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Jenny Deatherage

Jenny DeatherageLearning again

My name is Jenny, and I am a 45-year-old wife and mother. In June 2017 I was admitted to the hospital because I had lost circulation in my left foot. That’s all I remember until about 10 days later when I was taken off of the ventilator, with my lower left leg cut open on both sides of my calf. Apparently, I had two blood clots behind my knee and had undergone several surgeries, with the final surgery being a fasciotomy of my lower leg to relieve pressure. I was on the mend, but it was looking like I would have to undergo a transmetatarsal (forefoot) amputation.

After several weeks and quite a bit of work, I was able to go home to finish healing. At that time (end of July 2017), we had been able to make some major headway with my foot and it looked like I wouldn’t need an amputation after all! Boy, were we excited and relieved to hear that. Fast forward to the middle of August and after a few weeks of wound care and hyperbaric treatments, my pain was through the roof and my fasciotomy site looked horrible. I was readmitted to the hospital; this time, amputation was back on the agenda. After a few days in ICU and some blood transfusions, it was determined I could survive the surgery and I was taken to the OR for (fingers crossed) a below-knee amputation. Unfortunately, when I woke up later I found my left leg above the knee was gone. The infection that had set in was just too far up my leg to save the knee. So on August 23, 2017, I became a left above-knee amputee.

I had to learn everything all over again, and I had to find the resolve in myself to do so. My husband and son have been such a huge help for me; to be honest, some days they are the only reason I even get out of bed! The first few weeks were tough. I fell on my residual limb on Day 5 after amputation; man, that hurt so bad I didn’t even want to check to make sure I hadn’t busted any stitches! Luckily I hadn’t, but the pain was immense.

As a family, we began to navigate our new normal, and things were going pretty OK ā€“ then the fight for my prosthesis started! I was fairly active before my amputation. I played golf regularly and made it to all of my son’s football games, up and down the bleachers and such, so I wanted to at least be able to do those things again. My prosthetist, Sara, is absolutely amazing and she totally gets me! We both knew I wanted and needed a microprocessor knee to be able to get back to my life as I had known it. Well, my insurance didn’t think that type (expensive) of knee was warranted and did not want to approve it. I fought tooth and nail, along with my doctors and with my prosthetist’s help, and on December 31, 2017, I finally got my prosthesis. It was amazing, but this was going to be harder than I had realized. I guess part of me expected to just put it on and get after it, but that wasn’t how it happened. Actually, I’m still struggling to walk “normally” again, but I will take what I can get at this point. I have found that even the smallest things are hard to find, like finding a pair of pants that are comfortable and allow for easy access to my leg.

I have started taking classes again to finally get my bachelor’s degree. I haven’t nailed it all down yet, but I plan on doing something in the amputee clothing arena ā€“ I know I can’t be the only amputee who struggles with clothing issues! Stay tuned……Iā€™m just getting started!