TEXHOMA, Okla. - Denise Dickerson is the spark plug of her aerobics class. It’s remarkable, really, considering her body has more screws than an erector set.
“I’m the bionic woman, pretty much, I'm loaded with hardware," said Dickerson.
And, she has only one leg.
"You have to find blessings, even in the little things and keep going," she told News 4.
Every doctor will tell you, Dickerson shouldn't even be here.
"It's amazing. There is a higher power at work here," said Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Toby Risko.
It was a brutally cold night in the Oklahoma panhandle. Dickerson was driving home when she spotted a car, trapped in a ditch.
She rescued a family of six and was about to climb back into her car when another vehicle hit a patch of ice.
"They were going too fast for conditions and lost control and hit my car somewhere between 55 and 60 mph, with me in between them," Dickerson said.
The collision was bone crushing.
“I broke every bone below my waist except my femur. The bones in my lower legs looked like saw dust,” said Dickerson.
The mother of two had lost 90% of her blood. And, the nearest trauma center was hundreds of miles away.
Dr. Risko told News 4, “When she arrived in Amarillo, she was as close to death as you can get. She coded in transport but for some reason, just kept living. There was something keeping her here."
According to the medical reports, Dickerson was in "extremely critical condition," went into "respiratory failure" and "required extensive resuscitation."
"At one point, I was clinically dead. The report says the doctor had to revive me in the trauma room, and that's where the story gets interesting," she said.
Two years and seven weeks earlier, there was another accident. Her 15-year-old son, Kody, was on an ill-advised joy ride with friends.
"My son was killed in a car accident. You can't explain the pain," Dickerson said.
Kody was a sweet, comical teen with a huge heart for family, friends and animals. He had just earned his corduroy FFA jacket, but never got to wear it.
"Kyle said, 'Mom, bury him in mine.' As a mother, it's so hard to not know your child is okay," said Dickerson.
And, Denise claims confirmation came when she flat-lined.
“I saw a gold chair off to the right. Big round light in it. I can't describe anything in the chair, just the big light. And Kody came walking up," she said.
He was wearing gym shorts and his favorite Texoma t-shirt.
According to Dickerson, “In heaven, he's wearing that t-shirt. That's what he came walking up in just grinning from ear to ear, glowing like I've never seen. He said 'Mom, I love it here and I'm so happy.'"
Dickerson came out of a 12-day coma with a new purpose.
She spends her free time encouraging other amputees and parents who have also lost a child.
She is also an ambassador for the Oklahoma Blood Institute. One of her many blood drives was for a large group of teens.
"That's the last thing I saw him in was that FFA jacket. About 6 to 8 months ago, OBI called and said we need to have you work the FFA convention. 2,000 kids in FFA jackets," said Dickerson.
Her story has inspired hundreds of others to give the gift of life.
“He would be so proud. We had kid after kid in these jackets, first time blood donors who will be lifetime donors and I thought, that's why. Here he is. He's working again," said Dickerson.
She had Kody's signature tattooed on her leg before her accident.
Somehow, it was untouched in the crash and after more than a dozen of surgeries, it is her reminder -- no matter how painful the journey may be -- always move forward with gratitude and kindness.
"I just want to share God's love. I mean, I feel like that's why I'm here," she said.