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Getting a leg further up

August 10, 2015

Prosthesis and shoes

I still can’t believe it’s been six months since Safety Ed brought me to the Emergency Department at the VA Medical Center in Seattle. It’s been (sorry) a long, strange trip, but it’s about to come to a conclusion… I will be going home later this week.

In case you’re just joining us, back in February I got really sick which made having my right leg amputated below the knee necessary.

Since then, I was sent to a skilled nursing facility to recover from the surgery, then returned to VAMC Seattle for physical and occupational therapy. The picture shows the latest version of a prosthesis I will be wearing for the rest of my life. Unless, of course, someone discovers what gene switch to flip to make amputated limbs grow back, as some reptiles can do.

I see others in the scooter blogosphere dealing with medical issues—one of them being Steve Williams of Scooter in the Sticks, who is recovering from a heart attack. He has written about the changes in his life since then, and I think about those writings as I contemplate the changes in mine.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been treated in the Veterans’ Affairs healthcare system. VA has more experience in orthopedic surgery and prosthetic design (one member of my prosthetic team is a world-renowned authority on the subject) that just about anyone. Those IEDs and roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan have a lot to do with it, for sure. While I’m inclined to believe the private sector would have bodged up a leg and pushed me out the door, the process of fitting the new leg and teaching me to walk again has been careful and thorough. Those who’ve been working with me have been thrilled with my progress (I always have been a quick learner), and assure me I should do just fine when I rejoin the world.

We’ll see. I haven’t forgotten about scooters, and do expect to be back on two wheels sooner rather than later. But for now, there are many formerly mundane tasks that will require new approaches now that I’m missing a limb. The easiest way to go pee in the middle of the night, for starters. 😉 Favicon

  1. August 10, 2015 6:17 pm

    Hello Orin,

    Nothing like medical drama and crisis to get a person to sit up and pay attention. I like to think we all react this way but experience tells me otherwise. The people I’ve known that have faced physical disaster have responded in myriad ways — some heartening and others discouraging. I say discouraging because I believe — at least in my case — that watching someone else deal with injury or illness is frightening and I want to believe in every case that everyone “beats” whatever they’re facing. I’ve learned that this stuff is personal and unique and each person deals in their own way and what might make sense for me could be disaster to someone else.

    Having a heart attack wasn’t a great surprise considering the terrible nature of my diet and lifestyle but the reality of the event has made me sit up straight. Knowing that death was an option changes how I think about myself, my family and friends, and my life in general. I’m not on any sort of bucket list chase but I am aware of the finite nature of my life and how my choices are important. At least a little.

    Reading your post and your thoughts about changes ahead I can offer a few observations. One, each of us is more powerful and resourceful than we think if we don’t let fear and depression overwhelm. And in the depth of despair there is often a flicker of hope in the adventure ahead. Each day brings new challenges and opportunities and even if they suck they can be interesting in their own way.

    I had a riding colleague who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident and now wears a prosthesis much like yours. He still rides though now on a BMW with a sidecar. He still makes thousand mile rides and has lots of fun. If he didn’t have some other issues he would have been able to continue on two wheels I think.

    Anyways, I wanted to wish you well on the journey ahead and hope you find a satisfying path. Glad things seem to be going well and stay in touch.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. August 20, 2015 12:42 pm

    I’ve followed you for a while…checking in from time to time. Been away for a while..and missed all of this?!

    Scooter scene here got real dramatic for no good reason. Enjoyed the info you shared and your take.

    One of the original Scooter Cult members lost a leg last year due to illness. Scary stuff. Positive thoughts to you…and glad the VA is working out. I’m a volunteer at the USO in CLT and they can be really good, or really challenging sometimes. Keep on hopping bro.. 🙂

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