Just two years after a blood infection nearly killed her and claimed all four of her limbs, Cheryl Douglass is back full force. She dances at her son's wedding, chops scallions for Thanksgiving dinner with her prosthetic hands and is writing a cookbook for amputees with a friend.
In 2008, things for the 64-year-old Washington, D.C. woman, profiled in The Washington Post on Tuesday, were not looking quite so buoyant. Douglass, then 62, was diagnosed with a rare strep infection that attacked her with a vengeance and left her on the brink of death. Ultimately, she survived, but there was a price: Her body had forsaken her limbs to protect her vital organs, so doctors were forced to amputate Douglass' arms and legs.
She and her husband, Paul, had just begun to enjoy their retirement and were making plans to travel the world together. Then their lives came to a screeching halt as Cheryl started the long process of learning to live with not one but four prosthetic limbs.
But she has rebounded beyond anyone's expectations, learning to jog and even play tennis on her new legs. She's also cooking again, albeit differently, cracking eggs open carefully between her prosthetic fingers. "Doing something like this that I used to do, it's a good feeling," she told the Post.
Douglass, a retired teacher, is also writing a cookbook designed for amputees with her friend, professional cooking instructor Vera Foresman.
Douglass has said that she is still looking forward to a long and busy retirement. "I don't think so much [about] what I used to be able to do, but what I'm going to do," she told The Gazette in Maryland. And this Thanksgiving, the Douglass family says there's plenty to be grateful for.
"We're just thankful that she's still here," her daughter Claire, 27, told the Post. "What she's been able to do so quickly is just incredible."