Cindy Martinez is a former marine, loving wife, and the mother of two children. In May 2015, a small ache on her left side would turn into a literal “life over limb” battle that would end with both legs below the knee, her right arm above the elbow, and portions of all the fingers on her left hand being amputated.
The small pain on her left side was diagnosed as necrotizing fasciitis, a type of flesh-eating bacteria. It is unclear how she contracted the bacteria but the impact it had on her body is permanent. Doctors were able to successfully remove the bacteria from her back, but the rest of her body was plunged into septic shock.
Doctors were able to save her life by pumping her body full of medications that inevitably ravaged her arms and legs.
“My vessels were constricted, which didn’t allow blood flow to my extremities because the doctors wanted all the blood to go to my heart,” she told CNN. “They told my husband, it was life over limb.”
Martinez says she doesn’t remember much after being admitted to the hospital.
“When I woke up and the amputations were done, it’s a hard thing,” she said. “They’re gone, and they’re not coming back.”
It took almost three months and seven weeks of additional rehab for her to learn how to walk again.
“It’s almost like you’re a different person,” she said. “When your husband is at work, your kids are at school and you’re home by yourself, that can take a toll on you.”
This brave former Marine was able to find support through strength. CrossFit GOAT of Dacula, Georgia welcomed her with open arms. Amanda Greaver, founder of the gym, said that this was the first time she had ever trained someone with multiple amputations. Greaver told reporters that Martinez’ inner strength was apparent from the beginning, despite only being able to lift five pounds.
“It was a lot of trial and error, but Cindy has such a positive spirit,” she said. “She’s always up for anything I throw at her.”
Martinez says she can now squat up to 72 pounds and dead-lift 95 pounds, with the help of adaptive equipment. The intense workouts have strengthened both her mind and her body.
“Just a year prior, I was in a hospital bed,” she said. “Whatever challenge (you face), there is a positive in everything. … You just have to be willing to try something new and put yourself out there.”