THE STORY OF TINA HURLEY Continued: BELOW-KNEE AMPUTEE
Hi, I’m Tina Hurley (@Tinah214). I am a 33 year old former gymnast and Division 1 competitive cheerleading athlete. In 2015 I was diagnosed with a rare blood vessel condition in my legs called Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome after it became increasingly difficult for me to walk and use my calve muscles without pain. Over the past few years, I have had multiple surgeries including muscle debulking, multiple artery bypass grafting, and endovascular artery interventions which were all unsuccessful at getting blood flow to my left leg.
In July 2016, after things got critical and all surgeries had failed, I underwent a left below-knee amputation to regain some quality of life. I suffered a complicated post-operative course resulting in a large wound requiring significant wound care for 8 months prior to a revision amputation in March 2017. I again had wound issues and my residual limb anatomy did not allow for prosthetic progression.
Just 3 months ago I had another amputation revision, which has gone well and will, after 13 surgeries, hopefully have been the last of the left leg surgical saga. My right leg is next up on the docket once the left leg stabilizes further. Despite the unfortunate nature of medical status, I truly have never been happier or more fulfilled. Heading into my future I realize, the more leg they take from me, the more heart I gain. You see, I have gained far more than I’ve lost… which is quite a statement given the concomitant loss of my marriage, house and dogs after my first amputation.
Over the past year, I have taken up adaptive Crossfit and qualified for one of the largest international competitions in the world (@wodapaloozafitnessfestival) that I placed 2nd at in Miami, Florida just 3 weeks ago. As I sit here writing this bio, I am in Switzerland after being invited to tour Europe with the US paralympic bobsled team. While racing down the ice in the bobsled yesterday while the Swiss Alps opened up in front of me I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment and pride in my ability to persevere. A year ago today I feared my future and was unsure how to survive with my set of circumstances. Now I realize I cannot only survive, but thrive while secondarily inspiring others by simply living my best life despite my challenges. I’ve lived through repeated trauma, tremendous loss, and core shattering pain… but this is not my story. My story is one of adaptation, enhancement and the pursuit of inner happiness. It is a story about the realization that life is not about finishing with 10 fingers or 10 toes; it is about developing inner constancy, building virtue in yourself, and being of service to the world.
I have chosen to be a product of my decisions not a result of my circumstances through seizing moments, creating memories, connecting to my community, traveling, submerging in enriching activities and soul searching via introspection and periodic honest self confrontation to further build my character. I have never loved myself this much and have never found myself surrounded by such amazing people as door after door swings open to greet me with unforeseen opportunity. Our futures are all uncertain but, by keeping a positive outlook, finding silver linings, maintaining a can-do attitude and becoming adept at adapting, we can create a life without limitations. In honoring the following, we can live our best lives: love yourself, love each other, dream big and never give up!