Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Looking toward the future...

I'm contemplating taking on a new challenge. I have a few options that I am considering, all of which are very hard paths to walk down...especially for a one legged man. I'm ready to push to a breaking point again. I'm just not sure if I should go for the physically demanding route or the mentally demanding route.

Option 1:
I'm giving serious thought to joining either the Army or the Air Force; more than likely in the reserves. It is common thought that the military will not accept an amputee. I had thought this as well...but I was wrong. It turns out, especially with the advances in prosthetic technology, that I could join. It would take a very motivated recruiter, but it is a possibility. This would require me to learn to use my prosthetic to the max of its ability. I'm well aware of the challenges that I would face. I'm well aware that the prospect of failure is very high, but I have always regretted that I didn't join the military when I was "able."

Option 2:
Flight Medic...this is much more attainable. This route only requires me to lose weight and find an open minded flight service that is willing to take a chance on a paramedic that also happens to be an amputee. I've proven myself over and over again in this field, as far as ground transport I have realized that I'm capable of doing my job at the same ability I had prior to my accident. Flight is the next natural progression in my career.

Option 3:
Attempting to move from "weekend" activist to full fledged Amputee Activism. I've been blessed to be able to enter into some small venues to fight for our rights. I've spoke to the Kentucky State House of Representatives, I've been awarded a scholarship to attend Stanford Medicine X and then invited to participate in a panel discussion during the first day of the conference. I'm thinking of looking for further opportunities to speak and get the story out. Use my story as a jumping off point to show that with the right technology and determination there are very few limitations that can stop us.

Anyway, with the conference looming (just 26 short days away) I have been looking out toward the future and where to go from here.


Monday, August 19, 2013

PTSD, Setbacks, and Inspirations

PTSD is an odd affliction. You are fine one minute, then something triggers a full blown panic attack, can't breathe, have that feeling of impending doom. That's how my Saturday started. I got up for work, got dressed, put my leg on and headed out. That's when I got a whiff of a familiar scent, I can't explain it. All I know is that it in a matter of moments I was transported back to the bottom of that waterfall. Water rushing around me, that same pain shooting through my ankle, well...where my ankle used to be. After that, the rest of the day is crushed. I spent the entire day trying to seem normal, pretend nothing is wrong, and move on; all the while I feel like I'm in a tailspin and falling apart at the seams.

Although I am normally verbose, it's hard for me to explain the feeling that I am crumbling. I just want to disappear. I know my version of PTSD cannot compare to that of some others, I just find an odd correlation to how the brain can adapt and overcome many things, but every so often, the neurotransmitters line up and POOF! you're transported back and relive every excruciating moment over.

I think this episode has been building for awhile now. I'm dealing with an allergic reaction on my stump due to the liner that I have to wear with the prosthetic. I'm forced to only wear the leg for a few hours a day, and as soon as I put it on I break out in hives and start itching. This isn't your normal "I got bit by a mosquito" type of itching, this is the "if I had a belt sander I'd take off the top few layers of my skin to make this go away" type of itching. It's a miserable feeling. I try not to get into these negative places, I try to remain upbeat about my situation and just be thankful that I am lucky enough to be alive, not only alive, but walking and talking. By all means, I should be dead or paralyzed. There is no scientific reason that I survived that fall. I feel that the reason I am here is to help others, to blaze a path so that anyone else who walks this path has fewer obstacles to endure. Before my accident, another started this path. His name is Kevin Trees. Kevin is a police officer, like I did, he also chose amputation after several failed attempts to save his leg. Unlike Kevin, I made this decision much sooner than he did, he was immobile for nearly 3 years prior to amputation. Kevin has given me some great advice. Most days, we wake up and are just thankful for that blessing, yet there are some days when I get up and loathe who I am. Not who I am as a person, but who I am as a physical being. I don't want to put this prosthetic on, I don't want to be an amputee anymore, I'm angry that I've been placed into this position. I can't get up and take care of my infant son at night because it's not safe for either of us. Those are the types of things that enrage me...yet when I step back and look objectively I can honestly say...I'm alive. I shouldn't be but I in order to have earned this blessing I have to pay it forward. I have to attempt to lay the groundwork so that if anyone else wants to follow in either of our footsteps has an easier path. Thank you Kevin, because of you I knew that returning to work was a possibility. I hope that I can only be a quarter of the inspiration to others that you have been to me...

That's all for tonight...I'll update more as Stanford Medicine X gets closer.

Oh before I forget...I'm hoping to get the funds together to pay for the flight, rental car, and food for the trip...I may be hosting a fund raising event in the near future if other routes do not come to fruition.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Honored and Scared

I'm a little more than a month away from my trip to San Francisco. The final preparations are being made, hopefully, if finances come through I'll be booking my flight in the coming days. I haven't flown since my senior year of high school, much less traversed the maze of the TSA with a computerized limb attached to my body. I have many friends who travel much more than I do who have told me it's nothing to worry about, but I'm nervous none the less. This will be the first trip I have taken away from my family, my first trip as an amputee, and I'm most nervous about speaking to all of these people who are these influential leaders of industry and other ePatients who have had much more impact than I have. I've spoken to hundreds of people throughout my time as an amputee. I've been blessed enough to speak to the Kentucky House of Representatives, I've meet with other people facing similar situations as mine, I've been lucky enough to be able to do all these things
and now to be chosen as not only an ePatient, but to be part of a Panel discussion to further bring light to the importance of technology for amputees (both in social media as an outlet and way to connect and learn, but also in the function of our limbs).

As a patient who is going to be dealing with the healthcare industry and insurance companies for the rest of my life, I have learned the importance of fighting for what you need in order to be as productive as you can be. I look forward to speaking with the other ePatients and bringing our story to light.

I'll update you all more as the days progress.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Speaking for Patient NeXt...

Now that it has been added to the official Medicine X website...I have some great news. I have been asked to speak during the Stanford Medicine X conference in September. I will be part of a Panel Discussion entitled Patient NeXt. You can find some information here

The goal of this panel discussion is to examine what it means to be an active patient in your own healthcare, with an emphasis on how technology and social media can enact change. Both of these aspects are very important to me, lets face it, social media is one of the only reasons I am back at work. Without the power of social media, I would not have this prosthetic I am wearing now. I would not have had the leverage to change the mind of an internationally recognized Insurance company. As for technology, the technology advancements in the prosthetic industry have allowed me to return to work, allowed me to be an active father in my children's lives. Without technology I would still be the sedentary lump I had become prior to the amputation... I will keep you updated and look for many updates from the floor of the Medicine X conference.