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Kathie was preparing to celebrate her and her husband David’s wedding anniversary soon with a nice cruise, but became ill with what felt like the flu.
As she became worse with delirium, she was rushed to the ER to undergo a brain scan for encephalitis. Infectious disease doctors were treating her as gravely ill, ultimately diagnosing her with meningococcal septicemia. That doctor said he had seen 47 cases of this in India, and everyone had died, usually within a day.
Kathie was very active and athletic. She was running 6 miles at a time, had run a lot of 10ks, played soccer at work, and played tennis. She had also recently been in to a salon to have her nails done, and she thinks this is where she contracted the illness, because people were there who had been to Southeast Asia for a month. As she grew worse, doctors warned there was half of 1 percent chance of living, and yet her husband believed in Kathie to fight with those odds.
With help from friends, family, church, Catholic Charities and community, meals and extra visits of prayers from their rabbi, she lived in the ICU for 2 weeks. Her husband stretched himself to keep his executive position that provided her insurance while being with her as she fought for her life. She was going to live, but developed gangrene, necrosis on her toes, feet and hands. Gangrene was eating her alive, which led to the decision to amputate her legs and some fingers.
With nurses wound care, going to Lubbock for burn unit skin care, and Houston for TIRR’s amputee clinic, she was determined to recover. She began the life-changing and ongoing process using stubbies for a month, C-legs, a knee joint not typically added to the prosthetics, and working with a prosthetist to develop an ankle for walking heel to toe.
She not only appreciates life, but also her devoted husband who stays by her side as a caregiver and married partner. Their 2 sons also supported her even as they were upperclassmen in high school at the time.
“I hope our story inspires others. Unbeknownst to me, they only gave me a year to live. Worry is not good for you. What makes me different than most is when people say, where do you want to be? I want to get out of bed tomorrow, and I want to try again. I went through cancer, I tore my rotator cuff twice; I’m much more cautious about falling. I just don’t want to break anything. I’ve always wanted to just do what I can do. I do the laundry at home, I help with cooking, I help as much as I can. I don’t want to sit around. I even get out and volunteer with the elderly. I get up and do what I can. I’m a very independent person. “
Hi! My name is Chelsey Price and I am a Texas limb-loss survivor. Ten years ago, my friends and I decided to go on a small get-away to the Comal River for a weekend of tubing and fun. Little did I know, this trip would mark the beginning of a chapter of conquest and determination- without my legs. During this trip I became sunburned which left me vulnerable to a bacterial infection. The infection that I contracted became septic. After suffering multiple organ failure episodes, the surgeons had to perform bilateral below knee amputations. In addition to my limb-loss, the illness caused an anoxic brain injury that led to minor imbalance and vocal issues.
I was only 25 at the time, full of energy, dreams and ambitions. Hopelessness began to settle in, as my dreams seemed to shatter. My career as a Starbucks barista was completely eliminated from one day to the next. My independent life came to a sudden halt and I was forced to rely on my family again. My parents helped me get through the beginning stages of life as an amputee, and can’t be more grateful to them for it. Learning to overcome the challenges of acquiring artificial limbs, or prosthetics, was one of the most difficult obstacles of my life. I also had to learn to walk again. I learned to walk next to my one-year-old nephew.
Some may consider my unfortunate event as an excuse to succumb to a life of pity and despair. Not only did I master walking on my prosthesis, I learned to drive again, finished college, bought a house, and have a full time job supporting myself. Today, I work as a regulatory analyst for a renowned bank located throughout Texas. I am the proud parent of Capani, an entitled Cocker Spaniel, and my service dog Pablo, a Lab Golden Cross. They really do fill my house with joy and help me keep a positive outlook on everything I do.
As I continued to find the greener side of the grass, a friend and I decided to create the West Texas Chapter for Canine Companions for Independence. Canine Companions, which is the non-profit who trained Pablo. I enjoy the community Pablo and I helped build. My community service enables new donors to connect to Canine Companions, while also networking with new puppy raisers and recipients. I am blessed to have a small group of officers that support me in the work we do in our part of Texas. Serving as part of the West Texas Canine Companions leadership is one of my most important accomplishments.
Recently, I was inducted to serve on the board of directors to The Prosthetic Foundation, a privilege very few are offered. This helps me help other limb-loss survivors acquire quality prosthetic limbs, a cause now dear to my heart. I don’t know what I would do without mine! My prosthetic legs enabled me to regain employment coupled with financial and physical freedom! I am living my life confidently again:
independent, productive, and happy!
– Chelsey Price, Lubbock, Texas
I just wanted you to know that what you do is such a great thing and I can’t put into words what this means to me! I wish you could have that feeling I had when I put that leg on last week for a fitting and stood on my own without having to balance or hold on to something! Initially, when I had a conversation with my daughter, she was crying saying that she doesn’t know how to act around me because she always thought of me as her hero and nothing could hurt me!! (I’m a big guy and was a bouncer in several clubs for a few years while I ran a DJ service) Now I am able to walk up and open her door and hug her again, so I hope you know what you did for me is life changing. I hope the next time you meet someone and they ask you where you work you feel super proud when you tell them the answer and if they don’t give you credit for what you do, just introduce them to me and I’ll make them feel it!!!! Thank you again I hope to meet you one day.
– Charlie Kerr
Even though Roland has been a diabetic for years, he never expected what happened to him in 2016. After a fall, he injured his toe but didn’t think much about it. Over the next few weeks he started to develop what he initially thought was a blister on his toe. After several visits to doctors where he was told to keep the area clean he ended up in the ER one afternoon. From 4 p.m. that afternoon to 11 p.m. that night he went from having all functional limbs to an amputation due to the spread of an infection in that toe.
Even though he has struggled financially and emotionally since that time, he is grateful not only for the wonderful support he received from his family but also for The Prosthetic Foundation that helped him obtain a prosthesis. “Without the Foundation, I wouldn’t be able to walk and get back to life. The people of The Foundation who showed compassion help me believe again, believe that there are good people who want to help others. Because of The Prosthetic Foundation I am a better person.“
– Roland G., San Antonio, Texas
My prosthesis has helped me want to get up out of bed every morning. It has given me the ability to walk to the mail box instead of drive. It has made me able to chase my 4 year old daughter out in our back yard and the ability to play t-ball with her. I’m so thankful for my prosthesis because if it wasn’t for it, I wouldn’t be able to do the everyday things I want to do for myself and my daughter.
– Lindsay Clark, San Antonio, Texas