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E05: 44 Surgeries, 4 Amputations, and Still On Top ft. Vaughan DeBarr

December 2nd 2019

On episode five, Vaughan DeBarr joins us from St. Petersburg, Florida. She recounts the traumatic experience she endured at 7 years old, doctor visits and surgeries, to her amputations from 2013 to... More

this is disabled girls who lift, we are reclaiming what's rightfully ours, one podcast at a time, it's mary Beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that? A bliss comfort zone. Yeah. Hello listeners, welcome back or welcome for your first time, this is your first time, this is episode five of disabled girls who lift, my name is Marsha, and I'm from south florida. Hey, y'all, it's mary beth from California and joining us today, we have our guest von der var, some of you might know her as legless lifter on instagram, absolute badass. She was a left below the knee amputee in 2013, Left above the knee, amputee in 2017, right above the knee and bilateral above the knee in 2019 june of this year, um she's on her on her road to 2020 paralympic games, we'll talk about that um, timeline for her, as well as the 52 sports and 52 days, Holy sh it, that includes boxing, strongman, powerlifting, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, Oh my God!

All of the, all of the seasons you can think of, and all the sports within those, we are so excited to have her join. Welcome and thank you Von Hi everybody, this is Lon, um, thank you guys so much for having me on your podcast, I really appreciate it. Um, I just thought I would start off by telling you guys a little bit about my journey and how I got to where I am today? Most people wonder, oh, how did she lose her legs? She diabetic, Did she lose them in a bomb? The shark bite them all. You know. And then when I, when I tell them, they're like, what? No way. So here's the what? No way for you guys. When I was seven years old, I was attacked by a pit bull dog below the knee on my left leg, back in the seventies and eighties. They didn't amputate. So over the course of 33 years I went through 23 major surgeries trying to fix what was completely broken. Um my left leg was six inches shorter than my right. I never had a special shoe to make me even.

So my gate was crooked. And um at age 40 in 2013 I went for my annual checkup with my vascular surgeon friday and started Wednesday may the 3rd 2013 I had a vascular ultrasound. The text stop in the middle of it and said, I'll be right back. She's gone for about 20 minutes. And I was like, what the is going on here? Then the doctor came in and I knew this is not good. And he said to me, Yvonne, we got two choices here, we can do this this Friday or next Friday. And I said, do what? And he said we need to amputate below the knee because your foot is dead. And I said holy sh it can you get my husband? He's in the lobby. He's playing video games as well, and I should have been done 20 years ago, which was done when I was seven, because if it would have happened today, I would have been amputated, and life would have been great, because I would have just lived my life as an amputee, so I chose the following Friday, which was May the 10th, which I probably should have just chose that Friday, because then I had nine days to think about, or seven days to think about getting this done.

So, I had my amputation below the knee in 2013, and of course, anybody that is an amputee will tell you, you go through depression, anxiety, self doubt, some suicidal tendencies, not that you're going to act to it, you just like, I don't want to live anymore, this is it, my life is over and you eat a bunch of food and you gain a bunch of weight. And for me, I got up to £315 in a year. One day, I looked in the mirror and I didn't know who I was, and I was like, holy sh it, I'm a big fat butterball turkey, and I need to do something about it. So, uh my son who was getting ready for the army said to me, mom, why don't we go to this jim up the road. So we went down there and we joined the gym and they had unlimited fitness classes, they had a special 10 bucks, unlimited fitness classes, one free personal training. I was like 10 bucks if I don't go it's 10 bucks. So the first day I went I walked in there and I met some amazing trainers that were just like hey if you need any help from us just ask us if you're not going to charge you.

You know we understand what you're going through, not physically understand, but we could see that you really want to lose weight and get back into your life. So I started doing TRX classes and cardio kickboxing and zumba, zumba was my thing. I signed up for zumba. Let me tell you I went to five a.m. Zumba 11 am um you know but you know what that helped? That helped get off the weight that I had gained. So I lost like £88 in like six months like just cardio, my booty off. And then my friends were like let's do five K. And I was like I can't do a five K. M. P. D. And I don't have one of those special things that I've seen on the olympics. Talking about those things are like $15,000. What happened? My friend said listen if the worst thing happens is we walk let's just go do it. So I signed up for my first five K.

Got out there, we jogged a little, we walked a little jogged a little bit more and I was like, hey, this isn't so bad, and I finished, So, you know, I ended up signing up for like with a regular prosthetic foot 10, 5 k's couple 10 case, and then I did the Disney half marathon, never because I'm crazy. But the funny thing about that, and I'll tell you the minute is so while I was in the gym, I noticed a bunch of kids in the corner dead lifting and, and you know, doing this, the big three, the squat, the bench and the dead list. But man, I see those kids over there all the time, I want to know what's going on. So I go over there and by the way, these kids are actually friends of mine now I go over there and I'm like, hey, what are you guys up to? And they're like, we're powerlifting, we're getting ready for a meet. And I said, well, so what is powerlifting? And the kid says, you know, you squat, which is this movement and this guy's like, dead lift, this movement and the benches over there, and I said, oh, that looks really fun and he goes, don't worry about it, you probably can't do it.

Oh, boys are from USF powerlifting team. Anyway, so I just march my booty right up to the front desk of that jim and luck was on my side that day because the manager's name is Willie and I said, Willie, I need a power lifting coach, I want to try this. And he said, well I'm partnering up with eric Kallman who by the way is the godfather of raw powerlifting. And we're opening up the gym and Riverview and we'd love for you to come down and train with us for free, we'll help you. So that was the beginning of my journey, Damn. In 2013, 2014. Yeah. And in the first year I went from, hey, let's be a cardio queen too. You know what this power lifting stuff is fun, I'm going to do it. And then I got introduced to David Bates who owns powerlifting watch. You kept all the records for all the power lifting across the world in every Federation.

So he came out, he had this really cool machine that measures the distance and the time of your dead lift from the time that you pick it up to the time you finish the lift, it measures the time, it measures where the movement is the fastest, where it's short and it helps you figure out how to improve your dead lift there. And you know, you know, I don't know if you keep a journal when you guys left, but I've kept the journal of every list I've ever made in the gym. You know the three by three by 90. So I have my journal still. And my first bench press was 98 pounds. And it was hard, like holy crap. And you know my pr before my um bilateral amputation was 2 90 can you £98 in 2000 and 14, 2 2000 and 18 19 with a 2 90 pr it doesn't believe they can lift weight, they're losing their mind.

My first guest was 1 25. I ended with a great pr of 3 50 it was all because I had proper training, I learned proper technique and I never gave up even when I went from a B. K. To an AK which was power lifting. So in 2017 I was living in Denver colorado for my job and I was training at a 24 hour access jim went in there on a snowy day, didn't think about the snow packed in my foot shelf. Uh So I'm squatting, it's 555 30 in the morning, there's only one other guy and he he like me, we both have our headsets on jamming out, I'm squatting lightweight 1 25 on the bar and as I'm warming up, the snow starts melting and I think it was maybe on my 56 squat that my foot slipped on that wet water in my pocket. And I went straight down with the bar on my back on my me of my and literally laid there screaming for the poor guy with his headphones and he finally turned around and was like holy sh it came over and took the bar off of me, he's like, can you stand up?

I said, dude, my knee hurts so bad, I don't know what's going on. And he literally, thankfully was like £380 probably squatting 700 picked me up, carried me to his car and drove me the 32 miles, It was an emergency because I lived mountains at the time, and when I got there, they said, guess what, You have shattered your entire kneecap and we can replace it, but because you're an amputee, probably not a good idea, because it cannot artificial need will not be able to sustain the weight that you put on it, that makes it attached to your prosthetic leg and therefore will probably need to go above the knee. At that point, I was like, can you fix me up so I can get back home to florida, because my vascular surgeons there and I'm not letting anybody, I don't know operate. So they put me in the leg swing, got me fixed up. I flew to florida very next week and on july 17th 2017 became a left below left above the knee amputee L A K A.

And I, you know, I'm like, I'm a badass, right, I'm thinking this, this is going to be easy, mm hmm and then I go, you know, I had my amputation, I was hammering them, please let me get a prosthetic and they're like, well, you know, you need to wait like 9 to 16 weeks and I was like, I don't have time, I've got I've got a I got the Arnold in March, I do not have time for you people, and they're like okay, so my doctor says to me, I'll make a deal with you, I will sign the prescription for six weeks out if you promise me that you're not gonna lift heavy and let me explain to you why even though your scars are healed, your bone is still tender from the skull cut and we don't want you to get a split in the bone. And I got I was like Alright, so I walked for the first time on August 30, which happens to be my birthday. So literally, you know, from July 17 to August 30, I was up on a prosthetic.

Yes, crazy, crazy. I mean, even the prosthetics that are like, you're out of your mind but I got back, how was the physical Therapy? The first time? Around 2013, how long did that take you? Um I became an amputee on May 10th and I walked on june 21st, so thank you. So I do have a fast healing body, I am blessed with that, thank you for D. N. A. And God, you know. Um so I got on my ak leg and I started right back at the gym like september 1st and started busting my butt training, doing whatever I could to get back in the game, I had decided that I was going to do the thanksgiving throw down that year, I mean, I was like, hey, it's going to happen and I didn't do the thanksgiving throw down because there's an ak it's a lot harder, even how to sit down with a bar in your hands or dead list, let alone picking it back up without hitting your butt and what kind of, so I ended up getting what's called a K.

X. 06 A mechanical me and my prosthetist at that time told me this is gonna be the best for you because if you're going to be hard on it, if you go straight for a microprocessor, which costs anywhere from 30 to $75,000 You're gonna break that thing in the gym. So he says, this thing is like $3700-$4,000. And when you're ready you'll get a microprocessor, but we'll start off with this means. And I was fortunate enough to have 50 legs, which is a charity here in Florida that helps amputees get prosthetic by that. Holy crap. Yeah, so that I could save the Medicare money for the $35,000 like you get one leg, you know, if you buy a 37 $100 leg or $37,000 with your Medicare, I'm going to go with the more expensive one. And even if I had to go fund me or crowd raise the money myself, I would have done it because you know, that's a big, big difference, but the positive was, I had to learn how to walk with a mechanical needs and with that means you have to work harder, you have to flex your quad, your, you have to flex your hamstring, you have to tighten your entire thigh every step you take and make a kicking motion so that you can create the kick in the, in the knee itself to to walk.

So you know, I did that and uh on december 18th or whatever, the american bar bell in Gainesville was having a christmas, ugly sweater, dead lift party and I went there and I did lifted and I was like, I'm back, I'm not great, but I'm sucking back and that was, that was all that mattered to me, so I was able to do in 2000 and 18, Battle of the Bay and I also competed in the Arnold disabled strongman competition in columbus Ohio in March, followed up with the gen In 2018 and after I fell at the gin, dead lifting, it was because my leg was too big because I had lost more weight because I actually burned more calories as an Ak than as a B K because you worked harder to walk and so I decided I'm going to take a break, I'm not going to compete for the rest of this year in 2000 and 18, while that was happening, I was also having problems with my right leg.

And I thought, why can't why am I having all these problems with my right leg? I mean, healthy, nothing happened to us. And my doctor said that over 33 years over, actually, at that point, 40 plus years of overcompensating on my right leg, I had created vascular disease to spread to my right leg. So, I was beginning to have property in my foot, and at first, I was like, you know what, I'm just going to ride this out. Do you feel any pain at all? It took a doctor visit, if I know I was feeling tingling, you know that? But it was happening like, an hour consistently, and I was like, dude, this isn't normal, this isn't your foot fall asleep for an hour. But when they told me, well, we're probably going to have to amputate at some point, I said, do I have to do it now? And they said, no, you still have some feelings. So, I was like, I'm gonna ride this, sh it out, I'm gonna lift as much as I can as often as I can and tell that khan comes and I'm going to have to lose my leg, my right leg, did they Provide other options?

It's it's really funny because before this, you know, like, 2030 years ago, they'd have been like, no amputees, not an amputations on an option at all. And now they're providing that is every single option. So I did try a bunch of different options. I got on a bunch of nerve medicine that was supposed to decrease the neuropathy. Um, I got my sugar check, you know, I am a diabetic and when I was diagnosed my A one C was like 10.1, but for the past year and a half, it's been under under 6.56 point 46.1. So I've got my diabetes in check. I got my diet in check. So, you know, I'm at this point, you know, I'm a lifter, your lifter, we all work on our bodies, our diets, what we're putting in there and I'm actually very conscious about sustainability, GMO GMO pesticide free raintree, you know, every hormone free. I'm like, all of those things, That's what I do. And um, so I decided, yeah, I'm gonna ride this sh it out. Well, one day I was looking at the gym and my foot fell asleep, I couldn't feel it.

So, as I'm picking up the bar, I felt nothing and I just felt, and I realized that, you know, this isn't gonna work. So I went to discuss the whole surgical options with the surgeon. And the first thing he says to me is, you know what, we can try these scents when we put these scents in your arteries to open them up to allow the flow, but we can't guarantee that they'll stick. And I said, okay, so what happens if I have the surgery and you put stents in my arteries in my vein? What happens if it doesn't fit? That's what we could do the surgery, we can continue to do the surgery until it works. So you're talking three or four major surgeries to try to fix this, right? And I said to myself, you know what, I have been through 28 plus surgeries as a child, to my adulthood, to the amputations, okay, I'm not I'm not trying that because if the end result still ends up being amputation, why would I want to put myself through all of these surgeries to be out on rehab? Physically laying in bed for weeks?

And so I said to him, I said, you know what, let's just do this, let's just, you know, the the other thing about the stents also, because that was something my vascular doctor talked to me about as well, and he's like, well, you know what if we do this, we're going to mess with the integrity of how your veins were and it's going to be altered for your life. So, like that's the other part of it is like, okay, am I going to suck up my veins now and maybe fix it or do I just go all the way in and that's where I was, I felt like I was so invested in the situation that it was like every time you open me up, I'm risking myself to infection any other kind of danger to my body. So, you know what, I'm just let's just cut it off. So we agreed that I would become an R. B. K. A. Scheduled the surgery for the 23rd of june of 2019. I love that. It was your personal choice. So definitely was. Yeah, you definitely have a good guy on your side, because it's not even, he didn't force me, he gave me options and he let me make my own decisions at the end of the day.

And I'm a fortunate amputee because people who wake up from a car accident, in fact, uh I U. D. Or whatever, they wake up, they were not able to prepare themselves mentally and physically emotionally. Not just themselves, but the people around them who are all freaking out because you're telling them, you know, what do you mean? They're cutting your other leg off, can't they do something? But I had to explain myself to them and explain to them the damage I was going to do to myself if I continued to take all these surgeries and the end result was still going to be the same, and I had to explain to themselves that I'm tired of being in pain. I'm tired of dealing with neuropathy. I am tired of all of this. So, on june 23rd I'm in the O. R. Perhaps I V in my arm dr johnson comes in and looks at me and he goes, I just read your chart, are you sure? We said B. K. A. Sure. And he goes you're a power lifter.

I designed your amputation based on you lifting heavy weight on your, let me tell you something right now, young lady, you're gonna be uneven. Does that mean you're going to be putting so much stress on your right leg all over again? And when you not if you fall, when you fall again you might shatter that kneecap and be right back in here. He says so I'm gonna tell you right now, I'm recommending that we go take a right off the bat. Let me tell you what you're going to be perfectly balance for the first time in your life since you were seven years old, your legs are gonna be the same exact size and height. That means when you start walking, your date's gonna be perfect if you're a B. K. On one side and a K. On the other, you're going to have a little bit more difficulty learning to walk when you put your legs on because you're you're not even your kind of cockeyed when you swim, what's going to happen with your buoyancy, you're still going to tip to the right, Your listeners know BK is below the knee. Yes, Ak is above the knee.

Still bilateral and on the right side. Yeah. So I decided right there. I was like, alright, go for it. Of course, my husband was like, what? No, because as a non amputee there, oh my God, you're losing more of your body. The science behind it made total sense to me as an amputee that I was like, just do it, let's just get it over with, I want to go home and start wanting to walk again and it'll keep you in the game. He cares about your Yeah, I mean, he's been my, I mean, that medical, that vascular group has been my vascular group since the first amputation. I've had different surgeons because the previous ones left, but they've all been on the same team and they've all been part of my care from the beginning, so they know who I am. This isn't just like, oh, a random doctor showed up and said something, this is like, they know my history, he knows what I'm going through, he knows what my goals are and what I want to do with my life. And based on that, he makes this amputation designed personally for me, not just um willing into the room and the guys cutting the leg off like he does every thursday, he rounded rounded the corner, a rounded the edges of my my bone so they are smooth and round, so that if I do fall on my stump while I'm just around the house that it's not going to make a straight impact.

It could cause a splinter or a split because it's rounded So there was a lot of things involved and and you know I could go on about that forever but um I'm just gonna fast forward really quickly um to I got out of the hospital and I knew that I wanted to get a hysterectomy this year too. So I scheduled one in August um I've got pretty big biceps there about 19" around both of them and I have not been able to use the blood pressure cuff on them for years. So I consistently when I go to the doctor get my blood pressure taken with a forearm cuff. When I went into the hysterectomy that morning I went into the surgery with the forearm cuff for my blood pressure on my right forearm it's directed me, lasted four hours. I woke up I thought I'm gonna be feeling a little bit of cramping minstrel, you know issues. I was screaming what the fund did you do to my arm. And I felt like somebody cut my biceps out and I found out that the anesthesiology assisted made it took it upon herself to leave the O.

R. Get bicep cuff, left the bicep cup on my left arm for 3.5 hours during surgery and my right arm for an hour and a half compressing every minute. Guess what I got while you're asleep while I was asleep. They gave me rhabdo. So I grabbed it with my analysis is it is the breakdown is the muscles the protein in your muscles. Uh famous dana, linn bailey recently came out this year that she had rhabdo, my analysis caused by overuse steroids. So my first panic was she got rhabdo, people are gonna think you use steroids, that's not possible. If you're the one to the olympics, you can't take anything, you can get tested, any chance that can happen. They can call you right now and say meet me in an hour, pee in a cup or testing you. So I'm like, okay. So I asked him, how the hell did I get it if I'm not doing anything wrong? And they told me the blood pressure cuffs basically broke down the muscles. The average CPK level, which is your creatinine protein something level in a normal human being is 120 - 268.

My most 3997 and who needs to check the blood pressure every minute they do that surgery. That's weird. I didn't know. Yeah. Any time that they didn't listen to putting the pressure on your wrists to say there is definitely a lawsuit happening because I ended up going into rehab. I could not even lift my fingers or even my arm up the first three days. Nothing. I had no the my arms hurt so bad. And you were just in there for a hysterectomy. Yeah. Stay for one night at one time. That way while I'm healing my stuff so I can heal from the hysterectomy. So when I go get my leg and and the play and when you have all this bicep ship, like my goal was like a hysterectomy was to fly up to Oklahoma City where I get my prosthetic from a company called martin bionic. They sponsor me. Um So they provide my prosthetics at no cost for my athletic abilities to use their sockets.

Um but I couldn't go. So I had to postpone until um october and in the meantime I was in rehab my arms, I couldn't even lift a £3 dumbbell when I'm pressing £75 dumbbells on a regular. I couldn't a £3 dumbbell. So here we go again. Am I gonna go to the paralympic games? I don't know, I'm not 100% I can't even bench £100 right now. So I don't know. But you know what anything is possible with the grace of God and my mindset that I might still can go but I need to be benching three something to go. You don't want to go. So this happened in august how's how's it all going now. You're going through a lot of physical therapy. I see like um all of the videos on instagram. Yeah. So I am going through physical therapy, but not for my arms, that's for my legs. I'm doing my own physical therapy for my arms myself at home and in the gym and I'm doing that by doing the same thing we do as lifters.

You know, you start out with low weight with high reps and then you get that low, that low weight becomes light and then you add weight and you continue to do high reps. So I would say I'm at about 70% back into my my bench press and my and my arm dumbbell press anything to do with my arm. Um I got my legs last week, I came home last week after being in Oklahoma for three weeks. Um so I got my legs and I'm obviously walking with the walker and I think that probably by the end of this year I'll be done with the walker but in the meantime I am going in the gym with those prosthetics. I am rocking it as far as trying to figure out how to dead lift again and how to um be a powerlifter. You know, you're back in the gym again. So do you have a coach still or you just kind of winging it or I am so blessed. I have like five coaches. I worked with, I worked out with Tony Conyers if you don't know who he is, you know, 60 year old, one of the strongest men in the world with over £1200 total power lifting raw just said a bunch of world records.

Um Richard Sika, owner of gorilla bench training center over £600 bench in the top 40 of all time bench presses. Um Jim rob singer, one of the strongest women in the world. £123 class. She just went and represented the United States at world for the I. P. L. Um So I've got gin, I've got Tony, I've got Rich um I've got my friend josh Davis who's an olympic power lifter who's going to start helping me learn about olympic lifting. Why not? So you know and Sierra kuda who is a coach for, I'm bound Barbell, he taught me how to squat. So we're going to get back into that game soon. Um He's also a judge for the U. S. P. A. The A. P. F. I. P. L. So Um I've been blessed with these you know, amazing lifters and influences in the power lifting community from the beginning from you know 20 years ago and you just kind of just magically fell into that.

I like I said Eric Kallman who's you know now retired. But um he was my first powerlifting coach and you know I went to rum nine which is you know no longer called And I got to compete in room nine, you know. Um Anyway so between that and I have a full gym at home that I'm able to work out if I cannot get to gorilla bench or you know, strong life, forget to powerhouse. But um, that leads me into this conversation that you've been dying to hear about 52 sports and 50 what are you doing? What's happening this last year at in december of last year at the elbow fitness expo, I met a gentleman called paul Brown, mr retention and he interviewed me for his podcast about sister And he hands me his business card on the back of it.

It says 52 sports and 52 weeks. And I said, What's this? And he explained to me that him and a bunch of guys to raise money for charity, committed to doing 52 sports and 52 weeks and they did it all in Brazil and every week they did a different sport. So they literally either commuted to Brazil from Australia or stayed there fast length of time and they did 52 sports in 52 weeks and here I am thinking what I want to do that. And he said to me this is when I was still in L. A. K. A. And he's like, well let's start thinking about it, let's project it for 2020 find a sport to do all those things. And I said fine. When I became a bilateral, he sent me a lot of, you know, encouraging messages on facebook private messenger. Just let me know, hey, I'm thinking about you. I'm rooting you on whenever I make a post or or do anything. He would always comment. We're behind you. So I was sitting in that hospital bed and I thought, you know what, I'm still gonna do it as a bilateral amputee.

And that means it's gonna be really fucking hard because I hardly walk. What I think that anybody that is disabled can honestly testimony and say goal, get me going, if I have a goal, then I know that I'm gonna do it. My mom used to say men need a purpose and women need a reason and I used to think about that all the time and things. I don't know what you're talking about. But now I get it. You know, I need a reason to live. I need a reason to get out of bed every day. And that reason is to prove to other people all over the world that just because I'm disabled doesn't mean I'm not a person and I know you ladies feel the same way because you know what that is all about. And my message is, I might be, I might not finish, I might not make it in place in a race. I might be the last one, but I did it. So I am the turtle and you can be the hair, but damn it. I'm gonna damn right. No matter what it is. And you know, it could be as far as me taking this walker today and put my legs on and walking from here to the sidewalk, I'm going to do it and there's a reason that I'm going to do it and it's not just for me is, you know, all of us disabled women and men need to stick together and send the same messages just because I'm missing an arm, a leg, a couple arms, couple of legs or all of those things.

That doesn't mean I'm not equal to you because I'm still a person. I still have feelings and emotions and I still feel pain and joy and happiness. I just have to do it in a different level. And if that means it takes me three hours to get ready every day to leave the house because I gotta put my damn legs on then, that that's what I gotta do, right? I mean, and I mean, everybody should live by that. You are your own competition. I don't know why, like, especially in sports like powerlifting, strongman, you are breaking your own personal records. Yeah. You have other people competing in your weight class all around the world, all around the nation, but you will always be who you're competing against. And I had I have agree with that because I met a woman when I was getting my legs, that I had to give her them my journey speech. I'm on my own journey. You're on your own journey where we end up on that journey doesn't matter. I hope to intersect with your journey at one time in life, even if it's just to give you that motivation to continue your journey.

Um I was squatting at the gym one day and there was a guy on my team, his name is Ethan and I did a motivational monday. I was in tears and I said I'm in pain and I want to quit, I want to go home. But I remember why I'm here and so I'm gonna keep on doing it. I mean, I It really was 100% vulnerable on this live Facebook video wiped my tears and hide it, but I posted it and I was happy about that and I finished squatting for the night and I was in so much pain, I took my leg off right there in the gym and got in my wheelchair and rolled out. I got home that night and even sent me a message and said, Hey Von, I don't know if you know this, but I'm a veteran and I was in Iraq and I sustained a lot of damage to my spinal cord and my hips and my lower back during that situation and I live in pain, he said, and I was squatting tonight and I was ready to just say funk this, I'm going home and I glanced over to the right and I saw you and he said if this bitches gonna keep squatting, I gotta keep squatting.

It's about I motivated him that night, right? And there's a case that I go and there's a guy named Andy Burns that competes in the U. S. P. A. And he doesn't have any use of either one of his legs. He's a veteran and he gets out there and he's benching and does sled hockey. So I always tell him you're my accountability partner dude. If I go on facebook and you're bitching about your life, I'm gonna say something and if I get on facebook and I start bitching about how I want to quit power lifting and I want to stop doing all this stuff. I need you to call me up and tell me have you lost your damn mind lady? And uh you know, I don't know, it's a lot of if you guys believe in God and it's okay if you don't because I do believe in God and I, you know, I believe that, you know, I don't just believe that I was told this that I have the favor of the Lord on my side. Obviously, I mean I've been through hell and back and I'm still kicking somebody's holding me up and Tony. Conyers came to see me in the hospital after my second amputation and asked me was I done crying and I said, what are you done crying?

And I was like I guess. And he goes good because you got work to do God put you on this planet and he has a plan for you. And that plan is to show people that you can't sit on the couch and say, I'm not going to the gym today because I hurt my back, picking up a pencil off the floor at work today, or, you know, hurt or you know, oh my whole body aches, I'm I'm recovering from the flu. So, fucking what I'm in the gym, missing a leg or both my legs. Now you're missing an arm, She's missing, you know, two legs and an arm. She's got a invisible illness called fibromyalgia, you can't see her pain. So when you're in the parking lot and you see somebody get out of her car in the handicapped spot and you think, damn, that bitches tight, she's healthy, got a fit body, What is she doing? Do you know what her bones feel like? Did she have brittle bone? If you touch it might break her arm, does she have five more miles, you should have chronic pain, chronic back pain, There's so many disabilities out there that you cannot physically see, stop making you know, so people, if somebody is disabled, you might not be able to see it.

So if those people are in the gym and they're crying inside and oh my God, I'm gonna die and they keep going, get up off your asses and get in the gym and stop making excuses, because if we can do it us disabled ladies who left you can do it, okay? So, you know, I do believe that I have lost my limbs and I've been put on this journey that I'm on to motivate inspire and show people that dedication can get you somewhere consistency, can get you somewhere, believing in yourself and taking care of your body can get you somewhere. So my message that I always put out to people is it just takes one step at a time, whether you've got legs or not because you can get there. So that's my story. You know, I'm really proud to be a member of disabled girls who left because you know what, As long as I can put prosthetics on, I'm gonna dead lift, I'm gonna learn to squat, I'm gonna learn to go surfing, I'm going to learn to, I don't know how far I'll ride a horse, who cares?

Yeah, I mean there's so many things and as I shared my story with people and I said, hey, I'm going to go try paddleboarding. I've had so many friends of mine and supporters of mine say, when you do that one, I want to go with you and to me, that means I am doing my job. I'm inspiring people to say, I'm gonna get up off my couch and I'm gonna go freaking skydiving with Vonda Bar, she's doing it without legs, why can't I? So, and not only that, like I need to upload your supply support system because when you say when you list your goals, they don't look you up and down and say, are you sure you want to go paddleboarding? Are you sure you want to ice skate? They are right by your side. Yeah. And I am so blessed that I am in an awesome strength community. The one thing about strongman and powerlifting is like you said, it's not a competition. You're your own competition. So everybody is cheering you on when you go up to that platform, everybody's cheering you on when you try to pick up that stone or use the yolk or whatever you're doing.

And it's not just those two sports. Let's talk about tennis. Let's talk about hockey is a team sport, but disabled people are playing it now. The paralympics is blowing up with water volleyball. I mean there's so much you can do and all you have to do. The first step is go to the United States paralympic dot gov site and look at all the sports and then click on where can I do this out in my town And you might not find one in your town and the center might be two hours away, but plan a saturday to spend there. But as disabled people, it's our job to prove because we've already been labeled unable to do anything, accept being disabled. So today I'm going to let you know, I'm not handicapped, I'm handy, capable are capable of doing what we want to do and it might take longer for you because again, we're all on our own journey. But as these ladies will tell you if you need help, I don't care if you call me or you messaged me on facebook or Skype or whatever.

I will take that call, I will take that message and I will listen to your story because I've been there, I've been depressed, I've been suicidal thoughts, I felt worthless. I have had anxiety, I have Over eight myself into depression and there's a way out, There's a way out and that starts with positivity and sometimes the people around you aren't your friends and your family because they just put you down. But sometimes you have to identify yourself with the people that are good for you and the people are bad from you. And I can tell you right now, you can divorce your family, you can do that, okay, divorce that and that every time you come to her house, she says, wow, You look, well, guess what anti we don't need to talk because you can still be my aunt, I love my cousins, your kids are great. But I don't have to sit next to you at a family function and you in the toxic file. Yeah, you're okay.

And you know, so if you have people in your life that constantly make you feel like you're not good enough or you're not whole, that's the biggest thing, if you're not whole, let me tell you something, this is a shell while I am inside is more than whole. I am overflowing with positivity. I am overflowing overflowing with love and hope and you know, kindness and generosity. So if you see us out there disabled people, you know, offered to open the door, I might say no, I got it. What you offering lets me know that you care and you understand that it's a struggle. So yeah, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. And if people right now are not willing to listen to you, not willing to support you keep talking, you'll find that person who will or who will relate just like just like your friend at the gym. Yeah. You know, and those are people you don't even know about that are watching you.

So your blessing, not just the people around you that tell you your blessing, your blessing, Your blessing them. Your blessing. People. You don't even know that you're touching because if somebody is willing to tell you, hey, you helped me today, think about all the people that are too scared or too shy or too ashamed to even say that the only reason I kept going to the gym was because the lady with one leg or the lady with No, you know what I mean? Um so you know, I'm just gonna uh say a couple more things before we end and the first thing I'm gonna say is that, you know, whether you're disabled Or you're not disabled, you can do anything you set your mind to and if you really want to do it, set some goals, make realistic ones don't make, I want to lose £200 in a month goal. I have a goalless and some of those goals are long term goals and some of those goals are simply one day goal. Um I have a blog, it's called Living My Best Blessed Life dot com and every day I post on there and I talk about my eating habits because I do have an eating problem.

I love chocolate who doesn't love sweets, I love chips and dip or my freaking, if somebody has chips and dips, I'm done. I mean I would just want to give in. But um, this blog for me, Cheryl shares with people my struggle, my lifestyle struggles. Um I talk about the people that support me, I talk about the people that have hurt me and you know, on a daily basis, those things happen, but I want to share with the world that um you know, it is a struggle and I might make it look easy if you see my videos of me power looking or strongman or pictures and you know, but all you're seeing is that movement right there and in my blog I show the failures, you know Fall down seven get up eight. Those things happen. There are failures. I talk about the eating problem I have and the fact that I've been trying my hardest to eat sustainably, you know, grain free hormone free, you know, GMO free. But more importantly, I'm trying to take care of my body because I want to live a long time to be able to spread my message to everybody.

So if you are someone that is struggling, you're not alone, we're all out here. You just have to find that one person that could be your accountability partner or the shoulder that you need at any moment in time that will listen to your tears and your crying and your anger and your frustration and make sure that that person, you can do the same for them. You can listen to their strengths, their struggles and their anger and their sadness and their happiness and their, you know, success is because when you have that person there for you, it makes it a lot easier whenever it's not going right for you to call somebody. So they can remind you about the better parts of things. Like I know you felt today, I know that your back hurts and your legs hurt. You don't want to put the prosthetics on. But remember why you're doing it for yourself, you know, and the most important thing is you have to do it for yourself, not for other people. And failure from the get go. If you're doing it for your husband, you're probably not going to succeed if you're doing it for your kids, I hope you succeed.

But the truth of the matter is you're always gonna find an excuse when you do it for yourself. The only person that you disappoint the most is yourself and that's the most disheartening feeling in the world, you know. So whenever I see chips and dip and I know that this is not my free day, I have to convince myself that that's not good for you don't do it. And then when I do it that is that is an achievement. I'm going to call my friend Amy up or call my husband and say I was at this great american teaching yesterday and they had big sub sandwiches and they had pumpkin rolls and pumpkin pie and all this great spice, pumpkin spice stuff. But yesterday it was a vegetarian day for me, right? The fruit that's an accomplishment in itself. Yeah. And that's what I'm talking about. So you know when I end every one of my blogs and post is carpe DM and if you don't know what that means, look it up.

Let me let me tell you von you are a lot of what we embody here. You are 100% raw. We are the good, the bad and the ugly. That's a lot of what we cover here. So thank you for sharing all of that. Yes, definitely. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for spreading your light. Thank you for dropping all those fantastically placed f bombs. Just all good stuff. Good stuff. And now we are going to thank you guys again for having me and you know what? I'm just going to throw one more bomb out there before I leave and that's just keep sucking lifting. Just keep sucking lifting. Thank you ladies. Yeah. And before we, we, before we end, um, I want to plug in her, go fund me. Um, it's titled Help von Get back on her feet and back to life. It is a link that is on her profile. We'll put it in our show notes as well. So you can just click in and help her get along.

Thank you so much. We extend that to you too. Sorry you have my number. If you need to call us at 23 in the morning wherever you are. Yeah. Yeah. I just have just added to accountability partners. So you guys have my number, you can call me and you know, if you're in the parking lot and somebody's like bitch, why you parked in the stables and do what I do. If I'm wearing pants, I pull up my legs or I say to them. It's none of your damn business. I got a black or talk to the freaking state leave me alone. Thanks ladies, thank you. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who lift. Don't forget to follow. Right And like us on Spotify, ITunes and player FM. You can also find us on instagram at disabled girls who left. Mm hmm.

E05: 44 Surgeries, 4 Amputations, and Still On Top ft. Vaughan DeBarr
E05: 44 Surgeries, 4 Amputations, and Still On Top ft. Vaughan DeBarr
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