Always Stay Positive
My name is Angela Larson (@anggg_15), I'm age 19 from Minnesota. Due to being born with a severely clubbed left foot that simply could not be fixed anymore, on December 19th of 2016, I had my below the knee amputation surgery. Before I was born, my parents were told by looking at the Ultrasound that it would be very difficult for me to walk. I had my first surgery at 5 months old, and between then and now, I've had a total of 13 surgeries on my one left foot. At the age of 16, I was told by my pediatrician that I had the ankle of an 80 year old woman. However, it hadn’t dawned on me, or my parents, that I would eventually have to lose my foot. From bone fusions, to breaking and rotating my tibia and fibula, you name it, I’ve probably had it. But throughout all of those surgeries, I've been a three sport athlete. I played hockey, tennis, and softball all throughout my high school career. I defied the odds, I did what doctors said couldn't be done. However, I was always in constant, chronic, bone-on-bone pain. From sports to just plain walking, I was always in pain.
"God Doesn't Give You Anything that You can't Handle"
I had started playing hockey at the age of 4. I fell in love with it from the start. Almost every year, my typical schedule was to get a surgery in the late spring, and to be recovered by the late fall, just so I could play hockey. However, by the time my senior year of the hockey season appeared, it was the first time that I was recommended not to play the sport that I oh-so loved. I felt like my life had shattered. But, I was still able to help coach the Junior Varsity hockey team, which definitely took the edge off of everything. At that point, I still had never thought that I would be losing my foot a year later. My second love was tennis. I started playing tennis when I was in 8th grade. Due to usually recovering during the tennis season in the late summer to early fall, I unfortunately could not join the sport until I was 13. But it is better late than never. I picked up the gist of the sport right away, enjoying every second of my falures and successes. In my 9th grade year, I had played a few varsity matches, and I later joined the varsity in 10th grade. I loved the sport with a passion, however, I was always in pain on the court. Along with hockey, my senior season of tennis I was unable to participate in it. But also, I was given the opportunity to coach the junior varsity tennis team. It was a wonderful experience, and I am very fortunate to have gained the experience of coaching the youth.
Needing to Make a Change
In June of 2016, right after I graduated from high school, I was given the amazing opportunity through my high school to travel to Australia and New Zealand. Before the trip, I was a little apprehensive as to the fact that I knew that the walking would kill my foot. And, I was right. By the time that the third day rolled around, I was in excruciating pain. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of that trip. I simply fell in love with Australia. However, my foot made it hard to enjoy my experience as much as I did. During our last dinner in Cairns, Australia, I was questioning to myself “Is this really worth it to live in pain every day? Will I be able to travel the world when I’m older? What will happen when I start a family? Will I be physically able to chase my kids around?” My mind was going crazy. At that moment, I had decided that I was finished with living in pain, and that I needed to make a change.
On July 12, 2016, Doctor Chris Coetzee from Twin Cities Orthopedics had recommended that I get my left foot amputated. Being that I was 18 years old, I was far too young to have an ankle replacement that I very much needed. There were too many deformities that still had to be fixed, and it simply was not worth it to continuously get surgeries that may, or may not, get me out of pain. After 5 months of mulling over the fact that I would soon be losing my foot, on December 19, 2016 at approximately 12:10 in the afternoon, I had my left foot amputated below the knee, woke up with the biggest smile on my face, and I never looked back. Exactly a month and a day later (January 20th), I had walked for the first time on my test prosthesis, and it felt phenomenal. It was the first time that I had walked without pain.
"After 19 years, I can finally walk without pain!"
Yesterday, (February 12th) after 4 days of having my prosthesis, I skated for the first time. I had never felt so free of pain before. It was a special time shared with my dad, being that he was the one who introduced me to hockey. It felt like it was my first time ever skating. I feel like losing my foot is a rebirth. It had restricted me for 19 years too long, and now I have the rest of my life to make up for the time that I had lost due to pain. However, I am very thankful for the lessons that I have learned from my foot. It taught me that I am still capable of doing what I want, even when my circumstances weren't the best. I see losing my foot as a celebration rather than a loss. I am no longer a prisoner of chronic pain, and no longer do I have any limitations as to what I can and cannot do. I am extremely humbled with the support that I have recieved from my family, friends, community, and also the amputee community. I am very happy with how far I have come, and now I have a very positive outlook on the future. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this!