Loss is a word Jodi (Mata) Scott knows all too well. In the span of three years, she lost three people she loved dearly: her mother, boyfriend and best friend. During that time, Jodi also lost all of her fingers and thumbs in a 2013 fire that destroyed her childhood home in Harrison, Mich.
“It’s been hard, but I believe God has a plan, a reason for everything,” said Jodi, who suffered burns on her face, arms and hands while trying to extinguish the fire caused when a candle fell over. The burns were so deep on her hands that her fingers and thumbs had to be amputated. She’s had more than 30 surgeries, including 10 as an outpatient.
“The first time I saw my arms in the hospital was probably the hardest day of my life, other than losing my mom. I was hating them right then,” she said. “I know it sounds crazy, but I got this notion to apologize to my hands. I looked at them and kissed them and said ‘I love you. I’m sorry, and I love you the way that you are.’”
After nearly three months in the hospital, she was referred to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation. She can accomplish many everyday tasks and even learned to write again, one of the former teacher’s favorite things to do. A year later, she began working with prosthetist Katie Johnson, who designed and engineered bionic hands for her with the help of prosthetic technology company Touch Bionics.
She travels 216 miles twice a week to Mary Free Bed for occupational therapy with her new hands, testimony to her determination to live a normal life. She has high praise for her therapists and especially for Katie, whom she considers a friend.
Jodi recently married Joe Scott, an Army veteran whose back was broken in a 2005 fall during training just days before he was to deploy for Iraq. “He’s the love of my life and a daily inspiration,” she said. “He’s dealt with his own pain, but he cares for me.”
Jodi views her new normal as an opportunity to help others. She shared her story during the Mary Free Bed Foundation’s “Let Freedom Spring” luncheon in May and will serve as an ambassador for Touch Bionics, the prosthetic technology company Katie worked with to build her new hands. She hopes that by sharing her story she can inspire others.
“I feel like I have a chance for a normal life,” Jodi said. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I want to help other people see it’s possible to weather the worst of storms. I want to give them hope.”
Jodi shares her story in this video: