What started out as a day of fun riding her motorcycle, hiking and being around friends, things took a turn for the worse for Joan as she drove home on her bike with her friends following in their car.
“We decided that it would be safer to go through New Hartford and take the highway home rather than Union Road, which is the backway and twists and turns,” Joan said. “We thought less chance of running into an animal, never thinking that it would be a human that we needed to watch out for.”
As she approached an oncoming car, Joan noticed the car was coming straight for her. She tried to swerve toward the ditch, but wasn’t quick enough. The car struck Joan and she scraped down the driver’s side of the vehicle, which almost hit her friends following her. As the driver of the other vehicle sped off down the road, Joan’s friends came to her aid.
“My friend Mokey jumped out of the car and ran towards me. He lifted the bike off my leg and then just tried to keep me calm because I was awake and it was hard to breathe,” Joan recalled “He got my phone out and another couple stopped and helped him use it to call 911 and my family. I kept asking him about my leg because I couldn’t feel it, and he said it would be okay. I kept asking and he finally said it was probably gone.”
Aside from her leg, Joan also had six broken ribs, a broken collar bone and issues with her spleen and kidneys. After seven weeks in the hospital and rehabilitative care, Joan had healed enough for a prosthetic, and was fitted at Clark & Associates.
The challenges facing Joan have been numerous from learning how to walk again and being comfortable on various surfaces and uneven ground, to the emotional aspects of being an amputee, especially dealing with other people.
“I still wonder, ‘Why me?’ a lot. Sometimes having people stare at you all the time is difficult to put up with,” Joan said. “The little kids don’t bother me because they are so innocent and it’s just something different. The adults are harder to deal with because sometimes they are just rude. I face different challenges every day, just have to keep moving on.”
Joan has been able to lean on family and friends, especially her boyfriend. We’ve been so fortunate and privileged to help Joan regain herself, and not just physically.
“The staff at Clark’s, they have all been wonderful but especially John Costello. Also the girls, Deb and Jenny at the front office, they have all helped me regain some of myself and a sense of humor,” Joan said.
With the support of her loved ones, Joan is learning to live what her friends call “her new normal.”
“I want to be able to do anything I want to,” Joan said. “I don’t want to be defined just as an amputee. I am and have always been a person first.”