Love & Family

I’m a mum of seven and I have no limbs

Such a strong mum!

When mum-of-seven Tamara lost her limbs, love spurred her on.

Here, Tamara Impellizzeri, 42, tells the story in her own words.

Cooking was my passion and as I stirred my latest creation, chatter echoed all around the house.

As a mum of seven, life was constantly running at full speed, but once a week

I made sure we all had a family dinner together. My hubby John, 46, and I were so proud of our children, Jaiden, 19, Jackson, 17, Jaryd, 15, Jerrico, 14, Talia-Rae, 12, and our six-year-old twins, Jordan and Jace.

family photo
Jaiden holding Jordy, Jerrico, me, Talia-Rae John, Jaryd and Jackson holding Jace

And with life as busy as it could be, John and I didn’t even let being sick stop us from getting our kids wherever they needed to be.

But in May last year, I woke at 4.30am and knew something wasn’t right.

I could barely move and my head was thumping.

‘John, can you stay home from work today?’ I said. ‘Of course,’ he replied.

After the morning school run, John took me straight to the doctors.

My heart was beating so fast it felt like it was going to leap out of my chest.

The doctor diagnosed pneumonia and sent me home with antibiotics.

But a few hours later my heart was racing faster.

‘I feel like I’m being stabbed with a knife,’ I said in agony.

‘We’re going to the hospital now!’ John said helping me to the car.

There, as doctors surrounded me, I collapsed on the floor and my world turned dark.

Terrible nightmares coursed through my mind and I could feel my body burning. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. Eventually, my eyes slowly opened and I recognised the bright lights of a hospital ceiling.

‘You’re okay now,’ John soothed.

My mum, Roslyn-Rae, was also there, stroking my hair.

hans turned black
My hands turned black…
feet turned black
… So did my feet

‘Thank goodness,’ she whispered.

Trying to take everything in, I glanced down at my tube-covered body.

My eyes grew wide as I spotted my limbs. They were black! What happened? I thought, unable to speak.

‘We didn’t think you would make it,’ they told me.

Explaining that my lungs had collapsed and my kidney and liver were failing, they said I’d been in a coma for eight days.

Told I had a 10 per cent chance of surviving, my family were expecting to plan a funeral.

‘We’re so glad you’re here,’ Mum cried.

As medical staff poured in, they broke more news to me.

‘You have sepsis,’ I was told.

My body had gone into overdrive to fight the pneumonia and deadly sepsis had got into my blood stream and attacked my organs.

‘Not enough oxygen reached your arms and legs,’ a doc explained.

Jace, Jordy, Talia-Rae and me
Jace, Jordy, Talia-Rae and me

Now, I couldn’t move, and my elbows down to my fingers, and knees down to my toes, were dying and turning black. My body is being mummified! I thought.

Both our families rallied, getting the kids from school and helping in any way they could.

For two and a half months, I watched as my fingers slowly turned jet black.

As I tapped them together the sound of hollow wood echoed in my hospital room.

‘Tamara, we will need to amputate,’ a surgeon told me.

Swallowing my fate, I wasn’t surprised, I knew it had to be done. I didn’t even cry. Removing my limbs meant I got to be alive to see my kids grow up.

Soon after, I was wheeled off to surgery where one of my legs was amputated.

When I woke up, there were bandages where it had once been and I knew this was just the beginning.

During the following months, each limb was removed until all four were gone.

Through it all, I kept my sense of humour.

‘I think the man upstairs is saying I haven’t had enough challenges yet, “get off your bum!”’I giggled with my kids.

Every weekend we would clear out the hospital lunch room for my whole family to come and visit.

With them taking up every chair, I had a huge smile as my kids chatted away.

‘Mum, when you get mad at us, we’re going to hide your prosthetic legs so you can’t chase us,’ they teased.

‘Oh don’t worry, I’ll get you on my stumps!’ I joked.

I am so lucky to be able to watch my seven beautiful children grow, I thought.

Now, nine months on, I’m still in hospital. My days are filled with bandage replacements, I’m learning to walk with prosthetic legs and my prosthetic arms will be arriving soon.

‘Your gorgeous smile will help you win this war,’ my nurses tell me.

By my side every day, my amazing mum has helped me push through and I cannot thank the rest of our family enough for stepping up to help with my kids.

My incredible husband of 27 years has had my back and I will spend the rest of my life thanking him for standing by me.

They have even started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the house alterations so I can go home.

The prosthetic limbs mean I’ll be able to be the mum I always was.

For me, I don’t know what the words ‘give up’ mean.

I can’t wait to get back home and start the beginning of my next journey with my family. I only had a 10 per cent chance to live, yet here I am. Still fighting. 

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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