Injury: Left Leg Below Knee Amputation
Tina is a 33-year-old former gymnast and Division 1 competitive cheerleading athlete. She has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology/ Nutrition and a graduate degree in medicine. She’s a nationally certified Physician Assistant that practiced vascular surgery and acute care medicine up until her most recent surgery; she is on disability currently.
Four years ago she was diagnosed with a rare blood vessel condition in her legs called Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome after it became increasingly difficult for her to walk and use her calf muscles without pain. Over the past few years, she has had multiple surgeries including muscle de-bulking, multiple artery bypass grafting, and endovascular artery interventions, which were all unsuccessful at getting blood flow to her left leg.
In July 2016, after things got critical and all surgeries had failed, she underwent a left below-knee amputation to regain some quality of life. Shortly after her initial amputation, she suffered a complicated postoperative course resulting in a large wound requiring significant wound care for eight months prior to a revision amputation in March 2017. She again had wound issues and her residual limb anatomy did not allow for prosthetic progression.
In October 2017, she had another amputation revision, which went well and after 13 surgeries, hopefully will have been the last of the left leg surgical saga.
According to Tina, she used to live a very calculated, overly organized, masterly planned life that she believed to be successful because of the things she had to show for her efforts. She had the tall, dark, handsome, and educated man of her dreams, a white picket fence house in an affluent neighborhood, a white-collar medical job that was quite financially comfortable, an envy provoking automobile, and a competitively athletic body. Her life was a color-coded, alphabetized, and compulsively thought out series of decisions for the goal of achieving successes that she defined by what society told her it should be. Tina says that her history was undoubtedly fueling her perfectionism and negative self-reflection, but that thankfully that history also helped prepare her for the trauma she was to face later in life. She had a perpetual need to be less scared, less vulnerable, less complicated, more agreeable, more attractive, more fit, and “more” of everything everyone would like, and less of everything that might be viewed as less than ideal.
The loss of her leg, her husband, her house, her dogs, and her career allowed her to discover that she had been lost that whole time. It took the dissolution of everything she leaned on for stability, to realize she needed to find stability within herself. She recognized the need to properly grieve the losses she’s suffered, the traumas she’s endured and to work on herself. She’s lived through repeated trauma, tremendous loss, and core shattering pain... but this is not her story. Her story is one of adaptation, enhancement and the pursuit of inner happiness. It is a story about the realization that life is not about finishing with 10 fingers or 10 toes; it is about developing inner constancy, building virtue in yourself, and getting the honor of being of service to the world.
Over the past year, she has taken up adaptive Crossfit and qualified for the OG Series (the equivalent of the Crossfit Games for adaptive athletes) last summer and took 2nd place at Wodapalooza in early January 2018, just 3 months post-op.
However, she recognizes her need for further development and redefinition in the wake of so much change physically, mentally and spiritually. She feels tremendously lucky that ATF entered her life serendipitously at the most perfect moment to facilitate her transition from just surviving to thriving.