Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Otto Bock Photo Shoot

Well, had to postpone the work hardening program a week. I'll be starting on Monday. The reason for the delay is that I'm getting my new ComfortFlex socket on Monday morning and will be starting the exercise program at 2 pm on Monday. I'm really excited for both, I cant wait to get back into shape. This week has shown me how much endurance and stamina I have lost over the past year. I've been making an effort to walk more, not using the motorized carts in stores, walking around my house and neighborhood. I break a sweat after just about 5 minutes of walking, while I've always been one to sweat at the drop of a hat, I can peel an orange and start sweating LOL.

I got some very exciting news a few days ago. I've been selected with 2 others from my prosthetic company to represent Otto Bock in a Public Safety photoshoot. In our prosthetic company we have a Police Officer who is an above knee amputee, a Fire Fighter who is a bilateral below knee amputee, and my self representing EMS. I have high hopes that this ad campaign will bring attention to those of us working in public safety, no matter the agency or department, and show that an amputation isn't a career ending disability, but just a hurdle to be overcome. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most trying times in my life, but I wouldn't trade this experience. I have gained a new respect for those who have came before me and hope to be an inspiration to those who will face these trials in the future. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Work Hardening!!! Let's Get Pumped!!!!

I'm excited!!! I met my new physical therapist today. He's an above knee amputee, former military, and has committed to getting me walking without a limp. Our goal is to not only focus on strength of the effected leg but whole body strength. He has said if I stick to the program not only will I succeed on getting off of the cane, but I can lose my weight I need to lose. This process is called "Work Hardening."  The goal is to teach me to adapt my work life around my amputation. To learn to carry weight up and down stairs, lift a stretcher with weight, move quickly and with purpose. To learn to adapt to working with no superfluous movement. He has warned me that working scenes in acclimate weather will pose a new set of problems, since I don't have muscle control of my lower leg and foot to help keep my balance. "You're gonna fall. I'm going to teach you how to fall. During the winter I always shovel my driveway, I probably fall 6 or 7 times, but I get up and keep going" I loved this statement. This is a wonderful summary of how I feel about returning to work and productive society. I'm going to fall, but I'm never going to fail, I might find thousands of way that don't work, but I'll eventually find my method of doing things.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Update on the past 2 months

Things are slowing down here. Not had much to report, therefore, not much to write. I contemplated forcing myself to sit down and write every night, I've decided that I have set a standard for myself and my writings that I want to uphold. I have had new sockets made, this should be my last socket before the "Comfort Flex Socket." Google it, it's the latest design and should allow me more comfort and maneuverability than I have with the current hard carbon fiber socket. To say that I'm excited about this would be an understatement.

Last month, April, was Amputee Awareness month. In today's climate, the chances that you know or will know somebody with an amputation is climbing rapidly. We have more and more soldiers returning home with battlefield injuries and medical science is allowing more people to survive the most grizzly of traumas and thanks to the work of those in the prosthetic field, we have a life beyond wheelchairs and crutches.

I have finally found a gym and can start focusing on getting back into fighting shape...just have to wait on that socket to get here. I got the ok to start doing leg presses and squats for my lower body, as well as cardio and endurance training. Gotta get ready to move on...and with that I have applied for Car 3 at my service (I made it to the 2nd round of interviews, but wasn't picked for the final 3), as well as the QA position at the service. Although, I am very excited at any and all of these possibilities, today while driving back from dropping off my soon to be step son, I saw a helicopter hovering above the highway. I still have my dream of being a flight medic, and I'm not sure that I'm done with that dream. I just have to get down to flight weight, it's going to be a fight, but I think I'm up for it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scene Safety for the EMT and Amputee

It's been a few days since I've last posted. Not much to report around the Prosthetic Medic HQ these past few weeks. I'm working on getting on two feet and off of the cane for good. I'm trying not to get discouraged as the progress slows down. I'm still making progress at least, no backwards steps, now the challenge lies in endurance and stamina, as well as getting the socket fit to the right point where it supports me but doesn't hurt me. That has been the biggest challenge over the past few weeks. It's a razors edge to get to the point where it's comfortable and supporting and where it's too tight or too loose to function properly. In the next week or so I'll be moving from the hard rigid socket to a flexible socket with a rigid frame...I'll post a picture if I can find one similar to what I'm talking about. Today in Louisville we had a multiple death/casualty shooting. As responders were working on the first scene a shooting erupted and another soul was lost. This got me thinking about how unsure/unsafe our jobs can be. We go out on each call, never knowing what lies behind the door or what exactly we are walking into. This is the randomness of EMS that brings most people into it and in the end can be the death of us. We try our best to control the scene, to never go in unless you know the scene is safe, That's easy to do when scene control is possible, or when you are sure what you're going into...more often than not this is never the case. We have to constantly be aware of everything that's going on around us and it's this attention to details that can mean the difference between life and death for not only your patient, but for you and your partner as well.

This applies to the amputee community as well. Attention to detail is vital for success. We have to be ever vigilant about the obstacles ahead of us while walking. It's the difference between noticing that raise in the sidewalk five feet ahead of you and tripping over that raise in the sidewalk that came out of nowhere. I have learned in my limited time as an amputee that attention to detail is a necessity and skill set that will benefit me as I learn how to full integrate and adapt to my new life. I have a routine now, when donning the leg I go through the same mental checklist, paying specific attention to each feeling in the stump and noticing any changes that may signify an issue. For instance, today I got my new socket, it's smaller and a tighter fit in many areas, but I have noticed that there are some problem areas that need to be addressed before this socket is the perfect fit where it full meshes with me to become my leg and not a piece of carbon fiber I wear over my leg. These small details are the difference of being able to walk and being stuck without a leg to stand on if you don't mind the pun. The oddest thing I have noticed is the similarities between the EMS world and the Amputee world, both are made up of a group of strong minded individuals who rally when one of our own needs us. This is one of my favorite things about having a strong community behind us, in a word support.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the important women in my life. Kate, Mom, Stephanie, and Krystal. Not to forget all my friends and co-workers who fit into this category as well. Kate only asked me for one thing this year, "Please, don't get hurt or fall off of anything." Last year was the worst Mother's Day on my personal record. Although, I did get to get Kate a gift, I didn't get mom or any other of these incredible mothers anything, so I just want to say Happy Mother's Day to all of you, and thank you for being there for me and my family.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Am Not What Happened To Me!

Today I realized how far I have come. I have journeyed from the hospital bed to a freedom that I wasn't sure was possible again. I have made it half way up Everest, but still can't quite see the summit. Progress is being made, but there is a long way to go yet. I am realizing the capabilities of my prosthetic. It allows me movements that many take for granted, yet many in the amputee community are unable to do so. Simple movements like walking backwards, crossing legs over another, or simply standing with your legs crossed. I am currently working on core body strength, an admitted area of weakness. I am also, very admittedly, weary of this journey. Looking back on the past year I have realized that I have not taken a moment to reflect on the journey I have made. Most people who climb mountains only focus on the summit, not taking the time to look at what they have overcome. I, however must take a moment to look back on the journey I have gone through. The impacts that this life change has had on those around me. In the past year my dear fiance' has not only witnessed her new fiance' nearly die, but she has had to take on the roles of caregiver, mother, and also breadwinner. This is a stressful position to place anyone in, much less take on these roles without any warning. My mother, brother, and sister in law have had to endure my life changes, then deal with my brother finding out he had cancer. Luckily, both of us are on the mend. I am happy to report that he is cancer free and I am on the way to the summit.

Many people write about the stressors of life altering events and the effects they have on those who endure them. Fewer still acknowledge how painful this process is for the close relatives and friends it effects. It is well documented that traumatic events can change the way a person sees life and behaves, it also changes how these relationships work. It can often change the fundamentals of the basis of relationships. I am blessed that I have a strong woman by my side, a totally supportive family behind me, and Kate's family has stood strong by my side as well. Thanks to this blog I have gained the support of countless people from around the world that I may never meet, and still this journey can be lonely and crushing. I have decided that as of tonight I am done looking back. I have spent a year focusing on what happened to me, how I am lucky to be alive, how it's not fair, and wondering why, all while still determined to move forward. Now I realize, it is impossible to walk forward while looking behind you. So, I'm done with the past. This is my new future. As Carl Jung said "I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to be." I choose to be many things, Happy is at the top of the list. I am now thankful for this path, it has shown me how strong I am and the strength of those closest to me. I will walk forward and only pause for a moment to reflect on the difficulties of the path that lay behind me. Prior to the fall, I always said that you have two options, you can let what happened to you define you or, you can let what happened to you be a part of who you are, learn, adapt, and move on. I choose the later.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Broken and Bleeding No More

Here we year ago, at this very moment, I was lying broken and bleeding in a hospital bed, going in for a surgery that no-one could predict the outcome. One year ago today, the landscape of my life was forever changed. In this time I have had the opportunity to really look at where I am and where I am going. I have found out the power of a voice, the power of friendship, and the power of the love of an amazing woman, great friends, and the EMS world.

Today, I took the exam to attempt to become the 3rd in command at LMEMS. It's a long shot, what am I saying, this is a 4th quarter hail mary from my own goal line....It's a real long shot. So, just for tonight, I'm going to lie here and pretend that the past year didn't happen, I don't have a personal crusade, I am just going to enjoy the night with my wife to be and everyone Thank you for the last year.

Monday, May 7, 2012

One Year Anniversary

Tomorrow is a very big day here at Prosthetic Medic HQ. Tomorrow marks my one year anniversary since I fell off of that waterfall into an uncertain future, it also will be the day I am taking a test in the process of becoming Car 3 at LMEMS. I'm not sure I'll get it, I'm actually amazed that I would even get past the initial application. It's fitting that one year to the date I'm applying for a job that could change my future yet again. It's a bitter-sweet day. One year ago I had no idea for the year I was in for. In the last year I have nearly died from a 110ft drop, had several surgeries in an attempt to save my left leg, wore an external fixator for 2 months, used a cane and knee brace for several months, decided to have my leg amputated, started this blog, had the surgery, found a prosthetic I wanted, got it (changing how Humana does business in the process, I have you all to thank for that), started PT, took my first steps on March 5th, went from crutches to a cane, now I'm walking some without the cane and had my leave extended through august so I can return to LMEMS as the Prosthetic Medic. Wow, all of that coupled with the everyday stressors that come and go, makes for a very busy year. As I reflect on all this past year has included, I can't help but feel excited about the future. I'm not exactly sure what the future will hold, I am, however, very hopeful for what it will bring. I am going to attempt to return to work, I'm not sure that I can do this job, but I know I will continue to fight to get back to where I was prior to this accident, but I'm sure that I'm going to continue to fight for the rights of others in my position.

I have learned that sometimes you have to let go in order to move forward with life. Somethings you are very attached to, in my case both mentally and physically, can hold you back. The only way to get on with life and move to a better place is to let it go. Sure, there will be pain, somedays you'll wonder if you did the right thing, but in the long run I'm better off for the decisions I have made.'s to another year of living and learning, another year of learning how to adapt to my new life and look forward to what it has in store for me next.

Until next time.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Living in the Now

As I approach my one year anniversary of my catastrophic fall I've been waxing philosophical, more directly today I've been thinking about how the simplest of choices can have the largest impact. I always pictured life altering events as a huge catastrophe, epic and ground shaking. My life changed because of a simple slip of my feet. That's not what I expected, I expected lights from the heavens shining down and a booming voice telling me that now everything will be different. Instead, I slipped into the change. I literally fell into it. One moment you're walking, looking for a path and then you wake up broken and bleeding and have to make some hard decisions very quickly. It's as this point where training kicks in, you're not aware that your life has changed forever, it's one of those rare occasions where you are stuck in the moment. At this moment, there is no past, there is no future, there is only right now. It's not often we live life in the Now, we constantly think how we wish we could or wish we hadn't, or think about the next step. At that moment, there was nothing but training was there for me, I had only one train of thought, I have to survive!!! That's it...Survival was the only option. While I would never wish this experience on anyone I have to admit it was the most religious experience I have ever had. My mind was clearer than it has ever been. As I said, there was no past, there was no future, there was only here and now.

I chose the road I went down. I could have bowed out, kept my leg, spent my life at a desk. To me, that was much more of a sacrifice than my damaged leg, I could give up my leg or give up what makes me's an easy choice when you look at it that way. A leg is flesh and bone, happiness is much more abstract, Mark Twain once said the secret to a happy life is to make your vocation your vacation...I had achieved this for the most part as a paramedic. So, while the choice I made is difficult an I have a long uphill fight to go, I couldn't have lived with myself if I didn't try. So here I am, I've had my prosthetic for a little over a month, I've went from walker to cane to taking a few steps at a time on my own. I'm getting stronger daily and continue my fight. I'm about to start working out more and strengthening myself for the battles ahead, all while trying to take just a few minutes a day to live in the Now. Try it, it's life altering.