Amy Purdy

I was 19 years old when I felt like I had a cold, but within 24 hours I was at the hospital. After several rounds of tests and five days later, I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. I lost my legs and almost my life along with it. I was on life support and the doctors said that I had a two per cent chance of survival. I had organ and respiratory failure, had to go through multiple transfusions, got my spleen removed and lost circulation. I was then put in an induced come till they could figure out the course of treatment. The doctors had to amputate my legs and my father donated his kidney to save me.

'I always say that my dad gave me life twice. He brought me into this world, and then through his gift he kept me in this world.' I was hanging by a threat until I was brought back to life. Recovery seemed like a challenge both physically as well as emotionally because I could not accept reality. It took me some time to realise that my sickness had changed my drastically and there is nothing I can do other than accept it and move ahead with my life and that’s what I did. I used to think that I would never be able to walk again until I heard music and it moved me. I danced with my father and that’s when I realised that I could definitely walk if could dance.

I wasn’t much of a dancer until I first tried dancing in recovery. I had already been a snowboarder and had taken part in the Paralympics as an athlete and won a medal for my country, but I was determined to give dancing a chance. I participated in a dance reality show and it was an experience that moved me to tears. I couldn’t have imagined myself on stage doing something that had first given me the confidence to literally get back on my feet again. It was dance that changed the way I thought about myself and my body after the treatment. I don’t even feel like a normal human being sometimes I know it’s true because of my prosthetics. Kids used to call me a robot and I actually felt good about it. I had finally come to terms with who I was and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to turn out to be the kind of person I am today without the experience. I did not feel like a disabled person any more. It was my attitude towards life that changed the way I thought about myself.