The SRT family is proud to share the first-hand account of Thomas Rainwater from Kokomo, Indiana:
Friday September 6th, 2019 started off as a typical day. I remember when I woke up that morning I had previously decided to drive my car to work (28 miles), but after I checked the weather that morning, I decided I was going to ride my Harley to work instead.
Upon arriving at work, I was back in the warehouse helping get freight ready. My manager tells me one of our drivers has been involved in a vehicle accident and he’s only about 12 miles away. My manager and I jumped in his pickup truck and head over to the accident site. Our driver had a collision with another car, shoved that car up against a power pole, and had knocked the power lines down. Both vehicles ended up in a bean field.
Upon arriving at the accident scene, I jumped out of the pickup truck and I remember telling our driver that we were there as they were cutting him out of his vehicle. As I began to walk through the bean field, I was about 20 yards from him. Talking to him, and with my eyes fixed upon him, I came in contact with a live power line that was lying in the field.
The following is from witnesses: Upon contact with the power line my body went stiff and shook, a large flash blew out of my back, and I fell over. I was clinically dead. No pulse, no heartbeat.
Thankfully for me, paramedics were already on sight. Two of them rushed over to me, shocked my heart, and began to bag me as I wasn’t breathing on my own.
A medical evacuation helicopter was already on the ground (it was originally called in to take our driver). They placed me on the helicopter and flew me to Methodist hospital in Indianapolis for an evaluation and then transported me over to Eskenazi Hospital’s burn unit. I was immediately prepped and placed into surgery to reattach my muscles in my left arm that were blown out by the electrocution. My left hand was also very seriously injured. I had major burns on my back, buttocks, and feet. These were exit wounds from the electricity leaving my body. The burns on my back required a skin graph from which skin was removed from my left leg and placed on my back. They also used cadaver skin.
After about approximately 5 hours the doctor came out and told my wife, family and friends that the next 48 hours would be critical. I was placed in critical ICU and they said I had a strong chance of making it, but they weren’t hopeful they would be able to save my hand.
I finally woke up in the early hours of Monday morning, September 9th. I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t know where I was or why I was there. They had a vent tube down my throat and I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t speak. I looked around the room and saw my wife, my sister and my best friend. They were trying to comfort me and explain what was going on, but I was very frustrated. I pulled out my IV’s and was trying to pull out my vent tube so I could talk. Unfortunately, they had to restrain me and put everything back in until I calmed down.
They kept my left hand on for six days trying to save it. Unfortunately, they couldn’t. On Thursday, September 12th they had to amputate my left hand. I spent 17 days in the hospital. I had a total of 4 operations including an amputation. On Sept 23rd, I was discharged.
It’s been a long road. I still have a fair amount of pain from my burns. A lot of things in my life I’ve had to learn to do a different way. I’ll continue to have frustrations in the future, but by the Grace of God and with the support of some very amazing people, I survived it.
I work for Rosens Inc. (We are an Agricultural Chemical Supply Company). Pre-accident I was a delivery driver as well as a warehouse/office worker. Now I mainly help with office duties as well as in our warehouse. I hope to be back to driving commercially soon.
I have many accomplishments in which I’m very proud of. Just to name a few: I’m a husband, father, grandfather of which I’m very proud of. I’m a leader, a provider and a man who sets very high goals for myself. I’m an asset to the men and women I work with and I possess a very strong work ethic.
I have many hobby/activities that I enjoy very much. I’m an avid motorcycle rider (very much a Harley guy), an avid bowler, an avid musician (pre-accident), a gym rat (I work hard to stay strong, fit and healthy) and take pride in spending time with my friends, loved ones and family.
My prosthesis plays a massive role in my every day activities! I couldn’t do what I do without them! My prosthesis allows me to be able to do everything from getting dressed in the morning, to driving, to being able to work, being able to ride my motorcycle, and to accomplish literally hundreds of things throughout my day. My prosthesis play a huge role in getting as much of my life back (post-accident) as I had before I got hurt. I couldn’t do it without them!
I learned of SRT Prosthetics while I was in the hospital. SRT was recommended by my workers comp. insurance company to handle my prosthetics. For me, this is the best possible outcome I could have ever hoped for! My experience with SRT has been nothing short of amazing! Brooke O’Steen is an absolutely amazing person. The first time I met her I thought oh-no what did I get myself into here? She’s every bit as stubborn as myself. As time went by I began to see just how much she truly cares about her patients! She absolutely refuses to let me fail. She’s been firm with me when she’s needed to be, but also has lent me her ear when I’ve needed it! She truly cares about my prosthesis, making sure I’m getting everything I can out of them, and for me as a person. The truth is this, she is very, very good at what she does! Once I learned to stop trying to go rogue and doing things my way, listen to her and what she’s telling me to do, I realized she really was helping me. I have a genuine love for Brooke. She’s tough, but out of all the members of my team I know Brooke would be the first person to stand up for me! I truly am a blessed man to have her. She has played a big role in convincing me that I can still have an amazing life as an amputee. And I do!
When asked to provide a message to fellow amputees, Thomas stated, “Let’s face the facts! Your limb is not going to grow back! Once I came to grips with this realization, things began to change with me for the better! As I laid in that hospital bed looking down at my left hand which was no longer there , I realized that I had a very, very important decision to make. (1). I can lie down and let this thing beat me, or (2), I can rise up, take control, adjust my attitude and frustrations, and get back to living my life! I chose option 2! With the help of SRT (who furnished me with an outstanding prosthetics team), I’m able to live an outstanding life! They have helped me get back most of my life and the things I love! If you allow them to, they can help you do the same! I would like to add that life doesn’t end because you’re an amputee! For 50 years I had two hands, then one day I woke up in a hospital bed and only had one.
I have days that I’m frustrated! It takes me longer to do things with a prosthetic than it did when I had two hands, but with some effort, some tenacity, and with some patience , I can still do many of the things I did before. You can, too! It starts with the attitude that you can do it! Believe me when I tell you that the attitude you carry throughout your tragedy is 100% of what’s going to make the difference for you!
Once I adopted a better attitude, things really began to change! Being an amputee comes with its challenges! I won’t sugar coat it for you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a life! I’m an amputee and I have an amazing life! It takes some work and some effort on your part, but if you learn to move your frustrations to the side and keep working at it, you too can have an amazing life!
Thankfully for me I have an outstanding support team! Starting with my amazing wife (She’s the real hero), an outstanding burn team, a wonderful case manager, and SRT Prosthetics. These people have picked me up! They have encouraged me! They have helped me see that I can still have an amazing life as an amputee!! I love each and every one of them!
Thomas went on to provide a very special thank-you to some very special people:
- Margo Rainwater my wife, you truly are my hero!
- Reid Cripe and Kevin Redding (the 2 paramedics who worked tirelessly to save my life in that field)
- My sisters Naomi and Michelle who were there to support my wife as well as myself.
- My best friend Scott who was there from the very minute he got the call.
- My outstanding Eskenazi burn team:
- Dr. Sood and Hartman
- Beth, my nurse practitioner
- Hillary, OT
- Dr Pratt
- Brook O’Steen and SRT Prosthetics
- Every one at Rosens, Inc. You have been wonderful to me and my family
- Jeff at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana
- Athletico Physical Therapy
- And to everyone on my team I may have forgot to mention. God Bless you! I love you all very much!