Developing a positive attitude through health challenges

Despite the obstacles she’s faced throughout her life, Joanna Blundell looks forward.

“There’s no time to look back,” said Blundell, 57, of Ore City. “I always try to be positive and move forward.”

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two, Blundell praises the doctors who treated her for a range of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move, balance and maintain posture. ing. She was “lucky to be treated by the best doctors,” she said.

“I was admitted to a hospital in Galveston and had my first surgery when I was two years old. After that, my parents always encouraged me to face my problems. God can do anything.” because of.”

This positive attitude stuck in Blundell’s heart and left an impression on her two children.

“Mom never let her disability affect her,” said Blundell’s son Troy, who lives in East Tennessee. “I have never seen her depressed or lamented about her situation. She always has a positive mindset.”


Blundell was diagnosed with arterial stenosis (also known as PAD) at the age of 53.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is the narrowing and blockage of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs. Blockage is caused by atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaques within the arteries.

Blundell’s left leg was so severely blocked that doctors advised her that the best solution was to amputate it.

Over time, Blundell also started having problems with his right leg. Unable to bear her pain, she agreed to amputate her right leg as well.

Blundell’s type of cerebral palsy affected her balance and the types of prostheses available, and both surgeries required amputations “above the knee.”

In the years that followed, she used a wheelchair and sought the help of many people to stay at home.

Blundell’s daughter Christine, who lives in Kilgore, Texas, grew up watching her mother’s determination.

“After her second amputation, everyone wanted her to go to her sister’s house or a rehab center, but her mother wanted to go home. I’ve learned and grown,” Christine said. “If she decides to do something, she will do it!”

Eventually, as the surgical scars healed, she was fitted with a stable prosthetic leg and changed her height from 5’7″ to 3’7″.


Despite her height, Blundell immediately began rehabilitation to learn new ways to walk, get off the floor and climb stairs. She had to start training in her wheelchair because her crutches and walkers weren’t made for her height.

Helping her was Kenneth Huffman, Director of Plant Operations at UT Health North Campus Tyler. Ms. Huffman modified her pair of standard crutches for Blundell in less than an hour, and she used them to walk the entire length of the gym. In that short time, Huffman greatly improved Blundell’s quality of life.

The therapist himself was a great inspiration for Blundell. “They gave me a huge boost and inspired me to keep going,” she said. Instead, her hard work inspired many staff members. “I had the privilege of working with someone who taught me what true grit is,” said one staff member.

With the help of her home health care provider’s daily visits, Blundell learned new habits to help her stay alone at home, including dressing, self-care, and standing and cooking for long periods of time. Blundell also learned another important lesson: it’s okay to ask for help.

“I have family and friends who are part of my life on a daily basis,” she said. “They may come to me and bring me food or help me take a shower. “

positive outlook

In addition to her friends, Blundell recalls two people who motivated her to keep a positive outlook.

“My sister Joni, who lives in Mesquite, Texas, has been by my side all my life, pushing me and telling me that I’ll be okay,” she explained.

“She was the one who inspired me to record workout videos. You know what you can do.”

Blundell also credits vascular surgeon Dr. Tyrone Miller, who performed her amputation.

“Dr. Do you have?

“He made me understand how difficult it was, but he also said that with God everything is possible. That’s it,” Blundell recalled.

Blundell hopes that people with cerebral palsy and amputations can read her story and watch her videos for inspiration.

“I want to tell everyone to keep their heads up, be strong and face their problems head-on,” she said. “If I can do it, so can you!”

“Life is what you make it, so you can get through the hard times. Many people have helped me, and if I can help one and give back, I will finish my work on this earth.” It will happen.”

For more information about services offered at UT Health East Texas Rehabilitation Center, call 800-338-7293 or Visit our website.

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