Join us as we celebrate the success story of SRT Hero, David Shearer from Muncie, Indiana!
How did your amputation occur?
I lost my leg due to complications from diabetes. I had been diagnosed with Charcot in my right ankle and lost all the tendons that kept my foot in place. Due to this I was very susceptible to rubbing ulcers from shoes. I had had 2 surgeries to try to repair this ankle and each time my foot and ankle would not heal properly. After 3 years of being not weight bearing or having the ability to wear a shoe on my right foot, my doctor indicated that a below the knee amputation should be seriously considered to help regain quality of life. After several weeks of doing research and talking with other amputees, those that had lost their leg to disease and accident, I decided that going through with the amputation was the best course of action for me. All of the amputees that I talked to who had tried to save their leg, told me that they wished they would have taken the leg right way as it would have saved them months if not years of poor quality of life. By getting a prosthetic leg, they had regained their independence and their quality of their life. I have also found this to be true as I am now able to enjoy activities again like before I lost my leg.
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for a sales organization where I am constantly on the go and meeting with prospective clients. Pretty much everyone I meet don’t even realize I have a prosthetic leg, unless I tell them or I am wearing short.
Out of all of your accomplishments, which are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of my ability to not let the loss of my leg detour my life. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself. To think that you are the only one going through a difficult time. I know I fell into that trap. To think that I was the only one and no one else understood what I was going through. Well, that simply is just not the case. I am able to continue to do pretty much what I want to do. When I hear others say that they didn’t even realize I was an amputee and that I walk better than they do, that is a huge source of pride. I worked hard in my physical therapy and did all that I was coached to do by my physical therapist and by my prosthetist and that made all the difference to know that there were people totally committed to my success, even when I didn’t fully believe in myself at times.
What hobbies or activities are you involved in? Why do you enjoy them?
I enjoy riding my bicycle, playing golf, walking with my spouse, hiking, fishing, and playing basketball with my friends. I enjoy these activities because I know how easily they can be taken away. I truly feel that I have been given a new lease on life and I am intend to make the most of it and not take anything for granted.
How big of a role does the proper fit of your prosthesis play in making it a good or bad day?
Having the proper fit is key to having a good day. It is so important to communicate with your prosthetist when anything doesn’t feel right. That little irritation will grow to be a big problem if you don’t. Your prosthetist may work with amputees all the time, but they don’t know how you feel unless you tell them. Don’t think you are being a “pain” or bothersome because after all it you that has to live with the fit of your prosthetic and it is you that will have to walk with that prosthetic, too.
How did you come to learn about SRT?
I learned about SRT during the time I was researching if amputation was the right course of action for me. I went in and talked to a prosthetist to find out more about the process and what to expect. SRT got me in touch with a patient advocate, who was also an amputee and I had many conversations with the patient advocate. They answer all my questions, even the ones that I know now were complete silliness to even have asked.
What has your experience been like with SRT?
My experience with SRT has been nothing but amazing and wonderful. The staff in Muncie are great. Jenny at the front desk is so welcoming and encouraging that they become friends. Nick my prosthetist has also become a great resource and is someone who I know deeply cares for my well-being and works tirelessly to make my prosthetic have the fit that I need and feel comfortable with. I could not have picked a better company to work with as I went through the initial process to now where I go in for maintenance and to have a fit tweaked.
What would you like to say to a new amputee to encourage them?
You will have fear if you are going through the amputation process. In one way I was extremely lucky to have a grieving process of losing my leg prior to it being amputated I was able to research and to discuss challenges and how to overcome those challenges with other amputees before I made the decision to have my leg taken. There are other amputees who have lost their leg due to an accident. I can’t even imagine what that must be like to have your leg or arm and then wake up and it is taken. There will definitely be a time of grieving no matter which kind of amputee you are, just know that you will get through it. There are so many people that want to help you succeed, from your health care professionals, to the physical therapist, occupational therapist, prosthetist, friends, and family. The only advice that you need to know is that you will get through the challenges, you will get your life back. Just continue to listen to those that want to support you, that love you, and finally be determined that the loss of your limb is not going to stop you. You got this!
Have a sense of humor and be willing to share your story with others. You will get asked all the time from people at the grocery store, people you meet walking down the street, wherever. Some of the funniest things that have been asked to me by non-amputees are:
- When will your leg grow back? This was a serious question from a very nice lady in her 40’s. I thought everyone knew that bodily appendages were not like your hair or fingernails. They don’t grown back.
- I was grocery shopping and curious 4 or 5 year old asked me, at the horror of his mother, “Are you turning into a robot?” I replied, “No, I am turning into a human and I am just about done.”
- I also like to see the faces of people who ask me how I lost my leg, when I tell them my leg was taken by a shark when I was snorkeling in Australia. That is always fun.
- Finally I am just waiting for SRT or smoother company to come out with the weed trimmer attachment for my prosthetic as that would make mowing the yard and trimming that much easier.