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Contact the Amputee Coalition at 888/267-5669 or amputee-coalition.org 25

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and then full-time; she hiked, biked, went snow skiing, scuba diving and whitewater rafting and traveled abroad, including a climb to the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. She moved to San Diego and for 18 months worked 60 to 70 hours a week as the managing director of the Children’s Rainforest Project. Finally, in August 2008, her body “just gave out.”

“I went into a deep depression and wouldn’t leave my house for days; wouldn’t answer the phone and didn’t eat much,” Lacey says. She and her boyfriend Dave Ellis, now her husband, fnally returned to Michigan in August 2010 and moved in with her parents, allowing them to catch up fnancially on medical bills, and her parents have helped her through the amputation surgery and the recovery. “My parents are the most giving, selfess and kind people in the world, and I am so grateful to have them,” she says. Ditto for Dave, who has been beside her all the way. “He’s an amazing man, my rock,” Lacey says.

They were married on March 5, 2010, in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. “We got married and I danced all night long and was crying from the pain,” Lacey says. “I couldn’t walk for weeks after my wedding day. And I started thinking: Is this all my life is going to be? We want to have children. I knew I couldn’t stand more surgeries and outside of amputation there was no hope. If we have a chance to have a future and a life, amputation was the answer.” After returning to Michigan, she did the “Jen thing” – she got busy doing research and learned of the Ertl procedure, which is described as: A fbular stabilization procedure where the opposing bundles of cut muscle tissue are sewn to small holes drilled into the end of the bone of the residual limb. The major signifcance of this procedure is the increased surface area available for loading. Because the muscle has been directly attached to the bone, it remains active, thus maintaining its mass or even increasing in size. That led her to Dr. Christian Ertl, who, she discovered, was just

2 hours from her home at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. After their second meeting she decided to have the amputation. “I had no hope for the future and hope is a powerful thing,” Lacey says. “I decided the amputation would give me my life back, and it will, eventually.”

Two weeks after her amputation, her leg started swelling. The infection and swelling had split it open and the pain was awful, she remembers. Another surgery. Dr. Ertl cleaned it out and packed the leg on June 29 and did a follow-up surgery on July 3. “I’m starting to get my strength back,” Lacey says. “I’ll also be helping others. This all happened for a reason and my passion is helping others. I’ve already been mentoring people online to help them through the amputation process and I will be a certifed peer visitor as well.”

“I haven’t gone through a mourning period for my leg like some people do,” Lacey says. “I knew this was going to be a very long road and I’m almost at the fnish line. I close my eyes and I envision the day I am going to be able to walk normally. You go through a lot of ups and downs with an amputation. Every day is a struggle and you have to do your best to stay positive.”

“Hope really is at the center of my life,” she adds. “When you feel no hope, your world is dark and your future is bleak and for me this was paralyzing. Having no hope is the lowest you can feel as a human being. The conference truly brought me back to myself. I have so much fre and passion inside of me. I am ready for the rest of my life!”

Jen Lacey and Dave Ellis

Photos provided by Jen Lacey

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