To new amputees, she says, “There will be hard days, but never give up, because there is happiness to be found.”

In the 1950s, a new wonder drug hit the markets: Thalidomide. It was promised to treat a wide range of ills, including morning sickness. Debbie Miller’s mother hoped she would benefit from it. After all, she’d had several miscarriages before becoming pregnant with Debbie, and lived with diabetes.

Unfortunately, the drug turned out to be very harmful to fetuses, and caused an epidemic of birth defects. For Debbie, this meant being born with proximal femoral focal deficiency.

“Both of the femurs of my legs were affected, with my right leg being the worst,” she said. “I have no femur at all on my right leg.”

It was not uncommon for the parents of babies affected by Thalidomide to opt for amputation. Because both her legs were affected, however, Debbie’s parents chose not to amputate her right foot.

“When I was born, my legs were actually wrapped around each other, and I was told I would not ever walk,” she said.

Her parents were determined that this would not be the case, and by the age of 2, Debbie was able to take her first steps.

“I credit my determination and strong spirit to my Mom and Dad,” she said.

This spirit and determination can be seen in everything Debbie tackles in life. She received her degree in Computer Science, and for a while she traveled the country, showing people how to use certain software. Two years ago, she had back surgery for a pinched nerves, and found herself overweight and having to use crutches to walk.

“I lost 65 pounds and now I no longer need crutches to walk,” Debbie said. “I love watching how many steps I take daily and seeing that number increase.”

Everything came full circle for Debbie when her own child was diagnosed with Autism.

“I feel that I learned so much from my Mom and now I am able to be a better Mom to my little boy,” she said. “Being a Mom to a child with a disability, takes a lot of strength, and I feel a lot of personal experiences that I learned, help with raising my son.”

In spite of everything she has faced, Debbie said that her friends describe her as happy, strong-willed and always with a smile on her face. A perfect day to her would be one where she spends time with her husband and son.

To new amputees, she says, “There will be hard days, but never give up, because there is happiness to be found.”

Published by jlbworks