Patient – Angelica Worked in the Mines

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Patient – Angelica Worked in the Mines

Angelica received a prosthetic limb in 2017 and here is what she told us:

My leg was amputated on October 21st 2016, but the full story begins months before that. I was an employee at a Silver Mine in Potosi.” (Historical note: Potosi was one of the richest cities in the world in the 1600’s due to the abundance of silver that was found there – and thousands of Bolivians still eke out a living there today toiling under dangerous conditions in the mining industry.)

“My job was to tend the machine that would melt silver, to make sure no one would come in during this process. I enjoyed my job and family life. Then one day I fell and fractured my femur just above the knee and had to go to the hospital where I had surgery to correct the bone. In most modern procedures, one would put a plate and screws into the bone to ensure it healed correctly. But due to a lack of resources, knowledge or skill, the doctors cut corners and decided that putting only screws in, without the plate, would be enough to heal the fractured bone. As you may guess, it didn’t solve the issue, but it caused me a great deal of pain. I wasn’t even able to move my knee following the surgery. After some time passed, the immobile knee and leg became increasingly painful.  I went back to the doctor who did the surgery and asked for help. This doctor was rather curt, rude and mean. He didn’t take the time to listen to my problems. So he insisted on forcing my knee to bend. Instead of helping me, he caused not only a second fracture, but also caused the screws to tear out of the bone and into the flesh. This caused my such significant pain that I required a private doctor’s visit. I have 3 children and a luxury like that was an absolute last resort.  But the pain was so awful I felt like I had no other option.“

“At this visit the doctor discovered a very large lump on my leg, but his office did not have the resources to be able to do a biopsy. He recommended that I go to a hospital in La Paz to seek further treatment. This private doctor even asked me “who did that last awful surgery to you???”.   I followed my second doctor’s instruction and traveled a long distance from Potosi to La Paz to have more tests completed. After a week an oncologist declared that it was a tumor and they would need to amputate the leg. Less intensive options were not given to me. I had no choice, the leg had to go to save my life. I had to keep on living for my children’s sake. “

My life changed dramatically from this loss. I have three children to support, no job and no husband since he died years ago. I have a lot of stress and concern to manage. In addition I now rely on my children’s help for almost everything. I rely on my oldest daughter to travel with me to help support me up and down steps. I am totally dependent on others as I am not able to independently interact with my community. I frequently get laughed at in the market due to my amputation. I have endured lot of physical and emotional pain from this injury, but I refuse to give up. I try to maintain a great deal of hope, and look forward to all the things I will be able to do again with my new limb.”

“My life changed dramatically from this loss. I have three children to support, no job and no husband since he died years ago. I have a lot of stress and concern to manage. In addition I now rely on my children’s help for almost everything. I rely on my oldest daughter to travel with me to help support me up and down steps. I am dependent on others help as I am not able to independently interact with my community. I frequently get laughed at in the market due to my amputation.  I have endured lot of physical and emotional pain from this injury, but I refuses to give up and I try to maintain a great deal of hope, and look forward to all the things I will be able to do again with my new limb.”

“I have two primary things that I look forward to doing. First I would like to get my dignity and self respect back by retaking my role as the primary caregiver of my household. Secondly I would like to increase my independence – I would like to return to working in the silver mines and earning money to support my family and all this will help me to put an end to the discrimination I feel every day as a helpless amputee”

“Thank You!”

                                       Angelica

(Note, as always, this story was translated into English).

Every month your ongoing donations will give ever more amputees like Angelica a new lease on life and an opportunity to regain their livelihood and happiness.  If you want to help make this happen then donate now.

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