It's hard to believe that it's almost been a year since the accident.  In July of 2021, Madeleine had a partial hand amputation along with 3 fingers on her dominant (right) hand after being in an ATV that flipped onto its side and slid, with her hand trapped underneath the weight of the vehicle. She's made incredible progress both physically and mentally since, but every day brings with it new challenges.

Mad is constantly asked about her progress; what it feels like to be a hand amputee; how does she face her latest challenges, etc., so she wanted to start to share answers to some of her frequently asked questions.

What do you struggle with the most? (In terms of using your hand)
Weightlifting, or even putting weight into my right hand is constantly a struggle.  It is also mentally challenging because the gym is my therapy and not having that as a therapy, in a time where I could use the gym as one of my coping mechanisms, has been difficult.  But the thought of even doing a cartwheel scares me because I would probably break my index finger.  With each day, a new hurdle surfaces, and it reminds me of the things that I can't currently do, but hopefully will be able to do with further healing and the use of a prosthesis.  

What are some of the things you have been able to accomplish that you didn’t think you would be able to do after the accident?

  • Do my hair and makeup
  • Cooking/ cutting things (still working on)
  • Writing
  • Doing IVs as a nurse
  • Being a nurse again
  • Putting on a bra and pulling up leggings
  • Shaving my legs
  • Buttoning/unbuttoning things
  • Driving

How did you start to write with your non dominant hand?
When I went back to work in October, I was on light duty and my role was focused on auditing. This forced me to learn how to write with my left hand, but I was also determined because writing is important to me -- we write more than we think, on a daily basis.

How long did it take to adjust to writing with your non-dominant hand?
It took me about 4-5 months to really get my handwriting down. When switching to your non-dominant hand to write, I didn’t realize how much you have to focus on to get better. Such as speed and having a steady hand so your handwriting is eligible.

What does your hand feel like (in terms of sensation)?
I can only describe what my hand feels like as; the sensation you feel after mowing the lawn or holding a leaf blower. My hand feels numb and tingly all over. I still get phantom sensation, which is different from phantom pain. Phantom sensation is the feeling of things that aren’t there anymore, but it’s not necessarily painful, like phantom pain.

In the beginning, after my fingers were amputated, it felt like the fingers that were amputated were still there, but they were all wrapped around each other (if that makes sense). The worst part was that my fingers that were amputated felt like they were still there, and they were sweaty. It’s more of an annoyance than anything. I can still feel my missing fingers, sometimes more than others.

With Each Day

A new hurdle surfaces, and it reminds me of the things that I can't currently do, but hopefully will be able to do with further healing and the use of a prosthesis...

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