Living Beyond Our Limits
If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?
At age 19, she was taken to the emergency room suffering from flu-like symptoms. She was in septic shock. Her condition quickly worsened as she was put onto life support and given less then a 2% chance to live. While lying in a coma a number of days later, she was finally diagnosed: bacterial meningitis, a vaccine-preventable blood infection. It took its terrible toll over 10 weeks, taking her spleen, kidneys, the hearing in her left ear and both legs below the knee. Luckily, before it was too late, circulation returned to her other extremities, meaning they wouldn‚€™t have to be amputated, as well.
However, with the arrival of her artificial legs, what remained of her fragile dreams was crushed. The prosthetics were painful and confining. Her dreamed of the adventurous life full of stories and snowboarding were now but an impossible dream.
I was absolutely physically and emotionally broken.
She then decided in order to move forward, she needed to let go of the old Amy and embrace the new Amy. It was the only way. She then started to see things in a whole new light, and the tragedy‚€™s sliver lining of blessings began to flow into her mind.
At this point, she asked herself the question at the beginning of this post, and it gave her permission to once again daydream, just as she had done as a child. And in her mind‚€™s eye, she could see and feel herself accomplishing those dreams.
It was the turning point.
Quickly, she was back up on the slopes attempting to snowboard. Her father donated one of his kidneys to her for her 21st birthday. She returned to work; returned to school. She founded Adaptive Action Sports to help other youth, young adults and veterans suffering disabilities participate in action sports.
Did I mention she‚€™s won multiple World Cup gold medals and is preparing for the Sochi Olympics?
Eleven years ago when I lost my legs, I had no idea what to expect. But, if you were to ask me today if I would ever want to change my situation, I would have to say, ‚€œNo!‚€ because my legs haven‚€™t disabled me. If anything, they have enabled me. They forced me to rely on my imagination and to believe in the possibilities.
I love the example of people like Amy, Neil Harbisson and Caroline Casey who show us how to live beyond our limits. Instead of letting their disadvantages remain disadvantages, they‚€™ve turned them into advantages.
It‚€™s believing in those dreams and facing our fears head on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits.
We wish Amy and all of the other paralympians the best in the upcoming games.
You can follow Amy on Twitter at @AmyPurdyGurl.