I have a friend, Maxine, whom I’ve known for years. I want you to know her too, because she has a lot to teach those of us who are mothers.
Maxine is married to Galen Updike, and they have 5 children and 9 living grandchildren. Many years ago, Maxine had two arterial blockages in her foot. They were both removed, but in Dec 2008, she had another blockage in the same foot and was told she would have to have her leg amputated. Through blessings from her Church leaders and many surgeries, the doctors were able to save her foot, but not for long. In June 2009, her foot became so bad, that amputation was the only choice left. However, due to prayers and a miracle, the doctors were able to amputate below the knee. Galen, Maxine’s husband, said this was a huge blessing. People who lose a leg above the knee from disease such as the kind his wife had (as opposed to an injury), only live an average of 2 years.
Maxine didn’t get her prosthesis until 10 months after her amputation and she became use to life in a wheelchair. Did you know if you lose a leg from an injury, you are immediately fit with a prosthetic leg and so you can adjust more quickly to wearing one? Maxine uses her prosthesis when going out of the house, but uses her wheelchair in her home. Wearing a prosthetic leg is not without pain and Maxine often gets phantom pains in her foot after wearing it.
I asked Maxine how her life has changed. I thought that was probably a lame question, and it is, but Maxine shared a couple of examples. She said she stays home a lot more. She can still drive a car by using a left foot accelerator, but she said it was tricky for her to learn how to use one.
Maxine has traveled a few times since the amputation, but it has taken its toll on her health. She and her family were able to go on a cruise and she traveled to her son’s out of state wedding, but she found it took several months to recuperate and build her strength back up besides have other medical issues crop up. Maxine is able to keep up with laundry and cooking, but has someone come in to help with housecleaning.
Maxine moves and walks slower now, but her husband is very patient with her. She says it’s frustrating when she can’t just get up and walk over to fix or get something in the house. But she is grateful she has a trial that people can see, in fact she didn’t want a plastic leg that looked real because she wanted people to see why she was being slow and what her handicap was. Maxine feels sad for others who have depression or emotional issues that are unseen but still need the same compassion others freely give to her.
Children are more open in asking questions about Maxine’s missing leg than adults. Some children will come up to her in a store and ask what happened. One little boy after gazing at her asked, “where’s your leg?” Maxine replied, “it got sick”. The little boy ran over to his mom and matter-of-factly said, “her leg got sick.” Some of Maxine’s grandchildren have never known their grandmother when she had two legs. They happily push her around the house in her wheelchair, or if she is sitting in the recliner, they play in the wheel chair and have lots of fun.
I asked Maxine how she got through her trials to become the happy person she is today. Her simple, yet profound answer was, “prayer”. She has prayed every step of the way through every surgery and set back that has come. And she has received grace and peace.
What has she learned? Patience. Lots of patience. And to speak up. She contracted a bed sore which caused awful pain, plus eventual surgery and months of wound care. She had other medical oversights, which caused major problems, so she has learned to “speak up” to doctors and nurses. Tell them when you hurt and ask questions if you are unsure about instructions or procedures.
Finally I asked Maxine if she had any parenting tips—her 5 children seem to ‘ have it altogether’. She said:
****teach your children to be responsible.
****Teach them to accept what challenges they have or obstacles they need to overcome and just “work with it”.
****Don’t make excuses—just do it.
Actually, that sums up Maxine’s life. Just accept it, don’t make excuses and get on with it.