“When I cut my toenails, every time – every time – I gesture to cut my left foot,” Naval says. “But it’s not there and I have this inadequate feeling that it’s not complete because I haven’t cut my other toenails.”
For Desjardins, every day is a learning experience as she figures out how to use her myoelectric arms.
She is driving again with an adaptive device on her steering wheel, though her son’s car seat defeats her.
She has periodic phantom pain, a stabbing that can stop her in her tracks.
Yet each day brings another victory: she recently managed to crack an egg so she could make her kids a hot breakfast.
“Everything I do takes me at least five and up to 10 times or more longer. But I just remind myself I am alive. I’m here to do it and the honour of being alive is much more important than whether I drop this juice box five times or can’t seem to get the door open on the first try.”
Desjardins, who spent almost six months in hospital recuperating, has turned her experience into a positive, working as a motivational speaker to groups and providing one-on-one peer counselling to other amputees.
When news broke about the Boston bombings and the number of injured who had lost limbs, she knew the devastation they would feel. But she also knows what is possible.
“I wanted to get on a plane and walk into their hospital rooms … to show them what faith and hope and love and being surrounded by caring people can do to help them find their purpose,” says an upbeat Desjardins.
“I wanted to show them that it’s temporary, that it’s horrific, but there is life after a life-altering event.”