A four-time amputated mother of two has revealed how she fulfilled her lifelong dreams, despite being plagued by meningitis and sepsis.
34-year-old Erica Tambrini from Indiana had both legs below the knee and both arms amputated below the elbow after contracting the two deadly diseases.
The occupational therapist feared that she might never find love or become a mother after her appearance had drastically changed.
But now the proud mom has opened up life with her loving husband Luke, 35, and their two children, Lily, five, and Michael, three.
34-year-old Erica Tambrini (pictured with husband Luke), from Indiana, had both legs below the knee and both arms amputated below the elbow after contracting meningitis and sepsis
Erica with husband Luke, 35, daughter Lily, now five, and their dog. She revealed how her ‘greatest achievement was and still is a mother’
Erica was diagnosed with meningitis in 2005 and said ‘initially they amputated my right leg below the knee and my left foot partially’
Erica said, “Before I met Luke, I was afraid I would never find love because I was extremely self-conscious and low in self-esteem.
“We met the year after the amputation and he was not impressed.
She added, “I had a hard time adjusting to my new look and I always tried to cover my prostheses, but now I have fully embraced them and if I want to wear shorts I will.”
Erica revealed how her ‘greatest achievement’ yet becomes a mother, despite previous fears of carrying a child.
She said: “My greatest achievement was and still is to become a mother – at first I was scared and didn’t know if I could wear them physically after my battle with meningitis.
“It was a lot of learning and problem solving when Lily was a newborn and I have to give Luke the credit for changing every diaper for the first month of Lily’s life as I mastered how to dress her up in the car and everything else as soon as possible.
Erica with her two children named Lily, five, and Michael, three (left). Erica said, “It took a lot of learning and troubleshooting when Lily was a newborn.”
Erica explained how her ‘main focus’ was independence after she ‘desperately wanted to get out of the hospital bed’
Erica plays with her daughter Lily (left). The couple with their firstborn Lily (right)
“But once I overcame my fears, I wasn’t concerned about the second pregnancy.
“I’m also proud to still be able to work and my job is so incredible – I meet and help many different people.”
Erica was diagnosed with meningitis in 2005 while studying to become a math teacher at university.
After taking a year to recover, she switched and found a course that “fit perfectly” giving her a “happy” career as an occupational therapist.
She said, “I remember the day I got sick like it was yesterday, I woke up Tuesday morning – I wasn’t feeling well and getting worse.
“I was taken to the ER and they confirmed meningitis. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was bad.
“I was put in a medically induced coma for seven weeks.
Erica explained that she didn’t want her family to suffer anymore, so she started fighting to get back on her feet
The mother of two with daughter Lily, now five, husband Luke. Erica said, “It’s hard to know that I can never run through the park with my kids.”
“When I woke up, my hands and feet were all wrapped up, but they were black because I had sepsis.
Erica said of her amputations, “I was not in denial, so I knew I needed multiple amputations – first they amputated my right leg below the knee and my left foot partially.
“I had another surgery to remove both arms and then another surgery to amputate my left side, because the doctor said it wouldn’t heal well after nine months of a wound evacuation that was unbearable.
“The pain was so bad that I agreed to have it amputated, but I am grateful that they have both mastered it, which is useful for me to function.”
Erica explained how her “main focus” was independence after “desperately wanting to get out of the hospital bed.”
“I didn’t want my family to suffer anymore, so I started fighting to get back on my feet,” she said.
“It was difficult to come to terms with everything, but I have accepted who I am and I will not be put down by it.
Erica told them how, through her disability, she met many ‘incredible’ people she had never met before meningitis
Erica painted with her loving husband Luke (left). Speaking of her amputations, Erica said, “I was not in denial, so I knew I needed multiple amputations” (right)
Erica said, “I want other people to know, as time goes on it gets a lot easier.” The mother of two has continued to live a normal life and many people call her an ‘inspiration’
“It’s hard to know that I can never run through the park, braid my kids, or braid my daughters’ hair, but at least I’m here and I’m the best mom possible.”
Erica added, “I also work in mental health, so I can take my own advice during difficult times.
“An advantage of prostheses is that I can cycle for miles without leg pain or muscle cramps.”
The mother of two has continued to live a normal life and many people call her an ‘inspiration’.
And she revealed how her disability has allowed her to meet many ‘incredible’ people she would never have met before the meningitis.
She said, “The world of adaptive sports and athletes is surreal — something I may never have seen before I became disabled.
“I met so many wonderful people and heard many inspiring stories.
“I want others to know, as time goes on it gets a lot easier.”