My Life Beyond 4 Limbs
Eight years ago I woke up each morning, swung my two healthy legs off the side of the bed and began my day. I didn’t give having two legs or walking a thought. I was just living my life like anyone one else. I was a husband and father of three young active kids. My life was full, very busy and active. After going back to school at the age of 30, paying my dues substitute teaching, and taking teaching positions no one else would take, I was finally working my dream job as a third-grade teacher. When not at work I was always working on a home project and maintaining my yard to perfection. The highlight was spending the winter weekends skiing with my kids.
In a blink of an eye, my life came crashing down when I was 42 years old. I suffered a rare life-changing ankle injury. I endured six ankle surgeries that forever changed the anatomy of my lower left leg, ten leg casts, recovery time on crutches that added up in the years and debilitating pain. In the end I wound up with a deformed lower leg, chronic pain and was unable to walk without the help of crutches. To add salt to the wound, I also lost my teaching job after the third surgery, being left as a 47-year-old unemployed disabled father.
For the next two years, I used crutches to support the weight I put on my left leg while walking and completely removed the weight when I could no longer tolerate the pain. I was in constant pain daily and I spent my evenings and nights in agony. During this time I returned to school to retrain for a new career that would require less time on my feet. Once I secured a position in public health, I began preparing to have my lower left leg amputated.
I amputated my lower left leg on 9/24/14. It was the most agonizing and difficult decision I have ever had to make. In the end I had to take the chance with amputation because I could no longer live with the excruciating pain the leg caused. (see Waking Up An Amputee) The amputation freed me from the bondage of my wicked leg, however living with a leg amputation is not easy and comes with a whole host of challenges. In the wake of the amputation, I was fortunate to discover something that completely reversed what could have been the most difficult year of my life: challenging myself through physical fitness. The harder I pushed myself in the gym, the easier it became to accept and handle my daily challenges. I grew into a strong, determined, very capable and confident person. I learned that amputation didn’t have to stop or define my life. In fact, the human body is capable of adapting to physical change and accomplishing incredible things.
I am now a 51-year-old husband, father and below-knee amputee. I live a full highly active life. I work full time as a Personal Trainer, mentor amputees, maintain a website/blog, work out daily and participate in multiple sport activities and events.
My hope is that through sharing my experiences, you will find the information, support, and motivation to get through an amputation of a leg or a serious leg injury, transition to accepting a different way of mobility, or cope with a disability that affects your mobility. This website is the place I will tell my story, share the ways I found to make my life easier, recount how I took back my life, and compile what I have learned.
Explore and enjoy! Hopefully, you’ll take something from it to make your life easier.