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Octogenarian Doesn’t Let Limb Loss Slow Her Down

To say that Jessie Monsen is an “active” senior citizen, would be a vast understatement. At 80-years old, the Knoxville women regularly works out at the YMCA, organizes picnics and events for her church, is a member of the Red Hats society for women, and also volunteers with local support groups. Last summer she even water-skied for the first time. Monsen doesn’t let the fact that she’s 80 or that she’s an individual with limb loss slow her down.

Jessie is living life to the fullest with limb loss.

Monsen’s left leg was amputated above the knee by Premier Surgical Vascular Surgeon Dr. Scott Callicutt eight years ago following complications due to poor blood flow. Monsen praises Dr. Callicutt.

“He saved my life! I had a heart attack in the hospital. He was fabulous! When I mention Dr. Callicutt’s name, people always say ‘he’s one of the best’.”

Monsen worked with the team at Premier Surgical Prosthetic Center in Knoxville to have a prosthetic limb fitted and fabricated specifically for her. She takes the loss of her leg in stride.

“It’s not such a big deal, really. But you can make it a big deal. Anything can be a big deal.”

Premier Prosthetic Center Director of Prosthetics Hannah Howington, says Monsen’s enthusiasm for life is contagious. “It’s been a joy to treat Ms. Monsen. She comes to every appointment with a big smile on her face and the best attitude. Her drive to enjoy life is infectious, and she doesn’t allow her prosthesis to be the limiting factor.”

Monsen stresses that it’s important to her to stay active and engaged. ““That’s what life is all about. That’s the problem. A lot of people stay home and get very depressed and that’s terrible.”

80 year-young prosthetic patient Jessie water skies for the first time.

Last July, Monsen didn’t hesitate to try water skiing for the first time. It was part of an annual Innovation Recreation Cooperative’s (IRC) event, sponsored by Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, that provides people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in water sports.

““It was beautiful. It was a perfect sunny day, and I loved it! It was so relaxing and enjoyable.  And the people were so very friendly,” Monsen remembers.

Monsen says this type of opportunity is valuable to people living with limb loss. She encourages others to get involved in the monthly Amputee Support Group Knoxville.

“We share a lot of camaraderie. We share a lot of problems. Everyone has a different problem, naturally, a different pain, or different situation, and so we share that,” she explains. “It’s good because nobody else has that same problems that we deal with.”

As Monsen celebrates eight decades of life, she already has several new activities on her “to do list.”

“I’d like to visit Paris and walk on the Champs-Elysees, try amputee ice hockey, and go bungee jumping,” she laughs. “Life is very important. You have to love yourself and think positive!”

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