Meet the Members

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Athena C., Member

My name is Athena Casper. I am 24 with spina bifida and I have been a right below knee amputee for almost three years. I am going to be writing about what it’s like being a young mom with spina bifida and an amputation.  I am going to write about the positive days and even the bad days.  I am going to also introduce my children to you because they will be a major part in my daily blogs.  I am going to start with Izabella, or Izzy for short. Izzy is my miracle baby in her special way.  I was raised being told that I would never have biological children of my own.  At the age of 20 I welcomed Izzy into the world too early. Izzy was born at ten weeks early. She was only two pounds and 8oz. She spent 7 1/2 weeks in a level 3 nicu and was only 9 months old when I had my amputation. I had the amputation the day after Easter. Izzy is the reason I decided to do it then. The doctor said that I could have waited up till five years later. I knew that I couldn’t wait with her at home and about to start moving.  Recovery was really rough. I couldn’t take care of Izzy.  I had to depend upon others. Then on mother’s day I received the worst call of my life. My grandmother had died.  Recovery took a very long time. In October I decided with the encouragement from my sister to take Izzy to Maryland for three weeks without my husband and Izzy’s father.  Things seemed to be looking up for me until a fellow amputee friend came to see us and told me how bad my leg was. I just found an amazing prosthetic doctor, but more on that later.

Izzy is now 3, she still has a lot of delays from being premature. She receives speech and OT (occupational therapy) twice a week. Izzy also has asthma and is allergic to latex. In February of 2012 I did a routine MRI of my back.  I had been having increased pain and we thought that it meant that I was going to need spinal surgery.  Two days later on a sunny Wednesday afternoon I got a phone call from the doctor.  He asked me if I had realized that I was pregnant.   Needless to say I had no idea!  Well I found out that I was 14 1/2 weeks pregnant with another baby. This is my youngest. Shyanne was born by an emergency c-section at 30 weeks due to me having a ruptured uterus and internal bleeding.  I was rushed into surgery and Shy was born weighing 3 pounds 5 ounces. She only stayed in the nicu for 5 1/2 weeks at a level 2 nicu. She has OT, speech, and a home nurse once a week. She also has asthma. She is now 18 months old and doing good.  She is the one I worry about.  She has had a rough time with her asthma.

Back to me. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for almost 3 years. I have just switched to an amazing new prosthetic doctor. After having a doctor who wouldn’t listen to me and really didn’t even care. I swear that he stole the beginning of izzy’s life from me.  So I now see a new prosthetic doctor and I love how he cares about my goal of being able to keep up with the kids as seriously as I do makes it easier on me. Well here is my introduction please feel free to ask any questions!!!!!

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Paul D., Member

Paul Deines has been an enthusiastic, 50-something member of LIM359 for the past year. He has been living with with limb loss since 2011 when, after stepping on a nail, infection swept through his foot. In just over a month, Paul lost first a toe, then his foot, and finally his leg due to the infection that ensued.

However, very little keeps Paul from creating, pursuing, and accomplishing his personal and professional goals. For example, he has made a career of expressing his creative side through his lifelong passion for photography. See bluedolphinfotography.smugmug.com/ for more thought-provoking samples.

Paul spends considerable time and effort in pursuit of his passion, sometimes traveling alone in the hunt for the perfect shot. Last fall, for example, when he shot scenic photos of aspens in their stunning gold colors. On a personal level, however, when he’s back in the big city, Paul greatly values LIM359 events, where he can put aside all else and just hang out with other members.

Bottom line? Paul enjoys attending LIM359 events for the chance it offers him to interact with other amputees in an unpretentious, straightforward setting. That said, he may well have found a good home for those traits, given the group’s open and unpretentious nature.

Interested in meeting Paul and/or other LIM359 members? The next LIM359 event is afternoon mini golf, April 25, 2015. Hope to see you there!

Are you interested in sharing a little about yourself with other LIM359 members? I can help! I am actively seeking LIM359 members who might wish to make some new acquaintances or even rekindle old ones. Just e-mail me your contact information at rmediting@gmail.com, and I’ll provide all the details.

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 Jessica J., Member

My name is Jessica and I became involved with LIM359 after I began dating Tyler Coleman in September 2013. I have attended multiple events and have recently begun running with the Achilles International-Colorado. I am a kidney transplant coordinator at Porter Adventist Hospital and find myself very active in the Donate Life community. I moved to Colorado from the great state of Nebraska in October 2011 and have been in love with the view ever since. Tyler and I live in Englewood with our dog Roscoo. I enjoy biking, running, and dancing. I have really gotten into outdoor sports and opportunities that Colorado has to offer.

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Olivia M., Member

I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa.  More specifically, Camps Bay, an idyllic beach side town, cocooned by the cloud-cloaked plateau of Table Mountain and nestled against the craggy chest of Lions Head.  I was fortunate enough to get to travel often as a child so I knew, beyond a doubt, that this was one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I was a quirky kid with a ferocious imagination.  My face was often buried in a book, oblivious of my surroundings, or I was visiting the fairies at the bottom of the garden, or building sand castles and trying to catch the impossibly fast, tiny fish that flitted in rocky tide pools, or I was climbing anything that looked remotely scalable or swimming in our pool at any chance I got.  I was a water baby.  I took ballet and then jazz dancing for years and I absolutely loved to dance, I played netball (poorly) and basketball (even worse), I swam with the school team and I ran sprints, but since my family were all artists and musicians, I most loved to play piano and clarinet.

When I was 16, I got my first real job at the Pizzeria on the beach front, a few blocks from my house.  It wasn’t ideal  (I had sort of been hoping to get a job at a funky art gallery downtown) but since we could only drive at 18 in South Africa, it would have been hard to get there, so I was proud of myself for securing a position that I could get myself to with ease.  I felt capable, responsible, and grown up.

Then someone pipe bombed the restaurant and I woke up a month later.

I opened my eyes to an enclosed unit inside ICU.  To the strained faces of my family.  To my body completely bandaged and in traction.  I learnt that I was the closest person to the bomb when it exploded, that my clothing had melted to my skin, that they had put nails and bits of metal in the bomb to do the most damage.  It was a little while before my mom carefully told me that I had lost my right foot and almost lost my left leg.  I was told that I had 3rd degree burns over most of my body and that I had shielded my face with my left hand, which destroyed the top of my hand but saved my eyes.  At that moment, I decided that reacting badly to a bad situation only makes it worse, so there didn’t seem any other option than to thrive and survive.  The doctors told me it would take 18 months for me to walk again, I did it in 2.  I had an incredible support system of family and friends and over the following years, I fought to be “normal.”  I didn’t identify as handicapped or disabled.  I didn’t accept that I couldn’t do anything.  I fought to do more than perhaps I would have back when it came easily.  I didn’t want this one event to define my life and yet the impact of it still ripples through every day of my existence.

It took me 14 years and the gentle push of someone close for me to think “Hey, there are other people out there like me, other people who have shared the challenges I have, and I want to meet them!”  I attended one event with LIM359 and I was shocked and inspired to see so many amputees being active, showing so much strength.  I felt strengthened to be a part of this group.  I realize that acknowledging my challenges does not define me.  It allows me to share them, gain support and give it in return, and that is a wonderful thing.

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Rich M., Member & Website Content Provider

Colorado has been my home for almost 25 years, nearly half my life. My own experience with limb loss began in August, 2012, when I was involved in an all-too-common bicycle/car accident; A distracted driver pulled his car out in front of me and completely surprised me. In the crash, I sustained nerve damage severe enough to cause complete and indefinite loss of use of my left arm.

After a little over two years with no progress, I’d had enough of dragging around the equivalent of a sack of potatoes from my injured shoulder. Further, it delayed my body’s healing process in general, so I decided  to have the arm amputated at the elbow. Thankfully, I’d already had some time to physically adapt and to emotionally prepare for life with one arm; it made my transition considerably easier.

I am grateful for the new lease on life I’ve been given, and for the many people I’ve met and continue to meet along the way. This, of course, includes all the new friends I’ve made at Lim359, plus those I’ve yet to meet. From what I’ve seen, Lim359 members are in good company together.

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John S., Member

My brother and I were raised in a series of Catholic Orphanages.  Both of us graduated from Boys Town HS in Omaha, Nebraska with All-State Honors in Football. Upon graduation I joined the Army and Bob went to Nebraska where he played on two National Championship teams and afterward for the New York Giants until a knee injury forced him out of the game. My right leg was partially paralyzed and I received a medical discharge from the Army.

I’ve had the privilege of trying out many pursuits in my life thus far, and as my brother likes to say, I’m the best-educated, most traveled, poor person he’s ever met. In 2000 I took a sabbatical year and lived with the monks at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO. I woke up every morning at 3:00 A.M. to the sound of chimes on a cart that one of the monks rolled through the corridors of the monastery, learned how to manage bees and bake bread. And daily at 4:30 I had a cup of tea or hot chocolate with a monk who happened to be a Jungian Psychologist for an hour long discussion about most anything under the sun.

I’ve experienced much of the heartache that is common in our society as well and to a large extent that has transformed me to a point where most of my friends and family recognize me as an eccentric who listens well.  And I in turn consider myself as something of a healer who works out of a deep sense of brokenness. In September I had a below the knee amputation of my right leg. With the support of my family and friends I’ve made I rapid recovery and I’m back to pursuing the adventure of life and all that it brings. And to the point of this short narration I enjoy my budding relationships with my fellow amputees and family in LIM 359.

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