Thursday, April 29, 2010

Physically Challenged Division at the Cooper River Bridge Run?

I am currently working toward getting a Physically Challenged Division established at the Cooper River Bridge Run (CRBR) for 2011. Mr. Ken Ayoub, the Recreation Director for the Town of Mount Pleasant asked that I give him a little information to take to the Executive Committee for discussion. Here is the bulk of my email to Mr. Ayoub; I have edited some personal info out of it:
I was also very excited to talk to you about the possibility of expanding the Cooper River Bridge Run to include a Physically Challenged athlete division. This thought came to me as I ran my first bridge run as an amputee this year and saw the amazing effort the bridge run committee does in bringing wheelchair athletes to the race.
Personally, it would be my opinion that physically challenged athletes would simply be placed in whatever time corral they are suited for, and then the chip would make separating their times for placement a simple thing at the finish, same as we talked about with age group awards. This would help minimize start and finish problems such as a slower amputee being in the way of elite runners.
I know such an effort takes time, coordination, and expense to make it successful and best left to those who have experience to make it work. Here are some people I personally know who can assist in getting this project rolling, who have experience with challenged athletes and who can answer many of the questions the Bridge Run Committee may have.
Mr. Mike Lenhart:
Founder and President
The Getting2Tri Foundation, Inc.

I attended Mike’s National ParaTriathlon Training Camp this past March; I can’t say enough about his organization and the athletes he has been able to help through some of the most difficult challenges we could face. Mike would have a wealth of information he could share with you as well as many contacts with race directors and athletes. His organization also serves as advisors to race directors who choose to include the disabled in their events.

Getting2Tri Organization:
Getting2 Tri National Camp:
Mr. Larry Wiley:
Certified Prosthetist (CP) and partner with Maurice Johnson of Floyd Brace

Larry is my prosthetist and is currently setting up a local high activity group for disabled athletes. It is likely we will have at least 10 participants from this group alone for next year’s race. Larry has contacts within the prosthetic industry as well.

There is also a number of high profile and elite challenged athletes that could make this event the premier distance race for physically challenged athletes of all abilities, such as:

  • Amy Palmiero-Winters:
  • Brian Frasure:
  • Kelly Luckett:
  • Tom Martin:
  • Jason Gunter:
  • Sarah Reinertsen: 

  • … just to name a few.  Most have extraordinary speaking skills and their stories would be inspirational to hear. There are also several other organizations who could inform their athletes of the event such as:

     …and many others.

    I imagine once word get out that physically challenged athletes will have their own division at the CRBR, it will be a hugely successful addition to the race. I believe these athletes will be inspirational to the less active able-bodied community and help them see “if they can do it, then I have no excuses not to do it either.” There is a wide array of resources out there, and I think the committee would be pleasantly surprised with the support it would receive from the challenged community.

    Thanks again for your time and please let me know if I can be of any further help or assistance. If you wouldn’t mind, please let me know if the Bridge Run Committee will be considering this request or deciding to proceed or not. I’d like to start telling the disabled community about it to get them to prepare for next year’s race!


    As of today I have not received a response to my email of 4/15, but given the responsibilities of the director's office it is a little early. I/we (Larry at Floyd Brace and others) intend to stay on top of this as the sooner it is considered the better, as I am sure planning for a race of this magnitude does take time and we'd like to see this new division in 2011.

    Wish us luck, and disabled athletes, stay tuned and get ready to register!


    Since I did not receive a response from my email, I filled out an online form on the CRBR site and I got a positive response!

    "We will most definitely look into this for next year!  Thank you and please stay in contact with us!"

    I sure hope to hear more about this soon, and I'm keeping my eye on the CRBR site for what I hope will be an official announcement in the upcoming weeks or months!

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    PR Disappointment?

    How is it I can set a PR and yet be disappointed? I knew I could run better, in fact my tempo run a week ago was faster, and my 10k bridge run pace was faster, so what's going on here at the iFive:K on Thursday evening, April 22?

    Two things, but the most important was I did not take a puff from my asthma inhaler prior to the race and paid dearly for this oversight. I rarely really need it, and prefer not to use anything at all, but I suppose with the allergy crud I went through the lungs needed an assist. Given the sharper pain in my right lung, I might even have a little bronchitis remaining; it definitely was not a side stitch, something that pestered me in my youth. I also did not warm up sufficiently, mainly because I didn't want to start The Sweat Monster in my liner even though I had used Drysol the night before.

    Still, I felt I could waltz through a significant lowering of the PR, and that did not happen. Jennifer and I arrived at the race with plenty of time to spare, and stood around at the starting line for about 15 minutes prior to the gun. I noticed some of my older peers who I have run with over the years, fewer now as attrition takes his cut. I am aware of his bony grasp.

    We take off and at a quarter mile I am exactly on the pace I wanted but did not feel comfortable at all. I was running in my Renegade foot, which was the one smart move on my part, because with the uneven payment, crowd, and old rail lines I am certain I would have wiped out trying to use Jato. Score one for the gimp.

    Somewhere around 1.25 miles I started noticing the discomfort in my lower right lung. It would hurt for the entire rest of the race but fortunately did not continue to increase in pain or I probably would have had to walk. I ran reasonable splits at 8:40, 8:47, 8:44, with the last bit in 1:21. I did not see a single mile marker although Jennifer said she did so I just missed them. I manually recorded my splits on the Garmin so those are the numbers you see here. My chip time and watch time were in rare synchronization, both 27:37 for my finish.

    Jennifer dislikes evening races and this one was no exception; it has more to do with the time of day than the race itself. However, with pizza and beer awaiting the finishers and a great view of the harbor from the Charleston Maritime Center, it tolerable for her. We get our goodies and Jennifer checks the results; since they are in non-standard 10-year increments, it makes it harder for us to sneak out with some hardware, which we did not do this day.


    After the race a young woman, Madeleine, approaches me about my running and asks to interview me for her blog here. We have a nice chat and I direct her to my blog for background info and I'll soon answer some questions for her blog post. Madeleine will be training for her first marathon and I told her I was as well, mine being the first one as an amputee. She tells me about the challenges her dad faces and I never fail to realize that my loss is small. My life has been given back to me in a finer fabric. I had to choose, yes, but the choice was one I was allowed to have.

    Madeleine gives me a hug and tells me I am inspiring and I try to let her know how her kindness likewise inspires me. She understands what I once did not; I had to be on this side of the fence to open my eyes.


    On Sunday I attempted my long run with Jato, and after about 8 miles my hip adductors, primarily the gluteus minimus I think, called it quits from the new foot strike. It is possible I simply don't have good mechanics yet with the blade, but it did feel okay once I got warmed up although I think the build is slightly high. I'll get this fixed when I go in for my new carbon fiber socket which I hope is later this week.

    There is a new high activity/running foot I might try that I have seen advertised and Larry mentioned, the Endolite Elite Blade. Apparently it can be configured without the creepy foot shell and with only a shoe outsole. I am thinking of giving this a try if we can work out an evaluation from the manufacturer.

    I believe this blade allows a heel-to-toe foot strike, which is the case for most runners, especially when running long, slow(er) distance. I want to keep an open mind as newer foot technologies and styles emerge, and will always be willing to try the latest and greatest.

    Just no creepy foot shells PLEASE!

    Sunday, April 25, 2010

    On the death of our day old bluebirds

    Nature is equal parts beauty and cruelty, as is mankind.

    We, however, get to choose.

    Choose wisely.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Teacher, Humbled Student

    Jato and I have now done 3 runs together, 4, 5, and 3 miles. I have to say even with preparing myself for running on this blade that initially I was wondering if I could get use to it. After last night's 3, the answer is: YEAH BABY!

    It sounds contradictory to say the foot feels more "natural" while also harder to run on, but at least in the early stages of adapting to it this is precisely what is happening. The Renegade foot I have been walking and running in has a heel-to-toe mechanics, while Jato is strictly forefoot strike only and a relatively small contact area at that. So the angle Jato meets the pavement on foot strike is key: overstriding will hyperextend the knee and effectively put the brake on with a return bounce; understriding will cause you to stumble. Too high or too low affects compression not to mention straining other muscles and the back.

    When I tried the other running feet - the cat6 Nitro and the Sprinter - I was mildly surprised at how much work I was putting into them. Trying to get the correct foot strike to maximize compression without stumbling or hyperextending my knee took a lot of concentration. If I looked up to see a passing car or neighbor waving I often stumbled when I broke my attention to running form.

    So I started with Jato in the same manner, but I was prepared to do whatever it took to make it feel part of me, not some dead appendage along for the ride. During the first two runs with the blade I just could not get a consistent feel to the running gait. The best I could do was a sort of stabbing foot strike to get the foot down without overstriding and under me. It was awkward and I felt my one true gimpness. I adjusted the foot some, tilting the blade forward and aft, but couldn't find the magic angle that felt just right.

    Wednesday night I made an adjustment before I left the house, and about 100m later I sat down on the curb and monkeyed with it some more. Back on, another 100m, leg off, more fiddling. we go, give it some time...a little over a mile later it seemed better, mainly I was not scuffing the bottom and rarely overstriding. Cool.

    I ran mile 2 around 9:30 and found myself settling into a good rhythm, even stride, and my giddy-up was a go.

    A smile, a nod of the head, a rush of emotion.

    Yeah, I know I have a race tomorrow but I am not backing off the pace. I am running with Jato. I had prepared myself for at least 2 weeks of finding this very place, running without thinking about the blade, and I was doing it on my third run.

    I end the run with an 8:45 mile and already thinking about tomorrow. Should I run the iFive:k race in the blade? No...NO...the Charleston streets are going to be a challenge with old pavement and rail lines, something that bothered my old ankle in this very race a few years ago.

    This will be the swan song for running in my current Renegade foot, which I am thinking of naming "Grandfather" from the book "Little Big Man." Yeah, I like that. I will use it for rough terrain should I do any trail running, or maybe for an impromptu run if I don't have Jato with me.

    Off to the races.

    Rest up Jato my friend. You're gonna need it.


    Just got back from the iFive:k. Even though it was a PR at 27:37, asthma dropped anchor on my right lung and I ran well below my current potential. Oh well, Jato and I will attack the distance in a couple of more weeks, and I won't forget to take a hit on my inhaler like I did tonight.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Jato Comes to Me

    On Friday, April 16, 2010, 1 year and two days after my amputation, I received my Freedom Innovations Nitro running prosthetic foot.

    Jato has come to me.

    My carbon fiber (CF) socket was not ready, so I will run in a new plastic temporary one for now. This will afford me the opportunity to find if there are any problem areas so the definitive CF socket can be adjusted. I was a little disappointed that me entire completed foot was not ready, but in reality this will work out for the best.

    I donned Jato and took it out behind Floyd Brace for a few strides down the parking lot, with about half the office watching me try it out. The compression is definitely more of what I have been expecting, in fact, Larry had to add a spacer to make the build taller. I did not stumble at all while taking a few runs back and forth, but the foot strike is so different from the Renegade that I can't tell if it needs adjusting or I need to run a few days/weeks in it to feel more confident. Indeed, it is probably a combination of both.


    Jennifer and I did 4 miles around the neighborhood on Saturday. I didn't stumble but sometimes scuffed the bottom of the blade, which has the forefoot of a Nimbus shoe glued to the bottom. Because the blade is actually somewhat taller than my left leg to allow for compression, this is something I'll do less often as I get use to it.

    While running I couldn't shake the feeling that the angle of the foot under me needed some adjustment, although I couldn't exactly say what it was. Ah, but I have the handy hex wrench, and have made some adjustments for my next run in it tonight. I carry my little six-sided friend with me to do some fine tuning as needed. It's still an experiment of one, George.

    I ran a few steps faster towards the end of our run, thinking it will quite different from the Renegade at speed. This is when I felt I needed the foot strike adjusted more, I sure did not want to fall and break a collarbone or wrist or crater the pavement with my noggin.


    On Sunday I headed out for what I hoped would be another small goal reached: the 40 mile week. I have been stuck in the 30s with socket fit problems for a while, and even though I really wanted to putter around with Jato, I needed the mileage boost more.

    Jennifer and I ran about 5 together, then parted ways as she headed home and I into the unknown. The weather was decent, overcast at times with a breeze so I did not overheat. I dried the socket off once around 4 miles when we made a pit stop at home, but none after that.

    I ran strong through 10 miles, but at 11 and until the end I had to keep my focus to not slow down or start Gallowalking. (If you walk you do not run, it really is that simple.) My stump seems to get an uptick in sensitivity toward the end of the long run, more so since I gave the socket a crash diet a couple of weeks ago where it was causing abrasions at my knee.

    I finished 13 miles and was very satisfied with the week's effort. With the allergy symptoms and possible mild infection behind me, I should be in good shape for the 1Five:k run on Thursday. I am confident I will grab a new PR, but I will likely do it in my old trusty Renegade. I'd love to run with Jato, but we have some work to do together before I unleash his fury

    Oh yes, I did get my 40 mile week.

    So next up is to become one with the blade, do a 5k for the last time (unless x/c or trail and then "depends") in my Renegade, and plan for my next race in May with Jato on even pavement somewhere. It's going to be fun, lots more to learn, with more mountains to scale and enjoy the expanse below before thinking: I bet the view is even better over there.

    And it is.

    Crawl, climb, or fly, you can get there.


    The mundane, everyday training forges the fine steel of glory.
    - Random thought around mile 8 by moi, Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Thursday, April 15, 2010


     Ampiversary cupcake provided by Jennifer

    Yesterday, April 14, was my one year ampiversary.

    It was a busy day at work, plus a trip to my prosthetist, then a 7 mile run afterwards, so I did not make time to post about this milestone day. I've also been working on a project to get a physically challenged division started in the Cooper River Bridge Run, to augment the wheelchair division they have embraced there.

    I was thinking about this day more on April 13, the last day of my 'intactness' and remembering what I was thinking the day before and of my surgery. Going to bed that night and knowing what was going to happen in the morning. Getting dressed in my gown and through experience the ability to tie it up and keep my butt unexposed. The feel of the pre-op sheets. The pre-op talk with Dr. Ohslon. Getting my nerve block stuck in my leg. Going into the OR.

    Waking up to what I would come to find as a very new me.

    And here, one year and one day later, stating without reservation, I have no regrets and given all I know, would do it again. I would not have that old foot back. And could never, ever trade the new friends and experiences I have been so blessed to receive, all for appearance.

    We lose pieces of ourselves every day. Hair. Nails. Skin. We lose other pieces through disease or accident. Teeth. Appendix. Tonsils. Yet when we lose a limb it is different as the change in appearance is more radical. I freely admit I think of this larger part of me that is gone and I have a strange sense of loss, different than losing a life but perhaps a cousin to that event. A piece of me has gone into the hereafter. I don't despair over my lost doggie, but I do remember him with some fondness.


    Tomorrow I should receive Jato. This will be the demarcation point from my high activity Renegade foot to my running prosthesis. With my experiences with the other not-quite-ready-for-prime-time running feet, I have mentally prepared myself for the transition. Even if the energy return feels better - and it should be quite different from the other feet - it will take some time to adjust to the different foot strike which is forefoot only.

    As I have mentioned, this does feel more natural to me, more evident when I put my Renegade back on which is a heel-to-toe foot strike. In the past this is more of what I do when running slower; I only went with a more mid-foot strike when running faster.

    If I can manage it, doing two-a-day shorter runs should help make this transition easier. Although the feel is more natural, it not the same and therefore I will be using muscles somewhat differently than they have been use to for past years; this will add some fatigue until they respond to the training stimulus. I don't want to find that the different feel masks any skin irritations that might develop over a longer run. Ideally Jato and I will get along like old friends, but given I will also have a new socket configuration there will likely be some fine-tuning issues to address.

    I hope to be confident enough with Jato to run my next 5k in it on April 22 as I know my fitness, especially recovery from the allergy crud, is good.

    It will be a good day, uh, evening to run!

    The dingo Baxter guarding his territory - babies beware!

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Long Run Nyet

    My long run today was tough and the pleasure quotient was sub prime. Other than being overdue for a compensatory 'bad run,' I think two other things contributed to my less than stellar performance. First, I am recovering from a nuclear allergy attack that left me running a low grade temperature and therefore a likely infection. I was not running a temperature this morning but the past few days my HR was elevated so I knew my body was not 100%.

    I was prepared to take it slow and just get the distance in. My plan was to run 12, maybe 13 if I felt good. I never felt comfortable and my mile times slowed; my HR was high and I was not really enjoying myself. I was running around Rivertowne and the country club where I have put many miles on the roads. It had been a couple of years since I had been back there and not much had changed with the sluggish economy putting home building in a choke-hold.

    At about the 8-mile mark I decided the best thing for me was to head home. Just over 9 miles I started having an odd sensation in my stump. There was no skin irritation, but I think when I went postal on my socket last weekend that most of the pressure got transferred to the distal end of my residual and it was not happy with carrying a larger load.

    I ended up jogging - yes jogging - the last mile and Gallowalking, something I really don't care for, and ended with about 10.5 miles. Once home I was limping with the sore stump but this evening it is better. Since I have a socket fitting at Floyd Brace tomorrow I will likely get my socket diagnosis confirmed by Larry.

    With a new socket, blade, and body fully recovered, my 5k PR is going down hard on the 22nd. And this run? It will make that day glow brighter, especially since it is an evening run!

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Sharpening the Blade

    The good news is I will be getting my definitive running foot in my weight category within a week or two, and I will also get a new carbon fiber socket with some major changes to make it more comfortable for distance running. I go this Monday to have the socket cast.

    We finally tried the Otto Bock Sprinter foot that was sent to us by mistake instead of the C-Sprint model. This foot was mounted on the back of a carbon fiber test socket and I must say looked damned cool!

    The problem with using a sprint foot in lieu of a distance foot is I also needed a lighter category foot as sprint feet are stiffer than the distance feet. I just found this out a couple of weeks ago, so even if Otto Bock had sent the C-Sprint foot it may not have worked out, although I think it could have been more easily adjusted per the literature.

    I can say this Sprinter foot was easier to run in than the Nitro Cat6 foot I tried. It compressed easier and offered better energy return, but that was to be expected even as a sprint foot. However, I found myself catching the leading tip on the pavement at times, nearly falling in the process. Jennifer ran with me once and her mom-school-bus-stop-arm was swinging out to catch me at regular intervals. This is not to pass judgment on the Sprinter; we are asking it to do something for which it was not designed. It is a sprint foot, not a distance foot like the Ossur Flex-Run or Freedom Innovations Nitro.

    The socket with this foot also caused the skin to break around my kneecap, so this was not pleasant either. I had been having problems with my plastic socket irritating the inside of my knee so now this would stop my running for three days so the skin could heal. This lead to some frustration on my part, so I gleefully took my 30-something year old Dremel Moto-Tool to the plastic and shaved it down. Ah...

    I am now getting excited that Jato will arrive soon and my last limitation to returning to running will be a barrier crossed. Mentally I am preparing myself to do what it takes to get use to running on the blade. I find the running feet I have tried feel more natural, and when I put on my walking foot it feels stiff and awkward in comparison. Probably over time I will get a different foot with better rollover for walking/hiking, but the LP Renegade has served me well as a first foot that has allowed me to run better than I expected. I imagine the full height Renegade would have even been better since I could have had better energy return with it.

    After some fits and starts mixed with anticipation and disappointment, I am getting excited again about the prospects of meeting Jato. I have learned much, mainly what does not work - which still is a valuable lesson. It is not possible to "try before you buy" a running prosthesis in many cases, so having a CP who will work with you is important. I do thank Scott Rigsby for sending me the Nitro foot which proved I could wear that type configuration, and it is the Nitro that is being custom built for my weight.

    It is possible I will not see as big a difference as others coming from an everyday prosthesis to a running blade as I have been able to train at a reasonable novice level with the Renegade. I am looking forward to the lighter weight and more natural running foot strike of the Nitro and hope to run my next race on April 22 in it. Unless I am having to concentrate too much on learning how to run with the new getup, I should be able to lower my 5k PR again.

    I have signed up for my first marathon to be run as an amputee, which can be found here. There was some talk about a marathon coming to the city of Charleston last year, and I was mildly despondent that I would not be able to participate yet. This event was to be one of the money-making Rock-n-Roll affairs, which all seem to be well organized and good races. I am pleased that a local man, Charles Fox, is going to be able to have this event as the inaugural half marathon/5k/kid's races were well organized and fun last year.

    For many years I had wished a marathon would be run from Summerville down Hwy 61 to Charleston, a point-to-point course not unlike the Boston Marathon, in fact I nicknamed my course "Boston South." This is not to be as the race will likely start near the maritime center in downtown Charleston and run up to the old Naval Base in North Charleston.

    It will still be a great course with as much scenery as a marathoner can consume AND with shrimp and grits at the finish, who dares to DNF?

    See you on the starting line on January 15, 2011!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Running Down April Street

    Today, two years ago, as I write this I was in my first surgery trying to repair my right foot. The idea was to make it healthy enough for me to be able to run again. My gut feeling was this had little chance of working, but felt enough outside pressure, real or imagined, that I felt I had to do it. The truth is I lacked the courage to face it.

    One year and six days later I would take the step I could not bring myself to take this time. This first operation was very painful; when I woke up it felt like strong hands were trying to wrench my foot apart.

    None of us know what tomorrow - or even the next minute - will bring to our lives. I have never thought my recent experiences were any more than challenges to be overcome and the threat to my life small. I was not facing the devastation of aggressive cancer, or having some rare condition for which there was little hope of a cure or even coming to daily terms with it.

    What I have found in others is that we human beings, each and every one of us, possess an innate ability to be courageous under any horror life's caprices may visit upon our beings. That we do unspeakable things to each other that no disease could ever dream of in nightmares unimaginable. That we can go on and on given the minutest glimmer of hope and opportunity, that these flawed bodies can do miraculous things. If we each do our best, then together we cannot be broken.

    As I get ready to receive my running prosthesis and the last barrier to being able to be the best runner I can be, I think on these things. On this new starting line, I am ready to go in mind, body, and spirit.

    We reach into the unknown and find rare friends there.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Elective Amputation

    My amputation was considered "elective" because I did not lose my foot in my accident as a child or through a disease like diabetes. I had an arthritic joint as well as other severe foot problems; I could have lived on pain medication for the rest of my life, living with the side affects, health complications, and loss of life quality in the process. Eventually the pain would have intensified - as it was steadily climbing - and I have no doubt I could have lost my job simply because you can't work in a drug-induced haze, at least I can't. Living on pain pills is not the answer.

    In definition only my amputation was elective. For me, I thought it necessary to restore my life as I wanted to live it: my free choice, not an elected official or bureaucrat or medical screener deciding for me. I now live without the constant strum of pain, the limping, the not wanting to do anything requiring much walking, and the cost of medications. Also my body's organs are not dealing with various drugs designed to make me comfortably numb.

    As I've written in earlier posts, amputation was not something I wanted to do, but given the choices, I knew I had to do it in order to get my life back. It was hard bargaining and nothing I wish for anyone, but I had a choice, whereas someone in an accident may wake up missing a limb that they had only minutes or hours before. The mental trauma may be worse than the physical.

    I have talked to several people looking into elective amputation. After they have researched the subject and talked to others like me, they know what they want: it is an end to their pain and suffering and to get their lives back. They don't want to shuffle around, be forced to sleep on the couch with the TV on until they pass out from exhaustion, or dread walking the dog around the block.

    Time and time again I have found those looking at elective amputation are well informed, and mentally have come to terms with losing a limb to regain their lives. It is not an easy thing to do, far from it, but there is often another battle this person faces, and in many ways far more personal.

    Enter the prospective amputee's family and friends. After giving this much thought, I have come to the conclusion that in most cases, these people react as a trauma amputee would. This was not something they have been giving any thought to and it is a shock to their systems. They do not have the same knowledge or perspective as the one looking to get their life back. They take it personally, as if they are losing their own limb, and often react in shock, horror, and disbelief that anyone would voluntarily choose such a thing.

    Now when the person considering the operation needs the most support, they are often made to feel guilty for wanting to take this courageous step. Personally, I was extraordinarily fortunate in that I received very little negative feedback, and only one person tried to talk me out of it. I suppose even that one person was not so discouraging as I took a good look inside to think about anything I had not considered, given the permanent aspect of this operation.

    So to family and friends of the person electing amputation over a broken life, consider a couple of things. If you've ever had a root canal, think about the pain and suffering you were in until the time you had the tooth removed (not unlike an amputation) and then replaced with an artificial one. Your friend wants to end the daily pain and suffering they are going through, not only from a limb but from the loss of love of life they have so enjoyed. If limb loss gives them their lives back...who are you to deny them this joy?

    Secondly, if you are truly interested in helping and understanding your friend, arm yourself with knowledge. It has never been a better time for amputees and particularly active ones with modern prosthetics than now. This blog has tried to be an honest diary of my own journey, but read about others, such as Kelly Luckett, Jason Gunter, Dr. Tom White, Amy Palmiero-Winters, Sarah Reinertsen, Amy Dodson, and many, many others. Some elected to have a limb removed, others lost their limbs through trauma, disease, or birth defect. If you really want to see what it is all about, volunteer at Gettting2Tri Foundation (G2T) or Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). You will find the answer there.

    I am always happy to talk to anyone going down this road and meeting with family members if Jennifer and I are able. I think seeing and hearing from an amputee goes a long way to easing the minds of the prospective amputee's friends and families. Just remember someone with limb loss does not become an alien being other than they may become a happier person you haven't seen for a long time because they have been in pain.

    From time to time I think of how my life would be today without limb loss. I cannot think in any substantial way that things would have been better. I would wake up and within a couple of minutes on my feet the pain would intensify until I would start limping.  Limp to the car. Limp to my desk. Oh please don't call me. Oh you did...limp to fix a printer problem. Limp to lunch. Limp home. No, I'd rather not walk the dog. Take pain med. Go to sleep. Repeat. Forever. Never run again. Never hike. Never live.

    Never.   Never.   Never.

    I have been working on this post on and off for a while and will likely update it as I move through this experience. I hope it helps others understand a little more about this serious decision. For family and friends of your hurting loved one, please try to understand what they are going through. Your support is needed, no one is asking anything else from you.

    If your loved one can do this, then you can too.

    Let them live.

    (Note: I have a more recent posts about elective amputation. Part II is here and Part III is here.)

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    The Church

    My church   does not rise,
    bisecting earth and sky
    do not cross   here.

    An oval aisle,
    eight corridors wide
    the thin apostles tread
    with no beginning save the abstract
    and no end to save you
    but stop
    when you think
    you have had

    In my church,
    you place it all
    on the line
    in between
    holy holy holymotherofgod
    with every
    the glory
    is yours
    the angels thunderous

    be magnificent
    in my church
    be free
    and   fly