Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Small Setback...Big Implication

Beyond frustrated tonight. I had a small setback that has had big mental implications on me. My prosthetic socket, the part that keeps my knee attached to my leg, is a little too big. Normally, this isn't a big deal, but with the change in the weather today my stump has shrank more than normal. This lead to my leg "bottoming out" inside the socket. Allow me to paint a picture for you, when my leg was amputated they removed 10cm of femur, the remaining muscle was then wrapped over the end of the bone and sutured together. When my leg bottoms out in the socket my weight is pressing the remnant of my femur into that muscle. Bone pain is some of the worst pain I have experienced. It's just a deep, almost toothache type pain, that is just deep inside. It's sickening, literally. So, I tried to suck it up and continue to work today, but when it got to the point that I was getting nauseated by walking, it was time to throw in the towel. My prosthetic office has already started on making a smaller socket for me, should be ready in the coming days, but this was a reality check. This was a very unwelcome reminder that despite all my efforts, I am different than how I used to be. I loathe admitting any weakness, much less one that I'm already being judged for.

I'm hoping that these instances are few and far between, but they are a part of life now. I'm lucky enough to have a very supportive system at home, and have someone who knows when I need support and to vent, and when I need a great kick in the butt to move on.

On a good note, aside from today's setback, things are going well. I've noticed that I'm still having problems with carrying patients down stairs, but that will come with more time and strength.

Until Next Time...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What might have been

Last shift I was given a glimpse of what may have been. I met a man who is a recent amputee, he was very anxious and scared about what may become of him. He had his leg amputated and was given no further instructions about what is to come in the future. He was very pleased to see an amputee providing care to him. A visual representation that despite losing a leg, you don't have to limit yourself or lose who you are. All he wanted to be able to do is get back on his bicycle and ride again. I was able to give him the name of several prosthetic offices around town and instructed him to call around and find the office that will work best for him. He asked which office I used and of course I gave him the name of Kentucky Prosthetics and a very warm recommendation.

This is when it hit me. How many people out there could return to a functional lifestyle if only given the chance to get the prosthetic they need. After dealing with Humana, and reading up on the numbers of patients who are thrown into this life without given instruction on their options for how to return to their lives. I want to become an advocate for these people. A voice for the voiceless. If you are reading this, and you know of any new, or old, amputees who need help getting the equipment they need please forward them to me or to the Amputee Coalition.

Until next time. I'll be back with more news from the ambulance and lessons learned in getting back into the swing.

Prosthetic Medic

Monday, November 19, 2012

Learning to Fail

As promised I'm back with lessons learned in my effort to adjust to life back in the ambulance. Last night I learned how much pressure I have placed on myself to succeed at this. I feel like I am setting an example for the EMS field in this area. I'm not claiming to be some great trailblazer by any means, but I feel like I'm being watched closely. That brings me to lasts night hard learned lesson, learning to fail.

Yesterday was a busy day, not one of those days where you can't catch your breath, but just steady enough to make the hours pass quickly. Most of our patients were actually very sick. I can't go into details about conditions, but it was a very ALS day none the less. My last patient for the night was critical, my first chance to really practice my skills on my own. It's fitting that the first day back in the ambulance on my own, I would be greeted by a patient that truly needed my help. As we loaded the patient onto the stretcher and made our way back to the ambulance everything was going fine. After loading the patient into the back I stepped up onto the back step, as I have learned to do, by locking out the prosthetic knee and stepping up with my sound side. This time as I went to step, I got ahead of myself and hadn't fully locked out the prosthetic. As the knee started to bend, I did the only thing I knew to do...I fell..Hard. Nothing was injured other than my pride, but it took quite a beating, seeing as I fell in front of my new partner, the patient, and a few of patients that were outside smoking as we loaded up our patient. I quickly hopped up, locked out the knee, and climbed in the back to resume patient care. It only lasted about 30 seconds total, but it was enough for me to be thrown off kilter. Once in the back I resumed treating the patient. Here I would love to tell you how the run went perfect and that was the only hiccup. Sadly, I can't report that. This was one of those runs where everything goes wrong. The patient received the best care I could provide, we arrived at the hospital with the patient doing a little better than when we picked him up, but a little better is never my goal. I prefer to work in drastically better, I pride myself on excellent patient care, but this was my test for the night. I cared for the patient. He made it safely to the ER where his condition was quickly treated, and hopefully after some time in the ICU he will be on the mend.

I realized after this run that I have placed a tremendous amount of undue stress on myself. I have placed so much emphasis on myself to succeed that failure of any amount, be it not getting an IV or as simple as not getting my paperwork completed as quickly as I would like, is not acceptable. I have a great support system, I have all the proper pillars in place to succeed, but when it comes down to it, I have built myself to accept nothing less than perfection. Last night, I realized that this is a recipe for self-destruction. I have to realize that medicine is called a practice for a reason. It's not a science, it's never exact, it's messy, it's dirty, and sometimes all things will come together and it's beautiful. That is rarely the case, I think it's more like learning to walk again; medicine, just like walking, is learning to fall gracefully. I realized last night that I'm not going to be perfect, and that is just fine. I just have to do what I have been doing, keep getting up. Learn from my mistakes, implement changes as necessary, and continue to better myself. I have to learn how to win from a failure. I have to learn to fall gracefully again.

I'm back on the ambulance Friday, time to implement the changes that I need to and make sure to lock out the knee. If I fall or fail so what, as long as I keep getting back up. The patients get the best care I can provide for them at the time, then I have succeeded. I'm trying to prove that even though I'm "disabled" I am not handicapped, I just have to adapt my methods. I'll end this with a quote I saw on the Amputee Coalition of America's FaceBook Page. "I'm not disabled, I'm just playing life on Legendary Mode"

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Playing for Keeps

Tomorrow we start playing for keeps. I will be working my first 24 on my new schedule and be on my own. Well, my partner and I on our own. I'm still learning to adapt to ambulance life with the prosthetic, but it's simply a learning process that I have to adapt to. It feels great to get back into the saddle, I'm a little nervous about the thousands of "what ifs" that I may possibly encounter along the way. I didn't get this far by letting them stop me, so I guess I'll just strap on my leg and move on. Hoping to pick up my thicker liner for my prosthetic tomorrow or Monday so that losing suction inside the socket, which is what I think made my leg fall off, won't happen. I'm blessed to be working for a company now that is willing to take and chance on me, and not only take a chance, but support me in whatever way I may need.

That's all for tonight. I'll be back Monday night with an update on how the shift went and any new lessons learned. Until then...

Prosthetic Medic

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Precept is Over...On My Own Starting Sunday

Well. I have made it to the end of my time as a 3rd person rider. So far, so good...well if you don't count that whole leg falling off thing. Aside from that one major hiccup, everything else seems to be coming back to me. I had the opportunity to visit University Hospital last night, a place that I frequented quite often while working prior to my fall. I was greeted with a very warm reception, and it felt like old times.

That being said, I am very impressed with my new employer. A member of the command staff found me yesterday just to ask how I was coping with the adjustment back into the EMS world. I had spoken with him briefly about the remote possibility of needing to stay on as a 3rd person until I had worked out an answer with my prosthetic office to remedy my untimely dismemberment while in the ambulance. Once I assured him that I will be able to start my shift this Sunday on my own he shocked me...He made it clear that the moment I need help, be it returning to 3rd person for awhile or whatever it may be, they will work with me. That is a refreshing attitude, especially coming from my corner of the EMS world. A command staff that seems to care about their employees and seem legitimately interested in retaining them.

The dust is slowly coming out from between my ears, I've had a few runs where I was able to think through some critical decision making and still have the skills to act on them. I can honestly say, for the first time in 18 months, I feel normal when I'm in the back. I have already learned to use my "disability" as a means to disarm patients and gain trust. I was very worried about not being able to gain the trust of my patients due to being different. I have learned quite the opposite, they seem to be comforted by the fact that I am there, that I have been through the healthcare system that many of them are stuck trying to navigate. One patient I was transporting informed me that he had an artificial knee, I told him "so do I" and pulled up my pant leg, he quickly started laughing and almost seemed disarmed. I think I have not lost an edge by being an "able bodied person" but gained an advantage by being different.

Prosthetic Medic

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Video from Otto Bock

New Video from Otto Bock about your very own Prosthetic Medic...I may be doing another video in the near future with them. I'll let you know more as soon as I do...Until then. Enjoy

Lights, Sirens, and a Dislodged Prosthetic

Yesterday I worked my first 24 hour shift as a paramedic. I've never done 24s before, I have to say I rather enjoyed myself. It was definitely a learning opportunity, adapting to a new service and how to function with the prosthetic.

That brings me to the big lesson of the night. Allow me to paint the scene...We were called for a patient with an active arterial bleed. Most times when you get these calls the first reaction is to doubt it's authenticity. Most facilities will call any type of bleeding arterial...but when they follow up with they are using sandbags to hold pressure and the patient is very hypotensive, then this starts to feel real. This information, along with the fact that this is a facility not known for calling for an ambulance for every sniffle and bump, made me get a little nervous. This is my first real run since I've been back on a truck. I've done the ALS transfers, the fall down go boom, the "stats of 66%" only to find an o2 saturation of 96% on room air. This was different. This was a legitimate chance to make  a difference, this is why I'm a time to see if I can still do this.

We arrive on scene to find the patient being circled by the staff. She is bleeding and doing a good job of it. She's pale, diaphoretic, and generally looking like death warmed up. Pressure is tanked, so we apply pressure to the site, control the bleeding, and get moving. I'm able to get a 16 gauge IV placed in her EJ (external jugular for the non-medical's in you neck), at this point we are arriving at one of our many local hospitals. Here's where things are markedly different for me since returning. My leg fell off...yes you read that prosthetic came off of my leg and is lifelessly hanging there inside my pant leg. This means I can no longer walk, there's no fixing this at this moment, and then the panic sets in. My preceptor for the service agrees to take the patient inside with our EMT partner and leaves me to my own shattered thoughts inside the truck.

I panic, this is my biggest fear coming true...a legitimate reason why I can't perform my job task (at least in my mind at the time it is). For the first time in a long time, well, in 8 months, I feel disabled. I can honestly say I haven't felt this way since I took my first steps on my new leg. I felt destroyed, I had done the medicine part to the best of my rusty ability, I felt good about that. Then with that leg sliding off, I truly had to face the fact that I am different, I can try to be like all those able bodied people but I'm not. I did what I always do, I made fun of the situation. I rolled my pant leg up, left my prosthetic sitting proudly in the center of the back of the truck, and hopped around cleaning up the back from the mess I made. I joked with my crew mates and moved on. Hopped into the station, put my leg back on, and moved on.

My preceptor said, that is what makes me different than most people, I laughed and moved on. That has been the status quo, bad things happen so laugh and move on. I'm going to the prosthetic office tomorrow to find out what we can do. As unacceptable as this situation is, It had to happen. Just happy that it happened now instead of later. With wearing the leg over 24 hours straight, the size of my stump is going to change. It gets smaller and so the prosthetic doesn't fit as well, we will find a way to fix the issue and I will move on.

That's our first major hurdle in the return to EMS. I really can't imagine one much worse than losing the ability to walk while treating a critical patient. Stay tuned for further educational lessons from your friendly neighborhood Prosthetic Medic...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Day...Prosthetic Medic is BACK

Well...I did it. Yesterday I worked my first 14 hours on an ambulance since I went for that life changing hike at Tioga Falls. I was able to do function. No problems lifting or moving. I haven't had to tackle stairs yet, but for the first day back I am very hopefully optimistic. I am with a much more laid back service (in terms of run volume), and they have all been so supportive of what I am trying to accomplish. It's hard to believe that just 7 months ago I was being fitted for my new leg, starting over essentially. I was blessed to have an amazing preceptor yesterday who was very encouraging and never once questioned my ability to return to do the job.

During one of many conversations yesterday, I told her I was contemplating writing a book about my experience, she thinks I need to adapt a screen play and call it "11 Stories" in reference to my fall and could easily be tied into the fact that many of us have many "stories" that we live through. An unlimited number of hardships that we either choose to overcome or let take us down. I can think of at least 11 stories in my life. I'm very happy to say that I feel like I have started down a very successful path finally. After months of spinning wheels and worrying about how to get back to a service that didn't want me to return, it feels great to go to work and not only be welcomed by the street crews, but welcomed by the command staff who is planning for my successful future at their company.

Janelle and Glen, you two made my first day back in 18 months amazing. It felt like I had never left the back of an ambulance, you guys made that possible.

Kate, you know you're my rock. You know that you're my best friend, and you know that without you this entire journey wouldn't have been possible. You have helped me literally learn to walk again, and I swear I will walk to the ends of the earth to repay the love and compassion (and occasional kick in the butt) that you have shown me.

To my family, be it by blood, marriage, EMS, or my readers, thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I started this blog just to document my own personal experience dealing with the emotional and physical demands of losing a leg and battling to get back to doing what I love, it was cathartic. I watched it transform as I did, I found that it started to inspire others to attempt to get back on their feet as well. I am amazed that I have been blessed enough to be a catalyst and get to hear these stories personally. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I love each and every one of you.

Now that this is out of the way...stay tuned for further adventures of your favorite Unipedal Paramedic. Learning to adapt and overcome the challenges of functioning as a paramedic with a prosthetic, trying to give the best patient care without becoming a patient myself. Until next time, look for another update after my next shift.

Prosthetic Medic

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Failure is not an Option!

I'm less than a week away from orientation and getting back on the ambulance. I'm 15 months from the fall that set this path in motion and only been on my prosthetic for 7 months. I've been told that while in the ER I was told not to worry, I'd be back to work in no time. This was to placate me and keep me from worrying while I was healing. Then was told I could go back to work with the prosthetic in order to give me a goal to keep pushing forward. All the while, most people doubting it was possible. More frustrating was a former "boss" more concerned with either breaking me if I did succeed or trying to force me out by saying I'm incapable. To him personally I say thank you. This is the motivation I need to not only have the strength to try to return, but to succeed beyond what I thought was possible.

I'm not delusional. I know I'm charting into unknown territory. This unknown is a first for my new employer and for this region. I am expecting to have to learn quick and live up to one of my favorite sayings...Adapt and Overcome. I know I will have to adapt my technique but I have regained something most of us in the Public Safety world have lost...passion. I am more driven to succeed now than ever before. I have too many people watching me to fail. I am a example to 2 (3 on January 2) wonderful sons, I have had the pleasure of inspiring people I've never met through this blog, and I have the handful who are hoping I fail because they said it would happen. Part of me wants to smash this in their faces and say look at me now. I'm the "gimp" you said was finished, yet instead of airing dirty laundry, I will simply move on and show my sons how to not only have dignity, but also to have integrity.

I hope for big things from this job. This is the new springboard for my life. I am walking proof that nothing can impede determination and that can carry you further than you (or those around you) expect.

Can't wait to fill you in on my first shift. Until next time


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prosthetic Medic Rides Again!!!

Great News!!!! The Prosthetic Medic will ride again! I'll be starting my new position on October 29th, of course I have orientation and classroom stuff to get through before I get back in the ambulance, but just the prospect of being back where I belong makes me feel like I'm about to start a new school.

There are several opportunities outside of being a street medic at this service that I'm very excited to possibly branch out into. That's all for tonight. Busy day tomorrow at the Prosthetic Medic household. Kate's cardiology appointment is tomorrow so we find out what the plan of action for correcting the hole in her heart. For those out there that believe in a higher power please send some prayers/goodvibes/thoughts in our direction. They have set the C-Section date for Liam on January 2, 2013 so for now that's our goal. Keep him baking until then, unless the cardiologist has other plans for us.

I'll update some more in a few days.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Job Interview Tomorrow!!!

Tomorrow I go for my interview at a local private service ambulance company. While I've been assured that this is a formality and nothing more, I have to admit that I am more than a little nervous about the prospect of getting back on the ambulance again. I am confident that I can do the job, it's just learning to do the job with my new set of obstacles. I'll let everyone know how it goes, if I do get the job then I will be working 24 hour shifts, which is another new playground for me. I've done 10, 12, and 16 hours shifts, so 24 is the next logical step right. I'll have to ask the company how they feel about being mentioned here, as I don't want to go into this by upsetting them off the bat.

On another note, in our personal life we have just found out that the Mrs has been diagnosed with a patent Foramen Ovale. For those who have no idea what that is, it's a hole between the atria of the heart. In itself that isn't too much of an issue, the issue that arose is that she had a TIA on Sunday. So now we are trying to game plan with the cardio docs and OB to find out where we need to go from here and what this means with Liam.

I'll keep everyone updated as things progress.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coming to an Ambulance near you....

Well I have put in an application at a local EMS agency. It's a private service company and they are just as excited for me to start there as I am to be getting back on a truck. I'm also going to be speaking to a personal trainer to finish up the last bit of muscle training and stamina building I need to feel very very comfortable in the back of the truck.

Still having a few problems with the prosthetic, that I'm hoping that will be resolved in the next few days. The knee is still sticking and I'm still waiting on my new foot to be delivered. It seems that it takes a while for Otto Bock to make a size 14 prosthetic foot...this is one of the big foot curses you never are told about!!! No is moving on and so am I. I'm so excited to attempt this again, I'm still not sure how it's going to turn out, but that's what makes it so promising.

Until next time

Monday, October 1, 2012

Otto Bock Commercial and Photos

A month or so ago I let you all know I would be shooting a commercial for Otto Bock...well here is the final result, along with some photo's from that shoot.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Redneck Tested, Medic Approved

Well...I have somehow managed to break my prosthetic. I'm thinking that Otto Bock should hire me as a crash test dummy. I've had my prosthetic system since March and in that time I have broken the foot 6 times and now the prosthetic knee itself. They could send me new ideas and I'll put them through real world testing. Put a big stamp on the side "Redneck tested, Medic approved!"

So now I have to wait for a "loaner" knee to be sent to me. I'm on a list and have no idea when it will get here. My prosthetist is going to try to get them to speed up the process and get it here quicker. Later in the week I should be getting my new foot (as I said, I broke the other several times) . It's been a trying week to say the least. I have made the decision to move forward and start applying for paramedic positions, with the dream of starting sometime in October. I'm absolutely terrified of getting back on the truck. So many variables to contend with that I haven't had to think about, but still I'm excited at the prospect of getting back at it. Hopefully later this week I can tell you the problems have been solved and I'm up and at it again, until then I will be using the broken leg and moving a little slower. Hey, adapt and overcome right.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Farewell to LMEMS

Today was my last day as a paramedic for Louisville Metro EMS. Not the way I had expected this day to come. In 2006 when I first moved to Louisville, I had expected to make this service my home for the next 20 years. As it turns out, that is not to be. I have seen many life altering events during my course as a paramedic there, I just had no idea that my own life altering event would be the one that would finally close this chapter. As I look back I have many great memories, a few bad ones, but overall I have had the opportunity to watch amazing paramedics and EMT's take care of patients in a way that should not be possible with the equipment we had, or with the hours we had worked. To have a crew be as sharp and on their game on their 3rd sixteen hour shift in a row as they were when they started that shift 48 hours ago. I am, and forever will be, proud to have been called a Louisville Metro EMS paramedic.

The reason for my departure is two-fold. Louisville Metro Government was gracious enough to extend my one year off work date from May to Aug, in this time period I have grown by leaps and bounds in my ability to use this prosthetic as it's supposed. Yet, I am still a month or so away from being able to function on an ambulance. Second, they offered to let me fill out the ADA paperwork again, with the caveat that I have an "exact date of return to full duty." This was not possible. There's no way to know when my muscle will have the strength I need it to, and any date placed there would be guesswork at best.

That being said, I will forever consider Louisville Metro my home. I am just moving on to another chapter in my life, and will be returning to work in the near future for another ambulance service. The Prosthetic Medic will ride on.

Thank you all for the support during my recovery, I'm sorry I couldn't make it back there, but I know that you all will work hard to make LMEMS the service it deserves to be.

For my readers out there that stayed through that Obituary of Employment past, I do have some good news. I was able to see the rough cut of the Otto Bock commercial that will be on their website in the near future. It looks great and I can't wait till I can share it with you all.

Going tomorrow to start working on getting stretchers in and out, as well as hopefully going for a bike ride with my step-son.

Prosthetic Medic

Monday, September 17, 2012

Webcast and Exercises

Last night I had the honor of being a guest on the 1-801 Union Webcast. Had a great time and got to chat with Sarge John Broyles and the Fossil Medic Mike Ward. If you're interested in hearing the interview you can listen or download it at this link

The opening of the webcast is a discussion on the new educational standards of becoming a Paramedic and the so called "Zero to Hero" programs. These programs advocate skipping spending time on the street as an EMT-Basic and straight into Paramedic. 
The second part of the interview was John speaking to me about my injury, amputation, and recovery effort. It's worth a listen, you can also catch the webcast on every Saturday at 2230 Central Time. 

I also have to thank my high school football coaches. After doing some research I found a list of exercises employed by the military to help get their amputees back on their feet. Turns out, they use a number of the exercises I hated back in high school to strengthen the muscles required for walking. Things are going well, I feel like my walk is improving, I'm learning how to use the leg on uneven terrain, and I found that I can jump...somewhat. 

I'm going to speak with Kentucky Prosthetics about making a few changes to the prosthetic, hook it up to the computer and make a few changes there, and possibly a few changes to the socket itself. I'm learning what I like and dislike and how these small changes make a big difference. I'll let you know what changes are being made and how progress goes. I will be back on an ambulance before this year is out. The sooner the better, just have to keep plowing forward. 

Before I wrap things up tonight I need to ask a favor of you...I'm tossing the idea around about attempting to write all of this in book form. If my story has helped you, inspired you, or you simply have an idea about what I should cover or what you would like to know please let me know. Thanks again, 

Prosthetic Medic

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Leaving Home... of now the date has been set. I will be departing from "my current employer" on September 20, 2012. I have the chance to have my MD fill out another set of ADA paperwork but he would have to give an exact date that I am able to return to full duty. That is perform my job functions as I did prior to my injuries. The issues I am having is that I am close to being able to return to duty, but I have found out that getting my body used to the increased energy consumption due to the amputation has been much more strenuous than I expected. I am going to have my PT doc fill out the paperwork and let them decide my fate. I have to admit that the Metro Government has been very helpful and I hate to leave behind such great coworkers.

To the hundreds of people that I have worked with over the years,

If I do not return to "my employer" then it has been an immense pleasure to serve the people of our city together. I have had the opportunity over the past 6 years to work with some of the greatest EMT's and Paramedics that Kentucky has to offer. Our service has seen it's ups and downs over the years, there have been no shortage of scandal, and yet through all the adversity I have seen the street crews step up and handle any situation time and time again. I have nothing but respect for each of you and hope to see you build that service into the pillar of the EMS community that it can become. I will miss working with all of you, and no matter where I go, be it EMS or some other avenue, I will always considers my home and family to be with all of you. I hope to see you all again, I may be wearing a new uniform, but I will always be proud to have served next to you.

To everyone on the blog that has supported me through this endeavor, I am not giving up on getting  back on an ambulance. I am closer now than I have been, progress may have slowed, but I count any progress as one step closer to my end goal. For now I am going to continue to work on being a good spouse and father, and work to show my children that no matter what life hands you, if you are determined you can overcome it. I owe it to my boys to beat this adversity and show that I am just as able now as I was then. I will continue to update everyone and let you know what the outcome of this current situation is, as the details become available to me. I finally have found peace with the fact that it may be time to move on to a new chapter in my career, but I will not give up on my dream. I was raised with 2 major fundamental values; 1.) Can't never could do nothing, so can't is not a part of my vocabulary. 2.) If you have to fight to achieve your goal, then you're moving in the right direction.

So, with that I will update you on another day as I learn more. Thank you for supporting me and I am eternally indebted to all of you.

The Prosthetic Medic

Sunday, September 9, 2012


It's amazing how the little things in life can give you a glimpse of how wonderful life can be; even after a life changing event, a small amount of normalcy can set your path back straight. Friday night I was able to get out in the front yard and throw the football around with my 2 boys. I can't run yet, can't jump, well...there's a whole list of things I can't do yet, but I was able to pass and teach each of my boys how to throw a spiral.

Just this little action reminded me of what I'm going through all this for. I used to think I was working so hard just to get back on an ambulance, while that is still the end game, the real important thing was the memory my boys have of learning to throw and catch a football with their dad. It's these moments that mean more to me than anything I have accomplished as a paramedic. It's wonderful to start feeling like I'm about to have a major breakthrough and start my life back up.

As for a life update...Kate is doing very well. Baby Liam is 23 weeks now and is growing as expected. Both our boys are doing amazing in school. I'll update some more later....

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm Back...

First off, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get back on here and update everyone on how everything is going with my progress on getting back to work shape and life in general. To be honest, I've been more than a little depressed and couldn't bring myself to write about what I was feeling at the time. I have had to come to the realization that returning to my previous employer within the time allotted is not a possibility, this in no uncertain terms crushed me. To add to my disgust was rumors of high ranking members of this organization wanting to "break me" if I should attempt to return to work there. (You'll notice I am being vague about where I work/worked, they have put out a department wide memo that any mention of the company outside of approved outlets will be met with punishment, up to and including termination. Since, I am currently an employee there I will obey by their rules.) I have been facing the fact that I am unable to push my body to the point I need it to be in order to return to the ambulance in the time I have left. As of writing this I have 4 days left and I have found that building up the strength in the hip flexor and gaining the endurance/stamina needed to return to work has been much more daunting than I had originally expected. Luckily, I have other places to go to work once I am able.

It's not all been doom and gloom here in the Prosthetic Medic household. As I have said before, Kate and I will be welcoming home a baby boy sometime in the December/January timeframe. We have decided to name him "William Lewis" and call him "Liam."

Also, I had the distinct pleasure of being featured by Otto Bock, the company that makes my prosthesis, in a video/photo shoot. They featured my recovery effort and interviewed one of my best friends and coworkers to ask what  impact I have had on his EMS career. I was joined by a local police sergeant who is also an above knee and a volunteer fire fighter who is a bilateral below knee amputee. It was an amazing 2 days. I got some great advice from the officer who is a mentor of sorts to me. He just reminded me of what I am working for and how important it is to show my sons how to overcome adversity, not only say it, but show them with my actions.

When I finally cleared my head and took the time to focus on the positives I have in my life, the fact that I still not only have a life to live, but have created another one, has given me the motivation I had lost. I'm ready to try again, not only to get back to being a medic, but to get back to living the life I want and not the one I have been handed. If any of you still follow me, or even read this, thank you for your understanding and look forward to more regular updates in the future. Back on the horse, hoping the buggy follows....The Prosthetic Medic

Daniel and I at the Otto Bock Photo Shoot

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Big news on the Prosthetic Medic front. Looks like in January Kate and I will be welcoming a baby boy.  This means we will have Bryson, Logan, and then William "Liam".  We are thrilled to be welcoming this little bundle of joy, and now I have even more motivation to get back where I belong!!!

Aside from the biggest news, I'm still working on going off of my cane. Today I spent most of the day without the cane. I get sloppy towards the end of the day but I'm happy working without cane, and more importantly I have the blessing from the physical therapist to continue working without it and learn to use my knee to more of it's capabilities. So if you're in Louisville and see a fat guy sweating his butt off and leaning a little. Don't worry it's just me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Goodbye Cane...almost

For the past week I've been trying to go without my cane. I'm tired of having to use a crutch and want to move on to the next step of the rehab process. My gait isn't perfect and I'm not close to where I want to be with that aspect. That being said, it is getting better, the hip flexors are strengthening and the lean I have when stepping onto the prosthetic is getting better as well. I've noticed when not using the cane the energy expenditure I have while walking has increased significantly. Now, the next step in the process is to up my stamina and endurance, right now just walking through the grocery store has me breaking a sweat and wore out. I have to admit, this process is wearing thin, I'm ready to get going and move on, but my body just won't let me do so. My prosthesist told me that this process would show me the meaning of patience, I have to admit he was right. I know that by not giving my body the time it needs to move at a natural speed will only lead to more problems in the future, I just wish I could speed up the process. I attempted to walk all day without the cane, including walking about a mile total non stop. This left my leg hurting and sore and I had to take off the leg as soon as I got home. That is what frustrates me the most. I have the leg, I have a wonderful socket that is the most comfortable of all the ones I've had so far, and now all that's holding me back is my own anatomy. I've been told that if I can lose some weight it will get better. I have a wonderful physical therapist who is helping me along this road and working on getting me off the cane for good, it's just getting my leg to listen to what my brain and heart wants to do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Future at Louisville Metro

So progress has been slow but I suppose any progress is better than regress right? Anyway. I'm starting to seriously question my ability to return to work by the end of August. I'm nearly off the cane now. I'm able to walk for longer distances without the cane, but now the major obstacle is endurance. I was informed by the physical therapist that as an above knee amputee I burn about 90% more energy just walking than a non amputee. This means that if Kate and I walk a mile together, by energy use, I have walked 2 miles for her 1. This has proven to be quite the obstacle to overcome. I'm just scared that I won't have the strength and endurance to return to the truck by the time I have allotted. This doesn't mean that my career as a paramedic is at an end, just possibly my career at LMEMS may be at an end if I can't make that date. I have made the decision not to dwell on where I will return to though, I just have to concentrate on getting healthy enough to do the job I am meant to do. No matter where I am performing that role at, it has to be on my body's time and not the timetable laid out by an outside agency. It would do no good for me to return to work and then have to quit because I pushed myself too hard. I refuse to start and have to bow out because I rushed myself.

I really hope to return to my LMEMS family. I miss all of you and I am the paramedic I am because of the great people I have had the blessings to work with at this organization. In Louisville you come across all types of emergencies from geriatric to pediatric, from gun shots to acute MI, and everything in between. This agency is my home and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to cut my teeth at such a wonderful place and dearly hope I can make this deadline. Yet, after losing sleep over pushing myself to get to this goal that has been set, I have decided that I will no longer stress over where I will return to. I have been blessed by several choices of where to return to and I know that LMEMS is at the top of my list, but I will go where I am able to perform my duties, but not hurt myself or my family. I have till the end of August to make this decision final. I will listen to my abilities and make decisions with my family, that is the only way this can work and I am sure God will lead me where I am supposed to be.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Insomnia and another late night update

I've been having a major issue over the past few months. I have not been able to sleep more than a few hours at a time. The hardest part is that during the night I am completely unable to sleep at all. I've been told that this is an effect of the traumatic brain injury I received during my fall. I didn't have any bleeds, but I did have a significant concussion with a coup counter coup injury. I hate this. The hardest part is I miss being able to stay in bed and have that comfort of having Kate next to me. My nightly routine now is to stay in bed with her, I scratch her head until she drifts off into that peaceful bliss then I relocate out to the living room. I'm tired but sleep just won't come. I don't know what else to do. I'm going to go see my doc next week, since I've spent so much time in the hospital over the past year I'm quite weary of going to any appointments, but it seems I don't have much of a choice now.

Since I'm up and writing tonight I guess I'll give you all an update on how things are going on the journey back to the ambulance. Hilbert, the new physical therapist and above knee amputee as well, has identified two major issues that are keeping me walking on the cane. First and easiest to fix is that my core/hip muscles just aren't strong enough to stabilize me as I come over the foot on the prosthetic side. This has resulted in an involuntary bending towards the unaffected side. It's annoying and luckily an easy fix. Just have to do a few exercises to strengthen the muscles and that should go away. Second, is learning to adapt my gait so that once that lean is gone I walk normal again. My goal is it to be indistinguishable when I'm in uniform that I am an amputee.

Another interesting fact I've learned today is that as an above knee amputee when doing activities that include walking or running I will use approximately 90% more energy to do the same task. As an example if Kate and I go walking when she has walked one mile, energy wise I will have walked nearly 2 miles. This will make it a bit easier for me to lose this poundage I have added over the past year of being inactive, but also shows me yet another obstacle I will face in trying to return to work. It feels sometimes that it will never get back to normal, or even feel normal again. I have good days and bad, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels until I can get this cane out of my life and just be able to get up and go. I refuse to let this beat me, but for the first time I'm wondering if my goal of returning to the ambulance in August was a bit too ambitious. I suppose only time will tell.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of the Flexible Socket from Kentucky Prosthetics

I've had my new flexible socket for a few days now, so I thought I'd write a small review of the pros and cons. I know that a few out there in the amputee community read this blog and I have gotten several questions about the new equipment. So here goes...

First, the positives: This socket is extremely comfortable. It is a flexible, yet sturdy, silicone type liner. It's thicker than silicone, I'm not sure the name of the actual material. The support structure is a carbon fiber frame with trusses that absorb the weight. The back of the socket is open, so it relieves much of the pain associated with sitting and getting in and out of cars. When I'm wearing the leg the socket feels much more like my actual leg, well prior to the amputation. The material actual flexes and gives with the muscle contractions while I'm walking. I feel like wearing this leg for 12+ hours will not be an issue and it has cut down on the fatigue I felt while wearing the traditional carbon fiber socket.

Cons: The biggest con I have for the new flexible socket is that it takes some time to get used to the new feelings. I can't really call this a "con" but more of an adjustment period. With the flexible material it is sometimes more difficult to have proprioception (knowing where your limbs are in space). Other than that I am thrilled with the outcome and look forward to wearing the prosthetic more.

Tomorrow I'll be trying out the socket at the gym and physical therapy so I'll really get a feel for how it handles direction changes and wearing it under stress.

Also, I have had many questions about where I go for my prosthetic care. My prosthesists are at Kentucky Prosthetics in Louisville, Ky. I cannot speak highly enough about the wonderful care I get here. They have went above and beyond in my care, from fixing any issues that may arise (even on weekends and past business hours), to making several sockets over the past 3 months, to dealing with my many many questions. They have always gone above and beyond to make sure I not only have what I need, but to make sure that all things are working as they should.

Back                                                                                                  Side

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Socket!

New Socket is finally ready. Had my final fitting today. My prosthesist Matt wanted me to correct myself as well. This is NOT a "Comfort Flex Socket" that name is owned by Hanger Prosthetic Company, This is the Kentucky Prosthetic Flexible Socket...I stand corrected. I can't wait to get this put on my knee tomorrow, I'm very excited, it is extremely comfortable and will allow my leg to start building muscle, and the open back makes sitting much more comfortable and it will stop that pinching that has plagued me for the past few months. Couple this with the ongoing workouts and I'll be off of the cane and onto the truck in no time. I feel like things are progressing quickly now and my new physical therapist has set goals for me to be running soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Amputee Boot Camp Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my first full on work out at amputee boot camp. I went a few days ago to get the layout and do a few exercises. What surprised me the most was that I can do leg press with the prosthetic on. For a person who used to leg press weight that would equate to a small car, I could only do 50 pounds with this leg, and let me tell you, 50 pounds never felt so heavy, yet so good. I was happy to be back in the weight room and I am really excited to get started on my real workouts. Hilbert (the new physical therapist) has told me that he wants me running again, and after a few weeks to a month I'm hoping to take my first strides without the cane and run on my leg for the first time. I can't wait,  I know I'm going to be sore and hurt for awhile as I get used to working out again.

On another note, my socket will not be ready until this weekend, it takes longer for them to set the silicone socket due to my huge legs...I have huge legs, I really always have, goes back to lifting weights from high school. Oh well. I'll write tomorrow night to let you know how it went.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I want to be better than I was

This time last year I was just getting home from the hospital. I was lost, confused, and most of all angry. Now don't get me wrong, I was thankful to be alive, but couldn't help but be angry at the situation I was in. I felt like I would never be able to function properly again. How right I was, and surprisingly enough, I was completely wrong as well. With the hand I had been dealt, I was not going to be able to function. I was left with a knee that didn't work and a foot that just dragged along. Hard to do anything with that equipment. So, I chose to change my cards, shuffle up and try another hand. This hasn't been easy by any means. I have learned a lot though, I now know what a 10/10 on a pain scale is, I know that falling doesn't equal failure, and most importantly I've learned that with adversity comes a chance to be even greater. I'm not there yet, not sure I'll ever get there, but I'm gonna fight like Hell to be better than I was. I start this work hardening program tomorrow. I have my goals and my new physical therapist knows them as well. I'm blessed to be training with another amputee, one who has been through the same struggles I have and is out on the other side. I guess he's the Virgil to my Dante as he guides me through the 9 circles of Hell. Good news is, he knows the path out on the other side. I have set the goal to not only get back to walking, but to lose 30 pounds, build some muscle, and not just live but have a life. I'd lost that along the way, but life has a way of showing you what's really important. It's not being alive, as I stressed so much before, but it's in actually living the life you've been given. Sure, I had to learn the hard way, but maybe, just maybe, someone else won't have to fight these battles because I have. So here we are, I'm still on my journey to get back to my new normal, but I've decided I don't want to get back to where I was...I want to be better than I was before.

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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Your Voice Changes Things...Oh and 30,000 views!!!

Wow...I've had this site up for about 3 months and I'm up to over 30,000 page views. This got me thinking about voice. We all have a voice, we use it for many things, good, bad, and indifferent. I've been lucky enough that I have been able to reach more people than I have ever thought possible. I've been blessed enough to achieve most of my goals, all of which, have been accomplished because when I needed your help and asked, you were there. I needed the Genium leg, thanks to the outpouring of support from the people who read this blog I was approved directly by Humana, which prior to my case was unheard of. I want you to know, this is changing the way Humana is doing business and they are approving others for the Genium and other microprocessor prosthetics. We used our voices and have changed the world for many others in my position who haven't had these opportunities. I needed more time to return to work, once again I asked you to use your voice, and today I received a letter in the mail confirming my medical leave extension through August 31st. There is so much power in speaking out. We can change the world with our voices. I once disbelieved that the "little guy" could ever change the minds of large companies or government agencies, this has proved me wrong and given me so much hope for the future. One approval, changed the system for many others. One extension, changed my life and allowed me to keep that all important insurance. So for 30,000 views, changing the lives of myself and possibly countless others,  One word spoken in love or hate or compassion can alter an entire course of events.

Now, on to the main point. Your voice sometimes is all you have. This experience has taught me that you can speak up or refuse to speak and both can equally change worlds. Moreover, I've been mulling the thought of the EMS 2.0 movement, which I recently learned about, and how this affects us as a profession. Quick primer for those who are uninitiated as I was to this ideology, the quick way to describe it is attempting to make EMS more than a job, make it a career, change patient care standards to reflect our high level of training, and use evidence based medicine to move EMS to the cutting edge of true prehospital care. Now, this is an area where we as a profession need to use our voices, Nurses, Firefighters, Police officers, they all have a voice and a loud one. They have representation on a national level. We need to stop the in-house bickering, City, Volunteer, Private service, we all have the same training and deserve the same rights. Use your voice to change things, one word can change the world.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Sorry for the break in transmission over the past few days. I've had to take some time off of here to clear my head and prepare for the fight ahead in the coming months. I'm so excited to get this opportunity, to have the chance to return to LMEMS and prove that I am capable of doing this job at the service I love. Now I have to get prepared for the job ahead. I'm going to start a "work hardening" program in the coming weeks, which will not only help me learn how to do my job with the prosthetic, my therapist is an above knee amputee as well, so he can show me how he would do it and let me decide if that will work for me. It gives me a lot of hope to see other AK's out and moving with ease. I hope with my new socket I'll be able to do that as well. Speaking of the new socket, I'll be going on Monday to start the process, was supposed to go yesterday but I had so much going on that I just couldn't make it.

I've got to start sleeping...I've had insomnia over the past few weeks and now my days and nights are blurring, this makes getting things done and exercising very difficult. I'm up on my leg for at least 5-8 hours a day now, so that has increased significantly, but I'm a long way off from the 16 hours plus I'll need for my work schedule. I have a ton of conditioning and strength building to do before August gets here. I'm learning how to use my leg and all of it's amazing functions, I can go up and down stairs, walk in any direction, I'm learning to lift, kneel, get up from a prone position. I'm getting there, its just a slower process than I would like. I know I've not had my prosthetic that long but I have to constantly push myself. I want to be ahead of the curve. I want to be better everyday than I was the one prior. Until tomorrow...thank you all for your support and for reading this crazy journey I've been on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Victory!!! Part 2

Well the impossible has happened. Thanks to the hard work and determination of many Louisville Metro Government has decided to give me the time I need to return to work. I got the call from HR yesterday that they will give me until August 31st to start with, and more time if it is needed. I can't believe that they decided to give me the chance after all this time and fighting. I'm not sure really how to feel; I'm cautiously optimistic that I can make it back to the streets and prove that I am able to do this.

So, I just want to say thank you to everyone who emailed, facebooked, and tweeted Mayor Fischer or who just supported me throughout this long, arduous process. I'm going to keep working hard to get through physical therapy, start the work hardening process and back to the streets.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Can't sleep tonight. Have thousands of things running through my mind. I've got so much on my plate right now. I'm rapidly approaching one year since I fell. That's 366 days (gotta count leap day) of highs and lows, a year of triumph and Hell. That means that my family and friends have had to deal with this for a year as well. Pressure like this can really put a strain on any relationship, but I have to say that despite a few bumps in the road Kate has been a warrior. Everyday she gets up and pushes on, somedays it's her going in to work when she is mentally and physically exaughsted, sometimes it's her keeping me going. I am amazed at the resolve she has shown. For the past year she has had to be the anchor of this family, a role she was forced into, but she has taken it on with fearless abandon and I couldn't be prouder of her. She amazes me everyday. She always knows when I need a push and when I need to just be told "it's ok, we'll get there." I just want to thank her, but there's no way I can ever repay all she has done for me in this past year. She has literally picked me up off the floor countless times both physically and emotionally. All I can do I say, Kate I love you, I couldn't have done this without you.

That can be said of my mom, Kate's mom, and my brother and sister in law as well. They have all been amazing during this time. I know that dealing with me can be frustrating, as my mom says "You're very direct and you have a tone sometimes that just gets people mad even when you're not trying to do that." I'm sorry for the frustrations. I'm trying my best to get back to being me again. Honestly, somedays I wake up and I don't have the mental strength to get out of bed, but I do. I know that I have you there, waiting and wishing for me to get better. This Thursday will be 3 months since the amputation, 3 months since I've started on this path of rehabilitation. I've come a long way in those 3 months, but I have a very long road ahead of me still. Thank you all for your support and not only "dealing" with me when I get frustrating, but loving me no matter what I'm going through at the time.

To all my friends and supporters both here and abroad. Thank you as well. I'm going to continue to write and work on achieving my goals, and you all give me the drive to do so. Just thought I'd take my inability to sleep tonight to reflect and thank you for all the messages and visits over the past year. Can't wait till I can write on here about my first day back to work. First, I have to get walking on my own. I promise that will be soon.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Call from Dr Ross and Looking Toward the Future

Got a call from the surgeon who performed my amputation today. Dr Ross was the surgeon who saved my leg after my fall and performed my amputation, as a review for those who are new here. He has a patient that he wants me to speak to about having an amputation and life afterwards. This will be my first time speaking to a "prospective amputee" as it were, I'm honored and excited to do this. One of the most helpful things that helped me make the decision to have my leg amputated was being able to speak to several amputees who are living a wonderful and active life post surgery. Most of them have been amputees for years and I'm thinking that being a relatively new amputee I'll be able to help prepare him for what's to come. One of the best parts of the amputee community is how we rally around one another and welcome in others. The support I have received from others and knowing what to expect made the choice an easy one, I hope he calls, and that I can be as beneficial to him as everyone was to me. Those of you out there who spoke to me, and continue to help me, I may have him contact you as well. I can give him my view as an amputee for a few months, but hearing how you can have a normal life after will be very helpful as well.

On another note, I haven't heard from LMEMS, and really I don't expect to. I hate this, I want to stay there, it was my home for 6 years, I loved that service and sacrificed myself to get back there...that being said, I know that with the doors that have been opened since my surgery I will find another service and be happy there. I will miss the people I worked with. I made some great friends there, and honestly, that is what I will miss the most. Yes, working in an urban/suburban service can be very exciting. Yes, there is a massive abuse of the 911 system and it gets old quick, but there is ample opportunity to do some real good and actually make a difference every once in awhile. I'm saving my actual goodbye for when I am terminated from the service, so I'll stop going on about this for now. For those Medics/EMT's in the area who are thinking of applying for LMEMS, I still say it's a wonderful service that has it's problems, but could be great and will be again.

Spoke with Matt at Kentucky Prosthetics, start designing the new socket next week...any suggestions for what I should have put on it? I'm open to any ideas...I'm thinking about my tattoo design I'd decided on..."Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional" of course I'm going to get it designed with a Celtic Oak Knot.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Almost Socket Time

Had a good day today. Went to PT, Kate went with me so she got to see me actually work out and what I'm doing when I'm there. Also, started to bottom out on this socket, so it's almost time for another new socket. The design on the next one will be radically different than the rigid suction socket I'm currently using. The next design will be a carbon fiber frame and a silicon liner. This will let me be able to contract my leg muscles more normally and be able to feel more when I sit down and not have as many pinches as I do now. I'm excited to try the new style socket. I'm working towards my goal of August and trying to get ready to rejoin the workforce.

Also, my physical therapist has mentioned me to a person who can help me get "work hardend" and show me some exercises to help prepare me for the daily grind of being back on the ambulance. Amazingly, this therapist is also an above knee amp so he can actually perform some of the tasks and show me how he would do them, and let me adapt my way that works best for me. He's also on the C-Leg, which is similar to my knee as well. I'm very happy to meet this guy and get his input, also he lost his leg while in the military, so he went through the military training to get back up and moving, and uses that training in his program to get people ready to go back to work. Tomorrow, until I bottom out, I'm going to try to spend a few hours without the cane and get the house clean.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Open Doors

It's amazing how things work out. It seems as my termination from LMEMS draws closer doors are opening in other services. Today I spoke with Todd Early who was one of my instructors in paramedic school and former head of the education department at LMEMS, he is now Car 1 (Operations chief) at Shelby County EMS. He saw my article in the Courier Journal and took it to his boss at Shelby County. The judge and Todd have given me an open offer to come work for Shelby County EMS as soon as I'm ready. It would be a part time position to start, then full time whenever a spot opened up. This is amazing to me. To hear of the amazing way this service treats it's employees has shown me that if I am forced out of Metro EMS that my career is far from over and there are other places that have recognized my determination and are willing to award it. I have heard stories of employees there going thru tough times, medical conditions amongst others, and instead of forcing them out, they helped make sure they had a job and the full support of the service. It's heart warming to hear this and gives me hope that there are companies out there who believe that employees come first.

Also, yesterday I walked for as long as I could without my cane. It was my first attempt at walking for an extended period without any assistance. My walk still needs help, my hip flexor muscles are still weak and I'm working on strengthening them. That's the hard part of my physical therapy now, I have to get my stamina up and learn to trust my prosthetic.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Courier Journal Article and Foot Update

Link to the Courier Journal Story

Above is the link to the Courier Journal's story about me. I have to admit, I'm shocked at how well it came out, so thank you to Matt Frassica and the Courier Journal for the exposure. This should go a long way towards showing Metro Government how badly I want this and how hard I am working for this. This has also shown me that I have a great support system at LMEMS. Sadly, most of the advice I am getting from them is that despite wanting me to return to work with them, LMEMS doesn't deserve me. I have mixed feelings about that statement, I loved my coworkers there, I tried to stay off of command's radar as best I could, but I wouldn't trade those people for anything. That being said, I view the potential and from the statements from my own command staff, eventual firing to be a severing of ties. I can't go back there, if I did, I would be going back wearing a target. I'm going to be targeted even if they keep me. I'm ready for that fight, I'm ready to prove that I'm missing a leg, I'm not handicapped. If need be, then I'll prove that at another service, at another time. Most important to me is safety. The safety of my partner and those around me. I won't go back until I'm confident that I can go back on the truck without putting anyone at risk. As it has been said, an injured/dead medic is no medic. I'd be doing a disservice to everyone if I went back on the truck because I was rushed and then wasn't able to do the job because I wasn't ready.

Update on the foot...I took my prosthetic to the office today. Matt is going to call Otto Bock in the AM and hopefully have me back up and walking by Tuesday morning. 

Oh well, Thank you to everyone who continues to support me, and to all the new readers...Hello and I hope you enjoy the show.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Good day and bad...

Had a great time at the aquarium today. Wish my son had been here to go with us, but he's at Dollywood with his mother, so I know he's having a great time too. Now on to the good and bad of the day. Good...I was able to walk the entire aquarium without any problems. My endurance is getting better and I'm starting to feel more comfortable on the leg. Matt, my prosthetist, has helped me identify one major obstacle. Learning to trust the leg to not fail me. I'm going to fall...that's a part of it. If you are an amp then gravity is against you. After all, walking is nothing more than falling gracefully. I messaged Sienna, my other prosthesist, it seems they've never seen this before in the Triton Harmony foot. At least I'm still doing new things and coming up with new problems. Let's see how Otto Bock decides to fix this issue. At least, this will help others. So, go to Kentucky Prosthetics tomorrow and have the foot repaired or replaced which ever they decide. My foot has a section at the top that creates a vacuum inside the socket that holds the entire prosthetic to my leg, without that section the knee becomes unstable (it rotates with each step), and there's no suction so nothing to hold the socket to my leg. This is a major issue, I'm so happy that I chose Kentucky Prosthetics because I don't know of any other office that would come in on a Sunday just for one patient.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Walked Today...

 Today I walked about 30 yards without a cane. As before, it's not pretty, I'm still off balance walking without the cane, but as I strengthen my hip muscles and continue to practice I'll get there. I'm working now on endurance, balance, strength, and weight loss. I was able to spend 15 minutes on the treadmill at the last physical therapy appointment, 5 as a warm up at a slow speed, 5 doing interval training, then 5 with a 5% incline. Needless to say, it kicked my butt. I feel like I'm making progress by leaps and bounds from where I was a few months ago. I'm curious to see how the article in the paper goes, well more to the point, I'm curious how it will be received by the powers that be. If this doesn't get their attention then nothing will. I'm just tired of the worry. I've decided to stop worrying about it, I'm leaving it up to them. If they want me, then my position will be there, if not, then I'll find another service who needs a very determined paramedic.

Pushing towards that August goal of being back to work.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Call from HR...

I received a call from Metro HR today. The call was regarding my Americans with disabilities paperwork. The form was left rather vague by my physician, and she wanted me to list what accommodations I think I may need. I explained to her that the medical team expects me to be able to function close to 100% by August and I won't know what, if any accommodations I may need until I am actually attempting to do the job. I also found out that they will be working with EMS to decide if it will be "detrimental or infeasible for the service to make arrangements in my employment." This all seems to me to be a very nice way of saying, HR is leaving it up to EMS to decide if you have a career here. So, I continue my uphill battle against the grain here. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to return to LMEMS, I sure hope to continue my career there. It seems that nobody knows when or if I'm being terminated. Nobody knows the date they have chosen to use, as a refresher, I was injured in May but was able to work light (modified duty) for a little while in October. So, which date they choose will make the date I'm terminated. If I am let go I have had several people tell me that "you can just reapply," I'm just not sure I can do that. If they want me, if I'm family, then why not just give me the time? I'm just hoping that the Dr and Physician's estimates are correct and I am ready by August. I am able to put all my weight on the prosthetic side now. I'm able to walk a few steps, the problem is they aren't pretty by any means. I'd rather take 3 perfect steps than take 1,000 ones that aren't perfect. My goal is to get to the point where when I walk you can't distinguish that I'm walking on a prosthetic. An integral part of being a paramedic is gaining the trust of your patient. I don't want anything to get in my way of forming that trust. In a matter of seconds a patient has decided if they are going to trust you or not, all patient care is derived from that trust.

Another day of PT tomorrow. Still no word from the Mayor's office, remember this Sunday April 15th I'll be in the Courier Journal

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tired of stressing

I'm so tired of being stressed. It seems I make a decision to stop worrying about one thing and another decides to rear its  ugly head. It never fails. The past year I have on a regular basis had one trail replaced with another. I had decided that I'm not going to worry about where I work or even if I'm going to be a medic, that gets replaced with more stress from a personal issue that I can't go into here. Just needless to say I'm ready for a break that doesn't involve one of my bones.

On a more positive note, tomorrow is another day of physical therapy. At least I know that I can use some of this frustration to better myself. In high school our football program had the motto "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" this is my goal. I want to be bigger, stronger, and faster than I was prior to the fall. Hey I'm already one leg lighter so I'm more aerodynamic. I've started working on a balance ball, with and without the leg on. This is helping me find where my center of gravity has switched to, in most above knee amputees it moves up and to the right. This is true of me as well. Now I have to train my center of gravity to get back down where it belongs when I'm wearing the leg, and back up when I take the leg off. It's been recommended that I do some sort of martial art, this will help me find my center of gravity, switch it when needed, and help me defend myself when needed at get's hairy in the field from time to time.

Tomorrow's a new day. Hopefully, it will be better than today.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

11 Stories, 11 months

It's been 11 months to the day since I fell. It's hard to believe that 11 months ago my life was going great. I was dating my best friend, I was about to start my vacation. I had decided that I was going to take a month off for the first time in six years. It was going great. I was precepting an amazing new paramedic, I loved being able to teach him and prepare him for the busy and pressure filled world of Metro EMS. I was excited for my vacation to recharge my batteries and then go back refreshed and ready to move up the ranks at metro EMS. I had no idea that one month later, what started as an amazing day would change my life forever.

Now I'm on the precipice of another life altering decision. I'm fighting tooth and nail to go back to a service who is making it obvious has no interest in my return. Don't get me wrong, my coworkers are very supportive, for the most part. There are a few who are unsupportive, but I realize I'll encounter that anywhere I go. For the rest of my life I'll have to prove myself, I'm ok with that. I have just realized that even if LMEMS takes me back, I'll spend every shift walking on eggshells because I'll be a target for command. They say "even if we fire you, we will take you back as soon as you're ready." Now, my biggest supporter, our former Car 1 (operations command) has retired and with that coupled with the mayors office ignoring my every request to speak with the mayor and the radio silence that has met every message on the social media front, do I really want to go back there. What keeps me wanting to return are the amazing people I worked with. I had the pleasure of working with some of the finest EMT's and Patamedics in the state. I hate to lose that but I deserve better. I'm no hero, but I've had enough stressing over this and losing sleep worrying about pleasing them. I will go back to the streets. I may be on a truck or fly, but I'll be there somewhere. 11 months ago I nearly died. The laws of physics were against me, and you know Gravity is the law and you can't break it, but it surely tried to break me. I fell 11 stories, worked for months to save a leg that didn't work, amputated said leg, and now am well ahead of where I should be. That's not good enough for an exception or extension then I'll find an agency that would love to have a Prosthetic Medic.

In one month I'll be one year out. I will be off of the cane and proudly walk out of my house that day. I hope to return to Tioga Falls, the bottom this time, and not the fast way I took last time. I just want to go there and bury this, look my demon in the eye and get on with life. 11 stories, 11 months, and I'm alive. I'm going to make the best of it if you don't want me, somebody else does.