HOW I CAME TO BE A ONE-LEGGED WOMAN

 

I was born in the Midwest area of the United States.  As a child, our family moved to Southern California. All of my schooling and growing up was in the Los Angeles area.  At about 14 or 15 years old, I was introduced to the beautiful and fascinating world of motorcycles.  My first real boyfriend who later became my husband, had a gorgeous dark green Triumph street bike.  I fell in love with him and the motorcycle.  We married, had a daughter and slowly grew apart.  After our divorce, I was a single-mom and moved to the Beach area of San Diego and worked.  The fascination and attraction to motorcycles never went away.  Several years later, I met a man that brought a Harley-Davidson Sportster into my life.  We rode and traveled as much as our work and family responsibilities would allow.  I always rode "two-up" as a passenger.  It was not very common for women to have their own motorcycles or be encouraged to ride themselves. 

A career opportunity and move to the Northwest happened for us in 1991.  We packed up and moved to the North Idaho mountains.  Eventually, we parted company.  I stayed and was encouraged by friends to get my own motorcycle.  My learning bike was a Yamaha Virago.  Big enough to keep up with the Harley's but small enough for me to pick up when I dumped it.  Believe me, it still is not easy to pick up a street weight bike when you drop it.  All the while, I was saving and looking for my first Harley.  A good friend, and motorcycle enthusiast, from the Southern California area found a great 1996 Dyna Super Glide for me.  I flew down to Los Angeles with all of my riding gear and leathers in the early summer of 1998.  I rode the Dyna through Northern California and the beautiful Napa wine country, Lake Tahoe area of Nevada and the desert, through Southern Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains.  I stopped to white-water raft on the Salmon River and then continued North and East into the Big Sky country of Montana.  This was to be my first of many big riding adventures as I  headed her home to North Idaho.  My Dyna and I arrived safe and sound.  We had put about 2000 miles on our maiden voyage together.

Motorcycle riding season is a short one in Idaho.  Spring comes late with ice and snow still on the ground well into mid-April and Winter comes early with first frost before the end of August.  I rode any and every chance I could.  My favorite riding time is in the mid-afternoon with the warm summer breeze hitting my face and the smell of the pine trees and lilacs in the air.  The beautiful curves of the winding mountain roads are made for leaning into the curves and feeling the power of the machine underneath you.  On one of these perfect riding days in late July, I was hit head-on by a car that had passed another vehicle on a curve.  He just didn't see me when he pulled out to pass.  

My right leg was severed from my body completely below the knee.  My right forearm was broken and the bones were sticking out.  My left collarbone was broken.  Four of my ribs on my left side were broken. My left side of my head had a 5" gash where my helmet slammed into my skull.  I lay there unconscious and bled to death.  Another motorist with a cell phone called the police.  Fortunately, the officer was an acquaintance.  He made the decision that saved my life by calling out the medical helicopter.        

I was unconscious and totally unaware that any of this had happened to me until 3-1/2 days after the accident. The wonderful emergency medical people and gifted surgeons had to make the decisions that would save my life but also dramatically alter my life as I knew it.  8 units of blood were immediately transfused into me to see if I was going to live.  The surgeons then had to make the decision to remove the rest of my right leg above my knee.  There was no way to reattach or save what remained of  my leg due to the extensive trauma and damage.  The risk of infection was too great.  My right arm was surgically pinned together with a stainless steel plate.  My head was stitched up and the collarbone was left alone to set itself.  The doctors had done all they could do.  It was up to my own spirit and fight to see if I was going to live.  It truly is a miracle that I am alive today.  The odds were not in my favor.          

 

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