Life Without Legs: ‘I Will Overcome My Disability’

Rush patient Glenn Wheeler is chronicling his experience as a bilateral above-knee amputee on his blog, “Life Without Legs.” He shared this post with Rush InPerson.

Glenn Wheeler with his physical therapist, Christine Schauerte

By Glenn Wheeler

I have been a patient at Rush University Medical Center more times than I can count. I know all of the nurses and nursing assistants on eight north, all of the nurses and assistants at the Bowman Rehab Center (JRB), and most of the transporters who have been there any length of time, both at Rush and the Professional Building. Additionally, I know numerous physical therapists both at the inpatient and outpatient facilities and, last but certainly not least, everyone at the University Cardiovascular Surgeons offices.

My name is Glenn Wheeler, and I am 53 years old. I have been fighting the ravages of DVT coupled with a blood situation that has been described as hypercoagulabilty (my blood is inherently too thick). The result has manifested in many blood clots beginning in my right leg. Many of my trips to Rush involved dissolving these clots; sometimes it was successful, other times not. On those unsuccessful attempts at dissolving the clots, a bypass was the only answer. During the course of over 10 years I have had over 12 vein bypasses.

There is only so much that can be done. As the disease degenerates, eventually there is nowhere to bypass from or bypass to; such was my case.

In July 2008, I lost my right leg. I felt all the medical professionals involved in my case did their very best to save my leg. Unfortunately, this degenerative disease had run its course and nothing else could be done to save my leg.

In my opinion, I handled the loss of my right leg as well as anyone possibly could. I always strive to be optimistic in difficult situations, remaining positive and dealing with my life events head on. I was fitted with a prosthetic leg, and after much therapy and hard work, found my life back on track.

One of my passions is working out at the gym. Before the onset of the DVT problem and blood diagnosis, I worked out five days a week for many years. After losing my right leg, before my prosthetic leg was even created, I went back to my gym on a walker with one leg. I was only able to do this because I had created such strong friendships, not only with the managers and employees but also with many gym patrons. I knew I would be welcomed, helped and loved.

As time went on, the degenerative nature of my disease reared its ugly head again, this time in my left leg. In 2010, I underwent four bypasses in my left leg, until a complete collapse of all the bypasses occurred in December 2010. I lost my left leg also.

‘I remain positive’

Unfortunately I lost both legs above the knee. Now I find that I am a bilateral above-knee amputee. Losing both legs above the knee is not an easy disability to overcome. It affects just about everything you do or want to do.

As is my style and outlook, I remain positive and know myself well enough to realize, just like all of the times in my life previous to this, I will overcome my disability.

I am currently still in outpatient physical therapy learning to walk, yet again. Someone once told me that through great loss come great blessings. I know that is true for me. Mere words cannot adequently describe the care, understanding, compassion and help I have and continue to receive, from all walks of life, not the least of which are all of the professionals at Rush University Medical Center and their affiliates. I know this may sound like a paid endorsement for Rush, but I can assure you it is how I genuinely feel.

I want my limb loss to have meaning not only for me but especially for others. I began writing a blog in February of this year to put into words my experiences and how I deal with being a bilateral AK amputee. It is important to me that by sharing my life with others, I will inspire them and myself through our intrapersonal experiences resulting in mutual benefaction.

Optimism, Love and Hope

I invite you to view my blog: I aspire to be of interest not just to others in my similar realm, but additionally to those who seek a greater understanding of what amputees face as they put their lives back together.

I want my limb loss to have purpose. I feel that purpose would be best served through my writing. I hope you will take the time to read some, if not all that I have written.

This blog I started is a precursor to a book I am going to write. This book is aimed at an audience that is not necessarily looking to climb mountains, run a marathon or anything so monumental, but rather an everyday person striving to get their life back. It is my desire to touch others with my words of optimism, love and hope, thus enhancing their lives as well as my own.

I trust I have begun my journey with the right footing, excuse the pun. You be the judge. …

Glenn Wheeler is a patient at Rush University Medical Center. Visit his blog at

6 thoughts on “Life Without Legs: ‘I Will Overcome My Disability’

  1. I met you many years ago I am sure, seen you at Berv’s memorial in Indy.

    I am Tricia’s Aunt Vivian.

    Will Pray for you, and wish you well.

  2. Mr Wheeler (Glenn)

    You are an inspiration!!
    When you walk into our office with your “BIG SMILE”, all i can think of is “HE IS A REAL TROOPER.” I’m reminded to be patient and count my blessing. May God continue to give you that strong motivation.

    Maria W.
    Scheck and Siress L/P

  3. Glenn I am so honored and proud to be your friend. I shared this on my fb site. You look great. Love to you, Maple

  4. You are truly an inspiration to everyone that has lost a limb.You are by far the most determined patient I have ever met.I feel that you will attain most of the goals you set due to your hard work and perseverence.I am so proud of how you are doing.Keep going strong. Chris Reger PM@R

  5. Hey Glenn ,
    Well I guess we are connected on a few levels actually . First and foremost , I too am an AKA just the left and I am 53 also , and my brothers name is Glenn too . I also workout regularly at the local gym , I’ve been training with the program P90X . you certainly are an inspirational guy and I wish you all the best with fighting your disease . My problem was an infection (osteomyelitis). Lots of surgeries , 3 knee replacements , 5 years of my life until April 1,2009 when they cut my leg off now 2 more with all the problems that come with being an amputee . I was suppose to receive the Osseintegration surgery they are doing in Europe . Was gonna be the ” poster boy ” the first in the USA to receive this incredible procedure . But that didn’t happen . Not gonna get into all the other gory details of my tragedy , but beleive me , my story is a tragic one as are many with people who experience any limb loss . Wouldn’t mind maybe talking some more sometime . Best of luck to you and everyone else in our position .
    God Bless

  6. Randy, I am just now reading your comments made in August. I happened across this comment “accidentally” when trying to reread my latest blog entry. I apologize for not getting back wth you sooner. Your story is touching and I of all people can identify with your story. Please feel free to contact me through my email address: I would like to swap stories and perhaps help each other out through what insights we have both gained. May God’s strength be with you. Glenn

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