UPDATE: Mary Free Bed alumna Pam Buschle has made great strides since she was an inpatient at Mary Free Bed. The East Grand Rapids resident, who recently served as grand marshal for the city’s annual Fourth of July Celebration (sponsored by the city and Mary Free Bed to mark their 125th anniversaries), appeared on WOOD-TV’s EightWest to share her story. (Click for the EightWest story or to see photos from the Fourth of July Celebration.) MLive also featured Pam, a vocal advocate for Mary Free Bed and the importance of rehabilitation, for an update that showcases her resilience. (Click for MLive story.)
“G-R-I-T, that is what I have in me,” chanted the students at Challenger Elementary in Kentwood as they prepared for a 2.6-mile trek around school property on Friday afternoon.
The children were fired up after attending a school assembly, “It Takes Grit to Run the Marathon of Life,” which featured Pam Buschle, more commonly known as “Mrs. Buschle” around the school, where she has been a social worker for more than two decades.
“You can overcome any challenge. You can stretch your brain to do anything if you don’t fear failing,” she told the students.
She should know.
Pam emerged the winner in a battle with sepsis last December, but she lost her arms and legs in the fight. She now walks on two prosthetic legs and will soon sport a pair of high-tech hands to help her resume the life she lived before quadruple amputations.
She wore one electronic hand during her speech and demonstrated how she has learned to pick up a can of soda, shake someone’s hand and give a high five. It took months and months of hard work and therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital to learn these and other basic skills, she said.
Then she told the students a story about a recent encounter with a stranger who offered to help her get comfortably seated near a table. Pam welcomed the assistance.
“She said to me, ‘I feel sad about what happened to you. It looks like it would be really hard. And then this person started to cry,” Pam told the students.
“I’ll bet many of you felt sad for me. You may have thought about how hard it would be not to have hands and feet,” Pam continued. “But I have feelings of accomplishment, pride and confidence I never would have had. I’m excited and proud today because I did something very hard over and over and over again.”
In closing, she told students that, starting next week, they can get an up-close look at her new electronic hands and her prosthetic lower limbs “because they are really, really cool.”