The Sochi Snowboarder Cannot Wear Her Leg Following Massive Blood Clot
Amy Purdy is a Paralympian. She won bronze in Sochi back in 2014 for snowboard-cross, then four years later in 2018, won both silver (snowboard-cross) and bronze (banked slalom) in PyeongChang. But she almost didn't compete in PyeongChang.
If you don't know who Amy Purdy is, you should. This just-turned-40 snowboarding superstar started racing at 15, but at 19, contracted bacterial meningitis. Though she survived the infection, it came at a cost. Purdy required a double below the knee amputation and a kidney from her father. Off her own website, "after going through this life-altering experience, Amy challenged herself to move on with her life and attain goals that even those who have both legs struggle to achieve." She went on to medal at both the Sochi and PyeongChang Paralympic Games.
However, it's been an especially trying time for Amy Purdy since. Back in February, she called upon her prayer warriors when what she thought was a simple mechanical issue was actually much worse, a massive blood clot. In an emotional and raw Facebook post Purdy wrote, "My kidney or my leg… I have been hit down multiple times in my life but this time by far has been the hardest. I went from snowboarding 6 hours a day, working out & traveling the world… [and] because of how active I am in my prosthetics wearing them 12-18 hours a day, I have developed a massive blood clot from my hip to the bottom of my leg. To complicate things even more I have a kidney transplant & a severe shellfish allergy… so there's the risk that to try to save my leg, we are risking my kidney."
She eventually found a doctor in Denver (not far from where she and her husband, Daniel Gale, have a home in Silverthorne) who would treat the clot with minimal risk to her kidney. A catheter dripped a clot-busting solution into Amy's leg for 24 hours. In an interview with Women's Health, Amy said, "It was the most excruciating thing I've ever felt. I basically yelled and moaned for 24 hours straight. Even the strongest combination of painkillers didn't help."
But it worked, the clot went away. Though she wasn't out of the woods yet. She spent the next three months recovering. When she went to try on her left prosthetic for the first time since the catheter solution, her leg turned purple. Her arteries had severely diminished. Her solace? The bathtub or hot tub, where she spent many hours crying.
Next up was a recovery program in a hyperbaric chamber. In her Instagram post she wrote, "So… the next step is 6 weeks, 3 hours a day of hyperbaric oxygen chamber. What happens is the chamber gets compressed as if you are deep under the ocean & you breathe in 100% oxygen… the compression forces the oxygen… into the further parts of your body like your skin & the tips of your toes (for me the bottom of my leg)."
Though she's shown signs of improvement and new artery development, she is unable to wear her left prosthetic and may never be able to again. Never one to be held back, Purdy has found an alternate way of getting around; a tricked-out motorized scooter by Atto.
On what's next, Amy took to Instagram on her 40th birthday (November 7) and wrote: "My plan was to get my body & skin in amazing shape when bam, February happened, then life happened, then 5 unexpected surgeries happened, then I learned once again that life doesn't always go as planned… I woke up happy & healthy with so much love to share! The number one thing I have learned this year is that a little grace & self-love goes a really long way."