When you meet Weber, who lives in an assisted living facility in Arvada, Colorado, for the first time, you come to know almost immediately why she’s lived a long, happy, and healthy life, amputation and all.
The secret to her long life, Weber says is “good, clean living and good genes.” It also helps, she believes, to have been raised on the farm in Kansas where she grew up.
Weber sustained multiple fractures as a result of the car accident, and her physicians performed many surgeries trying to save her leg. However, her bones failed to heal, leaving Weber no choice but amputation. Amputate? At 96 years old? That was her family’s main concern: Could she really survive major surgery at nearly 100? To Ethel, however, amputation was the only option if she wanted to continue living the full life she had long ago grown accustomed to.
Following her amputation, she began her recovery process in a skilled nursing facility and eventually met her first prosthetist, Nick Uhler, CPO, at a Hanger Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He met with Weber and her daughter as they worked through protocols to help with her healing process and rehabilitation.
If you didn’t know Weber had an amputation, you would be hard pressed to tell. Though she walks with the aid of a walker, she moves just as fast and steady as someone half her age. A tall woman, she keeps her head high and says hello to just about everyone she passes in the hallway.
On this particular August day, Weber was heading from her room on the second floor to a day area on the first floor to participate in an exercise class, which she attends up to five times a week (not counting the exercises she says she does in her room.)
“I love exercising,” she says.
Weber’s current prosthetist is Michael Hartley, CPO. The pair have been working together at the Wheat Ridge clinic since 2020. Hartley says he is continually impressed with all things Ethel can still do as a centenarian. “She lifts everyone’s spirits [at the clinic],” Hartley says of Weber, who wears her prosthesis up to 12 hours a day and no has problem donning and doffing the device on her own. “She continues to inspire all of us to conquer the daily challenges of life that may stand in our way.”
The Wheat Ridge Hanger Clinic is hosting a patient appreciation day Friday, September 21, to honor Ethel Weber and all their patients.
Story and photographs by Betta Ferrendelli.