Nfld. & Labrador

Paradise woman tries new hands, feet on for size

A Paradise woman who lost most of her fingers and toes to an infection that nearly killed her says prosthetics have given her back some mobility and precious playtime with her children.
Elaine Dodge-Lynch works out with weights attached to wrist bands, to increase her strength after losing fingers and toes. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

A Paradise woman who lost most of her fingers and toes to an infection that nearly killed her says prosthetics have given her back some mobility and precious playtime with her children.

Elaine Dodge-Lynch lost all her toes, four fingers on her left hand and part of her left thumb and right-hand fingers to a streptococcal infection in early 2015.

After months of rehabilitation — she had to learn to walk again — prosthetics are giving her back some of the things she took for granted.

"I'm doing pretty good," she told CBC. "Physically, not a lot has changed. Some of the discomfort I've been having with the healing process has improved, but it's still a challenge.

"I still have days where things hurt when I wish they wouldn't, but overall it's getting a bit better over time."

Prosthetics are like 'art'

She recently went to Burlington, Ont., to be fitted for her prosthetics — for which the family has been raising money through a GoFundMe campaign — a process that took four days.

"They [Ottobock, the manufacturer] had trial devices made and I had to try them on and do a lot of fitting, a lot of colour matching. It was a long four days."

She'll wear the trial devices for several weeks, and then a prosthetist will visit to see if she needs a different trial set or if the final prosthetics can be made.

Elaine Dodge-Lynch, who lost all of her toes and most of her fingers to a streptococcal infection, says new prosthetics will give her more mobility. (GoFundMe)

The amount of detail and sheer work — Lynch calls it "art" — that goes into the prosthetics is amazing, she said.

"I'm going to have acrylic nails, and I had to pick the shape, the size, the colour, everything," she said. "They will match the colour to my knuckles, my hands, my palm, my veins, the whole works."

The prosthetics will be made of silicone — the trial devices are a mixture of silcone and putty — that can last anywhere from three to 10 years depending on how they're taken care of.

Dodge-Lynch said even just the trial devices have improved her mood.

"I'm getting around a bit better," she said. "I can't say I'm running now or anything, but I can go with the children a bit better, I can play a bit better... I have that much more stability. It's much better."

I joke about it when I have to. What else are you gonna do? I'm not going to sit here and cry about it.- Elaine Dodge-Lynch

It's also been a challenge to explain the prosthetics to her young children, said Dodge-Lynch. Her daughter keeps asking if she'll get "real" hands. But she's also happy that she'll be able to enjoy a lot of the same activities she loves with her mother.

"My four-year-old, she says, 'Hey, Mommy, can we paint your nails?' and I can actually say yes, we will paint them," she said. "She's always asking. She's even tried to paint my fingers as they are, and they don't have nails. She would love to do that."

Positive outlook helps

Dodge-Lynch's husband Lloyd Lynch said Elaine has been doing well — and it's important to have a positive outlook.

"Some people have it a lot worse, and that's the way we look at it," he said. "No matter how bad you got it, someone's always got it worse. That's our motto for now."

Dodge-Lynch said her sense of humour has helped her deal with losing her fingers and toes.

"I joke about it when I have to. What else are you gonna do? I'm not going to sit here and cry about it."

With files from Amy Joy