“Be patient and stay positive, take things one day at a time and do not be too proud to ask for help.”
Ashley Martin first knew something was wrong in September 2017. Some of her toes would turn blue but after a while they would return to a normal color. She went to the doctor and they sent her for an ultrasound of my right leg and foot. It showed some blockages, so from there she visited a vascular surgeon.
The surgeon, Dr. Garrard at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, set up a CT scan. It showed there were some clots at one time but none were present at the time of the ultra sound. He prescribed a blood thinner and scheduled a follow up appointment for 1 month.
All seemed fine until that fateful Monday morning on November 7. Ashley woke up with extreme pain in her right foot. The next day, it was so bad that she had to use crutches at her job as a special needs teacher for a high school. Once her work day was done, she took herself to the emergency room, where they gave her prescription pain medication and sent her on her way.
She stayed home on Wednesday, spending that day elevating her leg and feeling miserable.
On Thursday, Ashley tried to return to work, having her mother drive her in. By 1:00 that afternoon, her foot was purple and cold to the touch, so she went to the school nurse. The nurse wanted to call an ambulance, but Ashley had her mom pick her up and take her to her scheduled doctor’s appointment two hours early.
Dr. Garrard agreed to see her early, but he immediately sent her in for emergency surgery to remove the blood clots from her right groin, knee and ankle. He was not able to remove all of the clots because there were so many and they were tightly packed.
Ashley remained in the hospital for the rest of the week. And then on Saturday, November 11, she was told that the best course of action would be to have an amputation done, since blood flow had not been restored to her foot.
The following Tuesday, Ashley went in for amputation. Her family—consisting of her mom, sister and brother-in-law—were there for support.
“My family took a day to be upset and then we began using humor to help,” she said. “I would only allow a day, then it was time to get used to the new normal.”
She first came to Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions on the recommendations of her doctors at Vanderbilt. Since then, she has accomplished much towards establishing her new normal, and is especially proud of the fact that she was able to return to work on January 2.
Aside from that, she said her proudest moment in her life was when she graduated from college.
“I was the first person in my family to complete both high school and college,” she said.
She said her friends would describe her as amazing, determined, selfless, filled with perseverance, loyal, funny and compassionate. In her spare time she finds ways to become a better teacher, watches her niece and nephews play sports, plays trivia, reads, or spends time with family and friends. A perfect day for her would be spending time with family and friends, doing things such as grilling and bonfires, accompanied by good weather and good music.
To new amputees, she says, “Be patient and stay positive, take things one day at a time and do not be too proud to ask for help. People want to help but don’t know how. That was the biggest thing I had to get over, asking for help. I am the type of person who likes doing things myself, but I quickly realized in order to heal properly I had to ask for help to do simple tasks and errands. My friends and family were elated to help since I am not a person to ask for help even if I am sinking.”