When we spoke with Ashley it was early Spring. She shared how the sun was shining brightly on her face, through the window of her house, despite the cold weather in Three Forks, MT. “I enjoy snowboarding, hunting, fishing, really anything to be outside. Growing up, it was something my family did together.” With two young children, she has always lived an active and adventurous lifestyle and has even participated in a triathlon, something her own mother did often.
Ashley is the type of person who, on a whim, would take on new projects whether it’s starting a new business venture like her interior design company or a new hobby. On July 17th, 2021, on what she described as a calm afternoon, Ashley and her husband decided to finally take a shot at an activity that she has been wanting to try—learning to ride a motorcycle.
“My husband was showing me the basics—how to maneuver my hands, holding the clutch, switching gears—before I even hopped on,” Ashley recalls.
Everything moved very quickly as Ashley was riding independently. Before she knew it she lost control, and to avoid the bike from landing on her leg, her right hand came to rest on the band which inhaled her fingers into the sprocket. This sudden self protective reaction immediately amputated the tip of her middle finger and injured her ring and pinky.
Being in a traumatic event such as an amputation, having a support system can make the world of a difference in one’s recovery and Ashley’s family and friends were nothing short of amazing in the difficult moments. Everyone close to her came together and helped by preparing meals and assisting in taking care of the kids. It was a humbling experience for Ashley, as an independent and self-sufficient spirit, to allow people to provide support.
“After 10 days, they took off my club cast and removed the gauze off my finger and seeing my hand in that condition made me incredibly emotional. That was hard. It was really hard,” Ashley states as she talks about the days after her accident.
She went to an occupational therapist (OT) after the cast removal and immediately received a splint to help protect and gradually straighten her fingers. Ashley’s therapy regimen included functional strength training and desensitization to help relieve sensitivity on her fingers. “It was really painful at first,” says Ashley. She worked her way up through different textures starting from a piece of cotton to rougher fabrics such as wool. When it came time to start looking at prosthetic options, her OT put her in touch with Jordan North, CPO, a certified prosthetist at Treasure Orthotics and Prosthetics in Bozeman, MT. In a matter of weeks, Ashley was able to pick up her MCPDriver.
“As a mom, to be able to count my fingers with my kids again and be able to do the little mundane things I never thought I would miss like doing air quotes or even just holding anything small without it falling out of my hand has been incredible,” says Ashley.
When asked what advice she would give to someone who is just starting in their journey or struggling in their recovery, Ashley said, “Accept help, give yourself grace, and recovery takes time. Be patient and don’t rush it. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s a loss. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, to feel what you’re feeling. Don’t let yourself stay there. It’s not going to be good for your recovery. Find something to help you smile and laugh. Work through the hard and negative emotions. There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Do not be afraid to share your story, because it takes the power out of it.”