A former cheerleader who lost both of her legs is now learning to run with prosthetic limbs.
Nicole Grehn, 27, nearly died when she went into cardiac arrest at a gas station in 2015 and was only kept alive after doctors re-started her heart — 78 times.
She didn’t know that she was suffering the symptoms of an inherited gene mutation, Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), which had gone undetected for 25 years.
Doctors had to cut open her legs to release swelling, but when she went into septic shock, they had no choice but to amputate them.
Grehn was devastated when she found she had lost her legs.
"I instantly thought that everything I had worked so hard for over my life was over. It was like I was being punished for anything I had ever done wrong,” Grehn said. "It felt like someone had cut a hole in the bed, my legs were dangling down and one person was trying to rip them off while someone else was throwing bricks on me. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
Grehn said she went through a serious rough patch in life. She hated being in a wheelchair and felt like a prisoner in her own body.
But when she began her journey with her prosthetics, everything changed.
"I decided I was going to work my butt off and I did. I was determined to go back to work and school,” Grehn said. "That's when I realized, this is where I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to be in the medical field helping other amputees.”
Two years after the ordeal, Grehn is rebuilding her life and has dedicated her life to helping fellow amputees. She has also re-learned how to walk.
The experience even prompted her to pursue a career as a physician assistant to help support others who have lost limbs.
Grehn now works with the Hangar Clinic, a facility that provides prosthetic care, and as a mentor at Camp No Limits, supporting children with limb loss.
Grehn said she wouldn’t want her legs back now.
"I have really never been this happy in my entire life," she said. "I didn't really value the things the way I do now. I'm going to be able to help other amputees for the rest of my life, which is incredible."