When Christy Bell learned that she had cancer, she was given 2 options. Either go through amputation or risk the cancer spreading eventually leading to her death. "I had the benefit of time to process my decision. I wasn't ready to leave [my life] yet! I have a beautiful 14 year old son and my family. I love what I do at work. I love my life so there was really no other choice for me. I was looking to gain my life back."
"I can remember sitting in the hospital [after amputation surgery] and thinking, not really registering everything at first, and then taking that first look down [at my residual limb] and realizing, 'Oh my God! This is real.' I was a mess, but then someone [Tim from Optimus] came in and had the conversation with me about the process [for getting a prosthesis]. They told me, 'You are going to walk again.' That was so inspiring to know that they cared enough to actually stop by and see me in the hospital and come to all my doctor's appointments." Being able to walk is so important to Christy as it allows her to live a more complete life, and that promise, that first glimpse of hope and what is possible became a mission and a vision for Christy.
Christy spoke candidly about what life as an amputee has been like for her. "In the beginning you wonder, 'Am I even a complete person anymore?' People will look at you differently, and it is usually out of their compassion, their caring, them 'feeling for you'. It's not because you are so different. As an amputee you are offering them a gift, the gift of inspiration. I show them it is possible to walk, to be functional, to work, to be a mother, to be a friend! Having a prosthesis gives you hope, and if you are surrounded by the right team of people, it will be easier than you thought it would ever be. It seems daunting until you take that first step and you see the hope in that."
The biggest lessons Christy has learned along her journey? "It takes time! Always be looking forward. It is about progress, not perfection. Every day, if you are taking a step forward mentally or even physically (and you must stay committed to doing this), that is all that matters. There IS a future! Celebrate the progress no matter how small the step. Always have a vision and expect the best. Ask yourself, 'What is it I really want?' Do you want to walk again? Then imagine what it will be like to walk again. It may be a little different, but you can still do it! My goal was to be walking in some way, shape, or form by May , and I did that! It's funny, I have convinced myself that anything is possible. I have actually considered doing a half or full marathon or a 5K. These are things I had never really thought about before my surgery. I am stronger both mentally and physically than I was before. To me, that is a reward. There is a beauty in what I have learned here."
Christy has made such remarkable progress, and we are incredibly proud of her and honored to consider her part of our Optimus family. "I would absolutely recommend Optimus! I feel like you all know me. You took the time to get to know me. Jaimie helped me through this process. She treated me the same way she would want to be treated if our roles were reversed (what type of prosthesis would she want to wear and try to walk with). What more could you ask for in someone taking care of you? I am more than 'just another customer or patient'. The service, care, and compassion from the entire staff has been incredible! I don't think I would be this far along without you all. My prosthesis was customized just for ME. I never felt like it was a 'cookie-cutter' type of solution. It was built completely customized with me and my needs in mind. I cannot believe how easy you all have made this for me to feel complete both physically and emotionally."