GAZELLE MAGAZINE Vol. 1, Issue 1 | Page 33

Gazelle 14 Spring 25-48_Gazelle Magazine 4/17/14 8:16 PM Page 31 “This is who I am. It’s not that I don’t ‘embrace’ the fact that I’m an amputee. I’m reminded of it every day. But I won’t let it stop me from being happy.” “It hurt, but I didn’t think much of it,” she said. “Later that evening, I started to feel very sick. I thought I had the flu.” A few days later, she was in a coma on life support. The source of her illness was traced to the hand injury. That seemingly insignificant trauma forced a strep germ harboring in a “winter crack” on her hand, into her bloodstream. “They told my family I needed a miracle to survive,” Loretta said. On December 25, the intensive care unit was filled with people praying around her bed. Previously unresponsive, as the group played one of Loretta’s favorite hymns, tears began to stream down her face. Her health took a turn for the better. “I really am a Christmas miracle,” she said. As she began to recover, she was told that due to lack of circulation while she was ill, her extremities were dying. Some blood flow returned, but in the end, amputations were still necessary. On Feb. 22, 2002, her feet and legs were removed eight inches below the knees. By summer, the fingers on her right hand and her entire left hand were gone. When it was done, she wanted to get on with her life. She put her energy into regaining her strength and pushed herself to do as much as possible. She didn’t dwell on the “what ifs” or worry about things she couldn’t change. “Ironically, my right hand is the one I hit, and it recovered the most,” Loretta said. “I still have my right thumb and one joint of my index finger, so I’m able to pick up things. I can turn a key in a lock, cook, take care of my family and do my own hair and makeup.” She was discouraged with her original, bulky prosthetics, then received a telephone call from Heather Mills McCartney – also an amputee – who had heard about Loretta’s experience through an email. Heather was an example of someone who wasn’t letting an amputation stop her. Her prosthetic leg fit well, looked natural and allowed her to walk with a nice stride. She pointed Loretta in the direction of Dorset Orthopaedic in England, where Loretta eventually obtained a pair for herself. Loretta admits she has always been a bit of a glamour girl – and the idea of attractive and truly functional legs was a big boost. She also uses a left hand prosthesis that was molded to look similar to her own. “I came through this awful ordeal, and I wanted to put it behind me and move on – especially for my children,” she said. “It takes time to heal emotionally from any sickness, loss or change. Then eventually, you have to get back to your life.” Now, Loretta is an inspirational speaker who shares her story of hope and determination with others. “This is who I am,” Loretta said. “It’s not that I don’t ‘embrace’ the fact that I’m an amputee. I’m reminded of it every day. But I won’t let it stop me from being happy.” The complete account of Loretta’s illness, recovery and inspirational response to life is available in the book, “A Life in Parts.” For more information, visit or GAZELLE STL.COM GAZELLE STL 31