As an employee of Superior Orthotics & Prosthetics, Donna has an official title – Director of Administration. But ask Donna what it is she actually does and she laughs.
“Everything else,” she says with a big smile.
“You can do anything that you want to. You just have to decide what that is.”
Donna is the patient care advocate for all of the amputees that come through Superior's offices. She consults with surgeons and lends an ear to all those either facing amputation or who have been through an amputation.
On the day of the website photo shoot, Donna was also making sure the photography team was fed. She was sending patients being photographed to the proper location. She was ironing new shirts for all the staff to wear for their photos. And she was still greeting and meeting with regularly-scheduled patients.
But what's remarkable about Donna isn't just that she's a bundle of energy around the office who wears multiple hats.
It's that she's also a bilateral amputee.
“In the summertime, I'm dressed in shorts or a skirt or capris and it's obvious that I'm a bilateral amputee. In the wintertime, I'm in warmer clothes, and it's a little bit harder to tell,” she explains. “A lot of patients have no idea I'm an amputee and are stunned to find out because they have watched me walk in and out of a room and have no idea.”
Donna was in a car accident when she was just 22 years old, which caused both of her feet to be severed instantly. Since then, she has raised two children who are now grown. She still enjoys spending time on the water, whether it's in a boat or on water skis. She bikes and hikes and travels.
And she wears high heels, thanks to the adjustable heels on her prosthetic legs.
As a bilateral amputee in her early 20s, the change in self-image was devastating, Donna explained. So when an adjustable heel foot was introduced into the market – and Superior offered her the opportunity to be a test patient – to say she was excited might be an understatement.
“Women, we get dressed from the floor up. We don't buy the dress if we don't have the shoes. That's just how it is. Or we have to go buy all of it together,” she says. “But I always wanted to get back into heels. I had a career. I was in a suit. I wanted the pumps to match the outfit. I came unglued.”
It's one of the things that Donna emphasizes to her patients multiple times each day. As a patient of Superior, all it takes is a conversation to come up with a workable solution.
“Don't have unrealistic expectations, because you're going to set yourself up for failure. It's one step at a time, literally. And it's get through this and set another goal. And as long as you're moving forward, it's all you can hope for,” she says. “You can do anything that you want to. You just have to decide what that is.”
The words flow effortlessly out of her mouth. That's her real job, she says as she leans toward the door, obviously itching to go iron another staff shirt.
“It's rewarding,” she says. “I love what I do.”