Welcome! I am Terri Foster and I am Bionic Woman. Okay, not exactly bionic. I am an above the knee amputee and walk on a leg prosthesis which kind of looks bionic. I was born with a congenital birth defect called PFFD short for Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency or Congenital Femoral Deficiency. I was missing my femur, had my hip reconstructed, foot amputated at 9 months and learned how to walk on a prosthetic leg at 18 months old.
Are you curious? Questions are welcome so don’t be shy, go ahead and ask!
I life a full busy life as a mom, wife, fur mama and tutu (grandma).
My latest obsessions are daily walks with my buddy Rocco and paddle boarding. There is something so magical and peaceful out on the water.
What is PFFD or Congenital Femoral Deficiency
PFFD is short for Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency and is also known as Congenital Femoral Deficiency. It’s a rare congenital birth defect that effects the femur and can vary in severity. Sometimes (like mine) the hip joint and other muscles and bones will be undeveloped.
In 1969 (gulp!) when I was born treatment options were limited to amputation and a prosthetic leg. At 9 months old my knee was fused and the foot was removed to produce a stable stump so that an above-knee prosthesis can be fitted. My hip was reconstructed and a rod was placed for stability. I learned how to walk on a full leg prosthesis at 18 months.
Memories in Shriner’s Hospital Los Angeles
I remember this time so vividly. At 5 years old I was in Shriner’s hospital for many months before and after my next surgery. The rod was removed from my hip and I came home in a body cast. I remember going to Kindergarten in the hospital. I was so shy I would cry if I had to say my ABC’s out loud.
I was in a large room with other children and we had to stay in our hospital beds. My twin sister wasn’t allowed to come up to visit me and I remember waving to her on the playground downstairs from my hospital room.
I can remember the taste of the oatmeal. It was gummy. The smell of Ivory dish soap takes me back to that time. It must have been what they used for soap.
I remember a very sweet girl who was a bit older than me. Her name was also Teresa and she would braid my long hair.
The 1974 Rams football team came and visited us one day. I was coloring a gumball machine and these huge football players were gathered around my hospital bed signing each gumball on the coloring sheet. That was cool!
No more surgeries
I was back home when the body cast came off and the surgical area on my hip burst open. I remember sitting in the bath tub in a pool of blood. Needless to say, when I was told I needed another surgery I refused.
Once I was fully grown it was recommended I have a revision to my stump. It would have helped with the alignment of my prosthesis because my stump is just a tad bit longer than my knee. Nope, I was a stubborn teenager and wasn’t going to disrupt my life. I should have done it because now my knee really sticks out when I sit and it would definitely help my back to have even knees.
I can do anything you can do . . .
We were an active family; camping, fishing, water skiing, horseback riding, you name it! If my sisters were doing it, I was doing it.
My Dad was awesome at engineering modifications so that I could participate in everything.
I always felt this urge to prove that I could do anything and be “normal” just like everyone else. I learned how to ignore pain I felt in my body so that I could keep up with what everyone else was doing.
In 1997 alongside my sister I finished the Honolulu Marathon. We walked it and I think it took us 8 hours but we did it! What an incredible experience that was!
See my face? I was in so much pain but I was so focused on finishing the race and this was a sweet victory! I literally felt like I could do anything.
Suddenly I was in excruciating pain
In my early 30’s I started experiencing back pain for the first time during my second pregnancy. I brought home my beautiful baby girl and went back to work but the pain didn’t go away. I went on what I thought was a temporary leave from work to try and get better.
Little did I know it would take 15 years to start to feel better.
15 years of frustration and chronic sciatica pain . . .
Medical doctors told me it was terrible arthritis and “overuse” from wearing a prosthetic leg for 30 years.
Pain management doctors said, “you have a right to quality of life” and gave me pain meds and injections.
Pharmacists treated me like a drug seeker. It was demoralizing and humiliating to walk into the pharmacy every month.
Physical therapists measured me and told me the laundry list of ways my body was “dysfunctional” and made a plan to “fix me” which made the pain worse.
Alternative healing methods that took a whole body approach helped but weren’t covered by insurance and were very costly.
Don’t get me wrong! I believe in western medicine and have so much respect for medical professionals. There was a bigger lesson to learn here and it had more to do with me and lessons I needed to learn.
What did I learn?
I started to realize if I ever wanted to get off horrible meds and stop the cycle of endless doctor appointments I would have to take matters into my own hands. I would have to advocate for my own health and change the way I viewed pain management and health care.
I was looking for a diagnosis and a cure. I didn’t need a cure.
I searched for experts who were teaching holistic “whole body” techniques and dedicated time to learning and paying attention to what helped and what didn’t.
I had to redefine what pain management meant for me and my body. Instead of managing the pain I learned to manage my self care and began to feel less pain.
The advice that changed my life
It was a massage therapist who said, “start a journal and write everything down. When you are having a good day look back at what you were doing and you will see a pattern.”
She was right! I could see a pattern and started learning what helped and what didn’t. It was so empowering!
So my best advice to you, start a journal! Grab a notebook and start writing down your day or download an app on your phone that will hold notes. I have a self care journal prompts sheet for you to use as a guide.
Take a minute to fill this out every day. You will look back and start learning what works (or doesn’t) for your body.
I am Bionic Woman was born . . .
As I learned more self care tools and techniques that helped, I wanted to teach others.
I trained as a group fitness instructor and got certified through Revelation Wellness. For a couple of years my friend and I led a free group, the SCV Sole Sisters and we met on the Santa Clarita paseos and walked and talked. It was then I realized how much I had learned from my own pain and healing journey and wanted to keep sharing and helping others.
How I found the MELT Method . . .
Early in my healing journey, The Melt Method was being taught through the local Santa Clarita Parks and Recreation. I am so glad I signed up and went! During the very first class I quickly realized this was something different.
Finally! MELT was something I could do AT HOME to support my body’s natural healing ability that did not cause more pain.
How I was introduced to essential oils . . .
As an amputee I wanted to support my aging body with something more natural and “stumbled upon” essential oils many years ago trying to help my daughter.
Once Again! This was something I could do AT HOME to support my body’s natural healing ability.
The more they helped me and my family the more curious I became about how they work and why.
I became a Certified Essential Oil Specialist and am passionate about teaching others what I have learned.
If you are in pain
Don’t give up! Stay open to learning about your body and what helps and what doesn’t. Sometimes, we have to block out what the “experts” tell us we should feel and just “know what we feel.” I am here for you! Reach out to me at email@example.com
I am Bionic Woman was created for the person looking for self care tools and techniques for pain-free living. If you are looking for a more holistic approach to wellness then you are in the right place!
Get my Self care tips and journal prompts for pain free living!
Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.