What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today, I had my left leg amputated below my knee. I’ve still got a ways to go in recovery, but the worst all seems to be behind me. I’ve gone to the beach with my family, snowboarded, mountain biked, played full-court basketball, and much more. We moved our family to Colorado, and I’ve traveled more in the last nine months than the previous four years of recovery combined.

It takes about 18 months to fully recover from an amputation. That’s encouraging because while there are good days, there are still plenty of bad days as well. They are fewer, but they still happen. Too much activity will sideline me for hours or sometimes the entire next day. It’s difficult to be patient when there’s so much to do.

Through it all, when I look at the journey, I’m just at the center of a whirlwind. Amputating sets in motion a series of events and a long recovery process that relies heavily on the people around you. Looking back, it feels like this is less about what I’ve achieved and more about the folks who enabled me.

First and foremost is family. Lauren, Bella, and Hadley have all been so incredibly patient and supportive despite the inconveniences of the last four years. It’s been a long journey with tons of ups and downs, but I’m dying to make up for lost time with them.

Matt Taylor, my incredible physical therapist, spent three years knowing when to push me a little harder and when to have me let up for my own good. I can’t imagine a better partner in recovery.

Fellow amputees Ian Warshak, Matt Melancon, John Winchester, and Josh Smith all played a part in both easing my mind and showing all too clearly that amputation was about enabling greater activity rather than limiting it. Y’all are all beasts, and watching y’all do what you do has been inspiring.

My employers, Chris and Natalie Nagele—and really the whole team at Wildbit—were so incredibly supportive and patient throughout this process when it affected work. Even today on my ampiversary, Wildbit donated Limbs for Life in my honor. They get it.

The Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte helped me return to snowboarding and even get started with downhill mountain biking and feel confident about my ability to make adjustments and adapt. Having them near our new home was a huge part of feeling comfortable living in a small remote town without a prosthetist nearby. I’m really looking forward to getting involved with them and giving back however I can.

And through this, my prosthetists have been great. First, in Dallas, Brian James and the whole team at Scott Sabolich Prosthetics were always great and helped me get back on my feet. After our move to Colorado, Zach Harvey and the team at Creative Technology have helped me really get going again. It’s so clear that they care and won’t settle for anything less than the best results.

And finally, as brief as it was, my opportunity to get back on the court and play basketball with the Amp 1 team through Telluride Adaptive Sports was incredible. I’m still struggling to adapt to basketball with a prosthesis, but the guys on the team helped me see what was possible. It was an honor to be on the same court with them.

I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve done what little I’m capable of to try and help other amputees, but it’s rough when you’re also trying to pick yourself up. I’m excited to almost be through the woods, but I’m even more excited to be more or less out of the woods so I can start turning my focus outwards to help others regain their mobility like so many have helped me with mine. I’m still not sure exactly what form that will take, but it’s exciting nonetheless.