Today I got my first glimpse of my stump. This was a defining moment for me. This was the moment I will remember from this hospitalization, the first view of what's left of my leg. It was at this moment that I realized I have a new definition in life. We have many definitions that we go by; father, finace, son, paramedic, and now amputee. The question now becomes what do I do with this definition. Do I let it become who I am, take this definition and let it be the thing that defines me totally, or do I integrate it into the growing list of who I am. The titles that have made me the man I have become. I choose the second. We all know those people who isolate themselves to a single definition. They are identified by one defining moment in their lives. I think this is a sad way to live your life. I refuse to let this be my defining moment. Yes, this will be a huge part of who I am, how could it not be. Yet, if I focus in on the fact that I'm an amputee and ignore the many other titles I have then I have done a disservice to all the things I have been through in my life. I am going to proudly wear this new badge. I will stand on one leg and say that I am an amputee, but I am also a father to Bryson, a fiance' to Kate, a son to Cathy, a brother to Bryan, a Paramedic in Louisville, an optimist, and a humorist. These are all things that define the man that stands before you today.
Today, another definition was brought to my attention. I am dedicated. I am working hard to fight the odds and return to EMS. This is something that has been missing from EMS for a while. Don't get me wrong. We have many dedicated professionals working on our ambulances today. Yet all over the country we have a new crop of EMT's and Paramedics who have joined our profession because there are jobs here and the country is in a economic downturn. So, we have people who are viewing this as a jumping off point and instead of asking what can I do for those around me, the question has become what can you do for me? I find this disturbing, for a fledgling profession who is trying to find it's place between the world of modern medicine and the sometimes brutal world of public safety. These people who have the unique opportunity to take our careers to higher levels by applying the skills from many other careers and applying them to EMS. I have chosen to apply my dedication to EMS to proving that if you want it nothing can hold you back. I am Joe Riffe, the fiance, the son, the father, the brother, amputee and soon the Prosthetic Medic. Who are you?