Amy Martinez will be the first Renaissance Queen of Canyon Lake, with her family – husband Ryan, son Liam, 4, and daughter Harper, 21 months – serving as her Royal Court. Hosted by the Jr. Women’s Club and the Family Matters Club, the inaugural Canyon Lake Renaissance Faire will be held tomorrow, October 17, from 1 to 5 p.m., at Holiday Harbor. Queen Amy will be welcoming guests and thanking them for coming. “We just couldn’t think of anyone better to be the inaugural Queen,” says Julie Peterson of the JWC. Amy is considering becoming a motivational speaker. So, according to Julie, “what better way to get comfortable than in your own backyard!”
Life for 28-year-old Amy has been extremely busy lately. But for Amy the “busy” is very different. As a quadruple amputee, Amy and her family have challenges most can’t imagine.
Amy’s family has had some big adjusting to do as well. Literally overnight, Ryan had to go from a typical husband and father to a man with tremendous duties and responsibilities.
Although she now has prosthetic legs, without hands, Amy is still unable to do even some of the simple things that most people take for granted. However, although the days are filled with innumerable challenges, Amy and Ryan approach each one with innovation and determination.
Because she cannot yet drive, Ryan has to do most of the errands. There is nap time, shopping, dance and pre-school classes with the children. Amy goes to the gym almost every day and therapy too. There is also a house to run and family outings. Her sister lives in Canyon Lake and helps quite a bit as does her mother, who lives nearby in Wildomar. Amy also is becoming involved in several new endeavors including running; she hopes to soon be fitted for “running feet.”
Last weekend Amy attended the third annual “Beautifully Flawed” retreat, a four-day camp for young women who have experienced the loss of at least one limb. The retreat was hosted by Friends of Bethany (Hamilton-Dirks), a pro surfer who was attacked by a shark while surfing and lost her arm.
“The retreat was amazing,” says Amy, who enjoyed being able to talk with and learn from other women experiencing many of the same struggles she faces. She says that very few people knew who Bethany was as a professional surfer. Yet, after the attack and a movie, “Soul Surfer,” everyone knows about her.
“God gives us a purpose,” says Amy, adding that sometimes the purpose comes about in unexpected ways.
Amy’s new life began last February when she felt excruciating stomach pain while at work. A trip to Urgent Care revealed a kidney stone, and she was sent home with medication and instructions to wait for it to pass. After two days of horrific pain, her mom took her to ER (Ryan was at work) and, showing symptoms of septic shock, was immediately put into a medical coma and on life support. Doctors gave her a mere 10 percent chance of living through the night. Ryan and the family could only pray.
But Amy proved to be a very strong woman. She had her children, her husband and her faith. On March 21, Amy had to have both legs amputated below the knee. She felt losing her legs was a small price to pay for life.
But dry gangrene had spread to Amy’s hands, and less than two months later, Amy’s right hand was amputated. There was hope that her left hand might survive. It did not, and in August her left hand also was removed.
Amy’s tenacity, strong faith and loving family kept her from going into what could have been a deep spiral downward. She was fitted with prosthetic legs and learned to walk all over again. She has also been fitted with a prosthetic right hand, which she should receive by the end of the year. The hand will give her the ability to pick up and hold items.
“It has 12 grip patterns and uses the muscles you use when you bend your fist forward and backward,” says Amy. She practices using these muscles daily to be prepared.
At the same time, “Nitro” will become a new member of the family. Nitro is a Belgian Malinois service dog who will be able to open and close doors, pick things up and help Amy in many ways. They’ve already met him, and she says the kids are very excited to have him come live with them.
Amy looks forward to her future. “There are dark times, of course,” she sighs, then smiles and adds, “but God has a direction for me, and I know He has so much more planned.” The children don’t care that Mommy doesn’t have hands or feet. They have her hugs, her bedtime stories, her words of inspiration and wisdom. They have her love. And Ryan still has his wife, his love, his Amy.
For now Amy says that she’s adjusted well to her prosthetic legs. She says, “It’s not quite 100 percent; stairs are still a challenge, and I can’t bend to pick something up off the floor.” But she doesn’t need a wheelchair.
Amy’s attitude about life and the future is contagious. She is positive and upbeat with optimistic but real hopes and dreams. When asked about challenges, Amy smiles and first answers, “finding shoes that fit!”
Everyone is invited to come to the Renaissance Fair and meet Queen Amy in person. She will be easy to spot as the “beautiful lady sitting on the throne.”
For more about her story see the archives at www.fridayflyer.com (June 26, 2015). Amy also has a Facebook page, “Amy’s Journal.” For those who would like to help with medical bills (insurance will not cover everything, and her prosthetics can run $100,000 or higher), please go to www.youcaring.com and search for “Amy’s Medical Fund.”