Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The words I hate

Can't. Can Not. Impossible. Not feasible. Unlikely. These are all words that as an amputee I have grown to hate. Once you have a limb removed society has an entire list of things that you "can't" do. Ask an amputee, I assure you they have a list of things they can no longer do. Not because they don't want to, but because it has been told to them that they can't.

I bring this up because I've been doing a lot of research on the upcoming Paralympic Games. I'm lucky enough to know a dual paralympian; she is an olympic rower (who won the bronze medal) and this March, competing in the biathlon in Sochi. She is also a bilateral above knee amputee. Can't isn't in her vocabulary. Luckily for her, it wasn't in her families dictionary either. This is the difference maker. Do the people you surround yourself with fill you with doubt or with support? I've been blessed enough to have an army of supporters. I was also raised to believe that anything was possible. My stepfather beat the phrase "Can't never could no nothing" into my head. Aside from giving you grammer nazi's a heart attack, it meant that if I said I can't do something, it just meant it was hard and I didn't want to. Like Yoda said, Do or Do Not, there is no try. That has become part of my core philosophy. I have realized that being an amputee just requires me to take alternate paths to the same goals. It may take me longer, I may have set backs, and I will get frustrated. That's allowed, you can get upset, you can get mad, you can throw a pity party and wonder why me?, but quitting is not an option. Have your moment, then dust off and get back to work.

This is where I am at now, I've had my set backs, I'm ready to dust off and get back to work. With my new socket finally being framed, and set to be delivered, I have a new breath of air. I'm hopeful for the future. I'm not sure where I will land, I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but that's the exciting part. I have an open road ahead and with Kate and the kids by my side I'm ready for a new adventure to begin.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I want your much?

Life as an amputee can be perplexing. Aside from the things you would expect to be challenging; learning to walk again, gaining balance, learning to fall, stairs....there are other parts of this lifestyle that just confuse me. 
Case in point; when it comes time for me to get a new prosthetic device I have to work my way through a ballet of hoops and red tape. It's not as simple as my physician saying "Joe needs this prosthetic in order to live the life he is accustomed too." No! Instead we submit to my insurance company which prosthetic I need. They will either 1.)reject it outright and say I have to choose a prosthetic from their list of approved devices; 2.) Offer to pay a very minimal amount towards said prosthetic and leave me to cover the rest; or 3.) Stall. 

These are the tactics I am up against each time I try to get a new leg or foot. I've faced this recently. I was attempting to get a microprocessor controlled foot that would mimic the effect of having a functional ankle...I got approved for the foot. The problem was, they weren't willing to pay their share. They wanted to pay much less than my coverage provided. This leaves me once again fighting the appeal process, this time, I chose not to fight. I let this battle go...many times amputees are forced to make these choices. I have learned the lesson of when to fight and when to back down...pick your battles indeed. 

Why am I going on and on about how difficult it is to get an appropriate prosthetic? What does this have to do with you? I'm glad you asked...but first a few more questions to post to you. How much is it worth to you to be able to walk? How much money would it take for you to give up that ability? What about the ability to pick up silverware? How much is that worth? The reason I ask is because this is the reality of thousands of amputees in the United States. Amputees who could benefit from the technology available, but just not available to them. 

I ask all these things to emphasize the importance of a petition I just posted to 
All I am asking is for you to sign this petition, to get the attention of the President and Congress, to have them realize that Americans are suffering and it is pointless. Please sign the petition to pass a National Insurance Fairness Act for Amputees. 

Here is the Link

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm Back

I'm finally back online. The last time I was able to sit down and write on this blog I was in a very dark place. My depression and PTSD had been the worse it has been since I had my injury. To be honest, I wanted to quit. For the first time in a very long time I wished I hadn't gotten back up. Luckily, life has a way of showing you the real important things in life. The night after I had wrote the last blog post here, I was sent a message by a new amputee that I had spoke to right after her amputation. She reminded me of the words I had said to her a few months ago..."I'm not saying its going to be easy, if fact, it will be the hardest thing you will ever do...what I am saying is that it is not the end of your life. It's worth it." Having those words return to me, along with the love and support of my family and friends, has helped drag me out of my pit of despair. I'm not back to where I want to be. I'm still working on finding out who I am now. I am mourning the loss of who I used to be...thanks to some therapy I realized that I haven't done that yet. The beautiful part is...I finally feel like I am healing. 2 Years after my last surgery, I can honestly say my physical wounds are now just scars, but my mental wounds are finally on the mend.

I'll be clear, we are still in quite the financial bind. I want to return to work, I just have to find out where that will be and in what capacity. I'm still looking. I will find it.

On to some more positive news. I have been accepted back to Stanford Medicine X. This year I will be going as a presenter and I will be giving an Ignite! style speech. (If your not familiar, an Ignite format speech is a concise 5 minute presentation set to 20 slides that boost your message). You can find the ignite speeches from past presenters at Medicine X by searching YouTube for Medicine X.

As I continue to grow and heal, I can only hope that I can spread the message I am trying to live. I am an amputee. I am also a father, husband, son, friend, paramedic, the list continues on. My lack of a leg is part of who I am. I know I speak about it a lot...but it does not define me. What defines me is how many times I get back up...Fall down 9 times...get up 10.

Until next time.