By Kathy Walsh
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman from Castle Rock is slowly walking again after needing a wheelchair for almost a year. That’s how long it’s taken Amy Bellum to recover from a houseboat explosion on Lake Powell.
The mother of four boys credits her Colorado doctors for helping her get her life back. It’s been a long road, and Amy doubts she’ll ever be totally healed. But, she’s thankful for the medical care that’s gotten her this far.
“What I’m doing right now feels like I’m a marathon runner,” she told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh as Amy took baby steps down a hallway.
Amy uses a walker, still she’s come a long way from July 12, 2017.
“It was, you know, pretty shocking,” she said.
It was the Bellums’ annual Lake Powell trip. Twenty-five people were vacationing on a houseboat. A gas generator exploded.
“It’s constantly on my mind,” said Amy.
Amy’s friend, Kirsten Meyer, was killed. Amy was among four others who were badly injured.
“I had burns on my arms, I had burns on my legs and feet,” she said.
Amy’s left leg, near the knee, had 30 fractures. Her right ankle was shattered. At Swedish Medical Center, doctors put Amy back together with skin grafts.
“Ms. Bellum had significant burns to her leg that required multiple stages of reconstruction,” Dr. Benson Pulikkottil, Medical Director of the Burn and Reconstructive Center at Swedish said in a statement. “She was the ideal patient in that she was compliant with therapy and motivated to walk.”
Amy’s legs were repaired with plates and screws, but her knee was still unstable.
“It’s as if somebody opened the knee and dropped a hand grenade in there,” said Dr. Mark Tuttle, Orthopedic Surgeon with Ortho One at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center.
In June, Tuttle gave Amy a total knee replacement.
“It’s given her a joint that she can stand on,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be obviously back to where I was,” Amy said through tears.
But she keeps trying. An upcoming ankle replacement will be her 15th surgery. She is grateful to all of her doctors.
“They never gave up to try to give me my life back,” said an emotional Amy.
While Amy thanks her doctors, Tuttle calls Amy physically and mentally tough. He says she had a devastating injury that most people would not survive. He calls her an inspiration.