'Just to walk, that's the main goal' Marcie Stevens battles back from Westboro bus crash
OTTAWA -- Marcie Stevens still has nightmares about last year’s devastating OC bus crash, but she says 2020 marks a new decade of promise.
“I can see the goal,” says Stevens. “It’s just to walk. That’s the main goal. Something I took for granted when I had legs.”
3 passengers were killed in the tragic accident, 23 others seriously injured when a bus slammed into a transit shelter. Stevens lost both her legs, along with the life she once knew.
The Hardest Part
“I think all of us will continue to have nightmares. It’s getting better. To say that I’m going to be rid of them, I don’t know. I guess you have to take it one day at a time, one night at a time and just deal with it from that point on,” says the wife and mother of two young boys.
“I guess the hardest part is when my youngest wakes up and says I don’t want you to leave, you know? You try to tell him ‘I’m not going anywhere’, but you can’t promise that. If anything, this has taught me that nothing is guaranteed.”
"It’s pretty phenomenal"
Stevens’ goal to walk again begins with a fierce regime of physio therapy, conditioning and dietary change. To accommodate the prosthetic limbs she’s determined to wear, Stevens has shed more than 60 pounds ( 27 kilos), a loss that astounds her trainers and doctors at the Ottawa Hospital.
“It’s pretty phenomenal and quite remarkable and a real testament to doing what she wants, while doing the hard work she needs to do to get there,” says Dr. Nancy Dudek, Medical Director, Amputee Program at the Ottawa Hospital.”
Dudek says walking is not a certainty for every double amputee.
“There are actually very few people who have amputations of both legs above the knee who will walk with prosthetic devices. It’s quite a rare feat,” she says.
“So, her goal of walking with artificial legs is a lofty one and one that requires an incredible amount of strength and endurance and balance to be successful at.”
Defying The Odds
But Dudek, who has worked with Stevens since the beginning, believes she will defy the odds and walk again.
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“One hundred per cent, one hundred percent.” Dudek says. “I wrote some prescriptions for some new artificial legs, so I’m putting pretty good odds on it right now because she’s shown me she’s done the work. She’s done whatever I’ve asked her to do and more. Marcie is an absolutely amazing woman”.
Stevens is also wearing “shrinkers”, tight elastic wraps, to prepare her residual limbs for prosthetics.
“The first thing is to shrink the residual limbs and that’s done with a shrinker sock. They start off big and then they shrink them down. And then you have to get into liners, and that’s another process, too.” And because I’m a bilateral amputee above the knee, I have to start off with what they call ‘shortened prosthetics’. They’re just little rods and then there’s a little foot attached to them.”
Stevens says the support she’s received from her family, friends and staff at the Ottawa Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre has been her life-line.
“Dr. Dudek has been with me since the beginning and has done an amazing job. My husband and my kids are my strength. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to do this,” she says.
And to everyone who played a role in saving her life last January 11, Stevens is forever grateful.
“Without the dedication, the hospital team, the first responders, the firemen, the police officers there that day…without them, I wouldn’t have this time with my family, so thank you.”