Keep Truckin'

After everything I went through, I woke up….

My name is David and this is the story of how I recovered from an amputation due to necrotizing fasciitis.

My knee hurt for about a week. I went to a local hospital and that night they amputated my leg from the knee down due to infection. And that hospital realized they couldn't handle me so I was transferred to Penn where they spent the next month knocking the infection down with several surgeries. I was set to go home Thanksgiving. A nurse found me that night slumped over and unresponsive in bed. I spent the next month in a coma. I suffered heart and liver failure, kidney failure, two collapsed lungs, and a stroke.

The day after Christmas I woke up and realized I was in a different room, and I was on a ventilator. A nurse realized I was conscious and explained to me exactly what happened. The rest of my leg had been amputated after several surgeries, from the knee to progressively up my leg, eventually to the pelvis.

I spent the next month recovering. I had to learn how to do everything all over again. I couldn't sit up by myself, nothing. The patience of the therapists there was utterly amazing. They would hold me up each time something bad happened. They convinced me to keep going. I'm a very stubborn person, and I could get discouraged easily. “Just keep going, everybody has a bad day,” that's what they would tell me. And that's what I did, I just kept truckin’.

I was released in March from the hospital and I went to Good Shepherd. One of the nursing staff told me she had worked there and that they were very hard on the patients, they made them work. And I said well that's fine with me, I had 12 years of catholic school.

I started in March and started playing with baby toys and clothespins and blocks, because that's where I had to start. I couldn't tie my shoes, I couldn’t write my name. I had to tell the doctors, “You put me back together enough that I can go fishing in a wheelchair, I’ll be happy.” Well, one of the therapists one day surprised me. I came in to do my normal work, and there was a fishing rod in the corner. It was her husband's fishing rod. We stuck a paperclip in it, tied a line to it and I was able to cast it across the room. That just gave me the want to do it again.

After about a month I went in for my regular therapy session and they had me go over to the parallel bars, I didn't know why. One of the therapists grabbed this large metallic knee brace and they strapped it onto my right leg and they told me that they were going to have me walk down the parallel bars.

At that point they seemed to grab every available therapist who was anywhere near me, probably about 8 of them, standing around me in any possible supportive position you could think of. And I staggered down the parallel bars, which is about 16-20 feet. That was the first time I had walked in about 4 or 5 months.

Even though they told me it was only 1% of the people that were going to be able to walk again with my particular amputation, that didn't bother me in the slightest, because I had just managed to walk. I staggered to the end of the bars, and the entire therapy room was clapping. 1% or not, I was going to walk again.

So three years later, I have a prosthetic. I'm able to walk by myself with a walker. I'm part of a team here. The therapists have been beyond helpful. I can't thank them enough. After everything I went through, the coma I was in, and my level of amputation, how could I give up after I woke up?