Artist Loses Hands And Feet, Not Talent

If there can be such a thing as a bright side to losing both your hands and feet, Becky Guinn has found it, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports in this week's Assignment America.

Becky is without a single finger left to wear her wedding ring. But the way she sees it, "most men only put the ring on once, David puts it on every morning."

"Her spirit has been unbelievable through this whole thing," her husband says.

It's especially unbelievable considering what she does for a living, and how she lost her limbs in the first place.

"This came so out of left field," Becky says.

Four years ago, this otherwise healthy, 59-year-old grandmother of four had a severe allergic reaction to a common blood-thinner called heparin.

"It clotted my blood rather than thinning my blood, and it filled the capillaries in my extremities. The effect was kind of like frostbite," Becky explains.

It was a blow that would have devastated most anyone — certainly any artist.

"When your wife is an artist; just the idea of losing your hands, it's tough," David says.

But amazingly, almost immediately after getting out of the hospital, Becky was able to use what arm she had left to sign her daughter's birthday card.

"That was a huge deal. It was kind of like a light coming on — like, OK, we're going to be able to do this," Becky says.

The second step was getting back to Valley High School in Valley, Ala., where Becky had been an art teacher. She showed up just six days after getting her prosthetics.

Later that year, when in English class the kids had to write a paper about their favorite hero, 60 percent picked Mrs. Guinn.

"Because she's so inspirational," one student says. "I got a lot of respect for her," another student adds. And another says "she's just a good all-around person."

"She's convinced that she needs to pour her life into these students," David says.

"I haven't studied this for 35 years to not share it," Becky adds.

Share it and do it. Today, four years after losing her hands, Becky has improved dramatically over that "Love, Mom" in the birthday card. She has been painting after the amputations. If anything, she may be better than ever.

"The work she's doing now, I just think it's the best she's ever done," David says.

  • Melissa McNamara

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