Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hope and Courage

"It looked like my legs were flying. But I think it was just me being dragged by the train, away from them. I saw them detach and fly off my body and land in the snow. I thought it was just my feet; I got new Uggs [boots] two days before that."
"I was looking around, figuring that something was going to happen, someone was going to stop and run over. It wasn't like I was in the forest in the middle of nowhere. And then I thought, 'It's dark. It's really dark and I'm in a ditch."
"After the accident happened, I hated myself so much. It was like, 'How could everyone else not hate me, too? I felt I was worthless and gross and disgusting. But I got so much support; it was amazing. I couldn't have recovered without it. So I'd like to do something that would benefit others."
"There are times that I feel stupid and angry with myself for letting it happen. I feel ugly for the way that I look, and I get annoyed with how long things take me and the things I can't do, and I'm sometimes bitter. But I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't want other people to."
Sarah Stott, 22, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa
Sarah Stott tries out her prosthetic left leg at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. Shelly Stott

It is two days short a year that a young woman living in Montreal as a university student and working as a waitress at the Irish Embassy Pub & Grill was involved in a bizarre and heartbreaking accident that has changed her life forever. An accident occurred that mutilated Sarah Stott, to the extent that most people would be in permanent shock over the change in their physical state. She has chosen to view her life as an ongoing challenge to adapt to what misfortune brought her, but what hope and determination can minimize.

She could very well have died on December 8, 2014 when she fell and tripped over train tracks as she popped between two parked freight cars, taking a short-cut in the wee hours of a morning after working the night shift, to get to her apartment. That short cut through train yards was illegal, she knew, but everyone seemed to use it, and so did she. When she tripped onto the tracks she fell directly in the path of an oncoming train. The train sliced off her legs and she fell into a frozen ditch.

This was two in the morning and the temperature was minus-14 Celsius, and perhaps that saved her life, making it too cold for her blood to flow freely taking life away from her horribly injured body. Her purse holding her cellphone was not within reach; it, like her legs had gone flying away from her when the train hit. The pain she felt was minimized by both the cold and her state of high agitation. She could see people in the distance and called, but no one could hear or see until four hours later when someone did see her.

In hospital for the next few weeks she was heavily sedated in an induced coma as her body was subjected to a dozen operations. Right leg amputated above the hip, left below the knee and what was saved of both hands due to frostbite was half of each thumb and part of an index finger; her other digits were lost. By February she was able to begin rehabilitation and there was six months of that at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre where doctors told her it would be October before she might walk again.
Sarah Stott practises being upright. 'I don't remember learning to walk when I was a baby.'
Sarah Stott practises being upright. ‘I don’t remember learning to walk when I was a baby.’ Shelly Stott

By June, however, she was up and walking with prosthetic legs. Her love of nature and being out-of-doors took her through the spring, summer and fall months with hope for the future. She has a Staffordshire terrier companion, and looks forward to spending time doing things familiar to her before her accident. "My favourite part about still being alive is being able to enjoy nature. I love fishing and ATVing, being out with my dog, swimming, boating, and that was the hardest part, to think 'Oh, my god, I'll never do this again'."

As her body adapts to the changes that have and continue to occur, prosthetics require updating, new ones built as the old are discarded. She now has her fifth left leg. The right prosthetic leg is built with a costly microprocessor in the knee. Although she had prosthetic fingers produced that cost about $40,000, the device does not function as hoped. Her wheelchair which cost $20,000 is forever malfunctioning. She is hoping at some future time to have a modified car to enable her to get around independently.

Her mother's health insurance helps with costs. An online crowdsourcing fundraiser [] raised almost $100,000, about half of what her prosthetics have cost, to date. She does a lot of reading, takes a few courses, in communications and abnormal psychology at Algonquin College, but aspires to return to university.

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