Friday, March 11, 2016

My first "AMP"uversery

When Dr. Mullis came in the exam room to deliver the news,it was halfway expected for us to learn that the only solution to cure me of the infection ravaging my body was to remove my left foot. I had been fighting MRSA for over 8 months. I would start to get it under control and it would bloom back out and each time it took a little more of me. I was sick all the time, I couldn't eat, had a horrible time sleeping and I was being a jerk to everyone around me. I was simply miserable. I was open for any solution.

Most of the people reading this blog regularly have been touched by amputation in some manner. Either they have an amputation or have a loved one that is either considering it, or recently has had one. I had been looking into what I needed to know about being an amputee for several weeks. It wasn't as hopeless as it sounds. I was scared by some of the statistics that I had read, about phantom pain, the inability to tolerate the prosthesis, or spiralling depression.I had a background in Physical Therapy (30 years ago) and had worked as a physical therapy assistant in the service. I was also a combat medic and had enough knowledge to know that the only way to be successful was to hang a positive face on it and get through it.

A year ago today, I was wheeled into the operating room under the care of Dr Mullis. He had been my wound care doctor and had preformed several surgical debriedments on me in the past. He is a well known and respected orthopedic surgeon. We had talked about the amputation and he told me that he would only take the leg up as far as he had to to get all of the infected tissue out. Originally he thought that he could take it about 2-3 inches above the ankle but once I was under he had to remove about 5 more inches. A full trans tibial a little higher than mid shaft and left me with a good residual limb. I was released on Friday, but consigned to a rehab hospital across the street. I was one of the youngest people in there. I was told it would only be for the weekend by the nurses at the main hospital, but he rehab hospital doctor had other ideas. He wanted to keep me for a few weeks. I pushed the program and kept after everyone until they finally kicked me out.

It has been a crazy year. Learning new things every day. Talking with others and learning the things I need to know to succeed. The best part about it is finding like minded people to whom I can connect. People that care about others and want to make sure that we all get a chance to experience the freedom that we deserve. People like Penny Chenowith @amputeemommy and Adrianne Haslet-Davis @adrianneHD ,  The wonderful people at Ability Dynamics, the Amputee Coalition and Amplitude Magazine, and so many others that I cannot name them all here. I have joined a community with 2 million brothers and sisters that share a commonality, we are different. I may not have chosen this life willingly but will always feel that I was meant to be here. I am strong and life is good. I am an amputee but that does not define who I have to be, rather it is a tool I can use to connect with others, to show people that having a handicap and being handicapped are not the same thing. The US Marine Corps has a principal that I believe every amputee has to hear and apply to their lives: "Adapt and Overcome"

I will adapt. I will overcome. Will you accompany me on this journey and help inspire people to be all they can be? I hope so.

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