Artist & Gallerist
I went to salsa clubs one legged and asked men to dance with me – It was strange and awkward but good and necessary for my soul.
My understanding of post traumatic growth comes from the traumas, both physical and emotional, that I experienced in the past: My near death motorcycle accident in 2015 and ongoing family issues since childhood. In both cases, learning to forgive, staying positive and focusing on being grateful and letting go to move on, are the most important factors that have allowed me to grow with love and determination from the different traumas.
In 2015 I was suddenly hit by a car whose driver pulled an illegal move on the highway while I was riding my motorcycle. My leg was amputated above the knee, my hip shattered and I was on crutches one-legged for a year before I could be fitted for a prosthetic leg. This experience taught me to be extremely grateful to be alive because life can be taken from you at any second. My friend Cathy was riding her motorcycle to my left and due to the impact from the car on my right I hit her and we both went down on the highway. It is an absolute miracle we are both alive in such good condition. She broke her foot and I lost my leg – that’s it! I am so extremely grateful we are both alive that it overcomes the pain I have to endure as an amputee. I learned that talking about one’s trauma is very important: The more we can talk about our emotions and pains with friends, family, and strangers, the faster we are able to let the trauma go and move on. I also learned that it is ok to ask for help and that most people would be happy to give a helping hand if given the opportunity.
After losing my leg, I learned that I am able to adjust to new situations faster than I thought and that it’s OK to do things differently and ask for help. Since I needed to be on crutches for a year, I decided to look at them as a new sport and challenged myself to improve on them with love and appreciation for allowing me to get from point A to point B. I loved salsa dancing so much that I went to salsa clubs one legged and asked men to dance with me – It was strange and awkward but good and necessary for my soul. I learned not to care what other people think of me because I was doing things differently, and still need to as an amputee. It’s not easy but I try my best to stay positive and active without comparing myself to others.
My parents divorced when I was 9.5 and my mom, sisters and I moved from Switzerland to the USA. I started eating more and at age 13, I weighed 180 lbs. I was big. It took years of determination and willpower not to eat anything “white or yellow” alongside a lot of sports (swimming, basketball, ice hockey, snowboarding & lacrosse) to shed the weight and get in shape. I learned as a teenager that if I set my mind to a goal, I could achieve it.
Family support, emotionally & financially, also helped me be resilient and pursue my dreams. I am grateful to my artform of “bodypaintography” because it helped me focus on the beauty and uniqueness of my new form. There is nothing I can change except my attitude towards the situation, and if I see beauty in everyone else’s unique body, then I definitely need to see the beauty of my own shape and form. My self love and confidence helps me tremendously in life, and if I feel overweight and unhealthy, it is in my own power to do something about it.
Today I have five different feet including a normal everyday walking foot, a heel height adjustable foot, a water foot, a custom-made ice hockey blade foot, and a new running foot. I am proud to say I can salsa dance, jog, slalom water ski, play lacrosse, wakeboard and am now taking squash lessons. I don’t want my leg loss to stop me from doing the sports and activities I love or want to learn.
Love I received from family and friends from around the world was incredibly helpful and healing. My mom and oldest sister Belinda were with me for three months to help in all ways needed, while my mom’s attention to wound care in the hospital allowed me/us to leave after three weeks because the nurses trusted her to do the necessary wound care twice a day from home. When in the hospital, I insisted on taking half the painkillers and medicine nurses brought me, saving me from becoming addicted to the morphine and pills they overdose patients on. When out of the hospital, I would exchange the prescribed dose of two extra strength pain-reliever pills with a glass of red wine. I did this so I could enjoy something I love and use the power of my mind to counter the pain, telling myself this is what I chose – breathe in and let it go. Smoking Marijuana also helped me connect to my phantom leg instead of taking pills to disconnect with it. I find it fascinating that I feel my phantom toes more than I feel my real toes because they are tingling and pulsing, and it helps me know where my prosthetic foot is. The energy of my amputated leg is still with me, and I love that.
My mind is my most powerful tool but also my most limiting tool. If I believe in
myself, chances are I can achieve, but I have to try. Everything begins in the mind.
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