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.
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: glenn-lifewithoutlegs.blogspot.com. 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. …