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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum


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Posts posted by jberna

  1. How amazing is this forum that, almost ten years ago I started this thread because I loved hearing other amputee's stories, and it's still here, almost a decade later? I just had to pop back in and say I'm no longer in Utah... have since lived in NY for five years, and now reside in Colorado. But I'm still an amputee (it didn't grow back!) and I'm thrilled that this thread is still going strong...30K posts later.

    Cheers to all the amputees out there, reaching out to help each other...for decades!

    Judy Berna

    (jberna, or judyb back in the day)

    • Like 2

  2. I was so generously helped by the people of this forum, when I was doing my pre-amputation research in 2003, and I love coming back here to see what great things you guys are still up to.

    I'm a writer and write for a national blog, mainly covering prosthetic and amputee related topics. I'm currently doing a series of posts about the ways that amputees can show off their hardware finally, and because of that, many of us have customized sockets. I'm collecting stories and pictures of the things people have done to their sockets, to make them more personal.

    If you have a customized socket, and would like to share it with a larger audience, feel free to contact me. Or if you don't want to share the story behind your socket, and just share a picture, I'm okay with that too. I think our readers, who are mostly non amputees, will be amazed by all the amazing artwork that's walking around out there. I also love sharing the stories behind the custom designs, because that gives the artwork so much more meaning.

    I hope to hear from some of you. Feel free to send responses to my personal email at justonefoot.gmail.com

    I'll put a link to the article on this site, once it goes live.

    Thanks again! I love coming back here and hope to visit a lot more often in the weeks/months to come.

    Judy Berna

    (Judyb for those of you who were around in 2003 and 2004)

  3. Cheryl, thanks for sending people to that You've Already Lost It' essay. I think it sums up what most elective amputees go through and it helps their friends and families understand better. I have it posted on my blog and hope people find it. I'd love to get it published again, to get it out there.

    Sue, I'm glad you can get it in the UK. I'm also glad your doc was bright enough to realize when it was time to stop trying to fix things and time to get you back a real life! I think there are more of us out there than docs realize, and my mission is to get the word out to ortho docs that amputation is no longer always considered a failure.


  4. My heart goes out to every person on these forums who is struggling. I'm so thankful this forum exists, so we can all find help from people who understand.

    When I was doing my pre-surgery research back in 2003 (when the internet was pretty slim on information!) I could never find a book about an every day amputee, not the super athlete amputee, but a person who lived with a prosthetic in real life. Once I had my surgery, and it went well, I decided there needed to be a book out there for all of us who will never run in the Paralympics or climb a mountain. I'm a writer, by trade, so I dove in.

    My book, called "Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability." is now available, along with it's website, at justonefoot.com

    I'm trying my best to get a flier about the book (and some day a copy of the book) in every prosthetist office, and every orthopedic hospital waiting room. I want those considering this option to know they are not alone and that life can be very good afterward. Every time I get a tiny bit of proceeds from the book sales, I go buy postage, to send the word out to others who might need it.

    I hope to also speak to the orthopedic resident doctors at the med school here in Denver, to let them know that amputation doesn't always mean failure. Sometimes it can mean a better life...better than years of surgery and more crutches and pain pills. I hope to get a new generation of docs thinking in a new way - more about what is best for the patient, when a limb refuses to heal. Sometimes amputation means they can go on with their lives and be more active than they were before.

    I was so encouraged and supported by this forum when I was doing my research. I wanted you all to know it was very appreciated and that I'm trying to give back, by getting this 'everyday amputee' book out there. Thanks again!

    • Like 3

  5. Hello! My name is Judy and I was a very frequent visitor here in 2003. I was researching the option of elective amputation and this group was a LIFE SAVER. I met so many caring, encouraging amputees here. I had my surgery in Jan of 2004 and have had a wonderful eight years, doing things I couldn't do with my old, deformed foot.

    It is fun to come back here, and see some threads I even started, like the 'Everyone's Story' thread. It was so interesting to see the stories that people posted and see how there are so many routes that get you to this place.

    Before my surgery, I was desperate to find a book about another elective amputee, and I never found one. The books about super athlete amputees were great, but I wanted to know about an everyday amputee, and even someone who chose to have it done. In the years since my surgery I've been watching the market, and there were still no books in this category. Since I'm a writer by trade, I thought maybe it was time to get one on the market.

    My book, called Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability, came out a few weeks ago. My goal is to get it to the people who need it the most. That means not only new amputees and people facing amputation, but also their friends and families, who might not understand.

    The book's website had helpful links for amputees and their families, before and after pictures of my deformed foot, and an essay called "You've Already Lost It', which I shared here several years ago. It's about how amputation can be the answer, not the problem.

    You can find all of this at justonefoot.com

    I have mentioned this site in the book, and how it was so helpful to me. I thought some of you old timers might like seeing it.

    I'd love it if you'd help me spread the word, so more amputees and their families can find it and know they are not alone. There is a flier you can print off, on the website, and post in your own local prosthetist offices or orthopedic hospital waiting room.

    I hope to also talk to the orhtopedic med students at our local medical school, to help them see that sometimes doing dozens of surgeries on a limb, and making a patient live on crutches and pain meds for years is NOT helpful. And that amputation is not failure. It just might be another way to get the patient back to an active life.

    Thanks again for all your help through the years. You guys are amazing. I was so moved to see that, after all this time, you are all still here, helping the next round of people who don't know where to turn. This site is incredible. Keep up the great work!!

    Very Sincerely,

    Judy Berna (or known to you as jberna!)

    • Like 1

  6. Hey Stubby! You were in Park City skiing about the same time I was! I learned to ski at the Ability Center at PCMR in January of 2005. You were around then? I skied there in 05, and 06. We then moved back East and I'm in NY now. I wonder if we ever crossed paths.

    My story is also similar to yours. I had a deformed foot that never responded to surgeries. I got tired of that life and got it cut off so I could start over. I love the energy return on my bionic foot, such a nice change from my old withered foot. You can see part of my story at my blog site (beats writing it all out for you again). Check out justonefoot.blogspot.com and click on the subject 'amputee mom'. I love this new life with more mobility options. I am glad you have found joy on 'this side' too!


  7. I also own a bottle of Certain Dry and it has worked for me. I cannot walk well if I have sweat in my liner. I get soggy squishy feelings with every step, not fun. I have to take it off and empty it out. (and my overall fit is really good, a brand new leg in the past few months....) So I would have to go with the group who says try it for a few days.

    My prosthetist told me about it in my early days, five years ago, and I've owned a bottle ever since.

    Just my three cents worth....


  8. Hello Ed! I have not been around this forum in awhile but every once in awhile I get links like this in my email box. I feel for you, and your decision. I had an 'elective' amputation five years ago. I am now 42 years old, have four active kids and a great supportive husband (a key point in my success on 'one leg') It is a decision like no other you will make and only those of us in the club know how it feels. I have written some about my decision on my blog page. Just click on the option to read only the 'amputee mom' posts and it will sort them out for you. You can find it at justonefoot.blogspot.com

    If you have specific questions feel free to ask this group (they are WONDERFUL, and were there for me when I was making my choice) or you can email me personally too. We are all here for each other.

    It can be a really good life. A life with minimal pain and a lot of mobility, if you play your cards right. I wish the best for you in the future. :)


  9. Hi David. Welcome to the forum. I have not been around a lot lately, but am in that same group of elective amputees. I chose mine three years ago and am so glad I did.

    I had a foot that was twisted and non responsive, from a mild form of spina bifida. It kept getting sores and infections and I spent at least a month every year on crutches. Not a fun way to raise four active kids.

    I actually had to convince my doc to do the operation. To him I had a healthy foot....twisted but healthy....but it held me back from the life I wanted.

    I gave myself plenty of recovery time and plenty of rehab time but was thrilled when I got my first leg. After years of no response from my left side, while walking, I suddenly had energy return coming from my left 'foot'. Very exciting. I have the renegade foot by freedom...love it. It is esp good on slopes, has more side to side movement. I hope to get that mechanical ankle some day, so I can really do slopes and stairs well.

    I have very little pain, and all of it is related to my socket not fitting right (fixable) not to phantom pain. I was on strong pain meds for three days before the surgery, to help block those pain signals, hoping it cut down on the phantom pains. I dont know if that did it, but I have never had phantom pains.

    I wrote an article specifically for elective amputees. Johnny is going to post it on the thread entitled 'inMotion article'. I sent him the unedited, longer version today, to replace the shorter, edited version he got from the magazine.

    If you need any more advice feel free to holler....I love encouraging others, since so many people encouraged me when I was considering this surgery.

    Good luck, my friend.




  10. Thanks for the pat on the back, Johnny! I enjoyed chatting with you on the phone yesterday and, as promised, popped in today to check up on the website. I will send you the unedited version of my article, which I like a lot more than the pared down one that was printed.

    No, dont think I am up for water skiing this weekend.....last time I tried water skiing I drank half the lake. Snow skiing is more up my alley. I cant wait for the snow to fly around here.....

    It is like coming home, to check back in with this website. Even when I dont recognize all the names, I recognize the love and support. I am so thankful there are people who keep it up and moving forward.

    Now, off to check all the new postings I have missed in the past week or so....




  11. Hello...I am Judy Berna....not 'your' Judy, Judy Herba...but I have to say it made me sad that I am no longer 'your Judy".......I spent a lot of time on this forum a few years ago, when I was first deciding about my amputation and then during my recovery. I have a deep fondness for the people here and still come check in every now and then.

    This is such a unique place and I do miss not hanging with you guys more often. The sad/happy truth of it is, once I got my surgery and then got going on my new leg, I dont have time for the computer anymore. I get to my personal email every day, but any 'other' computer stuff has fallen by the wayside. I have more energy now, with my new leg, and spend my time playing outside with my four kids, or working on house projects, or volunteering at my kids school....you get the idea.

    I was surprised to see my article published in inMotion Magazine. I had sent it in but had no word that it was being published. I hoped it would mean something to other amputee, esp those of us who 'got' to choose our amputations. It is a principal I deeply believe in so wrote an article about it.

    I am glad this posting got more people informed about the magazine. I love every issue and it makes me feel connected to my amputee community.

    So, although I am no longer 'your judy', I am still here, every now and then, and do care about you all still...will forever be grateful for your support and friendship.

    Send me a personal message if anyone wants to contact me quickly, on any subject.

    The best to you ALL....

    "The other Judy"


    now New York (used to be Utah)

  12. Hello Eric!

    I dont get on the forum much these days but I had your message forwarded to my regular email box and was touched by your story.

    I moved to NY from Utah just six months ago and learned to ski while in Utah, just a year after my Left below knee amputation surgery. There are great adaptive ski programs that can help you do whatever sport you like. The one in Utah is called The Ability Center, and is in Park City. They are wonderful!

    I have a Renegade foot by Freedom and it does all sports well. It is very flexible for walking, has good energy return, but also does all sports well. The trick with skiing was getting the boot adjusted correctly...padding it to have the forward tilt you need and getting a good tight knee brace to eliminate the wiggle at the knee socket. I had never been athletic before my surgery and just took it up afterward because it looked so fun...so if I can do it, you can do it a hundred times better!

    Wherever you ski now, ask around about adaptive sports programs. They are all over the U.S and can help you get the equipment you need and instruction you need. Almost any sport is still within your sites...just put your mind to it and go for it!

    Best of luck!



  13. I know there are many people on this forum who worry about passing through security at airports and concerts and things. I have passed through many security check points and never had a negative experience. I had an especially amusing situation happen last week that I just had to share.....

    I live a couple of hours from NYC and last week drove down to see a taping of the show "Live with Regis and Kelly". It is a morning talk show here in the U.S., for those of you not from around these parts. There was tight security, of course, since the audience sits very close to 'the talent'. I was prepared and ready for full disclosure.

    The woman in front of me made the metal detector go off, just from her tiny metal earrings, so I knew it might be a bad sign for me. The guards didnt seem to have the wands so I didnt know how hard it would be for me to walk through, when I technically couldnt just remove the offending metal, like they were making others do.

    As I walked through, minutes later, I commented to the guard, "I know I'll go off...I have a metal leg..." As I was saying the words I walked, quietly, thru the machine....no buzz, no beeps.

    He leaned in, thinking he had not heard me right, and I repeated the phrase, "I have a metal leg...."

    He looked mystified, since I had not set off the machine, so I pulled up my pant leg and showed him my big, black ankle/foot.

    He looked perplexed then said, "go thru it again..."

    I walked through it, then turned around and walked back through it to get back to him...no beep!

    He couldnt explain it, but let me go anyway, and as I walked away, the lady behind me set it off...it beeped for the trace amounts of metal in her belt buckle....

    Go figure!

    So, moral of the story....dont be afraid until a true problem arises....! ;)




  14. You guys are so nice! I have not been around for over six months and yet you still take the time to wish me a happy birthday.....you guys are great. java script:emoticon(':)', 'smid_3')


    We moved to New York, from Utah, this summer and it has been crazy ever since. I have been getting the four kids settled in three different schools, my youngest starting all day kindergarten. When we bought the house we knew it would take 'some work' and boy was that right...we painted every wall, replace every floor and now are making a kitchen. We put together and installed the cabinets (from IKEA) a few weeks ago and are now laying a tile countertop. This weekend we will do the backsplash and sink....hopefully I will have a kitchen within a week or two, then get all those boxes unpacked, THEN have a life again....

    I have run into several amputees in the past few months and always send them to you guys, knowing you will welcome them and treat them right. This website is a great, great thing.

    I will cruise around more in the coming days, I promise...


  15. I watched the first four episodes, taped them actually, and enjoyed them. I have gotten lazy about it lately and missed at least one, maybe two. I need to program that machine to tape it again....

    I loved it, overall, but kept having the feeling that they put too much focus on the prosthetist. They give him these dramatic intros to do and it comes off as hokey to me. They stress his accomplishments a bit too much for my taste, esp when that time could be spent on telling more about the amputees themselves.

    I was very impressed by the show with the little girl who had double above knee amputations, even missing a lot of her lower back, and they made her 'stand up' legs....really a sweet story.

    I also enjoyed the one about the boy who has lived iwth a BK all his life and plays soccer. I got encouragement from that because I have had this (silly?) goal in my head that I wanted perfect gait...I am two years past my surgery and not close to perfect gait. But watching this kid run around and even walk, I realized that 'different' gait is not a bad thing....I changed my standard. I may never walk perfectly, like a two legged person, but I walk comfortably, and in a way that my back doesnt hurt at night, and I have plenty of energy all day, so now THAT is my new standard. My husband said, 'you dont limp now, you waddle'....and he's right. Limp always implied negative to me....but waddle is just a style of walking! :D ;)

    As for the looks I get.....I am not natured, so wear shorts a lot, even in winter (I live in Utah, where is snows a lot..) So I am used to the looks. My kids play a game where, when we are in public, they walk about 20 feet behind me and count how many people stare, once they walk past me and dont think I can see them...it is very entertaining, actually. ;)

    I always make myself assume that they are thinking positive thoughts about me, like that I am to be respected for being out, enjoying life, despite the fact I have an artificial leg. Unless they open their mouths and tell me otherwise, I can CHOOSE to assume what they are thinking, and it does my mental health good to think they are admiring me! :D

    Didnt mean to get on my soapbox....this reply has rattled on....sorry!




  16. This is what I get for not checking in here more often....this little boy lives in MY city! I could have sent a nice, encouraging card to his family in November...bummer! I will send one today, just saying "hang in there'......thanks for finding this story, guys....I dont get the salt lake paper anymore so I missed it.




  17. Hello gang! I missed the convention last year, the money just fell through when the time came to go...but this year I might make it. :P

    We just found out my husband is being transferred from Utah to NY and we will quite possibly be moving cross country in JUNE.....heading thru MO to see relatives, then maybe head north to meet up with you guys...that would be SUCH a kick. (with my good leg...) ;)

    I cant wait to get my shirt! How about someone just set some guidelines....like it has to be a certain color shirt, and then everyone gets to pick what kind of letters they use? I will have my hubby and four kiddos along (ages 5-14) so it will be doubly fun for me to meet you guys AND introduce my family to this other, extended family I hide online. :rolleyes:

    Johnny....I cant wait to pick your brain about the amputee support groups in the Albany area....and prosthetists too....I knew, when we got the call, that I had 'NY connections' already that I could count on. ;)

    I look forward to June....you guys are priceless. You were there for me in all my pre-surgery research time, three years ago, and have continued to be here, making me laugh and keeping me informed.


    Utah (for now)


  18. Fantastic idea, this posting...be sure to leave it in the priority position so that we can find it easily. I often send people to this site when they see me in public and ask me questions, for themselves or a loved one. Now I can say 'there is an actual encyclopedia of info' waiting here for them....nice job, people!



    Utah :D

  19. Hello Roz! :D

    I have not signed on in months but today had some time and decided to check back in with my wonderful friends here. I found your story right off and just had to send out a note of encouragement.

    My name is Judy and I had my amputation almost exactly two years ago. You can find my story (and many others) in the posting called "My story", where I encouraged everyone to write out their stories. I am under 'jberna'.

    I had a terrible ankle also, from birth, due to spina bifida. I was very 'normal' otherwise, for the most part and just dealt with that bum ankle/foot without telling anyone. I had very little range of motion in that foot/ankle, was very limted on the shoes I could wear (almost NO dress shoes...only tennis shoes that laced up well). As the years went on that foot deteriorated and started to really hurt too. I sympathize about the trips to the grocery store being a big deal. It is a terrible way to live, when you feel "healthy' in every other way.

    When I was in my mid 30s I had yet another surgery to try to 'make it better' and it once again did nothing, except put me on crutches for another four months. I have four young children (the youngest a toddler at the time) and was just tired of dealing with that foot and having it hold me back.

    I had read so much thru the years about prosthetics and always had the question "why cant we just start over??" but every doc would look at me in horror, saying "we dont cut off a healthy foot"...to them it was 'healthy' because it had a pulse and no infection....they didnt seem to care that it had no range of motion and HURT me.

    Finally I had to make the choice for myself. I found a surgeon who understood my delimma, and my choice to have mobility over a flesh and bone leg. I had my surgery in Jan of 2004 and have been thrilled since.

    Recently it occured to me that I never grieved for the lost leg because I always hated that leg. I see my new leg as my hero...it has enabled me to live a life I have always wanted...hiking, walkign with my kids, skiing (new for me!), and so much more. Mainly, I am PAIN free most days...a huge plus...and I am doing all I want to in a day, including going to the grocery store and then on to OTHER errands, all with plenty of energy.

    My advice...

    Tell yourself it will take minimally six months before you are walking after surgery. That will help you stay sane if there are any set backs AND wille encourage you if you are walking on the new leg well (as I was) in a shorter time. Think of it as your year of rehab to get the LIFE of mobility you want long term. My motto was always "this time next year..." I took it slow, knowing this time next year I would be in such a better place.

    I also had heard about the pre-op pain management and although I didnt have terrible pain like a lot of people here, I did have a lot if I used my foot a lot. So my doc put me on narcotic pain killers for three days before my surgery. I dont know if it made a difference but I can tell you I have had little to no phantom pain since my surgery. I figured 'it couldnt hurt' to try.

    Also, you have to see it that you are looking for 'better than you have now". I wasnt looking for perfect, I was just looking for better than I had before...and this new leg definately fits that description. I didnt go into this looking for a perfect leg that was just like a real leg.....I have never known the feeling of having two good ankles/feet...but I wanted better than I had before and I GOT THAT! This foot has range of motion that my old one never did. It has spring when I walk, which I never had, and it holds up thru the long grueling days I put it thru, having fun with my husband and kids. An added bonus...I can wear sandals and other fun shoes for the first time in my life. I finally have a shoe wardrobe!

    I hope this helps some...email me if you have other questions or need other advice. I am one of the few around here (there are a handful of us) who absolutely chose to have our leg amputated and have been nothing but pleased.

    I wish you luck on your journey, and keep us posted. I will try to be better about checking in!



  20. All right, all right...I felt like I needed to jump in here and defend myself but was left laughing out loud at Cat's antics (as usual...) ;)

    I am SO sad I didnt get to dallas for this years convention. I would love to be at the next one and have it on the calendar. May just fly out myself, without kids, and hang with you guys. Sounds like a great mini vacation....

    LOVE the picture, Johnny, and thanks for emailing me the link to it. Brenda, you look GREAT...that running stuff is really getting you in shape! You go girl! :P

    I have not been on the site in FOREVER but Johnny inspired me by sending me the link to the picture. Then I saw Brendas face (or dancing body, I should say) in both the OandP magazine and the ACA magazine...talk about inspiration to check back in with you guys......had to give brenda trouble about that great picture!


    Dont have time this morning, going in for an MRI soon, but will check back in later in teh week and try harder from now on to keep up with you guys. You are always inspiring and always make me laugh. :P




  21. Cat...it cracked me up to see that picture of you using your leg as a leg rest....I do that ALL the time! it is the perfect height! I esp do it at the computer, under the desk. It is a bit trickier now, since I have a suction socket/sleeve and dont 'click it' on and off anymore...but it was so fun to see that someone else uses their leg as a footrest...thanks for the picture!




  22. I love this posting...the stories that came from it. My kids were barely two, six, ten and eleven when I had my amputation surgery 18 months ago. We had talked about it as a family many times, I showed them videos of amputees doing normal things, magazines of the parts....the bigger kids were just excited that mom would become *more* mobile with the new leg. The only reservation my kids had was that they were a bit afraid of what the stump would look like...I have one daughter, who is VERY sqeamish, and she assumed it would be ugly/bloody looking. I assured her that I would not make her look at the bare stump at ANY point in the process and now, she is 13 and has no problem seeing my bare (not bloody, mind you!) stump.

    My almost two year old is almost five now...and he has really no memory of mom with two real legs. He thinks it is cool, and doesnt seem to think it is any big deal. If anything, he wont let me get by with any 'leg excuses'....like the other night he wanted some oatmeal as a bedtime snack. I tried to tell him that mommy already had her leg off and was laying in bed (reading HIM books, by the way!) and that maybe his big sister could get that for him.

    He is quite the momma's boy lately and he said, very matter of factly, "Momma..your leg is right THERE! (pointing to my leg next to the bed)...you CAN just put it on and go get me some oatmeal!"

    So dont expect any sympathy from the little ones!

    My two and a half year old nephew visited for the first time a few weeks ago (recently adopted by my brother) and he noticed my leg was different and said "Owie..." few times as he pointed to it. I showed it to him closer, let him touch it, and said it didnt hurt at all...and he never asked about it again.

    One last note...my now nine year old son loves to play a 'stump' game with me...as I am laying in bed iwth my leg off at night he sits down the bed from me and I pretend to be kicking him with my left leg, he jolts his face back, responding like he would IF I had a left foot there, that would be kicking his face...cracks up the whole family...the private lives of amputees... :D :) :D

    My vote, "dont worry about the questions...it will all happen naturally".