"Cindy woke up in a room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts in September 2009 in a radically altered body. She suffered a catastrophic heart attack while on vacation two months earlier and was med-flighted from Maine to Boston. In response to the heart attack, Cindy experienced an adverse reaction to medication and multiple organ failure. Despite dire predictions, Cindy survived and made it through weeks of delirium where she was never fully conscious. These complications resulted in amputations involving all four limbs: both of her legs below the knees and varying amounts of each of her fingers.
Cindy was lucky. Her doctors had been pessimistic about her survival. But waking up, alive, also meant a long recovery that included making friends with a fundamentally new physicality: a body that now required adaptations, extensions, and subtle changes that she and her family could never have anticipated from her hospital bed.
It wasn’t easy. It took Cindy months to want to look at her legs and hands; and even today, six years later, there is a brief moment when she wakes up in the morning before she remembers how different her life is now.
With time, though, Cindy regained her ability to walk and started to find a “new normal.” She got great care from occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and prosthetists. But over time she found that the standard tools provided to her, even at a top-flight rehab hospital, didn’t facilitate some of the most important things she wanted to recover—how to write a thank you note, feed herself, put on makeup and jewelry, turn the pages in a picture book as she reads to her grandchildren. So Cindy started to design and build what she needed. From small hacks on her hand cream jar to repurposing cable ties for pulling out drawers and salad tongs for holding a sandwich, Cindy has embraced an everyday engineering ethic that she never thought possible."