Hi! My name is Beth and I am 26 years old. I wear the IDEO device made by the Hanger Clinic (aka TEAM AMAZING) up in Gig Harbor, WA. I’ve had my IDEO for a little over a year now and I can honestly say it’s changed my life completely. Below I will share my story of how I came to needing the IDEO, but first let me explain my passion behind the blog. Please note: this blog will be a work in progress, but my hope is to inspire other women to believe in themselves and see that fashion is still very much possible with the IDEO and to remember that true beauty always lies within.
After receiving my IDEO last year, one of the first things I did when I returned home was to look for shoes… I said goodbye to my flats and donned New Balance and Brooks running shoes as they fit best with my IDEO. As the shoe search continued, I found that there really wasn’t much in fashion retail for women with prosthetic / orthotic needs (except for clunky diabetic shoes and there was NO way I would be wearing those!). By nature, I was already an athletic girl before my injury so having to wear tennis shoes all the time wasn’t a huge issue for me but there have definitely been times when I’ve longed to wear my riding boots or cute heels with a dress/ skirt to an event. With that being said, I truly believe that as long as you are confident in what you are wearing you will feel beautiful. In the past year, I started experimenting with different tennis shoes and combinations of outfits to find looks that made me feel fashionably fabulous again. It is my hope that these posts will give you ideas of how to use the clothes you already have in your closet to feel cute again. I just want the women out there reading this to know that having to wear tennies and hiking boots is not the end of the world… Fashion is still possible and I am here to help 🙂 but it all starts with how you see yourself. You must recognize the beauty in your strength and all that you have overcome. Be proud of the person you are today, because you fought to become her.
So, a little background on my injury… In June 2011, I suffered a severe ankle injury playing soccer that would end up requiring four surgeries over the course of two and a half years. Each attempt left me unable to walk without pain for more than 100 yards. I tried cortisone shots, countless hours of physical therapy, walking boots / braces, and many alternative treatments but nothing seemed to help. Due to complications after the fourth surgery, I ended up with a condition that caused severe burning pain in my leg, which eventually spread to my other leg leaving me in a wheelchair because of the pain. I forced myself out of the chair and onto crutches but always had to keep shifting my weight to keep the burning and prolonged pain from getting worse with pressure on my feet. At 23 years old, you never think this is how your life would be. As my conditioned worsened in January 2013, I traveled to the Mayo Clinic for tests and IV treatments. After spending a couple of weeks there, I returned home still struggling to walk more than 100 yards without pain. As the months went by, my condition fluctuated and I did another round of IV treatments because the burning had come back. The symptoms continued to get better and then worse again. I had two lumbar sympathetic blocks and hope dwindled as many doctors recommended I strive for pain management. I eventually got to the point where I was considering the possibility of amputation – I wanted so much to be able to walk and run again. However, my faith and determined spirit would not allow me to give up yet. I knew I would find a solution for my ankle– I just couldn’t stop trying. Hope came when a friend showed me an article from TIME magazine about a special leg device called the IDEO. (God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?) This device, which was originally designed for wounded soldiers, allowed those with severe lower leg injuries to actually stand and run again without pain – I was blown away. I reached out to Ryan Blanck, (the most amazing person), and my life was changed forever. Within a couple of months, I had flown to Johns Hopkins to meet with an orthopedic surgeon for a consultation on my options. It was everyone’s hope that this hybrid prosthetic-orthotic like device would help me be free of pain as well. I traveled to the Hanger Clinic in Tacoma, WA for a test device and received my full IDEO in November 2013. By the time I received the IDEO device, it had been over two years since I had walked without pain. Words cannot describe how much this device and experience has changed my life. Since receiving the IDEO last year, I’ve hiked over 20 miles in Yosemite National Park, completed a few 5Ks and most recently completed a 120 mile adventure race in the Florida Keys with the Project Athena Foundation. Simply amazing! Though I’ll likely need to wear the IDEO for the rest of my life, I can honestly say just being able to live life to the fullest again is what matters most to me. It hasn’t just given me my life back – it’s given me a new lease on life that I thought at one point might not be possible. If it wasn’t for Ryan Blanck and the amazing Hanger Clinic team I wouldn’t be where I am today. These last few years have been a long journey, but a true testament to the importance of not giving up on your dreams for your life. We can’t choose what happens to us in life but we can choose how we respond.
|One of my first races with the IDEO. Never give up.|
So, welcome to my blog! I will be posting pictures and tips for outfit ideas as well as inspirational messages, because I think we could all use a little more of that.
Keep smiling 🙂
PS: I also write from time to time on another blog called the Yarn of Life. Check it out!