West Chester, PA
Left Transhumeral and Left Transtibial
Swimming leg, Flex Run, Work out arm, Daily arm, Myo-electric hybrid arm and daily walking leg.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became an amputee.
I’m a retired Captain of the United States Marine Corps. I was a fighter pilot in the AV-8B Harrier jump-jet from 1992 through 1993. On September 22, 1993 I was involved in a serious crash in the Harrier during a routine training mission just outside Cherry Point, NC. As a result of 3rd degree burns over 36% of my body and burn infections, it was necessary for doctors to amputate above the left elbow and below the left knee. I spent three months in the burn center at Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX. Upon release from BAMC in December of 1993, I was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. I spent roughly six months at Walter Reed for prosthetic fit outs and rehabilitation.
How has being an amputee changed your life?
I have truly learned to improvise, adapt and overcome over the past seventeen years. Missing two limbs on the same side presents a different set of issues… balance has always been a key issue to focus on. I have to improvise how I carry things, pick up objects, ambulate on different surfaces, seating at sports arenas, all the same things that other amputees experience, only with a little more focus on balance. I’ve had to adapt to various conditions like slippery surfaces, icy walkways and roads just like other amputees. I have experienced and overcome injuries as a result of falls and over use of my good limbs from being a double amputee.
From a personal perspective, becoming an amputee has changed my life for the better. Through the daily process of improvising, adapting and overcoming, I become a stronger person and those challenges that once seemed monumental now become a regular habit of daily living. This is probably the hardest thing to convey to new amputees. I never see myself as having a disability. I only see myself as having ability. I may do it a different way, however, I work to figure it out and adapt to how it can work for me and make me more able bodied. That’s rewarding in itself.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in helping you achieve success?
My wife, Tina and my three daughters have been my biggest inspiration. Without their love and constant never ending support, I could never live my life to the fullest. And, so often it seems I meet someone who struggles much more than myself. I feel humbled meeting them and I’m quickly reminded that my life isn’t bad at all.
What advice would you give to others who are new to the amputee community?
Be patient with the whole fitting process and with using your new limbs. As a new amputee, you’re thrown into a whole new world of terminology; thermo-plastics, carbon fiber, gait analysis, sores, phantom pains, balance, strength, overall health. It’s a lot to absorb all at once. Be patient with the process, follow the process and work through it. The process has worked for decades for millions of other amputees and it will work for you too. Patience!
List some of your hobbies:
Running, weight lifting, reading, investing, boating, coaching, trains and hunting.