Rediscovering a Desire to Help Others

On July 3, 2009, I left a business meeting and, while driving home, was hit head-on. Thankfully, I was ejected from my truck. My left leg, ankle and foot received compound fractures, and so did my right leg and ankle. The doctors believed they could possibly save my legs, but infection set in the left foot and ankle. The more the doctors tried, the more it became clear the left foot was not going to make it, and it was amputated. After several more surgeries to combat the infection that had moved to the right leg (20 procedures in total), I asked them to remove the right leg also so that I could move onto the healing process.

My wife found Independence and, after our call to set up an appointment, the “smiles” that came through the phone gave us a great feeling. Once we had our first appointment, we realized the “smiles” were real. The staff made us feel welcomed and answered all of our questions—even questions we didn’t know we had. The time they took with us seems to be typical for all their clients. We have always walked away wanting to give back to them as much as they have given us.

John Horne and his staff have raised our expectations and quieted all of our fears and apprehensions. As a bi-lateral amputee, I’ve encountered many folks before Independence who seemed to be learning along with us about what to expect and what treatment I should receive. Not so with Independence. John explained the process by which I would return to “eye level” and told us that, with practice and dedication, I would be able to walk again—and do just about whatever I set my mind to. He told me to learn the techniques my inpatient physical therapist was going to teach me and pay attention to everything they offered. Each step has been better than I expected. My inpatient physical therapist gave me the feeling that I was unique and special as long as I gave my all and tried to learn the correct techniques. John, my therapists and doctor have worked very well together and they helped me to stay focused and move forward. My results have been fantastic and I will continue to recommend Independence to everyone.

The team at Independence cares about everyone who has suffered from limb loss, and they take the time to talk to you and your family. They instill a feeling that you should give to others what they are giving to you, “pay it forward” to all those you come in touch with. I was introduced to the Amputee Support Group via Independence, and John has opened my mind to setting new goals and striving to be more than a victim.

The whole team at Independence was kind and lent a collective ear. They helped me rediscover how important it is to anyone’s recovery to have people around you who can empathize, as well as sympathize, with your situation. They helped me rediscover my desire to help others and my desire to give to others.

To that end, I have founded Unlimbited Independence, Inc, a mentoring/support group. My wife and I have dedicated our efforts to facilitate the recovery process for others and their families through a strong support system; individual and family communications to assist in coping with the many obstacles; an example of how well one can adjust and regain the ability to walk, work and be social; and the opportunity to discuss the technical, social and family adjustments. We are currently serving as peer visitors/mentors at the Christiana Care Hospital/Wilmington Hospital, where I completed my outpatient physical therapy. We are giving back to the staff and patients, and they give back to us. I also participated in a West Chester University panel dealing with the rights of people with disabilities. I will continue to advocate for our rights and equal access through the Amputee Coalition of America.

                                                                                                                                      David M.

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