How A Physical Disability Turned Me Into A Gym Rat

By Monica Andrade

As a teenager, I never exercised unless my gym teacher forced me to during P.E. I

spent my days after school eating ice cream, playing the Sims 2 and watching

Lifetime movies with my mom. I tried out for the track team junior year only to end

up being the slowest one. But all of that changed going into my senior year of high


One day while shopping, I was wearing these massive black platform heels in

the dressing room when suddenly I tripped. To keep myself from falling, I slammed

my left foot on top of my right toe. A week later, my toenail was removed. A week

after that, I was diagnosed with the worst possible case (aside from amputation,

which a doctor actually suggested) for my situation: osteomyelitis, which is a bone


I’m not sure how it all happened, but my doctor believed bacteria entered my bone

because I no longer had a nail. Because of this, I had to be admitted into the hospital

and undergo surgery. While the surgeon extracted a piece of my bone to test what

kind of bacteria I had, the nurses inserted a PICC line into my arm that went into my

heart. The PICC line is kind of like an IV, but it’s used for long-term antibiotics, which

I needed to pump into my arm daily to get rid of the infection. After about two

months, I was finally cured. But because of my toe’s lack of mobility during it all, I

developed arthritis.

My senior year was probably the darkest time in my life. I constantly asked myself,

“Why me?” I pitied myself, believing I didn’t deserve any of it. My toe would never be

the same and all because of those stupid heels. But life works in mysterious ways. I

entered college, looking for a fresh start after spending the year prior to that in a

medical boot and crocs. I remember how clueless I was going into the gym for the

first time. After deliberating my surroundings for a while, I finally settled on using

the elliptical. I barely sweated, but I felt content with myself. During freshman year, I

went back a few times after that day, but nothing major happened until my parents

convinced me to take total body classes in the summer with them.

After that summer, something in my mind clicked. I stopped feeling sorry for myself

and started improving both physically and mentally. I realized the only thing that

could stop me was myself. Not only did exercising help me feel good about myself,

but also it helped my toe’s swelling go down. Now as a senior in college, I work out

at least four to five times a week. I love to participate in the group workout classes offered

and even got a job working at the gym. I rarely ever think negatively about my toe

now because I’m fortunate enough to even have one.

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