In honor of Limb Loss Awareness Month, Heather Mills, associate agile project manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), shared her story on the loss of her foot.
Her journey began in 2013 when she went to the doctor with calf pain.
“The doctor did a scan of my leg from the knee down, and it didn’t show anything,” said Mills. “They basically told me I sprained it and wrapped it up, but then, the pain moved to my foot.”
Still unsure of the problem, they put Mills on steroids, and she went in and out of the emergency room until March 2015 when her foot turned white, and she could no longer feel it.
“The doctors found a very large blood clot stuck behind my knee,” said Mills. “They ended up doing three surgeries that weekend, the third one being removing my foot. Still, I was lucky because I had scar tissue from a knee injury, and that stopped the blood clot. It was unfortunate to lose my foot, but I could have died.”
Mills was in the hospital for three weeks following her amputation, where she was placed on a special diet for her diabetes. When she returned to life outside of the hospital, she gained the weight back but recently celebrated losing 70 pounds.
“The key to prevention is to live a healthy lifestyle,” said Mills. “If I could go back 13 years and change the way I was living, I might have both feet. Being and staying healthy is key. Now, when I go to the doctor, the numbers are amazing, and it’s just a great feeling.”
She also found a way to be a cheerleader for others in Possibilities, BCBSNE’s employee resource group supporting differently abled employees.
“Being in Possibilities has helped because it is always good to have that community,” said Mills. “It also helps bring awareness to situations like when you have to go down stairwells in an emergency; it takes me a bit longer to get down them. Some people might not know that, and it’s about bringing awareness.”
Mills hopes her story can inspire people to make changes in their lifestyles and remind others to celebrate what they have.
“It teaches you to appreciate the simple things in life,” said Mills. “In the beginning, I couldn’t take my laundry down the stairs without having to sit down and slide down the stairs. I try to do a lot of stairs now, and just be appreciative of the fact that I am mobile.”
To learn more about Limb Loss Awareness Month, visit Amputee-Coalition.org.
For more articles like this one, visit Team Blue.