On Father’s Day last June, Christy Flesvig was enjoying the sunshine with friends at Reef Point in Newport Coast. While she was in the water with her friend’s 10 year old, her foot planted in the sand and she was hit by a wave. Her body torqued and she heard “crack, crack, crack, crack.” She was rushed to the ER at Hoag Hospital where she learned that she had hyper-extended her leg, creating a tibial plateau fracture with four fractures in her knee. However, the medical staff did not realize that there had also been damage to the artery behind her knee. While she was alone in ER room, waiting to be discharged, she suddenly felt excruciating pain. The internal lining of her artery had clotted and her blood supply to her foot was cut off. Her entire leg thrombussed and her foot became rock hard. While screaming bloody murder, she actually held her foot and said, “you’ll never be the same again!” Eventually someone in the hospital heard Christy’s cries and she was rushed into emergency surgery. Within 24 hours Christy had 3 surgeries and a complete blood transfusion. Her nurse later told her that she had never given so much blood to a single patient in her 10 years at Hoag. When she awoke from her third surgery, she was told that her only option was amputation.
At that point, while her medical team was deciding what would be the best plan, Christy began to do her own research. She has many friends in the medical community and was drawing on many resources. The decision had to be made as to whether she would have a below the knee, at the knee, or above the knee amputation. By the time she went into her fourth and fifth surgeries, she felt confident that she had explored all possible solutions. Although her medical team was putting forth a plan, she was double checking everything and felt confident about what was being done. She had peace of mind because she had so much information regarding her situation. She received an above the knee amputation on July 20, 2019.
While she was still waiting for her amputation, Christy began diligently searching for the best prosthetist in Orange County. She has a friend from high school that owns a prosthetic company in Chicago. Her sister called this friend and asked for a recommendation for a good prosthetist in Southern California. Rick Myers was who he recommended. At the same time, another friend in prosthetic sales also said Rick was “the guy.” While all this was going on, Rick showed up in the hospital to visit Christy because of a call that he had received regarding her tragic accident! After reading many Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews and after talking with Rick, Christy decided to receive her care from Southern California Prosthetics.
There were many massive adjustments to everyday life that Christy, like every amputee, had to make. The most difficult day post surgery that Christy recalls was when she first arrived home. She was struck with the realization that she had a four level home with 25 stairs. There were various pieces of medical equipment on every floor and boxes everywhere! After she had a good, hard cry as she sat in the temporary chaos of her new life, she decided she had to do what JIm Glidwell, the owner of her company suggested, “Move forward.” To Christy, moving forward involved being proactive to get the information and people in her life that she needed in order to continue to live a happy and fulfilled life. She decided she would dive in and participate in everything she could as an amputee, and that she would jump on any question or concern she had. The day after her release from the hospital, she attended Southern California Prosthetics’ Amputee Family Picnic with her mom where she met many new amputee friends. She found and attended all the amputee support groups in her area and even tried inclusive sailing and a trip to Alvero Street with JR Vigil and Cal-ability. She also called on the support of many of her current friends. A meal train was established and friends brought Christy food for weeks! Eighteen women came to help her organize and rearrange her house over a six week period after she got home. They encouraged Christy to “own” her prosthesis and that it was her friend and not her enemy!! She chose a sparkly silver fabric to cover her prosthesis so it would have a little pizzazz! They all decided to name her leg “Lindsey,” after the Bionic Woman show!!
And so her journey of moving forward and finding her new “normal” began! Athleticism, travel and fashion were three very important parts of her life that would require significant attention and effort to maintain her current quality of life and daily activities. To say that Christy was an active person before her amputation would be an understatement! In college, she played tennis on a full athletic scholarship and was captain and MVP of the tennis team. Post college, she continued to play competitive tennis and she avidly played golf and went scuba diving and snow skiing. There were days when she would snow ski in the morning, drive down the mountain, and play 9 holes of golf in the afternoon! Par for the course, as an amputee Christy fearlessly tries everything! Just 2 months after her amputation, she had jet skied, gone to spin class, played 9 holes of golf and swam laps!! She has a snow ski trip planned for the first week of December with three of her best friends!
Fashion was a HUGE part of Christy’s life that she wanted to maintain. Even as a little girl, she would lay out her clothes for the week and make sure there were 2 dresses and 3 outfits with pants! She loves style and like many women, she also loves shoes! As an amputee, she is determined to “rock it” with her style regardless of the restraints of her prosthesis! She brought in a plethora of shoes, boots and even her ski boots for Rick to work with so she could wear them all! Christy recently returned to work and has been struggling, but pushing through, the difficulty of getting dressed each day and not being able to wear some of her favorite clothes and shoes. She is trying to find her style and has met an amputee friend on the East Coast who also shares her love for fashion. It is encouraging to Christy to chat with her and exchange ideas!
Today, four months after her amputation, Christy is doing great! Because she was and is a very capable and powerful woman, she never really needed much help until she lost her limb. She has found hope and strength from the love of friends, family and her new amputee world! She teared up as she said that she never realized how many people loved her until this happened. She would like to be thought of as someone who improved herself as a result of tragedy and who can be a help to others. Because she was 55 years old when her accident occurred, she feels grateful that her identity was already established so she did not let her injury define her. It has actually made her world bigger, with more friends and more opportunity to help others!!