Norma Trujillo: Inspired by her Children, Mom of Three Triumphs After Losing Both Legs While Acting as a Good Samaritan
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A mother’s love knows no bounds. When mom-of-three Norma Trujillo lost both her legs after an accident four years ago, she decided to turn her fight to walk again into a story of inspiration for her children. As she adjusted to life as a bilateral above-knee amputee, she drew strength from her family as she learned to navigate life in a wheelchair and—after years of hard work—walk on her own thanks to the life-changing care and support from her clinicians and peers at Hanger Clinic and in her community.
Watch Norma’s Story on ABC News World Tonight
When Norma Trujillo saw a man whose car had broken down on the road in April 2017, she pulled over to help without hesitation.
“I thought..who doesn’t need a hand?,” she recalls.
What started as the act of a Good Samaritan ended abruptly when Norma was struck by another vehicle, her legs pinned under the car. In an instant, her life was changed forever.
Norma and her husband have always put their family at the top of their priority list. As the mother of twin boys Kaleb and Dean, who were three at the time of the accident, and daughter Josslyn, who was 11, Norma’s life revolved around their activities and schooling.
Norma coached their daughter’s soccer team, and the family spent evenings and weekends on the field. Her mother would watch the boys while Norma worked and Josslyn was in school, and she would come home in the evenings and take care of her family, enjoying her precious time with them and the comfort of their daily routines, such as dinner together and storytime.
“I love being a mom,” she says.
A Mother’s Strength After Tragic Accident
ABC News LIVE Prime with Linsey Davis aired an extended version of Norma’s story leading up to Mother’s Day. Learn what this special day means to the Trujillo family now after overcoming life’s most difficult obstacles.
Life in the Aftermath
When Norma woke up from her coma after two months in the hospital and learned she had lost her legs above the knee and suffered an internal decapitation (the separation of her spinal column from the skull base), her first thoughts went to how her family was coping. Her young boys were full of energy, but Josslyn was taking it harder. An avid soccer player since she was five, she told Norma she didn’t want to play again until she could be there with her on the field.
While in the rehab facility, she gave it her all as she worked to regain her strength and build muscle in her upper body so she could push herself around in a wheelchair.
After she completed rehab, her husband and daughter asked if she was ready to return to the soccer field. Norma’s response? “As long as you’re ready, I’m ready.”
Although it was difficult to navigate the outdoor terrain, it was also challenging for Josslyn to return to the game she had loved for most of her life. They worked through it together.
“I am so proud of her,” says Norma. “She doesn’t know the limits. She just pushes herself. I do the same thing.”
In July 2017, Norma had her first appointment at Hanger Clinic in Tucson. She had heard of prosthetics before, but she didn’t know exactly what they were until she finally met her prosthetist.
“When they told me it was possible, I knew it was going to happen,” she says.
Her prosthetist, Sarah Don, CPO, immediately began educating her about the components involved and how they worked. She told her that an above-knee prosthesis typically consists of a custom-made socket, a knee, a pylon, a foot, and some means of suspending the prosthesis to the body, but that she’d have to work up to walking on full-length legs.
Norma, like many other bilateral above-knee amputees, would need to start walking on short legs, also called shorties or stubbies, with special training feet to help her improve her balance, learn to fall safely, and avoid injury.
In October 2017, she got her first set of stubbies and began her journey back to walking. Soon after, she attended her first-ever EmpowerFest, Hanger Clinic’s educational and peer support event for people with limb loss or limb difference. There, Norma had the opportunity to learn from world-class prosthetists and meet others who were thriving with prosthetic technology.
Norma seized the chance to ask her peers all the questions she could think of, such as how they shower with their devices, care for open wounds, use the bathroom, and complete other everyday tasks.
“It was the most amazing event. I got to be in a community with other amputees at other stages and levels, and it made me feel like I was not alone,” she admits. “They were so supportive, and I was so proud to be a part of this group.”
Inspired by this initial encounter, Norma continued traveling around the U.S. to attend Hanger Clinic EmpowerFest and Bilateral Above-Knee Amputee Bootcamp events, and in 2020, Norma achieved her goal of walking on full-length, prosthetic legs nearly full-time.
With her newfound mobility, she drives her children to sports practices, rides bikes with them, virtually homeschools her twin first-grade boys, and walks on soccer fields with Josslyn, who is now 14.
On April 19, 2021, Norma celebrated her fourth “Alive Day” by competing in an adaptive golf tournament—all part of her mission to show her kids anything is possible and “human potential is the biggest reward ever.”
Accident Gives Good Samaritan New Perspective
Read more about Norma’s journey to walk and care independently for her children again in the May 2021 issue of O&P Edge.
A Bright Future Ahead
Although her progress has been remarkable, Norma is already thinking about what’s on the horizon.
“What’s next in the journey, and how can I get there?” she asks herself each year as she ponders her goals.
She’s already ticked the boxes on many of her aspirations—standing, walking, driving, and cycling. Now she has her sights set on running within four years. That’s because she’s determined to run off the field with Josslyn when she plays the final soccer game of her high school sports career.
In the meantime, everything she does sets an example of determination, grit, and heart for her children, lessons they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
“Everything I do has to do with my children,” she says. “I want to teach them to not give up when things get hard, to keep pushing, to allow yourself to be out of your comfort zone. If you fall—no matter what—always get up and dust yourself off.”
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