It’s a challenge to convince 33-year-old Lisa Thompson that she is an inspiration to others, but the way she has lived her life can clearly give hope to others who have doubts and fears about their own abilities and future. An amputee since age 7 when she lost her legs below the knee to meningococcal meningitis, Lisa has little memory of her life before the amputations. “Getting around my house without my legs was never an issue,” she remembers. “I crawled and jumped and played like other kids – I just used my knees instead of feet!” Even though Lisa had been fit with prosthetic limbs, she found them to be cumbersome and painful to wear, so when she arrived home from school or play, she’d quickly kick them off like a pair of shoes.
Throughout her childhood, Lisa participated in many activities such as skiing, rollerblading and swimming. She found that she enjoyed swimming more than other sports. “I didn’t feel disabled when I was swimming,” says Lisa. “I was able to move freely in the water in a way that was not possible using my prosthetic legs. It was liberating!” Her dad made special swim fins for her so that she could compete on the school swim team, and she excelled at the sport.
“I was never self-conscious about my legs until I started high school,” recalls Lisa. “Until that point I went to school with kids who knew about my illness and what had happened to me so I didn’t have to explain it. When I entered high school that was no longer the case, and I began to feel awkward and more aware of my differences.”
After high school, Lisa attended the University of Southern California and earned a degree in elementary school education. She then went on to earn a Master’s Degree and teach both second and fourth grade students. During that time, Lisa also met and married her husband and best friend, Donny. Together they have raised three active, talented and beautiful girls (ages 6, 8 and 15). Lisa has an incredibly busy life. She recently accepted a position as an education specialist, supervising home school families. She is also very active in her church, teaching Sunday school and volunteering at various functions.
In 2010, Lisa began looking for an alternative to the pelite prosthetic sockets she was wearing. Although she had worn the same type of device since childhood, she was no longer able to do the things she used to. Although they were always somewhat uncomfortable, she was now finding them painful to walk in and Lisa had to cut back on many of her activities. Walking on her knees while at home was also taking its toll on her body. Lisa’s search led her to SCP, and that’s when she became part of our family.
“In the beginning,” says Lisa, “making the transition from my old system to new sockets with a silicone liner and suspension sleeve was difficult for me. I remember being told it was going to be a process, not an instant fix, but because I’m not at all patient with those things, it was very frustrating at times. Because of the extremely bony structure of Lisa’s residual limbs and her sensitive skin, custom liners made to the precise measurements of her limbs were a must, and if they didn’t fit exactly right, had to be remade. That process was especially stressful for Lisa. “Thankfully, along with my supportive and loving family, the SCP staff is also patient and understanding.”
So now the only time we get to see Lisa is when she is in need of some supplies or a minor adjustment. She is busy enjoying her wonderful life; as it should be!