Christy Gardner redefines the meaning of courage

The resiliency and bravery of a remarkable woman like Christy Gardner is one of her sporting hallmarks. A member of the US National Women’s Ice Sledge Hockey, she helped the program make history by capturing the inaugural gold medal in the 2014 IPC Sledge Hockey Cup. Also a member of the USA Warriors club team, she had the opportunity to grace the ice at Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC. For those who know Gardner, they can also attest that her heroism also goes beyond the ice.

Image obtained from Facebook. Photo credit: Lily Fundis

Image obtained from Facebook. Photo credit: Lily Fundis

Prior to the beginning of her hockey journey, she was a member of the US military and suffered a life-changing injury. Traumatic injuries resulted in the chronic occurrence of seizures, along with minimal feeling in her ankles and feet. While Gardner is accompanied at all times by a service dog (she also volunteers her time in training them), she can only walk with braces in her legs.

Despite the injuries sustained, Gardner continues to enjoy life, facing it with a quiet but admirable dignity that is a great source of inspiration. Throughout the road to recovery, Gardner had made the visceral decision that the amputation of her lower legs would ease her suffering. Replacing them with prosthetic limbs may be the remedy to reduce the pain, while making it easier to breathe as well.
Sadly, she can injure her feet as she cannot feel them, only compounding to her medical woes.

While it was a decision that took great courage, there was a setback for Gardner. Originally, a surgeon from the military was going to participate in the surgery. After the commitment was made to perform the procedure, the surgeon endured a change of heart and was no longer comfortable performing it. Gardner was encouraged to use a wheelchair for mobility.

From a medical perspective, it would be understandable to experience fear or concern about engaging in such a procedure. Considering how difficult it must be psychologically to tell a patient (especially one that suffered an injury in the military) that a limb was removed, knowing that a life will be altered because of it, a great stress is accompanied by it.

On the other hand, it is Gardner’s body and she has the right to decide what is best. While such a move may augment discussion and generate debate about the pros and cons related, the patient should be allowed the right to decide what it best for them.

Taking into account that she suffered the injury while in military service, it only makes the right to make such a choice even more important. If she has determined that amputation is the only way to continue life with a reduced degree of pain, she deserves to be applauded for her courage. No one can understand the effects of the pain better than her, and she is only deserving of the support of family, friends and fans alike.

While she has found a private doctor willing to perform the procedure, she has also established a website in order to raise funds. As she is scheduled to have the left leg amputated very soon, the reality is still a very scary one.

Should everything go well, the time required to learn to use prosthetics and heal from the surgery should see her walking in less than two months. With her rehabilitation to occur over six weeks at Walter Reed hospital, she will need the support of funding to cover the cost of staying there as an outpatient, airfare to and from, along with a series of adaptations for home and vehicle.

Although there are not enough words to acknowledge her bravery, an indisputable fact is that her courage and dignity are such that most can never know. Under such difficult circumstances, the most positive factor for those concerned about her health and well-being is remembering that the end result is improving the quality of her life.

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