My name is Chris Ewing and I live in a very rural area of Michigantown, Indiana with my husband, Dale.
I retired in 2017 from a long and satisfying career at Frito-Lay in Frankfort, Indiana. I have suffered from the autoimmune disease lupus from more than 35 years, however, I have been in remission off and on during those 35 years until 2014 when the disease caught me off guard and with a vengeance. I was able to continue to work until I was eligible for retirement in 2017 and that’s when my husband and I decided that was our best alternative. Eligible for the end of 2017, I was experiencing flares off and on with my lupus, with really not feeling good enough to feel good, but not feeling bad enough to feel bad. Into the new year 2018, I had gotten an infection in my big toe due to getting nicked at a pedicure. Because of the neuropathy caused by the lupus, I was unaware that it had gotten into my second toe of which I could not feel because of the neuropathy. By the time I could feel the pain, the infection had gotten into the bone causing osteomyelitis.
After several treatments with antibiotics, it was diagnosed that I had a circulatory problem caused by coagulation caused by the lupus. After two bypasses and being in the hospital for 16 days, it was necessary for an amputation to happen 8 inches below my knee in order to make sure that the infection would not spread quickly through my bones. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement! However, with the support of the hospital staff and the support of a surrogate that to me by SRT I knew that I would be able to do this. Through my faith and my family supports, I knew that it could be life-changing, but I also was fully aware that I was ready to make sure that I could get back to a life that was normal for me.
After a 2-month recuperation period home and letting my residual leg heal, I was ready to get into my new prosthesis. I chose to go to SRT, one because the advocate that had come to see me in the hospital had really explained what I could expect from being a new amputee and the fact that my nephew, Kendall Keeling, also works there and is also an amputee was another big factor. I can assure you that I made the right decision about my prosthesis.
Once having gotten my new prosthesis, I went into physical rehab with Teva Turner from St. Vincent Sports & Physical Therapy in Kokomo, Indiana. To say how much I appreciate her care and also her motivation for me to walk well again is an understatement. After two months of pretty intense rehabilitation, I was actually walking as well as what I had walked on my real leg. The more I walked on my leg, the more I came to realize that the only limitations that I had set for myself was the ones that I set in my head. yes I was a bit gun-shy when walking on uneven surfaces. Still today, I’m pretty careful when I do so, however, I can tell you that there is nothing that I cannot do now that I did before my amputation. I might also add that there are times when it is actually easier and less painful to walk with a prosthesis because of the issues that I had with the neuropathy. I am able to continue to travel on the back of our motorcycles for long distances, including a trip to Cody Wyoming in August of this year.
I am also able to take care of a 1.25 acre yard, all the foliage around it, and to stay a willing participant in my grandson’s sports. I cannot deny that there were times during my recovery that I wondered if I was going to be a burden on my family. That was the one thing that bothered me most was that somebody was going to have to take care of me. Through a ton of prayers and again the support of all of my family members, I knew that they were willing, able and up for the task if I did need help in any way. It has been 2 years since my amputation and I never actually thought that I would forget at times that I had a prosthesis, but there are times that I really do forget because it has become such a part of me.
I’d like to share just one more thought that I had about a year in to becoming an amputee. I was sitting in the middle of my bed looking at my stump if you will. It came upon me that we as human beings when we get hurt, cut, get a broken bone, or need surgery of any kind, we normally see that healing process come about and we go back to what we feel is normal. I kind of came to an epiphany that night that I was healed that my leg was going to be that way for the rest of my life. Not only had I come to grips that I was healed and in a much healthier place, but my spirit had also healed. Yes, I may have a leg that sits by the edge of the bed every night, and that every morning I need to attach it to my flesh. But at the end of the day, it has become my leg and to God be the glory for that.