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Is This Blogger?

I realized that I have been remiss in introducing myself. My name is Peggy, and I am a patient at OPC. I have been a below knee amputee for over seven years. Right now I am a full time stay-at-home Mommy with aspirations of being a writer.

I have been writing and maintaining my own blog, www.amputeemommy.blogspot.com and website, www.amputeemommy.com for the last 18 months. Elliot has been following my blog and, when he decided to create blog for OPC, he asked if I would be willing to help. He provides me with content, and I write and maintain the posts.

My personal story began in Ocean City Maryland on March 11, 1998, at a conference. A vendor was pushing a computer on a cart. Unfortunately, the cart became stuck on the floor board. Brute force was applied to the cart, causing it to lurch forward. The computer monitor became dislodged and fell with edge landing directly on the top of my foot.

Pain persisted long past the prescribed healing period. I had a nerve stimulator implanted in my leg. The electrodes were put on the nerves in my ankle, and wires were burrowed up my leg to a battery pack embedded in my thigh. I had a remote control to work the device. I was quite bionic!

On July 3, 2003, after enduring more than 20 surgeries, I had my left foot amputated. This was, without doubt, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. Upon reflection, it was the best choice I could have made.

I met with Elliot approximately eight weeks after my amputation. I remember sitting in the back room with my husband, Scott. We were both nervous because we didn't know what to expect. I could not have anticipated what happened next.

Elliot asked me to unwrap my limb so that he could examine it. Scott immediately jumped up and began to remove the compression bandages. Elliot stopped him and told me that I needed to do it myself.

I resisted, explaining that I didn't feel "comfortable" removing the bandages and looking at the my stump. Elliot was kind, but insisted that I needed to do it myself and that I should be careful about becoming dependent upon Scott. Scott sat down and I unwrapped my leg.

I was angry, but I also knew that Elliot was right. I needed to learn to deal with my own limb. I was an amputee, and I needed to face that reality. That moment was my first step towards healing.

The physical recovery was difficult, but not nearly as painful as the emotional recovery. I underestimated the emotional ramifications of an amputation and went through a spell of depression. It took a year, and more tears than I can count, to realize that I was the same person as I had been previously, but now without my foot. My foot didn't define me, just as my amputation doesn't define me now.

The care I received at OPC has been integral to my recovery. I have lost over 100 pounds and I have more energy than I did when I was in my 20's. It is comforting know that when a prosthetic problem arises, help is only a phone call away. I feel like I am more than a patient. At OPC, it feels like I am a member of a team that works collectively to provide me with a prosthetic to help me live to my potential.

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