INNOVATION & GADGETS

Amputee girl on fire

Amputee

Tracy Summerhill

My amputee story

If you would have asked me 4 years ago where I thought my life would be today, I would have never guessed here.(@tracy_ann920) How one small workout injury, a peroneal tendon tear, could lead to the loss of my leg. Contaminated hardware, 22 surgeries, osteomyelitis, sepsis and  8 picc lines later,  I had to make the decision whether to keep my leg and risk losing my life, or amputation. Being a divorced, single mother to 4 young children, the choice was an easy one. I had to survive and beat this for them. They had already seen me suffer through so much and it was starting to take a toll on them. I suffered from depression and med addiction due to the pain control. Despite the fact I could barely eat most days, I gained 60 pounds from being on bedrest for 2 plus years. I could barely make it to my bathroom without losing my breath. Crazy thoughts ran through my mind. Would I remember how to walk? Would I ever find someone who could love me now with a part of my body missing? Would I ever wake up in the morning and feel normal again? The day before my amputation, I stood in my bathroom looking in the mirror at a person I didn't recognize. This girl who had been in the best shape of her life, who used to be full of energy, was gone. I cried alone, thinking how in less than 24 hours, my life would change forever.

Life after becoming an amputee

After my amputation, it was still a bit of a struggle. I developed the same staph infection in my stump that led to the osteomyelitis which caused my amputation. It was challenging to say the least as I continued with more surgeries. It prolonged my being able to get a prosthetic and learning to walk again that much longer. My first instinct was to withdrawal, hide out. Never leave the house. However, with 4 kids that was next to impossible and I still continued to push on. Had this infection not cleared up, the next phase would have been to amputate higher, above the knee. Miraculously, I finally got through this challenge and I felt as if my life was ready to begin again. I decided that it was time to change everything. My children were looking up to me to be there for them. What kind of example would I have been had I given up or let this take over my life? I wanted to teach them that no matter how hard our lives can be, whatever we are faced with, we can survive. I wanted to inspire others who were facing similar situations and adversity to not give up. Too many times to count, I had felt like I wanted to throw in the towel. There were times in the hospital that I felt like I was truly going to die. In the back of my mind I would picture my kids and how their lives would be if I wasn’t here. I had to fight. I had to push harder for them. God had blessed me with these 4 amazing children and I refused to let this take me away from them.   

Thankful for life

Here I am today, 4 years from my initial injury, 2 years since my amputation. Still going strong. Not quite where I was before but I am getting there. I am walking, I am back to running and working out. I am running my first 5K in years here on Thanksgiving. It’s going to be an emotional moment for me when I cross that finish line. Something I thought I would never do again. I am so thankful for God, my faith, my children, and some pretty amazing friends of mine who have helped me get back to where I am today.

Loving my life now

The one thing I have learned throughout this journey is to not take things for granted. Something as simple as walking. We do it everyday not thinking twice about it until its gone. Appreciate everything you have. Enjoy the beauty in the world. Live our lives to its fullest. Have fun. Take risks. Stay humble and be kind. Treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves. I’ve learned how to love differently. How to be a better person, mother, and friend. I may be missing a part of my body, but my heart is now whole. I am proud of the woman I have become. I hope that I can inspire others not to give up. We have so much to fight for and so many reasons to live on.

~Live Well-Laugh Often-Love Much~  

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