Patient Stories: A Moxie Update

Moxie attended her 1st Amputee Support Group meeting on August 1, 2017, at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute (UMROI). Nina Bondre, CPO, and Jeanne Smith, Patient Services Representative, shared Moxie’s story of rescue, adoption, and how she has adapted to her life as an amputee (you can read earlier stories about Moxie by looking in our News Archives.) Attendees also discussed and shared their experiences, challenges, and successes as amputees in the community. Everyone was surprised to learn about how similar dog prostheses and human prostheses are, as well as the various adaptations used to overcome obstacles in daily life. As Moxie flaunted her newest tie-dyed prosthesis, she modeled for photos and received lots of love and treats from the members of the group.

Thanks to Naomi Miller, PT, for inviting Moxie to attend this social and informational support group. The University of Maryland Amputee Support Group is held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6:30-8:30PM at UMROI: 2200 Kernan Drive, Baltimore, MD 21207. 

Patient Stories: Kimberly Daum

It isn’t often someone can say that a piece of furniture may have saved her life. Yet, three years ago this spring, the day she whacked her foot on a kitchen table leg rushing to answer the phone may have done just that, according to Kimberly Daum. When it happened, aside from the pain, it certainly didn’t seem significant, but running into that piece of furniture is what started a series of events that eventually led Kim to becoming an amputee. At first, she thought she had broken toes, and was put in a boot to heal. She was on her feet 50-60 hours a week as a long term employee of Lowes and it didn’t take long for her to be ready to get out of that boot! After six weeks, still having pain, she had an MRI. Kim got some shocking news – there was no fracture, but she had an invasive mass in her right foot.

A biopsy revealed a rare, aggressive form of cancer called synovial sarcoma that had her surgeons recommending foot amputation. By early July she had done her research on prosthetics and was ready to go. Post surgery necrosis set in and only a week after her initial surgery, Kim found herself a below knee amputee. On top of that, she was still fighting the cancer! This very active working mom of two struggled with this sudden change in her situation. Depression and anxiety set in even as family and friends surrounded and supported her.

She wasn’t able to start chemo until five months later. For six grueling months she and her husband Chris made the hour and half drive to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, VA, where Kim checked herself into the hospital every month for a week to do battle with her cancer – using the chemo drug they call the “Red Devil” because it is so toxic. Adriamycin and Ifosfamide are the two chemos used in treating synovial sarcoma. This cancer is very rare and unfortunately affects children. The normal treatment for this cancer is amputation because it is very aggressive and attacks bones, muscle, tendons and joints.

After completing her treatments and because of her depressed immune system, Kim could not spend time with the pets who would normally comfort her – Mugsy the Beagle, and Cheyenne the cat. At the same time, her son had to leave and report for duty for his Navy training.

Kim credits her teenaged daughter, her husband, best friend, mom and her father for keeping her going. It was almost a full year after her amputation before she was physically strong enough to start physical therapy with a preparatory prosthesis. Even then, she had a lot of pain and required a revision to her residual limb. This meant additional healing time and it was making her nuts! She was increasingly frustrated by her limited mobility. She wanted to do something as simple as clean her house her own way.

Once she was healed and headed back to PT, she “never looked back”. As she became stronger and more mobile, it was time for the next fight on her hands – with the insurance company. Kim had done her homework and she wasn’t going to settle for something less than she needed to regain her mobility and active lifestyle. She was determined she wasn’t going to let the insurance company tell her what she could do and what she needed. After numerous appeals and fighting them as aggressively as she had fought her cancer, she got the high activity foot she needed. She finally got her definitive prosthesis and is back at the gym three days a week and is working toward getting her driver’s license back. Through a Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services program, she is getting retraining so that she can get back into the workplace. She speaks highly of the program and looks forward to new job opportunities.

During her long recovery, everyone told her to keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. For a long time, she couldn’t see it. There were a lot of rough days, crying, anxiety and pain – but she fought on for her family and she DID come to see the light and now, she says she is “OK. I am here! Never give up!” She is cancer free now, but there will still be some anxiety when she goes for regular checkups. She speaks highly of her children and their own accomplishments while supporting her through her difficult time. Her son graduated from his Navy training and is now married with a child. Kim lovingly tells the story of her daughter confronting the doctors more than once, despite her youth, to make sure her mom was getting what she needed. She is in college now and wants to be a doctor herself.

Kim regrets the lack of an amputee support group in the western Maryland area, since she feels like this would have helped her better prepare and adjust to her amputation. She says it was heart wrenching not to have other amputees to talk to. Travelling to the nearest support group in Baltimore wasn’t really an option. Kim has resolved to work on remedying this situation as soon as she has transportation by starting a support group in the area. There, amputees could share their recovery experiences, support each other when tackling insurance issues, and share tips and tricks – like the compression sleeve!

What, you say? She is determined to have some fun with this prosthesis. She told Mark Treasure,  her prosthetist, that she didn’t want to wear tennis shoes for the rest of her life, and she wants to wear skirts and shorts – but with style! She got the idea to get really fun compression sleeves and pull them over the socket to create a different look any time she wants to. It is an inexpensive way to dress her socket up or down, depending upon her clothing or her mood. Rumor has it that she was going to vacation on the beach and intended to wear a sleeve that had great white sharks on them just to see the reaction she might get! It is with sense of humor and determination that she moves forward and sees a light at the end of a tunnel.

Patient Stories: Cordelia C

Cordelia is an amazingly smart, happy, intelligent, beautiful little four year old who happens to have Down Syndrome. During our pregnancy we found that there was a possibility that our baby had Down Syndrome. It wasn’t confirmed until Cordelia’s arrival; it was less than 24 hours after giving birth that we would hear those words “Your daughter has Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome.”

Cordelia was also born with two holes in her heart - called an Atrial Septal Defects (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Her heart was completely repaired at four months old. Since then Cordelia has had multiple surgeries and diagnoses; however, none of this has stopped her from hitting her milestones and growing into the independent toddler that she is today!

We were first introduced to Dankmeyer when Cordelia was around 1 ½ years old by her physical therapist, Havala McKinney, PT, DPT, MSPT, PCS, CEIM (pictured above, right, with Cordelia in the gym.) Havala was Cordelia’s physical therapist starting at just one month old through the Infants and Toddlers program in the Baltimore County school system. It was thought that the Sure Step orthoses would help Cordelia gain the strength needed in her ankles to support her in walking independently. So, I set the appointment.

Jamie (Dean, Patient Services Representative) greeted us when we came into the office for the first time and Jed (Newhardt, CPO) guided us back to the “big” room where Cordelia was measured for her first pair of Sure Step braces. Jed has the patience of a saint. He never complained about Cordelia not sitting still. In fact, he would crawl around on the floor with her, working with her, watching her positioning and measuring her feet and ankles.

At 22 months old, just one month after she was the flower girl in her cousin’s wedding, Cordelia took her first steps. She was off and running. There was nothing stopping her now; well, maybe a baby gate here and there.

Cordelia has worn two different types of braces over the years. She has had two pairs of Sure Step braces and one pair of DAFO #4’s (an example in yellow, above.) We are currently waiting on a new pair of Sure Step braces to arrive. When Cordelia doesn’t wear her braces I can definitely notice a difference in her positioning when walking. I truly feel that the braces have helped with the straightening of Cordelia’s feet (she tends to walk pigeon-toed) as well as stopped her from pushing/flexing her knees back.

I am truly grateful for Havala sending us to Dankmeyer and for the amazing experiences that we have had since. The entire office is amazing!! I feel like they listen to our concerns with Cordelia; their willingness to work with Cordelia’s therapist is like nothing I have ever seen.

Cordelia is currently working towards and meeting goals within the school system. She is an amazing climber on the playground and has no fear when doing so. If she falls she gets right back up and attempts to do the obstacle all over again. There is nothing that will ever hold Cordelia back. This is her life; this is her normal and she will accomplish anything that she is asked to do and wants to do.

Down Syndrome does not limit her.

Her disABILITY is beautiful.

I cannot wait to see what she will accomplish next. 

- Written by Angie White, Cordelia's mom

Cordelia with her mom, Angie White.

Patient Stories: Joe Maese

Joe's Profile:

Joe Maese (pronounced MY-ESSAY) is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 6th round in 2001. Joe continued his career with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and played Baltimore Arena Football in 2007. 

In 2010, Joe became a career firefighter/EMT.

Currently, Joe runs and operates 59 Athletics in Owings Mills, Maryland, where he trains high school and college student athletes and fitness/bodybuilding competitors.

Joe's Story:

When asked if deciding to have an amputation was difficult, Joe's answer is "Absolutely, and here's why: When what you are left with after an accident is causing you tremendous difficulty, many impossibilities, long-term infections, and the destruction of any good tissue or bone that is left, an amputation is not only a viable option, it can be a thriving alternative."

After four hospitals and seven doctor's opinions, Joe was finally introduced to Dr. Janet Conway, Advanced Orthopeadist and Foot Specialist. When Joe woke up from surgery and spoke to his doctor, she told him he definitely made the right decision in choosing to have his amputation. It had been a long road. Joe had fourteen surgeries in seven months and had enough of feeling like a hamster on a wheel. He decided the only way to stop the continual infections from growing further up his leg was to amputate and move forward. Dr. Conway's expertise and opinion was an integral part of Joe's decision making.

Last week marked five months since Joe's below-knee amputation. Joe feels that once his amputation wound healed, he could not have been paired with a better person and organization than Mark Hopkins (CPO, PT, MBA) and his team at Dankmeyer, Inc. Joe adds that from the start, Mark and his team recognized his individual, personal needs and continue to strive to get him the equipment that he needs in order to live his life to the fullest extent of his capabilities - and to not be held back by a prosthesis and equipment that does not work for him.

Joe attributes his successful transition to a prosthetic leg to the way he was raised and the many challenges and adversities he faced in his career choices as a pro football player and a firefighter. He adds that all of those things combined instilled in him the wherewithall to rise to the challenge that being an amputee requires and has given him continual drive and success moving forward.

 

 

Patient Stories: Patients Attend Hill Days

Kelly Miller at Amputee Coalition's Hill Days

Kelly Miller and Jeanne Smith, Patient Services Coordinator attended The Amputee Coalition's Hill Days in Washington DC on Tuesday, April 25th and Wednesday, April 26th.  Along with other Dankmeyer patients, amputees from all over the country came together to meet with elected officials to discuss issues affecting the limb loss community: to include insurance fairness for all amputees, healthcare reform, and support for research program funding. Among other attendees was a family of three  generations, a young four year old amputee and his mother and his grandfather, all dedicated to advocating for insurance fairness for ALL persons affected with limb loss.  

Many thanks to all of the Senators, Congressman and their staff for meeting with the 2017 Hill Days participants.  A special thank you to the following Senators, Congressman and staff who took time to met with Kelly and Jeanne:

  • Senator Chris Van Hollen and David Radcliffe, Department of Defense Fellow
  • Dvora Lovinger, Congressman John Sarbanes’ Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Alexandra Menardy, MPH, Senator Benjamin Cardin’s Legislative Correspondent, along with Health Fellow, Arnold Solamillos 

In addition, we thank Congressman Brian Mast of Florida, Veteran and bilateral amputee, for hosting a wrap up discussion and reception. 

For more about the Amputee Coalition and the annual Hill Days, click here.

Patient Stories: Jeremy Funk

Levi and I met in June of 2015 at Fidos for Freedom, a service-dog training organization in Laurel, Maryland.  (Fidos trains dogs for people with low mobility, for people with impaired hearing, and for veterans with PTSD.)  Levi is a three-year-old red-fox Labrador Retriever. It felt as though he chose me, because before we were matched with each other, even when he was working with other clients, he would watch me from across the room.  As we work together, he is learning to help me by fetching items I've dropped, and we are working to see if he could help me with my balance as I walk.  He also knows how to brace to help me stand up when I fall.  I work as a copy editor at home, and one of my favorite moments of the day happens as my computer warms up in the morning; Levi hops up on the futon with me and tries to lick my face as I pet him.  Eventually, he lies down and puts his head in my lap: it's a great way to start my work day.  Levi is a wonderful partner. 

Here are some pictures of Levi at work, at rest, and at play with his housemate Emma.

If you are interested in more information about Fidos for Freedom, you can click here.

If you are interested in more information about Labrador Retrievers, you can click here.

 

Patient Stories: ERIC FLYNN

Eric Flynn is a very active eleven year old, like most boys his age. This sixth grader loves to fish, play baseball, and ski - as just a few of his athletic endeavours.   Eric has previously shared pictures of some of his legs as shown here - both clean and after a muddy event!  The mud can be hosed off, leaving Eric ready for the next sporting event. And what will that be?

 

It won't be long before it is spring, and spring training starts and baseball will be on everyone's mind.  But as recently as the beginning of February, Eric was still thinking about skiing.  Let's take a look at his skis.  Last year, Eric's skis started as standard size appropriate skis and bindings.  Eric's parents, Eric Sr. and Darnell, purchased "feet" which Dankmeyer then modified. Adapters for the prostheses were installed in order to connect the prostheses to the skis.  

You can see Eric here trying on the finished product before hitting the slopes. Last year Eric was able to ski using outriggers.  This year, he has progressed to skiing with standard poles.  This video shows how well Eric is negotiating the terrain. Nice Job, Eric!  Looks like you are having fun!

Patient Stories: Kareem Shaya Revisit

Editor's Note: Kareem Shaya was our very fist patient story over two years ago when we first launched our website.  We thought it might be nice to revisit his message.  

While experimenting with my nutrition a few years ago, I learned about the paleo diet. And you can't read about paleo for long before you stumble across crossfit.

Crossfit's intensity and class-based structure were interesting, and in some ways it seemed like the last thing I hadn't tried. I'd dabbled in running but never liked it, and going to the gym to work out by myself was an impossible habit to sustain. I spent months doing basic bodyweight exercises at home before I felt well-versed enough to sign up at my local crossfit gym.

The first few months of classes were bumpy. But they're bumpy for everyone. I'd assumed that as an amputee I'd have to make a lot of adjustments, but in those months I found that the closer I stuck to the form that everyone else was using on squats, cleans, kettlebell swings, and everything else, the better my results. Going once a week turned into twice a week, then three times, then four times and five.

It's been 18 months since I started. I've been amazed with the results. In the gym, yes, but more so outside the gym, in my day-to-day. Posture, hip strength, cardiorespiratory capacity, general physical awareness, and all the other things that important for walking around on a prosthesis all day.

But there's nothing magical about crossfit specifically. I spent years dabbling with workout programs — running, aerobics, weight machines, etc. — and never liked any of them, and I thought that meant I just didn't like exercise. But as the saying goes, the best workout is the one you do. So I'm hoping an amputee will see these videos and just do something. Crossfit, jogging, jiu-jitsu, yoga, ten sit-ups a day, it doesn't matter. It's so common to fret so much about doing the best thing that you end up not doing anything. Especially when you have to figure out how your prosthesis will affect things. But as it turns out, that's the easy part.

Check out Kareem at his local Crossfit gym:

Patient Stories: Richard "Dick" Devers

Last month, October 2016, Richard “Dick” Devers, Sr. and his wife Lynn celebrated forty-one years of marriage – a pretty significant anniversary in anyone’s book.  This month, November 2016, Dick marks another milestone - the first anniversary of his amputation.  Somehow, that seems less celebratory, but Dick says, "I've come a long way, baby”, and he celebrates everything he has accomplished in the last year.

Looking back, Dick recalls how suddenly and unexpectedly he became an amputee.  An avid do-it-yourselfer (this guy built his own house!), he was doing some remodeling last November on his daughter’s home when he suddenly felt ill. He didn’t have any pain, but after a week of no improvement, went in to the doctor.  The next thing he knew, he was in the hospital diagnosed with diabetes and a serious infection in his leg, which rapidly became gangrenous.  The surgeon removed dead tissue, but despite all efforts, the situation deteriorated to the point where Dick had a decision to make.  

With his guardian angel Lynn by his side, Dick began his recovery as a below knee amputee.   He says it felt like he had been kicked in the stomach, and he had to figure out what he was going to do without a leg. The first thing was to get his diabetes under control and for his residual limb to heal.  During that four month period, he came to grips with his new state of health and while stuck between a bed and a wheelchair began to plan how he was going to get back to doing all the things he was doing before this happened.  And a very important priority was – how was he going to get back on his bike?

Bike - as in motorcycle.  While a self professed country boy, this West Virginia native is very well travelled – having visited a great many states all across the country on his travels over the years with Lynn on their motorcycles.  He had been riding since he was eleven years old, and he wasn’t going stop now.  He and Lynn had recently traded their two wheelers in for a “trike” – a three wheeler they could ride together, and they had great plans to continue their journeys as part of their retirement.  It was very important to figure out how he was going to make this work.  Even though he was still in a wheelchair and didn’t even have his first temporary prosthesis, he hopped onto his bike one legged, and that’s when he knew he would be able to do it.

Keeping this goal in mind, he started work with a physical therapist, and also visited Mark Treasure, Dankmeyer’s prosthetist in the La Vale, MD (Cumberland area) office. Dick had heard good things about Mark, and made arrangements with his insurance to make Dankmeyer his provider.  A retired Programmer/Analyst, Dick turned to the computer and became an avid researcher about amputation and prostheses, and says he pestered Mark with a million questions.  Dick made some cost cutting decisions when working with Mark for his first temporary prosthesis.  Now, he is getting used to a more advanced definitive prosthesis, with its multi-axis foot, and finds he is more mobile and balanced.

Everything is a process, with ongoing adjustments as he learns to do things using his prosthesis and figures out what works and what doesn’t.  He believes it is a challenge that he has to give his best shot.   Some of the anxiety he experienced when he first went out in public in shorts has gone away.  People will ask questions, particularly children, and he decided this was just part of him now – “I had to be me.”  He also notes that one gentleman thought that his leg was so well made, it simply looked like Dick was wearing a knee brace. Other amputees have been supportive and encouraging.

Now, with the Lord’s help, and that of his children, grandchildren, and friends, and with Lynn as his “enforcer”, his diabetes is well controlled, and he is back to some DIY projects. This fall, he is enjoying his West Virginia Mountaineers play well as part of NCAA football in the Big 12 conference.   More importantly, he has made some very simple modifications to the motorcycle to allow him to shift gears, and he is “back in the wind” again.  He says his beloved West Virginia is made for riding, and he and Lynn are looking forward to continuing roaming around the USA as he gets more settled with his prosthesis.  Though he is physically healed, he feels that telling his story on this first anniversary helps in his emotional healing.  He knows, without a doubt, he is headed “onward, and upward”.

For a slideshow of photographs of Dick and Lynn's travels, Dick's recovery, learning to use his temporary prosthesis and now his definitive prosthesis, then click here.

Patient Stories: William Mobberly

It is a lovely time of year to take a stroll up and down the street, or to the public park for a little people watching.  The trees are turning beautiful shades of yellow and red and the temperatures are cooler.  Your walking companion might also be interested in all the smells in the air – that is, if that companion is an eight year old Chihuahua named Butter.  Butter is William Mobberly’s constant companion these days, but it wasn’t always that way – nor could William walk at all for a long period of time.

A little over five years ago, pain in his leg sent him to the doctor where blood clots were found. The surgery to remove the clots left a wound that just would not heal.  Subsequent skin grafts didn’t resolve the problem either and he found himself in a nursing home fighting a persistent infection.  This eventually forced him to make a decision – let the infection claim his life, or amputate the leg.  He chose life, but the amputation itself was very slow to heal and he thought he would never walk again.

This was a very grim time for William.  He is very forthright when he says that he lost hope during this time.  After spending most of his life taking care of his parents, and working for the same company for 48 years, and “doing what needed to be done to get by”, at this point he didn’t know what to do.  He was at a loss – with limited resources and a limited support system.  He was frustrated with his medical care, and he was not prepared for the physical and emotional toll he was experiencing.  When he was first fitted for a temporary prosthesis, he had been in a wheelchair for some time, and had no faith that the device would allow him to become active again.  

He credits his prosthetists for getting him moving again with their quiet support and encouragement.  He doesn’t know what he would have done with Magdalena DiZebba and Sheryl Nathanson.  They encouraged him to use his prosthesis and never give up.  First - get out of the wheelchair and use a walker as an assistive device.  Next, progress to using only a cane.  When he got a definitive prosthesis to replace the temp, he put the temp in the bedroom closet to force himself to get used to the new leg.   He was living with friends, and their dog Butter became a best buddy, who slept with him at night.  William loves dogs, and fondly recalls the therapy dogs that would visit in the hospital.  One day, William decided that he could do without the cane and walked around the bedroom, with Butter on the lookout.  Every day he pushed himself to walk farther without the cane.  His steady plan paid off.  Now, he walks anywhere he wants to walk – usually taking Butter along for company.  Shopping at Walmart used to involve a scooter – but no more! And after a summer of watching friends swim, when he gets his next new prosthesis, he is going to use the old one to swim with because he doesn’t want to be left out of the fun.

It is important to William that he share his story to let other people know life is not over when bad things happen.  After a difficult medical struggle and his despair of regaining his mobility, he persevered through focus and hard work, some help from others, and Butter, of course .  Now, in his retirement, he goes out with friends. In the mornings he gets his coffee, and walks around the neighborhood, or to the park with Butter for a little people watching.  He really likes talking to people and with obvious emotion tells them about his conviction that God has a hand in all things.

Patient Stories: Donald Greenfield

Left Turn. Right Turn. About-Turn. Halt.

Military commands? While Donald Greenfield experienced similar commands after enlisting in the Army fifty years ago, in this story, these particular words, accompanied by “Sit”, “Down”, “Stay”, “Stand” and some form of Recall, are more appropriate for competing his dogs in American Kennel Club (AKC) Obedience Trials.  These commands form part of a dog’s “basic training”, so to speak – and Donald undertook obedience training his dog Star after an accident left him a below knee amputee twenty years ago. After twenty-six years as a brakeman and conductor for the CSXT railroad, he retired following his accident, but wanted to stay active. His wife Robin suggested that training their Golden Retriever would allow him to do just that in a new way. He thought that would be fun, so Donald signed Star up for a class at Catoctin Kennel Club of Point Of Rocks, MD. She was a natural, and they did very well by earning a Utility Title.

Long before training Star, Donald had been an active sportsman since growing up in Brunswick, Maryland near the Potomac River. This is where he grew to love the outdoors and wildlife and learned to hunt and fish.  It wasn’t long after graduating from Brunswick High School that he left the Potomac behind.  U.S. involvement in Vietnam had escalated following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, and in December 1965, Donald enlisted in the U.S. Army. After Paratrooper School at Fort Benning, GA, he was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Ben Hoi, Vietnam. November of 1967 saw some of the heaviest fighting in the Central Highlands, about 280 miles north of Saigon near the Cambodian border. He was on Hill 875, Dak To, first serving as a radio operator for the Company Commander. Both sides in this battle sustained heavy casualties, with the 173rd particularly hard hit. After 28 months of service in Vietnam, he is the recipient of two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He was a Sargent E-5 when he left the army. 

The railroad and family followed his military service. After his retirement and Star’s success, Robin and Donald brought two Shetland Sheep Dogs (Shelties) into the pack – Chase, a Blue Merle and Lucy Lu, a Bi-black.  Robin thought Donald should try his hand at something new - agility training. Agility was originally designed to resemble equestrian jumping sports - to demonstrate dogs' natural speed and agility.  Some say that this was a natural extension of military and police dog training – for dogs to make their way through a sort of obstacle course, by running, jumping, climbing and scaling objects. “Sit” and “Stay” commands were expanded by “Jump”, “Tunnel”, “A-Frame”, “Teeter”, “Tire” and “Weave” (among others) – the handler all the while running with the dog around a complicated course.  Because of the running, he wasn't sure this was something he could do with his prosthesis. Robin’s good friend Carol Guth at Breakaway Action Dog Club (BAD) in Frederick, MD assured Donald he could do it. Within a few years of beginner’s classes, Chase and Lucy Lu began to earn agility titles.  Donald and the dogs were having lots of fun.  Donald became a member and eventually an officer of the club. It wasn’t long after that when he became an agility instructor at BAD.

During this time, Mystic joined the family as a rescue dog.  Now eighteen, Donald says she is a nice dog who had clearly had some training before they got her and despite being deaf, she doesn’t want to be left out of the action.  (She is in the foreground of this picture.) The newest members of the family are two year old River and six month old Breeze - English Cream Golden Retrievers. While their family pedigree includes Master Hunters, Donald does not plan to hunt these two or do fieldwork, as Goldens often do.  Instead, he will continue to do agility for fun, and obedience trials – like their predecessor Star.  They are very smart and quick to learn, but their training is on a brief hold until Donald gets a new prosthesis.  Sadly, Robin and Donald recently said farewell to their Lucy Lu.

Along with all this agility action running about, Donald continues to enjoy hunting and fishing with his son Brian, and grandsons Adam and Joshua.  He says, “I thought I was done for after losing my foot in the accident. Thanks to my lovely wife, friends, prosthetists Mark (Hopkins) and Mary (Reedy) at Dankmeyer, I've been able to stay an active person to enjoy life to its fullest.”  A number of new awards and ribbons await River and Breeze, and their handler, Donald Greenfield.  Today, the only use of “Halt” in this decorated Army veteran’s vocabulary is for his four legged trainees.

“Obedience trials are a sport and all participants should be guided by the principles of good sportsmanship both in and out of the ring. Obedience trials demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring and emphasize the usefulness of the dog as a companion to man. All contestants in a class are required to perform the same exercises in substantially the same way so that the relative quality of the various performances may be compared and scored. The basic objective of obedience trials, however, is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions. The performance of dog and handler in the ring must be accurate and correct according to these regulations. It is also essential that the dog demonstrate willingness and enjoyment while it is working and that a smooth and natural handler be given precedence over a handler moving with military precision and using harsh commands.”  From the American Kennel Club Obediance Regulations.  For more information about Obedience Trials click here,  and Agility Trials, click here.

 

Patient Stories: Tod*

(This story is courtesy of the parents of a minor patient, who happens to be three years old.)

Our little boy was born prematurely via emergency c-section with a very rare in-utero phenomenon that damaged the bottom of his right leg and his right foot. The injury was becoming life threatening, so at 3 days old, he had a below-the-knee amputation. It was a long, nerve-wracking day for us as new parents, still recovering from birth, still acclimating to the NICU. However, he came through it all safely, was off of the morphine in just two days, and came home a week before his original due date.

The next year flew by with all of the usual baby milestones. Our boy was a super fast crawler and a busy explorer. Just after he learned to pull himself up, a few weeks before his 1st birthday, he got his proto-type prosthetic to learn to toddle properly. His first leg did not have bendable joints because the first lesson little kids have to learn in standing and walking is balance.

Today, our little boy is an active, happy 3-year old. He has a bendable knee now, which acts as a great shock absorber as he runs, climbs and slides. He is fearless in trying new things and going to new places. He is always the last child to come in from the playground when his preschool teachers call the class to line up. He is learning to swim and loves to meet animals, anytime and anywhere. His normal is our normal, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

(*We, as parents, have chosen to keep our son’s real name and face private. However, we are happy to share some of our parenting story if it helps others.)

Patient Stories: Jenny Windsor

When most of us get on an airplane, we don’t think much about it.  We maybe put something in the overhead, sit down, shove something under the seat in front of us, and then buckle in.  Jenny Windsor has spent a lot of time flying and her routine is somewhat different.  She says it can be hard for an amputee to sit for as little as three to four hours on a plane – your limb goes to sleep, you can get pressure sores, so she finally decided not to be embarrassed, and pull the residual limb out of the socket and let it rest, or she takes the leg off and puts it next to her.  Now, that could be a conversation starter!

Jenny is a very active forty nine year old, who, as a nineteen year old college student, was in a motor vehicle accident and spent four months in the Baltimore shock trauma facility.  After many surgeries, she made a difficult decision to have an amputation.  A lot of pain, swelling, and exhaustion were part of her rehabilitation, and she feels like her youth and good health gave her an advantage in her recovery.  She also credits her prosthetist and Dankmeyer for her leg and its fit – finding the right prosthetist being critical to recovery and success.  

A little over fifteen years ago, in order to remain active Jenny adopted a yellow lab puppy, Lilly.  As an 8 week old puppy, Lilly forced Jenny to stay active.   When her leg would hurt, or she would develop blisters from too much activity, her dear four-legged companion was there for her.  

Jenny, who also liked to hike and ski, eventually started looking for something far more strenuous, maybe an obstacle course-type event.  Last year, she participated in a couple of fitness boot camps at RAW Fitness VA, where the class dragged tires around, did burpees, pushups, kettle bell swings - basically two hours of various strenuous activities. This prompted her to want to try a Rugged Maniac obstacle course race scheduled for October. An injury caused by improper over training forced her to reschedule her competition for June of this year. At the same time she needed to see Lilly through her final illness.  

This past winter she and her husband Jack (and team member) started back in training at Baydog CrossFit in Severna Park, MD.  While she would like to work out every day, due to the physical requirements of CrossFit and a demanding work schedule she is currently limited to three days a week.  The goal is to be strong enough to work out six days a week and participate in the CrossFit Open as an “Adaptive Athlete” in 2017. (#TeamSomeAssemblyRequired) The vigorous workouts include jumping rope, push-ups, sit-ups, a variety of weight training exercises (squats, clean and jerk, snatch), rowing and other cardio work.  

Jenny has an enormous amount of support from the coaches and classmates at Baydog CrossFit.  For a couple of months, no one there knew she was an amputee.  She didn’t reveal her prosthetic leg and kept it covered by wearing long sweat pants.  She didn’t want “special” attention or to be limited with her workout due to the perception of being “handicapped”. She came to realize that in order to meet her goals as an adaptive athlete, she needed to reveal the prosthesis and place her trust in the coaches to not see her any differently than anyone else in the class.  While she does have some limitations because of her amputation, Jenny works together with her coaches to figure out the best course of action if she can’t perform an exercise the traditional way.

CrossFit teaches functional movement patterns – movements you use every day.  Jenny sees it as preparation that will help make her become strong enough to compete in and finish the Rugged Maniac 5K race.  The Maniac event requires participants to make their way through a number of difficult obstacles – some of which include mud, ropes and heights.  She was initially concerned about losing her leg in the mud! After researching the event and planning with her prosthetist Mary Reedy, after the event, when the leg is covered in mud, she will simply hose it off. Then, she will take it in to get the foot cover removed and cleaned out.  Problem solved!  

Recently, when she and her husband took a break and went on a vacation to the Grand Caymans Jenny took along her “back-up” leg to use for swimming. She could not risk damaging her every day leg by swimming with it, insurance does not cover more than one leg at a time for most amputees. #NotaLuxury. For a long time, she avoided swimming, because she was self-conscious about her leg and scars.  This time, when she was out on the boat, she simply sat down and switched out legs – she decided she didn’t care what people might think.  So, she swam with the rays, strolled on the beach, and snorkeled for a week, and after that experience has decided she wants to learn to dive.

As if that isn’t enough, part of the fun thing to know about Jenny is that she is a genuine award winning CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) chili cook when she is not being a corporate controller and an athlete!  In January, she and her husband were members of the winning “High Sierra Cooking Team” at the US National Open Championships in Terlingua, TX. In fact, it was while she was competing with her brother at a chili cook-off that she met her husband-to-be over ten years ago.  And if chili doesn’t do it for you, she is also a member of the Kansas City BBQ Society and is the head cook for Black Cat BBQ, one of a small, growing number of woman lead BBQ teams.  While it has its rewards, being a winning BBQ/chili chef is a lot of hard work.  She has been cooking at competitions for more than ten years. Being a pit master means she is on her feet long hours moving heavy bags of charcoal and equipment around.

Jenny credits her mom as being an awesome cook who has given her many of the great family recipes.  Would she share any of her award winning chili recipes? Maybe, but she really does want to share some of her experiences as an amputee.  Jenny says that you can do whatever you want to do.  It doesn’t cross her mind that she cannot do something.   She feels it is important to stay fit and healthy.  Staying active means using that leg as long as possible – giving in to occasional pain and exhaustion comes with being an amputee but giving up is not an option.  And, she wants to share this philosophy and her experiences with others.  She recently discovered all of the resources available through the Amputee Coalition, and will be training with them to be a Certified Peer Visitor.   Chili, BBQ and mud – a winning combination that is sure to entertain, and inspire others.

Patient Stories: Angela Manning

What do you call an amputee who is active in going to the gym, peer mentoring, working with lawmakers on disability issues, political campaigning, and travels? Well, you call that person an active amputee, and in this case an amputee activist, too.  And you call this specific force of nature Ms. Angela Manning.  

Originally from Longview, Texas, Angela moved to the Baltimore area in 1996.  A little over four years ago, she became an above knee amputee after a series of vascular setbacks arising from diabetes.  Since then, some additional health issues have tested her positive outlook, and she found herself increasingly relying on her wheelchair, scooter and walker to get around instead of her new leg.  But this was just a bump in the road.  She wasn’t going to let herself get “stuck in a deep hole of feeling bad about the way things were.”  She insists that you shouldn’t let your mind control your body on bad days.  "Have your anger and move on out of it.”   This echoes a sentiment expressed by her brother when she was in inpatient rehab shortly after her amputation.  Her brother and sister had been in Baltimore to help with her recovery.  She recalls that while in rehab, she fell some time after her brother had already returned to Texas.  When she called and told him so, he told her “You only have one leg.  You are going to fall. Did you get up? You just have to get up!”

As part of her self-motivation, she expressed an interest in peer mentoring to her prosthetist, Mary Reedy (CP).  Mary suggested that she attend the annual Amputee Coalition conference. It hosts workshops on a variety of topics (including the peer mentoring), as well as a wide range of activities and group support.  So, Angela registered, grabbed her sister and flew to Phoenix, AZ in July of 2015.  She saw so many amputees at the airport that she was shocked! Never in one place had she seen so many people in circumstances similar to hers.  The annual conference is the largest gathering of those with limb loss in the country.  The events and demonstrations that were a part of the conference were eye-opening.  There were rock climbing activities, dancing, therapy sessions, support groups, and the workshops on peer mentoring she was particularly interested in.  

She met people from all over the world, and embraced the fellowship and energy around her.  This conference packed some serious emotional wallop – when she saw so many other amputees in one place doing all kinds of activities she never dreamed of doing, she decided to face fears about her health and amputation and just dive in! Literally – she participated in a swimming event and had the time of her life.  She had “more fun on one leg than she had ever had on two!”  She left inspired to work harder to walk again.

On her return, Angela arranged a meeting with her vascular surgeon and his staff at the University of Maryland, to become a peer mentor to other amputees.  She is there to provide answers to other’s questions, share her own experiences, and be a sounding board – she listens.  In the process, she also motivates others, as her enthusiasm is infectious.  Her stories will have you laughing through your own tears, or just laughing so hard that you cry!  And she dresses to impress, saying she “wants to look good and feel good” and encourages others to do the same. 

At one amputee support group that she attends, an attendee groaned, “I just want to walk.”  Angela told them, “You are walking! You just have to do it our way.”    This is a woman who sees herself standing tall and walking in high heels, even when she isn’t physically wearing them.  Angela’s goals include starting a Meetup group online for people with amputations to engage in activities like bowling, dancing, to hang out and have fun, and to plan trips together.  Amputees are family.  She says, “Life is not over, and we have a right to enjoy life just like everyone else.”

She is going back to the convention in 2016, where she aspires to be a speaker.  This year, the meeting will be in Greensboro, NC, where there will be three days of “networking, education, clinics, exhibits, and adaptive sports and recreation.”   Since Greensboro is much closer to Baltimore than Phoenix is, she thinks she will drive this time, and more than likely will convince a whole busload of people to go with her.  And, probably she will pack her dancing shoes.

Patient Stories: Casas, Flynn, and Rawlings

While each of these patients could tell a complete and engaging story on their own, they were willing to quickly share some of their recent accomplishments.

Jose Casas

Jose Casas is one of Dankmeyer’s international patients and a member of the Peruvian military. Captain Casas became a below knee amputee as a result of trauma, and has been focused on returning to a number of highly physical activities. He has participated in the Amputee Walking School here, and recently competed, representing Peru, in an international competition in Brazil.  Besides his running leg, he uses a special prosthesis for swimming.

[Jose Casas es uno de los tantos pacientes internacionales de Dankmeyer y miembro de las fuerzas militares de Peru. El Capitán Casas recibió una amputación por debajo de la rodilla (en su pierna izquierda) como resultado de un trauma en su pierna. Hoy en día gracias a su personalidad y habilidades, se ha enfocado en regresar a actividades físicas de alta intensidad. Hace poco participó en la Escuela de Amputados (Amputee Walking School) aquí en Maryland, y recientemente representó al Peru en una competición internacional en Brasil. Ademas de su prótesis para correr, el usa una prótesis especial para nadar.]

Jose Casas gives his new leg a test run at Dankmeyer, Inc. in Linthicum, MD.

Jose Casas competes in Brazil.  

Eric Flynn

Eric Flynn,  a very active ten year old, has bilateral knee disarticulation level limb loss.  Herecently participated in an event that involved a LOT of mud. The legs can be hosed off, as perhaps Eric was!  Eric also participated with Team Dankmeyer in the Color Run in 2013.  Some of his previous sockets sport favorite team emblems.

Hezekiah Rawlings

Hezekiah Rawlings is a six year boy.  He has a congenital absence of the left arm below the elbow and wears a prosthesis.  Here he is wearing one of the first products of our 3D printer - an arm fashioned after an “iron man” design. The arm is really a hybrid of traditional fabrication (a custom molded socket done via hand casting and hand molding) and new fabrication (a 3D printed set of hand, wrist and forearm parts from an open source file scaled to his size) and a traditional prosthetic harness. 

Patient Stories: New Day Foster Home

Strictly speaking, this is not a story about a Dankmeyer patient.  Rather, it is a story about Dankmeyer patients helping other patients - patients they do not even know.  How does this happen? Sometimes, patients will donate prostheses or orthoses back to Dankmeyer when they are no longer needed for some reason.  This is a story of some gently used pediatric orthoses which made their way from Dankmeyer to an orphanage in China.  This story is best told by Rachel Lins, a Physical Therapy student at the University of Delaware. Rachel contacted Mark Hopkins about possible donations, and so off the devices went to China.

In March of 2013 I had the opportunity to visit a foster home in a small village just outside of Beijing, China, called New Day Foster Home. Since then, I've been keeping an eye out for ways I can help them out or connect them to resources here in the states since I have access to various organizations through my education at the University of Delaware - I’m a student physical therapist.

Initially the foster home caught my attention because it is specifically open to orphans with medical disabilities and has a PT (and other medical personnel) on-site. They currently serve approximately 36 children (not including its two sister locations which add roughly 16 children to the total count) with their purpose being to procure life saving medical treatment for these little ones and provide all the love they possibly can to them until they find their "forever families." Their list of needs change, as children come and go, but they see such a vast variety of medical disabilities/conditions that they're pretty open to medical supplies. So far, concerning orthotics, they have mentioned they are able to adjust them to fit their needs. 

For more information about the New Day Foster Home you can visit their website: http://www.newdaycreations.com/foster/kids/kids_bj.htm.   For a list of supplies needed by the home, see http://newdaycreations.com/foster/help/needs.htm.

If you have any other questions or wish to put a contact name on your information, Karen Brennamen can be contacted at Karen@newdaycreations.com. She and her husband moved to China in 1995 to start developing New Day Creations (a manufacturing company) and New Day Foster Home.

Patient Stories: Mike Fritschner

I became a paraplegic following a surfing accident in the summer of 2006.  Like many people in my position, I was immediately told I was never going to walk again.  I knew that this could not be farther from the truth.  I decided then and there that I was going to do everything in my power to not only stand again, but to walk.

Over the next few years, I was lucky enough to attend therapy at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  My family and I were overwhelmed with joy after each therapy session.  We had finally found a place that would push me every single day to recover as much function as possible.  

This pushing started by getting my own leg braces, "KAFO's" (Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses).  With these braces, your knees are locked in a straightened position at all times.  I was finally able to stand and "walk" under my own power.  Over a few years, I became more and more comfortable with these leg braces.  The more I worked with them, the stronger my muscles became and more function returned.  Over years of hard work, using these braces became easier and easier, to the point where my therapist thought I needed new braces to continue to approve.  I had never been so excited.

My therapist recommended "stance control" leg braces.  These braces are actually able to bend at the knee when you put weight on your toe, but then lock in to place when you put weight on your heel.  This simulates a much more natural walking motion.  This is when I first came in to contact with Heather, one of the many fantastic employees at Dankmeyer.  

Mike and his handcycle.  

Mike and his handcycle.

 

Instead of just shipping the braces to me and leaving me to my own devices, my practitioner, Heather O'Connor, insisted I go in to Dankmeyer's facility to make sure the braces functioned correctly.  As you can imagine, these braces were extremely difficult to use at first.  Going above and beyond as usual,  Heather recommended some different exercises I could do to continue to approve and use the braces to the best of my ability.  

Since I have had my braces, Heather periodically checks on me to make sure the braces are functioning properly.  As I use my braces more and more at physical therapy, I find myself growing stronger and able to move things I was not able to before.  This would not be possible without the wonderful people at Dankmeyer.  

With Heather and the rest of  Dankmeyer's help, there is no doubt in my mind I will continue to improve and achieve my goal of walking again.  

Since he wrote this story, Mike competed in the Baltimore Running Festival on October 18, 2014 in the Marathon (26.2 miles) Handcycle Division, where he placed 3rd.

Mike and his mom at the Baltimore Running Festival, October 18, 2014, where he won 3rd place in the Handcycle division.

Mike and his mom at the Baltimore Running Festival, October 18, 2014, where he won 3rd place in the Handcycle division.

Patient Stories: Diane Clark

“There are no limitations to what I can do!” a very confident Diane Clark states.  And she means it.  This 50 year old mother of 3 grown children and 8 grandchildren is very active in both her work and her home life.  Diane has been a Dankmeyer patient in our Cumberland office since 1993, when an accident resulted in a leg amputation.  There was a car crash on icy roads, and when she stepped out of the car, she was struck by another driver.  She says when she woke up and saw the faces of loved ones around her, she decided then to “be tough and not let it get me down.”  And she hasn’t let it get her down.

Originally from Oakland, MD, Diane lived in Mt. Storm, West Virginia where she attended high school.  After she met husband Frank, “the best thing that ever happened to me”, she moved to Cumberland. She worked for a while as a feeding assistant for Frostburg Nursing Rehab Center.  Eventually she changed positions to become an activities assistant there, where she has found her calling. “I love working with the elderly, lifting their spirits.”  She brings in entertainment for the residents, including Dankmeyer prosthetist Mark Treasure and his wife, to perform for the group.  She also dances with them, and literally clowns around.  See the gallery of pictures included for Diane in clown clothes!

In her time outside of work, Diane is involved in a number of activities.  She and her husband own a karaoke business. She goes to the gym three to four days a week where she jogs and works with a trainer on a variety of equipment.  Then there is the line dancing, where she scoots around the dance floor in her Harley boots, and she is a member of the Eagle Riders motorcycle social club.  There is the swimming and the zip line in Hawaii.  Yes, a zip line.  See the pictures below!

Yes, there is no disability for Diane, who says an artificial leg “doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.”  Whether that is dance, workout at the gym, ride the motorcycle, go to work or play with her grandchildren and pets, Diane is an inspiration to everyone she meets.


Patient Stories: Sumner Handy

I first learned of the tumor in my tibia in the fall of 2008. It was small then, not painful, and not likely to be cancer. Just a thing that’d apparently been with me for a while. My Ultimate Frisbee career was just starting to take off, so I decided I’d ask few questions and just play through.

But I really started to feel it the weekend of the Fourth of July in 2010. Playing in a 2,000-player Ultimate tournament outside Seattle, I noticed I needed some extra ibuprofen for my left leg on the morning of day three, and I sat myself down on the sideline. Even icing it in elevated, snow-capped Crater Lake on the way back through Oregon didn’t abate the swelling or the developing limp. There’d be no Kerri Strug miracle for me.

Throughout my ensuing treatment, I dreamt about running and getting back on the Ultimate field – the deep cuts, the throws, and especially the defensive plays. I had identified as an Ultimate player since high school, and maintained that self-perception throughout treatment. While it seemed counterintuitive, I ultimately realized that amputation would actually afford me more mobility than my alternative treatment option. That was a big mental step toward getting back on the field.

It’s hard to tell my story without mentioning the role my prosthetist played. When I met Mark Hopkins (of Dankmeyer) at my pre-op appointment, the path to playing again began to take shape. Mark was able to temper the anxiety I felt about what was to happen for me between the operating table and the Ultimate field. The whole team at Dankmeyer has reflected that attitude and support as I’ve worked with them over the last several years.

Whether it’s Ultimate, or chasing around a five year-old, or just walking from the train station to work – I’m happy to be able to do it. Whatever it is you want to do, tell the staff at Dankmeyer and trust them to help you get there.

Watch Sumner play some Ultimate Frisbee here:

Team Dankmeyer

What is a "Color Run” and how did Dankmeyer, Inc. get involved with this event?  
 
Well, a Color Run is a charitable 5K Walk/Run, where colored corn starch gets thrown on you as you make your way through the course– it's messy and colorful!  Our story starts back in the fall of 2013.  “Would the Dankmeyer group want join our family in the Color Run?”, asked Jody, mother of Tru - a 7 year old boy and right knee disarticulation amputee.  She took me a little by surprise.  Because, well, I don’t run!  I don’t like running.  And I’ve never participated in a race before - because I’ve never wanted to.  But the only answer to Jody's question that made sense to me was “Of course. That sounds great!”
 
Tru is one of my little inspirations.  And I was impressed by his and his family’s determination.  So we formed a team.  And he trained for this.  He would run in his neighborhood to his stop sign and back, gradually increasing his distance.  And his mom practiced throwing corn starch on him so he wouldn’t be afraid of it during the race.  While Tru was training, a few other Dankmeyer patients signed up– another young amputee named Eric and his family, and a brand new amputee Steve, who only had only gotten his first prosthesis less than 2 months before the event.  So on race day, I gathered with Tru, his parents and his sister, along with our other two other daring amputees, many of the Dankmeyer staff, and families.  Some of us ran, some of us walked, some of us did a little of both, and some waited at the finish to snag some great pictures.  But we were all there supporting one another in our individual goals and having a great time doing it.  And what inspired me the most, was after all of this, Tru asked to do it again!                                                

-Angie Swindell, CPO

Tru (center) accompanied by mom Jody (left) and his prosthetist Angie (right).

Tru (center) accompanied by mom Jody (left) and his prosthetist Angie (right).

For more pictures click here...