(KMSP) - “It's hard to complain because people have it worse then you.”
Ursula Wachowiak lights up merely mentioning her time on the open road. In 2013, the self-described gypsy made the decision to ride across the country, living with only what she could carry on her bike. That all stopped when she was riding through Minnesota and was hit head-on by a driver trying to pass a semi.
Wachowiak remembers being in the ditch moments before she was airlifted to Regions Hospital.
“I mean, I knew I was going to die anyways,” Wachowiak said. “I could see I was bleeding out, but when you hear it from someone else say ‘we are losing her’...it's kind of freaky.”
After flat lining once, and surgeries to repair internal damage including a ruptured spleen, Wachowiak learned to walk again, this time with a prosthetic. After weighing the pros and cons, Chief of Orthopedics at Regions Hospital, Doctor Peter Cole, was able to salvage her knee.
“I think that in most places she would have had an above-knee amputation,” Cole said. “She would not be riding around the country on her motorcycle living out her passion if she did not have a knee joint.”
“Technology is on our side,” Wachowiak said. "I'm in pain every day, but I can walk, I can ride my motorcycle. I love riding my motorcycle.”
For Wachowiak, freedom from countless future surgeries was the right decision, and now she’s become an advocate. She continues to share her struggles and her journey through her blog, and also started a foundation to help other amputees.
“There's a lot of cobwebs and demons still in the head,” Wachowiak said. “I go around a curve where I can't see… I'm looking really hard. I've always been a careful driver but now I'm far, far, far more conscious."
To learn more about her story: www.hdbroad.com