Amp It Up! Magazine

Page 7

“This one step - choosing a goal and sticking to it - changes everything.” — Scott Reed

go back to school “anytime soon,” Maria rejected that assessment. “I returned to school that fall,” she says, “and I changed my major from physical therapy to occupational therapy.” Maria, now 44, has come a long way since those days and is now the director of occupational therapy at the J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities. Never forgetting the words that threatened to derail her own recovery after her legs were amputated, Maria strives to help her patients maintain a positive outlook. “Understanding the reality of a situation is one thing,” she says, “but smashing someone’s drive to try is unacceptable.”

The story of these amazing soccer players is an apt metaphor for the lives of many amputees who decide to amp up their lives rather than sit on the sidelines. Finding a goal that you can work toward is an important turning point in many amputees’ lives. It could be a sports goal; a goal to marry or have children; a goal to be a better spouse, parent or child; a goal to complete your education or get a job; or a goal to simply improve your daily life. Whatever it is, the important thing is that it gives you something to strive toward. Then, as you start working to achieve this goal, you too might fall down and get knocked down. You too might have to kick up some dirt or might face discrimination and jeers. However, if you want it badly enough and work hard enough to reach your goal, you too, like the members of the Sierra Leone soccer team, might, through your tears of struggle and with the help of a dedicated team, have the opportunity to soar. Amputees Maria Greenfield and Jothy Rosenberg are great examples of this metaphor becoming reality.

A winning recipe: goals + stubbornness Probably one of the last things you have on your mind as a 19-year-old is wrecking your beloved Ford Mustang in the rain, getting out to check the damage, and being hit by another car. When that happened to Maria Greenfield nearly 25 years ago on February 27, 1987, she didn’t know what hit her. In fact, she still doesn’t remember the two hours before or two weeks after the accident that cost her both of her legs and nearly her life. At the time, she was working toward a degree in physical therapy at the University of Oklahoma. Almost dying and spending nearly three months in the hospital certainly didn’t fit into her plans, but she had a great attitude that would make all of the difference in her recovery and future life. When an occupational therapist who had only met her twice told her that she shouldn’t expect to

Getting back to life

Maria Greenfield

Positive and happy by nature, Maria had little difficulty accepting her limb loss and did fine physically and emotionally, which she attributes to “great support from family and friends, having a great sense of humor, and being in good physical shape.” She mainly just wanted to get back to life and figure out how she was going to accomplish her goals in the future, such as going back to school, driving a stick shift, pursuing a career, getting married and having a family - all of which she has since accomplished. “It would have been easy to sit on the couch and be served for the rest of my life,” she says, “but such a life would have been very boring.” Having goals to work toward after amputation is very important, she argues.

Obstacles along the way

Unfortunately, the low level of prosthetic devices available when Maria first lost her legs held her back a little in the beginning. It was improved prosthetics, her husband, whom she married in 1991, and her two children that have really helped her take her life to the next level, she says. She believes that access to the appropriate prosthetic devices has been very important to enabling her to do whatever she wants to do. (See related story March/April 2012 Amp it up! magazine


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