Amy Purdy, best know for winning a bronze medal at the 2014 Paralympics, stopped by the HollywoodLife.com podcast to tell us what is was like losing both of her legs when she was just 19 and how she went on to compete on ‘DWTS’ and become a judge at the 2016 Miss America Pageant.
Amy Purdy is the perfect example of taking life’s curveballs and turning it into something spectacular. The 35-year-old olympian tells HollywoodLife.com that when she contracted Neisseria Meningitis as a teenager, she was told she would most likely die after her body suddenly when into septic shock. The decision to amputate both of her legs from the knee down was not an easy decision for this athlete but it gave her a chance to live — and that she did.
Amy, who tells her story in her book, On My Own Two Feet, told HollywoodLife.com during our podcast that when she contracted her bacterial disease, she was a massage therapist. Not only had she “never heard of [Neisseria Meningitis] before” she said to this day she has no clue how she even got it. Amy told us that on that day she got sick, she went to work as normal but was feeling overtired. She thought it was from standing on her feet all day but she was admitted to the hospital her temperature sky rocketed.
“That night I had a temperature of 101 which is typical for flu-like symptoms, but within 24 hours of that first flu symptom, I was in the hospital, on life support given less than a 2 percent chance of living,” Amy said. “So that’s why this is so scary, because it looks like the flu. Even if I had gone to the doctor at the very first onset of symptoms, they would have said you have the flu just go home and take a nap. I ended up losing my spleen, I lost my kidney function, I lost the hearing in my left ear and then I ended up losing both my legs from below the knees because of septic shock. So yes, suddenly yes, my life had changed forever. And had I not gone through what I went through then I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Amy goes on to say that there is a vaccine that can prevent this type of an infection: “It’s a vaccine that a lot of people don’t get. You have to ask for it from your doctor. So my parents vaccinated us, they made sure we were vaccinated before we went to school and my family just assumed that I would be covered for anything that was dangerous out there. And actually my mom worked in the emergency room so she knew all about Meningitis, so it was pretty harsh for her to watch me go through what I went through and fight for my life for months and then find out, ‘oh my gosh we could have prevented this?'”
But when doctors told her that they would have to amputate her legs, she went into “survival mode.” “It was scary. Life was so interesting and different at that moment because I was on survival mode and I was in the hospital. It was about 5 weeks later that I had my legs amputated below the knees and it was something I was aware of … We did everything we could to save my legs, but I was so unstable because I had so much organ failure going on at the time and to tell you the truth that really put things into perspective for me because I was in a way dealing with much more serious things believe it or not. I was just making it through day to day, so losing my legs, I was forced to put things into perspective. Every day, I was grateful to be alive and have another day. Every day my organs would get better, I was grateful for that. So I was able to find gratitude at the same time I was losing something huge.”
For more on Amy’s inspiring story, check out our podcast [above]! Don’t forget to tune into the Miss America 2016 pageant where Amy will be a judge on Sept. 13 at 9pm on ABC.
— Chloe Melas