Did you know that April is Limb Loss Awareness Month? It’s ok if you didn’t… I didn’t either. But behold… It is! I’ve been wanting to share my story on here since I started this blog over a year ago. I just haven’t been able to figure out how I wanted to go about it. When I found out it was Limb Loss Awareness month… I decided to just go for it ,and “spit it out”.
If you have met me in person, or seen a picture of me… then you already know. I am an amputee. But I didn’t just wake up one day and POOF! My leg is gone! I have a story. A quite lengthy one actually, which is why I am splitting it into 3 parts for you. You’re welcome.
So, here we go.
When I was 17 years old, a freshman in college, I noticed my left ankle had a pretty nasty looking bruise on it. I figured I must have hit it while cliff jumping with friends, but I didn’t remember ever doing so. ( Hit your ankle REALLY hard… I promise… you’ll feel it! 😉 ) I finished my first semester, and towards the end of my freshman year I noticed the bruise was still there. And not only was it still bruised, but I now had “craters” on my ankle (Think the surface of the moon ). I went to the nurse because at this point I was starting to worry a bit. I ended up going to the hospital to have a scan done to check for bone cancer. The test came back negative though, so I just kinda tucked the worry away and went to work at a camp in Maine for the summer.
Halfway through my summer as a camp councilor , I woke up one morning to find that the skin that covered my ankle… was gone. In its place was a nasty open ulcer the size of a quarter. I was looking at dead tissue… I was looking at my insides.
WARNING: Graphic picture ahead!
Told you… Nasty.
As you can imagine…. I was FREAKING OUT! I took my butt straight to the camp nurse and demanded to know where in the world my skin went! I don’t remember the nurse’s name, but I’m sure I freaked her out just a tad. She didn’t know what caused it, neither did she know what to do with it. So I went the rest of the summer, lifeguarding in a lake with an open wound. It got infected.
As the summer drew to a close, I got an appointment with a doctor in southern Maine. He took one look at it and declared it a Brown Recluse spider bite. ( The reason why I have Arachnophobia…) He took a steel bristle brush and scrubbed the area clean of the infection. Then stitched up the wound and put me in a walking cast. He told me I was good to go, and to have my college nurse remove the cast in a few months.
Back to school I went! * Side note: Having a cast that can not get wet, while living in West Virginia in August… NOT recommended! SO. HOT!* When it came time to have the cast removed, I was so excited! I was SO ready to be done with it and the whole mess! Little did I know that it was just the beginning. The wound wasn’t healed like the Dr. said it should be. I spent the rest of the semester visiting the nurse every morning before classes to have it cleaned and disinfected. As Christmas rolled around… My ankle finally healed and I as left with one gnarly looking scar .
I stayed at home and worked (as a truck stop waitress) instead of returning for spring semester. That summer, I worked at a different camp as a counselor. * Fun Fact: This is where I met my husband!* A week into camp, I scraped my ankle while swinging on a rope and I watched over the next few weeks as my scar stated to open back up! This time around I knew a little better and actually wrapped it up 😉
Can you spot me?! HINT: I have a purple ankle 😉
That fall I moved to Israel to study abroad with Baptists for Israel Institute for my junior year. My ankle was now open in spots, oozing a lot, and extremely painful! I couldn’t stand or walk for very long at a time, and extreme heat or cold really bothered it. And if I hit it on something… well , you could find me on the floor writhing in pain.
When my (amazing!!) year there was over, I realized I couldn’t return to school in WV. I HAD to figure out what in the world was going on. I had gone to doctors while in Israel , But never got my results back. So the summer of 2007, I spent going to doctor after doctor and getting test after test done. Diabetes , numerous blood tests and scans for various cancers, AIDS, various bacteria… you name it and I probably was tested for it.
November 19, 2007. Oh, I will NEVER forget that date. That day my life changed in a million different ways.
I had just gotten home from work, and the phone rang. It was my doctor with the results of a biopsy I had done over a month before. They were testing for a bacteria that I could have picked up while on a missions trip to Nepal when I was 16. He sounded sad and told me my results were back. I had Epithelioid Sarcoma. I asked him if that was a different type of bacteria… He said ” Daphne, You have cancer.”
….. TO BE CONTINUED
*Part 2 coming next week 🙂