IamA (35 year old about to have an elective below knee amputation) AMA!
My short bio:
I entered the Army on February 24th, 2005, just days before my 26th birthday. I chose to become an Abrams Crewman (tanker - 19k) because I wanted to do something active, I definitely wanted to deploy, and I was honestly hoping to see combat. I was younger, braver, and quite naive at the time.
Months after I joined, I was on my way back from a welcome briefing on Fort Hood when another soldier used the oncoming turn lane to pass a line of cars. I tried to dodge him but he clipped the rear wheel of my motorcycle causing it to fall down and pin my left foot as the foot peg folded up. My foot was crushed, but was immediately diagnosed as nothing but a bruised bone. 3 months later it was discovered that most of the bones had fractures of some kind and that the ligaments over my mid foot were damaged (a LisFranc fracture/dislocation). I underwent 3 surgeries while still serving, the last one being a fusion of the joints. I would never run again or stand without pain.
Until late 2014, that is. After 3 more operations by the VA, years of doctors visits, and even being part of the VA scheduling scandal, the ER visits and narcotics refills became too much for my doctors and they referred me to a private doctor. With the support of 4 VA doctors (including my primary) and the private doctor I'm now seeing at San Antonio Orthopedic Group, I have chosen to electively have the bad foot and leg amputated below the knee.
I would go on, but the rest can be left to the questions.
Bits of my story can be found at the following links:
I will answer any question, including medical. This is part of my saying goodbye to the foot. Hopefully I can educate some people about LisFranc injuries, the VA, the Army, and how to deal with chronic pain.
EDIT Very surprised at how well this went. I'm going to keep answering questions this evening, but it might get a bit slower. Wife and I are about to work on the leg art work for Day t-17. I'll post pictures of that afterward.
I'm curious if anyone would be interested in the following:
AMA with my wife? I know spousal support is really important with these things. Perhaps she has some input for the people on the other side.
AMA with me post op? It will be a few months, but perhaps I can revisit things in September!
EDIT 2 12AM here. I'm still answering questions. I've had a great time meeting a lot of fellow soldiers, some old Fort Hood friends, and a lot of amputees and amputee candidates. I've only got 17 days left before the operation, so I'll keep going as long as I can tonight.
1 favor to ask If you know anyone willing to do a memorial/worthy cause tattoo in the San Antonio, Austin, Houston or even Dallas, Texas area, please let them know about me. I'm looking for someone to help do a tribute to some fallen soldiers from 1-8CAV and a donation to a worthy cause tattoo before it goes. Was hoping to document it and make something special out of this. Thanks in advance.
EDIT 3 Off to bed. I'll answer any questions posed tonight when I get up tomorrow. Thank you so much for making this such a resounding success. I had no idea when I started this how well it would go. I've been inspired, I've learned a lot about what I'm going through, and I believe I've been able to help a few people. Hopefully we're all not done with that. I'll post more tomorrow, then I'll see you all in a few weeks with a Post Op AMA.
For now, enjoy the day t-17 artwork
EDIT 4, Monday 23 June at 2:47pm CST I haven't forgotten about the messages posted since last night, I have just been very busy today. I will get back to everyone soon. I encourage anyone new to this AMA to read through it thoroughly. If you still have a question that you'd like answered, please post it, or even contact me privately. I will make time to respond to everyone prior to July 10th. Otherwise, I will be back in late July with a Post OP AMA including all the pictures of the surgery, some journal entries, and hopefully a few video monologues from myself and my wife. Thanks for everything.
Anyone in the San Antonio area (or elsewhere really) that would like to help out, I know my wife will need it, and we will not turn down the kindness. We have a calendar set up for the many people that have volunteered their time, food, or other help. If you''d like to be included in that, please message me privately.
EDIT 4 30 July 2014 Just a quick status update. I've had a lot of PMs asking for an update, so here goes.
I'm 3 weeks post op. I was doing fine until last week when I took a fall getting out of the tub. Split open the wound and now I'm back in bed full time waiting for it to heal.
I have lots of good news, some I unfortunately cannot share yet. First, I have had a few redditors from this AMA help me out. That's been awesome. One redditor came to my house, cooked some snacks for my wife and I, helped me get around a bit, and played some board games with us. Meeting her was great, and now I have a new friend right around the corner.
I was able to donate my leg after a lot of "leg-work", but I don't have a lot to share on that quite yet. The laws in Texas were funny and now we're dealing with Federal Regulations trying to make sure all of our I's are dotted and T's are crossed. When I do my follow up AMA I will be able to go into more detail, but for now I can assure everyone that the leg wasn't burnt to ashes and was in fact put toward a very worthy cause.