My name is Angie Coe. I became an amputee on Feb 8, 2020, doing something that I love to do. My husband and I were at an off roading event called King of Hammers in Southern California. On that morning at 2:30am we were riding our buggy back to the RV after watching an awesome show of modified trucks crawl up rocks that, honestly, didn’t even seem possible for trucks to do. It was amazing and we were so happy. On the way back we were doing a few “tricks” when the buggy tipped on the passenger side. My side. My hand got crushed between the 2500lbs machine and the desert floor with forward momentum. At first it just felt like I broke my wrist. I hadn’t seen my hand yet. I unbuckled my 5-point harness, took off my helmet and crawled out of the vehicle from the driver's side. Then I saw my hand. It was mangled and bleeding heavily. I told my husband to go find help. Luckily this event had roughly 60,000 people attending it and help was quickly there. Even more lucky for me the first civilian on scene was an army medic. So, he got my first aid bag and found my tourniquet and quickly put it on my arm. I was in shock and full of adrenaline but stayed calm. I worked as a veterinary nurse for 20+ years so I knew how important it was to stay calm. By now there was a crowd that had gathered, and everyone wanted to help. People were talking to me and asking me questions, trying to keep me coherent. Others were finding blankets and wrapping me up to keep me warm. Not only was it freezing outside but your body temperature drops when you go into shock. I was shaking. I stayed conscious the whole time. We were in a dead zone in the desert. No cell service. Someone CB radioed for help and we all just waited for the ambulance. It took the paramedics around 30 minutes to get to me. They put me on a stretcher with a neck brace and back brace, procedure I believe, put an IV in my arm so they could give me pain meds, put me in the ambulance to try to get me warm and we waited for the helicopter to arrive. At this point the only pain I felt was the tourniquet. That’s actually the only real pain I felt the whole time. Adrenaline is a wonderful tool to trick the brain. Another 20 minutes and the helicopter was there. It was a tight squeeze in that helicopter. It was the pilot, 2 nurses and me on a stretcher, strapped down. I remember that ride like it was yesterday. I’m sure the nurses were sick of hearing me ask them to loosen the tourniquet. They refused. I was also asking them to loosen my straps so I could look out the window and enjoy the helicopter ride. They wouldn’t do that either. It was a pretty long ride. They were taking me to one of the best trauma hospitals in the Country, Loma Linda Medical. It was like a movie when we landed on the heli pad at the hospital. Nurses and Doctors ran out of a door towards the helicopter. Everyone was screaming dosages and times and rushing me towards the hospital door. I’m getting pushed down a corridor with lights blaring down at me. We get into a room and everyone starts cutting off my clothes. One person on each leg and more people around my arms and head. Like I said earlier it was very cold out so I had a lot of layers on. I remember telling the person with scissors by my head to please be careful not to cut my long hair. They all laughed. The doctor was by my mangled hand, and he was doing a sensory test. Asking me to tell him when I felt him touching me. In the moment I thought that I knew all the places he was touching. Not until later, when I read the medical report, did I realize I had zero feeling on multiple areas of my hand. Now we were on the move again, getting wheeled down another lighted corridor but this time it was towards a surgery room. It was time to go under the knife for emergency surgery. The next thing I remember is waking up in a recovery room with a massive cast on my hand and arm with a tube coming out of it hooked up to a machine that was connected to a bag with some liquid in it. I was also hooked up to another machine that was reading my vitals and a bag of fluids getting pumped into my other arm. I wasn’t quite sure what had been done. When I finally came to a bit more, I asked the nurse, and she told me I had my pinky, ring, and middle fingers amputated along with a good portion of my palm. It was definitely a shock to hear but I kind of already knew that was a possibility considering how mangled my hand looked. I knew from that moment on that life was forever changed. I knew that not only was my road to Recovery going to be long and arduous, but everything I do from this point on was going to push me in ways that I had never been pushed before. I was definitely right. That hospital stay was one week. My second hospital stay, which was three weeks later, was also one week. That second surgery was for a skin graft from my upper right thigh. I eventually had to have a third surgery ten months later to reopen my hand to shave down part of a bone that just kept poking through the skin graft and not healing properly. It was a very long and painful recovery process, but I knew I needed to stay positive. I’ve always been a naturally positive person, but this kind of positivity took hard work and dedication. I knew I had to talk to someone that knew what I was going through. Of course, everyone in my life was there to support me but none of them truly knew my struggles. I needed relatability. So, I took to social media. Started searching stuff that I had never even thought of searching before. Most of the #amputee that I found were lower limb amputees. I felt like that was kind of relatable but not what I was searching for. Then I stumbled across Abe. I saw that he was a full hand amputee, so I decided to reach out and send him a message. I don’t even really know what I was looking for in messaging him, but I just wanted someone that I could share stories and experiences with and also get advice from since I was so knew to this amputee thing. He messaged me right back and even before reading his message I felt a sense of security. As we chatted, I found out that he lost his hand only 16 weeks before me in a terrible work accident. I instantly felt a connection to him. As I lay in bed in pain we chatted back and forth multiple times a week. He was a busy man but always found time to reach out to me to check in and see how I was doing. I think we helped each other. I realize that now because I always reach out to new amputees and not only am I helping them, but in doing so they help me just as much. The amputee community is truly amazing. Becoming an amputee from a traumatic event can send your brain into a world wind of emotions. I truly believe becoming friends with Abe helped me with my sanity. He made me feel not so alone. Seeing him attack life the way he did gave me hope that I could do the same. This wasn’t something that was going to hold me back! A good friend sent me a quote that I held near and dear to me. It said, “Sometimes fear does not subside, and you must do things afraid”. So, I fought! I went to physical therapy three times a week for ten months. Went to wound care twice a month. I worked on myself, and I told myself it’s ok to have bad days. I started doing research on prosthetics. Thirteen months after my amputation I was getting fitted for my new hand. I was so excited and so ready. The company that I went with to build my prosthetic was recommended to me by Abe. It was the same company he went through. I had to fly to Portland once a month for three months to get fitted and learn how to use my hand again. I was loving every minute of my journey and I was so grateful to all the amazing new friends in my life. About 3 months after getting my prosthetic the company that built my new fingers reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to become their second ambassador. Again, I was full of excitement. This new life had brought me so many incredible opportunities to do good and help people. I, of course, said yes and that’s how ‘Bionic Angie’ came to be. I was speaking to new amputees on a daily basis. Sharing stories and experiences with them the way Abe did for me. The prosthetic company was flying me all over the world to be a part of prosthetic conventions where I was able to show off my amazing robot hand and meet other amputees and hear their heroic stories. The amount of joy I held in my heart was above all else. I shared these stories with Abe. We always had the same outlook on wanting to help people and be a part of their journey. One day Abe called me and told me about his dream to start a Nonprofit for amputees. We both knew how hard of a journey it is especially when it came to insurance companies and all their red tape. All the people that never feel like they could receive a life changing prosthetic because they are too expensive. A lot of insurance companies look at it as a “want” rather than a “need”. Not to mention the emotional and physical support amputees need during the most difficult moment in their lives. That’s why when Abe asked me to be a part of his nonprofit to help people that need help the most I was over the moon. I said YES without hesitation!! The Wounded Wing Foundation has the ability to make a difference in so many people's lives. Anyone would be proud to be a part of something like that. I am beyond honored and I’m so excited to continue this beautiful journey and share my story of love, strength, and resilience 🦾❤️
Below are some images of when it happened and after.
Graphic Warning not for the light hearted.