Living an extremely active life: running, biking, yoga, you would never have imagined the story behind Lindsay. From struggling to concentrate in class, Lindsay set out to pursue an active life. During the challenges she faced, she realized that that her teachers may have jeopardized her learning. Upon moving comfortably in her Infinite TT’s she now wants to set out to help people in her own way.
As a kid I loved being outdoors, in nature, and exploring. Growing up in a small rural town in Iowa I spent a lot of time outside building forts, running through the trees, making up games from objects found in nature, and riding my bike with my sister and neighborhood friends. The love of nature made sitting in a classroom difficult. I looked forward to any opportunity to be outside, running around, or biking. In 6th grade I began running cross-country after quickly realizing I didn’t have the coordination for basketball or volleyball. At my first cross-country practice I showed up and ran in basketball shoes. Even today, I remember how bad my legs hurt and how I thought I would never run again. I stuck out cross-country and of course, got a pair of running shoes. Over time, running became easier; I realized I wasn’t going to die running and before I knew it, running became a passion. I loved the sense of being outside in nature with the breeze on my face and the sun on my skin. I was a dedicated runner who would even run in the winters, in the snow. I would throw on my favorite green running tights, a pair of shorts, a turtle neck, sweatshirt, a beanie, and when icy, my track cleats. Running didn’t really require anything but myself to do and I liked that. It was simple. In addition to running I enjoyed riding my bike. From the age of 12, I had participated in RAGBRAI, a 600-mile week long bike ride that goes across Iowa annually. It was fulfilling to be outdoors running and cycling.
From a young age I knew I wanted to explore the world beyond the small town I grew up in. After graduating a semester early from high school, I moved to Des Moines, IA, where I experienced living on my own. I worked at the Olive Garden waitressing and bartending. While learning some of the responsibilities of becoming an adult the desire to be outdoors was still strong. I addition to my often long hours at work I always made time to run & cycle. As a young adult my life revolved around work and exercise, and unfortunately, I didn’t value sleep.
On April 25, 2001, I was on my way to meet a friend, after finishing my work shift around 10pm. As I traveled north on the interstate I remember feeling tired and sleepy. I began opening the window to feel the cool evening air on my face. I also turned up the music louder in hopes the music would energize me. Before I knew it, I had missed my exit off the freeway. In Iowa, where the exits are several miles apart, I had to go up to the next exit (almost 10 miles out of my way) to turn around. I remember taking the next exit, coming across the freeway, and the next thing I remember, I woke up confused wondering where I was. I thought to myself, “Where am I and how did I get here?” I had fallen asleep behind the wheel of my car and never made it back onto the freeway. My car went off the side of the road into a creek bed. I was unaware of the extent of damage my body had endured, as I wasn’t in any pain. As days passed I felt my energy levels dissipating. I even noticed the dire state my legs were in. My car was out of visibility of the freeway traffic. I called out for help, but no one could hear me. Little did I know my family had reported me missing and photographs of me were on both local and national news. Five days later I was found trapped in my car that was partially submerged in water. At that point I was exhausted and cold. On the fifth day I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever be found. I was transported by helicopter to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics – where they said they would be amputating both my legs below the knee. My family was in shock, but I had come to terms with the possibility of amputation while in the wreckage.
It was a little over two months, post-amputation before the possibility of prosthesis arose. I remember the eagerness to run on the first day in my new legs rushing through my body. On my Dad’s birthday, July 18, 2001, came my opportunity to walk. I quickly felt exhausted trying to piece together my new task. Relearning to walk was much more strenuous & painful than I had originally thought. My plans to run on the first day in my new legs didn’t unfold how I had anticipated. To this day, it’s still interesting to me, how my residuum is soft to the touch yet as soon as you bear end weight, the pain is atrocious. On my first day in my new legs, I left with the image of how proud my parents were. I will never forget that moment. I also left knowing the only way to get better at walking was to walk; one foot in front of the other. And that I did!
Due to my high profile case, I only completed two weeks of therapy, as I was scheduled to feature on Good Morning America and the John Walsh show in New York. Traveling as a new amputee was tiring. It required diligence to rest and elevate my legs when needed, as the muscle groups I was using were previously neglected. It took a year before I was walking effortlessly; walking without thinking about it. That was when the shrinking took its toll. I ended up spending weeks wearing a 36-ply- sock. I had no idea how my legs would change as I began walking more or what to expect in the first year post-amputation. No one had told me 36-ply socks is WAY TOO MANY!
Upon being refitted with a new prosthesis, I was given the opportunity to try a pair of running blade. I was reignited with my love for running. Since becoming an amputee, I’ve had many opportunities to run, cycle, and do physical activity outdoors. One of the biggest challenges has been the need for socket changes and maintaining a well-fitting prosthesis. I dreamed of the day when I would have multiple prosthesis, to capture my wide array of fluctuation. That’s when I questioned, “Why aren’t there any adjustable sockets being made?” It shocked me that in the 21st Century, adjustable sockets were nowhere to be seen.
I was then introduced to LIM Innovations, who asked if I’d be interested in trying their below-the- knee prototype. This was an exciting opportunity for me. It was like a dream come true. I felt like the years of socket issues and residual limb pain were worth the wait.
It can take some time to get the ideal fit with the Infinite TT’s, however it’s worth it down the road when you know you have the capacity to make subtle changes. These days, my limbs require less maintenance and I don’t always fiddle with the setup. It is very reassuring knowing that I can make changes to this socket as my limb changes. The sturdiness of the socket is impressive and represents the shape of a conventional socket, but when you adjust the Infinite TT via air bladders and/or BOA, it’s like having different sockets.
Now, I’m back to consistently walking 6-10 miles a day, feeling great and not in pain, which is such a treat! For many years I took it for granted my ability to walk comfortably in addition to running and cycling. It feels great to be active again! I am excited to be able to comfortably move in and out of side-plank in my yoga classes. Completing this can be difficult and requires a well-fitting socket in order to be able to put that much pressure through the socket. The best thing is, the Infinite TT’s can cope with this pressure. It’s an exhilarating feeling to feel like I can move freely; without unnecessary limitations.
Going forward, I really want to work with more amputees in yoga practice. There is still the perception that you need to be skinny, fit and flexible, to practice yoga. I was once one of those individuals, but it’s not at all the case. After studying yoga, I have a deeper understanding of its roots and true meaning. Yoga is, can, and should be accessible to everybody no matter your shape, size, race, religion, or socio-economic status. I was re-inspired to delve deeper into learning to work with a broader population of people after the organization Accessible Yoga started last year. I want to utilize my life experiences to be a part of the change in perception of yoga. The practice is truly for everyone!