April 10th, 2019 | Published in Amputee Stories
Wife, mother, physical fitness buff, community volunteer, and business professional, Megan H. has plenty on her plate – and she loves it.
“I’m extremely active and I’m constantly on the go. I don’t like to say I can’t do something because of my leg,” said Megan, a below-knee amputee. “Like anything else in life, being an amputee is what you make of it. Drawing on your personal strength and the strength of those around you, you can do everything and anything you want to do.”
Megan became an amputee at 16, after a car accident. Right from the beginning, even though it was very difficult, Megan took a positive approach to her situation.
“I remember the surgeons were looking at options to rebuild my leg, but weren’t optimistic about my mobility. I told them to do whatever would allow me to run,” she said of her pastime then. “They said amputation was my best bet.”
Standing Strong with Family and Friends
“It’s a huge thing for anybody to experience that kind of trauma, but my parents didn’t lend it as much power as other people would,” Megan said. “I have people tell me even today, ‘I don’t know how you do what you do; I would have just wanted to die.’ That’s a weird thing to tell somebody. I didn’t think it was that bad. You can get through it, but respect it with the gravity it deserves.”
Megan said she was blessed to have supportive family and friends.
“My family told me it was another stepping stone and we’ll get through it. That’s how I was raised. My aunt is a Pilates instructor and right away she was working with me on core strength. The approach was that we are not going to let this thing take over. I also had support that helped at school. They arranged for me to have all my classes on the main floor. My classmates at St. Agnes Academy were wonderful and my boyfriend at the time was not fazed by it. St. Agnes Academy (all girls) had a few “brother schools.” St. Thomas High School was one and their student body was extremely supportive as well. I was very happy and surprised to be elected their homecoming queen!”
A Foot to Fit a Busy Life
Megan’s surgeon, Dr. Richard Haynes, recommended Megan see the clinicians at MPI for her prosthesis. She has been a patient for more than 10 years.
“MPI is so wonderful. Right after my amputation they tried to get me my (prosthetic) leg as soon as possible because they knew I was going back to school. They’ve just always worked for me,” she said.
Andre Martinez, CP, LP, is Megan’s prosthetist. “Megan is a very good patient and easy to work with,” Andre said. “She knows how to communicate about the fit of her prosthesis and what is working for her and what isn’t. That makes it easy for me to make sure she stays comfortable and active.”
The prosthesis Andre recently fit to her is held in place on her limb with a locking liner, finished out with a custom-shaped cover and a durable custom-painted protective covering. “Megan is really into working out so I gave her the Renegade® foot. It’s good for young, active individuals like Megan. She does very well with it,” he said.
A typical day for Megan begins at 5:30 a.m. when she heads to the gym for a rotation of fitness boot camp, plyometrics (exercises to increase muscle power), Pilates, spinning, and jumping rope. Then she is back at home caring for two daughters, toddler Grace and baby Caroline. “I’m a full-time mom but I also work part time as an account executive at Marie Flanigan Interiors. Grace is in school two days a week and I’m the room mother for her classroom.”
Megan also is the volunteer chair for the 2012 Pink Ribbon House, Membership Training Chairman at The Junior League of Houston, and served as vice president of Young Professionals Group for The Women’s Home.
“I volunteer a ton of my time, more than my husband would probably like, but I love filling my days; I love being busy.”
Sharing Experiences and Encouraging Others
A graduate of Texas A&M, Megan majored in early childhood education with a business minor. “I love being around children because they really enjoy life and that’s how I like to live. They are so innocent and fun and carefree,” she said.
Megan put her education and her experiences as an amputee to use as a development associate at Shriners Hospital. “That was wonderful because I got to be around kids in a similar situation. I loved working there. I’ve always wanted to be involved as an advocate to offer support to those who are going through a traumatic amputation,” she said. “I like reaching out to people who have stories like mine who might need some sort of connection.”
Don’t Stop Believing
Megan draws on her own experiences to encourage others.
“Being an amputee does not define or limit me as a person. I look back and often reflect on the sometimes painful steps that brought me where I am today,” she said. “If you want something badly enough, don’t stop taking those steps. There are modifications to just about every activity on this Earth and there are people who will hold your hand as you figure out what those modifications are. Believe in yourself and what you’re capable of – not as an amputee, but as a person. Limbs are there to help us grasp things more easily and to help us get places more quickly. Those of us missing limbs may be forced to work harder, but in the end, we are more than capable of doing what we set our minds to. Never stop believing in yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and never consider failure as an option. Sometimes, all we need is a slight modification and before we know it, success is ours.”
Happily Ever After
After leaving her position at Shriners, Megan became the marketing services coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine in 2007, which was a very eventful year for her as she married Luke H. after a six-year courtship. Their destination wedding included nuptials in the Vatican at St. Peter’s Basilica’s Chapel of the Choirs. A reception for the 70 family and friends who attended was held at Rome’s fashionable 175-year-old Casina Valadier. For those who couldn’t travel abroad, another reception was held a few weeks later at the Petroleum Club. The couple honeymooned in Costa Rica where, typical of Megan, she zip-lined, kayaked, and took full advantage of the outdoor activities that beautiful country offers.
A year later, Megan and Luke were delighted to learn they would be parents.
“I got married November 23, 2007 and on November 23, 2008, I found out I was pregnant with Grace – so no wine at our anniversary dinner,” she exclaimed.
However, as an amputee, Megan had some concerns. “I was scared being pregnant and having children would be too difficult for me. That’s a lot of load bearing during pregnancy and then the question of how accessible I would be to my children once they’ve arrived,” she said. “Those questions answered themselves in time and I didn’t allow myself to be afraid of those new experiences. I have two beautiful baby girls and never once have I allowed my ‘disability’ to get in the way of my care and love for them. If Mommy needs to stay off of her leg for a day, we make it work. They are the primary reason I’m so glad that I’ve chosen to live with no fear. If I had chosen fear, I may never have allowed myself to be loved by my amazing husband and wouldn’t have Grace and Caroline here making me the happiest woman on Earth!”