I am a 15 year old boy with 1 and a half legs, AMA!
My name is Garet, and I am a 15 year old amputee. I was first diagnosed when I was 7 years old. My mother had noticed a lump on my left thigh while I was lying on the floor (all other seats were taken in the living room) and watching television. We went to the hospital in the capital of my state (in your face, everyone who wants to know where I live), and I had an MRI done. The results came back and I had a tumor in my thigh, and it was roughly the size of an ostrich egg. I had a biopsy done on it, and it was discovered to be fibromatosis, a rare form of soft-tissue tumors that are non-cancerous. After my biopsy and diagnosis, I was scheduled for a surgery to remove the tumor, which had grown to the size of a small loaf of bread. I had the operation to remove on the day of my birthday (it’s in January, for time-reference). After that, it seemed like I would be just fine; but, of course, you see how long this is, so you know that there just has to be more. This happened while I was in second grade, just so you know.
A few months later, my mother noticed another growth in my thigh, and I went back to have it checked, and, lo-and-behold, it’s another tumor. Once again, my doctor performs a biopsy, and it is again fibromatosis. Shortly thereafter, my doctor removes the tumor, and I seemed to be recovering well. All this happened in 3rd grade or around that time, for reference.
I entered 4th grade, and I was having regular check-ups, and more tumors were sighted under the radar known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging. My doctor suggested that I try going through chemotherapy, as surgeries have shown to be only temporary fixes, and we need something to get rid of it once and for all. I started my chemo, and I went through it for a year; oddly enough, my hair didn’t fall out, and I was one of the “lucky” few to go through chemo and keep their hair. I had to go to chemotherapy every Friday for the first half of the year, and then every other Friday for the second half, totaling 39 treatments; I also had to leave school early and had two surgeries: one to insert the port to my heart, and one to take it out.
After another MRI, the chemo was shown to be ineffective, and we needed to get rid of the tumors in my leg, so I had another surgery in 5th grade (this time by a different doctor; my old one stated that he wouldn’t touch my leg again unless he was amputating it). Not too long after that operation, I had a staph infection in the surgical site, and had to have another surgery to get rid of it.
Well-you probably guessed it by this point-the tumors came back. I was in the 6th grade, and I needed something new to attempt to fix my leg, as the tumors seemed to have been working their way lower down my leg. My doctor suggested radiation to my leg, and I tried it. I went to radiation treatments for several months, having to leave school early every time I went.
The radiation didn’t really help with shrinking or stunting the tumors’ growth, although it did stunt the growth of my leg in general. The tumors were shown in another MRI to have moved lower, around my knee area, and it wasn’t covered in the radiation area as it wasn’t seen in the MRIs taken before treatments started due to the fact that a full leg MRI wasn’t done. Because of these new gold deposits in my mine of a leg, surely the prospector called Doc would want to dig out those bad boys with his pick and hammer, so in he went.
After more inevitable tests, more tumors showed up, and I had to have proton radiation done to hopefully stop the enemy at the gates. I had these treatments for a year during 7th grade, and it caused my knee to not straighten fully because my hamstrings were now constricted. Another side effect was the skin on the affected seeming to fall off, leaving an open spot and seepage coming out for some fresh air. This radiation, however, did seem to work, as the tumors had actually started shrinking.
Because of the aforementioned hamstring problem, I was walking on the front part of my foot, which is not an area accustomed to such use and pressure. This caused a stress fracture to develop in the front part of my foot, and I was on crutches for 3 months before my doctor gave me a choice: keep the leg and stay on crutches pretty much forever or lose the leg and be able to walk normally eventually. This choice was given to me in March of last year, which was my 8th grade year. I made the decision to have the amputation done, although I’m sure many would do the same, as it seems better in the long “run.”
The amputation was performed by my surgeon on March 26th, and it seemed to have gone perfectly. The type of amputation was a knee-disarticulation, which is when your leg is disconnected at the knee, which means that you have your entire femur and kneecap, but have no tibia or fibula.
But, of course, I got an infection about one month later, and had to have it debrided. To make sure the infection couldn’t come back or stay in the wound, I had a wound-vac on the residual limb. A wound-vac is a vacuum that sucks out all of the bad mojo, and does so by a tube connecting to your afflicted area that is surrounded by a tight plastic seal to prevent air in the vacuum. I had this wound-vac for 6 months, throughout my entire summer break, and even into 9th grade. I also had to leave school in 8th grade after the amputation due to phantom pains, which seemed to always come to me whenever I wasn’t distracted by something funny or interesting, so you know school was not a good environment for that. I found refuge from the pains that plagued me in computer games such as League of Legends (I’ll be expecting my letter in the mail, Rito) and YouTube videos.
After the wound was completely clean, and no sign of any more problems in the future, I could begin the process of obtaining a prosthesis that I could then use to walk and even run. I received my prosthesis after the process of a month or so of fittings and makings for the prosthesis because it has to be a perfect fit due to the fact that you’re literally wearing it everywhere unless you’re in water or sleeping. I got my new leg on September 30th of last year, and it felt fantastic. Since then, I’ve gotten a new socket for it, as my stump shrunk. Also, I can walk almost flawlessly and can run because I had a great physical therapist and attended Amputee Walking Schools, which are basically classes on walking as an amputee taught by Todd Schaffhauser and Dennis Oehler, who are two former Paralympic athletes and set world records for leg amputee running. NOTE: Whenever I was getting MRIs or having operations done, I had to travel for 1 ½ hours to reach the capital, and had to drive for 2 ½ hours for my proton radiation treatments.
TL;DR: Was diagnosed with mom’s spaghetti, had to remove all of my spaghetti and meatballs. Read it ^
PICS: Picture taken just after the cast was removed from the amputation http://imgur.com/0vCYhyz
Picture taken of the infection at its worst, also you can see the scar from port surgeries http://imgur.com/97kYpsx
Picture taken of me and my prosthesis (it is backwards due to the use of a mirror) http://imgur.com/tEhML6Z
Picture taken of me trying on my prosthesis to make sure it fit well before I got the finished product http://imgur.com/w6MS42E