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'I'm lucky': Hardin amputee shares experience with recovery

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Posted at 11:39 AM, Apr 18, 2024

BILLINGS — April is designated as Limb Loss Awareness Month and one Hardin woman is sharing her road to recovery after losing her lower right leg in March.

After 10 days at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana, Kae Roebling will return home on Thursday.

Roebling has always lived her life to the fullest.

“I like either riding my horse or taking care of my horse and my Harley,” Roebling said Wednesday at the rehabilitation facility.

The retired CNA never expected that an infected diabetic foot ulcer on her lower right leg would lead to its amputation.

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Kae Roebling

“When I went to the doctor they said, we’re going to have to go on and check it out and see. And I just told them that, if I have blood cancer, just cut it off. I need to have it cut off to be better," Roebling said tearfully.

It was important for Roebling to get better so that she could be with her five grandchildren.

"They're my prides and joys. They're my happiness," she said. 

With the help of her physical therapist, Chuck Vecchiarelli, she's set to go home.

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Kae Roebling and her family

“He just keeps egging me, and they get me going. I feel that’s what got me motivated,” said Roebling.

“Patients like Kae, just getting to see them to a point where someone can barely get out of bed to actually being able to flourish, go home, and be with their family, their spouse, and do awesome,” Vecchiarelli said.

Vecchiarelli said Roebling's next step is to be fitted for a prosthetic.

“It’ll depend on some medical things and how she does, where the limb is prepared to accept prostheses but that would be the next step. And obviously working on not hopping, but walking,” he said.

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RHOM physical therapist Chuck Vecchiarelli

Roebling said she has many plans for when she gets her prosthetic. She's keen on getting it tattooed after one of her previous tattoos was cut off in the amputation.

"I'm going to try to get it to as close as I had 'cuz it was one of my better tattoos. But I'm going to get another one," Roebling said.

She's decided she's going to be more adventurous when she's back on two feet.

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Kae Roebling and her husband.

“My husband’s got a fishing boat finally that he wanted, saved up and got his boat and truck. And I think I’m going to go fishing with him,” said Roebling.

It's her way to say thanks for his incredible support throughout this life-changing process.

“It’s kind of like me and my husband have fallen in love again. Because I never realized how much he loved me, until I was in this place and that he really cares about me. It’s hard, but it’s wonderful. You know, I'm lucky," Roebling tearfully added.