I am a right below knee amputee. Or better known as an RBKA. I guess my journey for this amputation started back in the military. I was deployed in the Middle East and an IED exploded on a convoy in which I was a passenger. Although I only got a small rock in the calf of my right leg it wasn’t enough of an injury to be operated on and have that small rock removed. That small rock didn’t cause me any issues until 2008. That’s when I was diagnosed with diabetes. And that is when this small rock became a big problem.
An IED is an improvised explosive device constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. It may be constructed of conventional military explosives such as an artillery shell attached to a detonating mechanism. IEDs are commonly used as roadside bombs or homemade bombs. I was told by the military doctors this small rock was so insignificant that it really didn’t need to be removed. It wouldn’t cause me any discomfort or future issues. That was correct until I got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Fast forward to 2008 when I got my type 2 diabetic diagnosis. That’s when the issues with this small pebble in my calf became life-threatening. I developed a blister on the bottom of my right foot primarily from walking because I walked everywhere. Walking was a great way to get exercise stay fit and keep my cardio workout levels high. Since my days in high school I had always been active, always done physical workouts, was in great shape. Nobody in my family had a history of diabetes, nobody in my family had a history of hypertension, or was overweight. My diagnoses of diabetes was something I did not understand and to be honest doctors didn’t/couldn’t explain it to me. When I asked THE question how I could be diabetic when I didn’t eat sweets was not overweight and kept in shape, I was told by doctors…”we don’t know.”
Now I’m the type of human being who likes answers to questions I have or that I ask. Getting a diagnosis of being type 2 diabetic without any explanation how that could happen to me based on my family history, based on my physical conditioning since high school, I was flummoxed. The very next thing that I did was all my fault and nobody else’s. Going against doctors advice, doctors I didn’t trust because they couldn’t give me any answers why I was diabetic, I ignored their advice. I didn’t manage my diabetes, I didn’t take the insulin that I was prescribed. I didn’t change my diet. I ignored absolutely everything the doctors told me I should do to control and manage my diabetes. That was the wrong thing to do and caused the amputation of my right leg below the knee.
This blister I mentioned above, that I got because I continued to walk as a way of daily exercise, transformed from a mere simple blister into osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that occurred because of my diabetes. The only way to stop the osteomyelitis and the infection of the bone from spreading higher up my leg was to amputate below the knee. After being forced to wait 6 months with this infection in my leg, which was painful, which had me bedridden to stay off the leg, I was then approved to have the surgery to amputate. The 6 month wait was because I had to jump through medical hoops ordered by different doctors before I could have the surgery.
The truth of the matter is several doctors had to be included in this decision to have the amputation after an orthopedic surgeon told me 6 months earlier that I needed this surgery in order to save my leg. Now the question you have to ask yourself is pretty simple: why would FOUR doctors who have nothing to do with the orthopedic surgeons decision to amputate, have any say whatsoever in this operation? A cardiologist got involved. then there was an endocardinologist that had to have her opinion considered. Then there was a kidney specialist that I had never visited in my life, who got involved. Lastly my primary care physician had to have a say so. THE FACT THAT I WAS IN PAIN FOR 6 MONTHS AND THAT I WAS BEDRIDDEN ON MY BACK FOR 6 MONTHS did not matter to anybody who came up with the bright idea of prolonging this surgery for 6 months.
So January 31st 2019 I had the amputation. Finally. Healing process was perfect after a perfect surgery. There were no complications I healed miraculously quickly and moved on to the next phase….. being fitted for a prosthetic leg. Little did I know that the next three years would be a series of insurance company failures, prosthetist failures, and finding a prosthetists who understood what I needed. A prosthetists is a healthcare professional who makes and fits artificial limbs called prostheses, for people with disabilities. This includes artificial legs and arms, hands, fingers, for people who have had amputations due to conditions such as cancer diabetes or injury.
Over the next few days, weeks, months, I will be chronicling this journey I took from being a “normal person” to becoming a right below knee amputee. The purpose of this blog and the focus will be on my journey, the pitfalls I endured, all the unnecessary failures I had to experience, due to the healthcare profession that deals with amputees. Hopefully along the way I can provide some guidance for new amputees so they can avoid all the stupidity I had to deal with as a brand new amputee. I will offer my experience. I will offer some advice. I will offer some shortcuts and ways to avoid prolonging the search for the right prosthetists and the right prosthetic company for your mobility issues.
If you happen to be a brand new amputee it is very important that you understand you’re not alone. There are a lot of agencies and coalitions and advocacy groups out here to help you navigate this amputation. Future blog post contain listings of different agencies available to help you get through this amputation. It’s a life-changing episode but you can still have a life worthwhile. You can survive this amputation. There are a plethora of support groups available. On the Twitter platform there will be spaces that I host and provide for fellow amputees. For support, for community.
Thank you for reading Just Another Blog. By Me…Just Another Blogger.