Amputee Perspectives: A Zoom Friendship – Served Sunny Side Up!

Written by: Beth Hudson LBK

What ‘Egg-xactly’ am I talking about? Well – not real eggs, omelets, bennies, frittatas, over easy, boiled, or poached. Yes to the sunny side up, though – here is why.

Since Covid forced everyone to pivot and meet in little Zoom boxes, my tribe, Adaptively Abled, based in Boston, went virtual. It was difficult, but there was a silver lining – members did not have to live in the vicinity to participate in our support and social meet-ups. We now have members from all over the country, from East to West and North to South. I have had the pleasure to meet some of these wonderful people in person, and as I will soon travel to Utah for a bicycling trip in Bryce National Canyon, I will meet a few more.

I met Jody (RBKA) in said Zoom box about a year ago, and I am happy to say we have developed a wonderful friendship that I hope continues to grow and flourish. She happens to live in Las Vegas, only a few hours from Bryce – looking forward to looking up to her in person (yup, she is much taller than I am!) as she is driving out to spend a few days with us – while my husband and his family hike the trails that are impossible for me to navigate with crutches, she and I will enjoy kayaking in the surrounding waters and biking around Bryce Canyon. I might even have her be my wing woman to get in a little open-water swim practice.

Jody grew up in New Jersey and had the basketball bug bite her at a very early age. Eventually her family put up a hoop, and she got serious. She loved playing so much that she would happily shovel the snow off the driveway in the winter so she could practice during the wintertime – that’s dedication! She became good – very good. From freshman year in high school through senior year in college – varsity starter. Full college scholarship. She even has a few records under her belt that still hold!

Her career has included working for a pharmaceutical company, teaching college math, and coaching basketball. Due to health reasons, Jody had to go on disability, however, she is able to work part-time. In January of 2017 she was hospitalized, and as she was getting back into her hospital bed, cut her right foot on the metal part of the footboard hinge of the bed. Because of Type 2 diabetes, the wound refused to heal and she ended up with osteomyelitis (infection of the bone). Her medical team tried everything to no avail; several months later, she underwent an RBKA. It was not elective.

Jody’s journey is unique, as is all of ours. She received two Bachelor’s degrees and a Masters degree. Her love of being in the classroom and sharing her basketball expertise are her two greatest pleasures and passions. One reason we clicked is because we are both educators. After my accident, I was forced to retire from a 36 year teaching career. But we both found a way back to what we loved, and that clearly is the point.

Jody recently spoke at her church, and I was honored when she mentioned my mantra and how it has helped her through the inevitable times when all of us, both physically and metaphorically, have to back step and then find the drive to step forward again. But she said something else that truly blew me away:
“…you will NEVER lose!…You either win, or you learn.”

Hit me like a ton of bricks. Both of us have used this simple philosophy in our classrooms. We are human and we are going to make mistakes. Sometimes we need to fix those mistakes, especially if we have hurt someone else. Sometimes we have to just laugh. Bad things happen, and we have all had to walk a path that we never expected. It is not the terrain or the length of the path, it is our attitude that makes all the difference. We need a simple paradigm shift from beating ourselves down when we lose (or fail) – to thinking about what went wrong, what did we learn, and how do we make adjustments to win (succeed)? (Easier said than done, I know! So worth the effort.) Jody saw this in a tangible way from the many good coaches, teachers, and mentors she has had over the years; she has adopted it and uses it in her teaching, her coaching, and her mentoring of other amputees.

Jody lives and breathes this philosophy by example. Humor, laughter, and learning are a large part of her everyday life. Setbacks, yes, but her “learn, not lose” attitude sees her through.

I would love to take a math class from Jody. She creates a safe environment where no question is regarded as ‘stupid’ and students not only learn math, but also how to deal with life’s setbacks, big or small. Jody creates that kind of community well beyond the classroom, and in the true definition of the word, she INSPIRES me.

Thank you, Jody. You are such a “good egg!” You are “egg-xactly” what the amputee community needs, and you are making more of a difference than you will ever know. I cannot wait to meet you in person – we are going to have a blast!

And remember: You never know how much strength you have until you are called upon to use it.