My leg was amputated in Feb. 2010. I received my first prosthetic limb in April. My left leg suffered from Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. This caused extreme pain in the calf of my leg when I would walk. It couldn’t even walk a hundred yards. It would hurt me so bad that I would wish my leg could be cut off. I also had a four inch wound on the top of my left foot that would not heal, due to the lack of blood flow in my leg. I spent about four months going up to LDS Hospital twice a week to the Wound Clinic. Where my foot was treated in an attempt to help it heal.
When I went into the hospital, I had an infection in my foot that went up my left leg into my lungs. I also have diabetes, and when I arrived at the hospital I had a blood sugar of twelve hundred because of the infection running through my body. A normal blood sugar runs between eighty and one hundred twenty. At this time my doctor Douglas Whirthlin told my family that I probably would never leave the hospital. He decided to amputate my left leg. It gave me so many problems that when Whirthlin came into my room after the operation I thanked him for cutting my leg off.
It took me a week before I could roll over on my side in my hospital bed. At first only having one leg threw me off when it came to doing any movement, including sitting up. Going through about thirty different emotions a day became routine for quite a while. I remember thinking about how different I was from everyone else, and being terribly afraid that my kids would see me differently as a dad. My youngest daughter is a really cute ten year old, with dark blond hair and green eyes. I figured she would be mad at me because I was no longer able to go to the park and play, or do anything else we normally did together. I was actually scared to call and talk to her.
My sixteen year old son Paul is my mini-me. He has green eyes with dark blond hair. He always had a problem with people in a wheelchair or if he was around an amputee. It was like he got really creeped out. I figured he would not want to be around me at all. Turns out I owe my kids a big apology; they give me all the love and respect that I was given before I was handicapped. Paul lives with me now. He has turned out to be my biggest supporter. I don’t know what I would do without him. He’s been there to be the biggest help to me.
When I was ready I spent a week in rehabilitation. Rehabilitation was on the top floor of the hospital. It was just like being in the hospital. I was there so I could learn how to get around in a wheelchair. They taught me how to go through doorways without hitting my knuckles. This can be quite painful. I was taught how to transfer out of my wheelchair onto other types of seats, like into a car. I was taught how to use a walker so I could hop around on one leg. Plus I had to learn how to do things that I always have done easily like taking a shower, and standing up to get something out of a cupboard. My oldest son Nick spent the weekend with me while I was in rehab. It’s hard to believe but we had so much fun that weekend. Thanks to him I spent a couple of days laughing
I was taught how to be handicapped and function in different situations. At first I could not leave my house without someone going with me. I wanted to be independent again, and able to do for myself bad enough, that on the third day after I returned home I baked cookies while in my wheelchair. At this time I was introduced to the world of prosthetics. A patient representative from a prosthetic center named Fit-Well came to my house and left me with literature explaining prosthetics and how they worked.
I went into the prosthetic center to have my leg designed. Fit-Well is just like a doctor’s office except the rooms are a lot bigger with parallel walking bars in them. Prosthetics have come a long way from wooden peg legs The components for my leg were chosen based on my residual limb, which extends down three inches above where my knee used to be, my strength, my activity level, my types of activity, are taken into consideration when developing a knee for me. I’m an avid fisherman so a knee that would allow me to walk down inclines, and is water resistant with replaceable batteries, was the one for me.
Learning how to walk again has been a hard process. I had to start using a walker at first. I went into physical therapy twice a week. Where I would walk on a treadmill, and do exercises to help me regain my balance. This learning process included a lot of falling down, and a lot of time, and patience. Today I am able to walk without my cane. Although I still walk with it so if I fall down I can use it to help me get back up.
My first prosthetic leg has a manual knee. In order to make this knee bend the user must put weight on the toes of the foot so that the knee will release and the leg will bend. This kind of knee is given to new amputees because it helps to teach the user to walk with equal balance on each side. The problem with this kind of knee is if the user drags the toe and the knee is unlocked, down you go.
My second knee is very technologically advanced. It has a micro-processor in the knee. It works so that when weight is put on the toes the toes tell the micro-processor I’m trying to step and it automatically releases the knee. It also detects when I drag my toe or stumble. When this happens the knee will not release, so it gives me a chance to recover my balance. This type of knee is called a C-knee.
My C-knee is called the Plie’ 2.0. It is water resistant, and instead of a power pack, it takes a battery similar to that of a camera battery. The battery powers the micro- processor in the knee. Without the battery the knee will not bend. I change batteries and put the used one on the charger at night when I charge my phone, and drop the charged battery into the top of my knee.
After several months of physical therapy, and going from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a quad cane, to a single point cane I can walk around at school and everywhere else I go. Thanks to this knee I will be able to walk without the use of a cane. I will be able to get around as well as I did with two good legs.