Contributed by: Tonya
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, June 2010
Tonya is 36 years old and lives in Oregon.
Almost three years ago at the age of 33 I was hit by a car while waiting for the bus. The impact of the car shattered half my leg and foot bones into a thousand pieces. The doctors had no choice but to amputate half of my left leg. I am considered a BK (below the knee amputee). I had to stay in a wheelchair for over five months to wait for my “stump” to heal…so I could be fitted for a prosthetic.
During my initial amputation I was in so much pain! I was on on hydrocodone and acetaminophen…but the doctors don’t allow patients to stay on it too long…as it can be highly addictive…so I was eventually weaned off of hydrocodone and acetaminophen…and had to deal with my pain with over the counter medication. I also had to battle depression and dealing with limb loss …suicide rates tend to be high for first year amputees. I had to fight very hard to maintain a positive outlook. I was helped with the support of family and friends. I learned to walk again on a prosthetic through physical therapy. For the most part I am living a “normal” life…I work, do activities, have boyfriends etc. However, I still battle depression and sadness at times as it’s very hard to face limb loss, especially after having a leg for almost 30 yrs!
I also still deal with pain almost on a daily basis. I live in a city with very cold/rainy weather…and I can “literally” feel when the weather is about to change (storm etc) with my leg, because the aching gets really bad! Also just general “phantom limb pain”….the feeling that my toes are burning and itching….I also get what I call “zingers” like sharp needle pain that will “zing” at the lower part of my “stump”…I guess basically where all the nerve endings are clustered together. It’s been hard to deal with this, but I am still trying. To be honest I haven’t really found any successful ways to counterattack the pain. I do massage my limb at times that helps…tried acupuncture a couple of times…that helped for a little bit. For the most part I just try not to push myself too hard (as my “good” leg, my right leg was also horribly crushed in the accident… I didn’t lose it but do have all kinds of rods and pins holding it together!), because I can easily get tired from walking on a prosthetic at long distances and my “good” leg also gets worn out.
I would just tell others to stay positive and maintain relationships with friends and family and those that care about you…so when you get sad you can think about them and it makes you feel a bit better!