I believe that when facing anything in life, attitude is everything. I have always considered myself lucky. If you think you have it bad, there is always someone that has it worse. Trust me.
From a young age, visiting Shriner’s Hospital in Tampa, Fl, I was exposed to kids just like me with disabilities ranging from minor amputations all the way to complex neuromuscular diseases that took over both their bodies and minds. There were always constant reminders that I was one of hundreds of kids in just this area dealing with “challenges”. After seeing many children with issues that ran circles around mine I knew that I actually had it easy.
I had Trevor’s Disease. It was a disorder with the growth plates in my left knee and ankle that caused them to grow slower than the plates in my right leg. It was not such a big deal until the age of nine, when my left leg was 6 cm shorter than my right. In 1995, at the age of nine, I spent one whole year of my life at the hospital getting a leg lengthening procedure. After the procedure my leg was relatively normal again, and I continued to pursue the same activites as any other normal kid, soccer, golf, swimming, and just being with friends. I fell in love from soccer from the very first kick.
Everything was going well until after another growth spurt my left leg was once again significantly shorter than my right. I had started walking on my “tippy toes” to accommodate the discrepancy. My growth plates in my left knee and ankle also went crazy, but not in such a good way. The plate in my left knee started growing tumors of bone that grew larger and larger as the years went on. The plate in my ankle grew the same bone tumors, which eventually fused my ankle in the “tippy toe” position. My leg was a peg leg, useless.
My love for soccer had grown into a passion. Despite limitations in certain movements I had excelled as a goalkeeper for various competitive soccer teams. What I lacked in mobility I made up for in vision of the field and reading play before it even happened. I breathed and lived the game but ultimately, no matter how hard I tried, my worsening disability caught up with me. At the age of 17 I would get home from soccer practice at night and not be able to walk without excruciating pain until the next morning. That is when I knew I had a decision to make and what may have seemed like a tough decision to some was really easy, plain and simple. Have one surgery to give me back my life, or have multiple surgeries to give me a half functioning catastrophe of scars.
June 29, 2005 was the first day of the rest of my life. My first day as an above the knee amputee.
Life as an amputee has led me on an incredible journey which I am looking forward to sharing in detail on this blog. I am now 22 years old and recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics. I am a spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and an accomplished rock climber and triathlete. This fall I will be starting my prosthetics residency with Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Fl.
We are all handed certain cards in life, some people get great hands while others face nearly insurmountable odds. The human spirit is an amazing thing, and more often than not those persons with the deck stacked against them come out on top. I have seen things that other people would call inspiring or incredible, but quite frankly I don’t expect anything less.