When Victoria Player told a co-worker her leg was going to be amputated, his response was, “I am so happy for you.” It’s not the usual answer you’d expect. But Victoria – or Torie as she is known to family and friends – doesn’t have a usual story.
It began in 1985, when she was 18 years old. Torie had just graduated high school and while working on a tobacco farm a half-ton metal rack fell on her leg, almost severing her foot.
12 months after the accident, she could still barely walk. Over the next 15 years, Torie was very active, running and playing sports regularly. But she continually had stress fractures on her “good” leg because she had to favour it. “I underwent tons and tons of surgeries on both legs,” she says.
Then, in 2004, Torie developed osteomyelitis, a severe infection in the anklebone of her injured leg. It was a game changer. She was in constant and agonizing pain, and walked around with a portable IV drip that provided antibiotics.
By 2011, Torie thought she’d finally beaten the infection. “I even got a koi and lotus tattoo on my wrist to signify strength in overcoming such a painful experience,” says Torie.
Not even a year later the osteomyelitis returned. “When the doctors brought up the option of amputation in February 2012, I had mixed emotions but most of all what I felt was excitement,” she says. “I had lived in pain for far too long and it was limiting me from doing many of the things I loved to do.”
In April 2012 Torie had amputation surgery, then came to Parkwood Hospital for rehabilitation. Parkwood was a familiar and welcoming place for her. When her grandfather lived there she spent hours walking the gorgeous grounds with him and getting to know staff. When he passed six years ago, Torie started volunteering, bringing her Labrador Retriever as a service dog to visit with patients.
During her three-week stay in the amputee rehabilitation program, Torie had a rigorous physiotherapy and occupational therapy schedule to learn how to use a prosthetic leg. Through therapeutic recreation she re-learned how to resume many hobbies including gardening and golf.
Torie is now back at work. She skated last winter for the first time in years, and is doing yoga to help with her balance and core strength. She recently completed a 5.5 km run and a 100 km bike ride. Torie and her daughter even tried out for The Amazing Race Canada, making it to the second round of casting.
Of her newfound life as an amputee, Torie says, “I haven’t found anything yet that I can’t do.”
The nursing and therapy team at Parkwood helped me literally every step of"the way,” says Torie, left, with Eliana Caranci, Cheryl Spiers, Nadia Andretta-Whelan and Peter Cox.