A personal trainer who had to have both legs amputated after a horrific snowboarding accident says cruel trolls have accused of having her limbs surgically removed just to gain ‘notoriety’ after she reinvented herself as a model.
Lexie Bader, 24, from Colorado, used to love doing a range of outdoor sports such as, snowboarding, rock climbing, scuba diving and hiking. Snowboarding was one of her favorite sports, which she started in 2013.
However, in 2013, she was on a snowboarding trip at Eldora ski resort with her friend, Ira, 24. Although everything was going well at first, the day took a dramatic turn when Lexie slipped and started sliding down a mountain.
Within moments, she crashed into a tree where she shattered her foot and her helmet and was left in a pool of blood. Ira ran to get help and returned an hour later when Lexie was rushed to hospital, where she had to undergo more than 20 different surgeries on her feet and legs.
Overcoming obstacles: Fitness trainer Lexie Bader, 24, from Colorado, had to have both of her legs amputated after a horrific snowboarding accident left her in agony
Fighter: The model underwent more than 20 surgeries on her legs in 2013, after she slipped on a mountain and crashed into a tree, however the procedures left her with chronic pain
New normal: Lexie, seen with her prosthetic legs, had her left leg amputated in June 2019, more than five years after her snowboarding accident
Moving on: Although the prospect of living with a prosthetic leg was terrifying for Lexie, she had hope that the procedure would finally allow her to live without her chronic pain condition
Initially, doctors tried to correct the positioning of her bones with surgery, which was unsuccessful, forcing Lexie to undergo 20 more procedures on her left leg, and 10 more operations on her right leg.
These included having her tendons and ligaments cut out in an attempt to straighten her toes and give her mobility once again.
However, in 2018, doctors discovered that Lexie had developed a rare nerve disorder called chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) – a rare condition where sufferers experience debilitating pain, usually after an injury – which they believed was due to issues caused during her first surgery in 2013.
Lexie was in constant severe pain throughout her body and she also experienced symptoms such as purple feet and legs and burning pain throughout her feet which felt like they were going to break. After each surgery the CRPS got much worse and eventually, she was unable to have any other surgery due to this.
‘I had always enjoyed snowboarding as it was one of my favorite sports alongside mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing,’ said Lexie.
‘I started snowboarding in 2013, which was when I took my first snowboarding trip with my friend, Ira, to Eldora ski resort in Colorado.
‘We were enjoying ourselves and getting to grips with snowboarding in between the trees until we came across double black, slick ice where the weather had turned very windy.
‘Ira set off first to head back to the trees and I followed – but he soon slipped down the mountain and I was scared that I was going to slip and injure myself too.
‘Despite taking it slow, I slipped so quickly that I crashed straight into the trees, where I shattered my foot and helmet and was left sitting in a pool of blood.
‘I was terrified and in complete shock and just an hour after Ira went to get help, I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
‘Once there, I had numerous screws and hardware put in place across my foot that were used to help correct the positions of my bones, but as I was in so much pain, I had to have a further 20 surgeries on my left leg where they cut out ligaments and tendons with the aim of giving me better mobility.
Trigger: Lexie’s battle began in 2013, when she suffered a horrific snowboarding accident
Upset: Following her first amputation, Lexie began getting to grips with her prosthetic – but in March 2020, she began suffering chronic pain symptoms in her right leg, too
Painful: Once again, she was left unable to walk, drive or do any sports and it even hurt to sleep. Doctors then advised that the best treatment was to amputate Lexie’s second leg
Struggle: ‘I was happy and content, until I started to notice a severe pain in my right leg in March 2020,’ she recalled
‘However, I was left in constant pain and each time I had surgery, nothing ever healed. In 2013, I noticed that my foot and leg were turning purple and as well as the chronic pain each day, my toenails had stopped growing and I felt like my foot was going to break.’
Due to Lexie’s CRPS, she was unable to have anymore surgery, as her condition kept getting worse each time she went through a procedure.
Lexie was left unable to walk, work or do any sport and was bed bound until June 2019, when doctors suggested amputating her left leg below the knee, so that she could get back to some normality and stop suffering with so much pain.
Although she was absolutely terrified, she knew that this procedure had to be done in order to start living life normally again. After eight months, Lexie was able to go snowboarding again, and she even began modeling in photoshoots with her prosthetic leg proudly on show.
‘After five years, I visited the doctors about my symptoms where they diagnosed me with chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) which explained why nothing was healing and why I was constantly in so much pain,’ she explained.
‘CRPS started to impact my day to day life as I was unable to walk, work, do any sport and anything in general for that matter – I was just left to lie in bed,’ said Lexie.
‘In June 2019, the pain and mental implications became too much and my surgeon decided that the best course of action was to amputate my left leg below the knee, to try and restore some normality to my life.
‘I was absolutely terrified, but I knew it had to be done so that I could start my life without pain and surgery again.
‘After eight hours, I was officially an amputee and although I was scared about what was to come, I was glad that I was finally able to live life freely like I used to.
Agony: Lexie says her condition – chronic regional pain syndrome – made her feel like a knife was being stabbed into her foot, and it made all of her toes curl and warp (right)
Heartache: The agonizing struggle left Lexie (pictured before her amputations) feeling depressed and alone
Fighter: Lexie consulted her surgeon in January 2021, and they advised that the best course of action was to amputate her right leg just below the knee – much to her devastation
‘After eight months, I went snowboarding at Eldora ski resort once again for the first time since my accident, which felt amazing as I finally thought I was getting my life back.
‘I also appeared in three fashion shows ten months later, which I was ecstatic about as I had been modelling since the age of 15 and it was something I used to love doing.’
But just as Lexie thought life was getting back to normal, she noticed severe pain travelling through her right leg in March 2020. She constantly felt like a knife was being stuck in her leg and when she walked, her toes would wrap under her foot which caused her even more pain.
Once again, she was left unable to walk, drive or do any sports and it even hurt to sleep.
As there was no guarantee that the CRPS wouldn’t travel to Lexie’s leg that had already been amputated, medics sought out other alternatives such as weekly pain relieving injections in her spine and five different types of pain relieving medication.
She was on five different medications where she would take 15 pills a day to help dull the pain, but even this stopped working.
‘I was happy and content, until I started to notice a severe pain in my right leg in March 2020,’ she recalled.
‘The pain this time was like a burning sensation, as if a knife was being stuck into my feet. My toes used to wrap under my foot as well, which used to cause really bad pain as they were constantly bent,’ said Lexie.
Lexie began feeling depressed and alone in her journey, even though her friends and family were right by her side. She remembers becoming a shell of herself and losing her drive for life, which was when she realized her current routine was no longer working.
Looking ahead: After her first amputation, Lexie quickly began getting to grips with life as an amputee – and she soon returned to an active, adventurous lifestyle
Work it: She even posed for several professional photoshoots in which she proudly put her prosthetic leg on display
Passion: ‘I also appeared in three fashion shows ten months later, which I was ecstatic about as I had been modelling since the age of 15 and it was something I used to love doing,’ she said
She visited her doctor and surgeon in January 2021, where they decided that the best course of action would be to amputate her right leg below the knee, which isn’t what Lexie wanted to hear. However, she knew that this would be the end of the crippling pain and would mean that she could start living life normally again.
‘Once again, I was unable to walk, work or drive and if this wasn’t bad enough, it even hurt to sleep. I became a shell of a person with no motivation or drive for life and the emotional challenges were taking a serious toll on my life,’ she said.
‘I began feeling completely alone in my journey and I didn’t know how much longer I could carry on. Although I was on so much medication, nothing worked to the extent that it needed to, which was when I decided to visit my surgeon.’
‘In January 2021, I consulted my surgeon about the symptoms I was experiencing where they decided that the best course of action would be to amputate my right leg below the knee.
‘This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear, as being a double amputee would change my life completely – but in order to run, hike and snowboard again, this is exactly what needed to happen.
‘Although I was more upset this time round rather than terrified, I was confident that this would be the last surgery I would need to have for the rest of my life.
Just three months later, Lexie is already up and walking and she’s just ordered her first pair of running blades.
‘Now, after three months, I’m already walking again and I’ve just ordered my first pair of running blades, which I’m ecstatic about,’ Lexie shared.
‘My amputations have changed my life for the better and especially as I no longer need to have any other surgery or treatments, I can start living my life pain free.
Support: Lexie (pictured with her mom) admits that she was nervous about the prospect of being a double amputee, but the support from her family and friends has been incredible
Under fire: Although Lexie always tries to stay positive, she has faced some cruel criticism from trolls
Support: Now, she is trying to raise money on her GoFundMe page to get a new runway foot which will cost $500 so that she can continue her modelling career
‘I will partake in all the sports I love once again, as I am determined to not let this accident and its implications affect the way I live my life.
Despite staying positive throughout her ordeal, she has had some hurtful comments from people online who have said comments such as, ‘You just wanted these amputations for notoriety’, which have belittled her journey but she believes that they are just jealous of the amount of attention she has received.
‘Although I do try to stay positive, as I know that I will get through all the tough times, there have been some hurtful comments from people online who have belittled me and also called me a liar by saying, “You just wanted an amputation for notoriety,” which is ridiculous, as I don’t know anyone who would want to be an amputee,’ Lexie said.
‘My friends and family have been there for me more than I could have ever asked for. They have supported me through everything, even though it has deeply saddened them.
‘They help me with every milestone and always push me to do better – I’m so grateful for them.’
Now, she is trying to raise money on her GoFundMe page to get a new runway foot which will cost $500 so that she can continue her modelling career which she started at 15-years-old, as well as a swimming foot which costs $2,000 and a wheelchair costing $3,000.
‘I’m now trying to fundraise on GoFundMe for a new runway foot, high compact foot, swimming foot, running blades and a wheelchair which will cost around twenty-nine-thousand-pounds in total, but will help me get my life back on track.
‘Life is hard – it throws things at you and sometimes you just want to give up. But don’t give up, fight for what you want and need in your life and you won’t just help yourself, but so many other people who are just like you.’