Last year at this time, Dick Devers told the story of his unexpected amputation in 2015. Then, he thought it was a good time to reflect on and “celebrate” the anniversary of surviving an illness that his wife Lynn thought would take him. (You can read this story in the Archives.) This year, we asked Dick to share with us how his life has changed since he told that story and what he has been up to since he got his definitive prosthesis.
Well, he has been climbing fifteen foot ladders apparently and making Lynn extremely nervous! Dick says that after his amputation, a light bulb in the cathedral ceiling fixture of their home burned out after 25 years. He had no idea how he was going to change it. He sure couldn’t climb on the rafters to do it like he had the first time. And he couldn’t find someone else to do it. Finally, he invested in a fifteen foot ladder and made the trip up himself. Now, Lynn has plans for him to do some gutter cleaning.
In the past year, Dick has learned to control and work with his diabetes – the thing that took his leg. He attends a monthly diabetes support group – and has been known to resort to what he calls “amputee humor” when talking to others about his experiences. He tells others “try and walk in my shoe”! But on reflection, Dick speculates that if he had been seeing the doctor regularly, and not being a stoic “country boy”, he might still have his leg today because he would have known about his diabetes and had it under control. And while sometimes he wonders what it would be like to have his leg back, not having taken care of himself really is his only regret.
Besides the ladder climbing, which he does regularly now, he and Lynn spent part of the summer remodeling their garage. Perhaps more importantly, he has resumed traveling on his bike with Lynn. After spending many years on road trips roaming the country, this was the one activity that he dreamed of resuming. During the summer he and Lynn got the bike down to Myrtle Beach for an event and they had a great time. But here he learned another lesson.
Going full steam ahead 100% of the time, can land you in wound care. It isn’t in his nature to slow down, but this taught him that he has to adapt and be willing to moderate his behavior so he doesn’t injure his residual limb. He visited his prosthetist, Mark Treasure, who adjusted his prosthesis for additional comfort, and gave him some advice about wearing the prosthesis and healing. Dick is paying more attention to how he approaches projects and doing new things so that kind of thing doesn’t slow him down.
He thinks that this more thoughtful approach to life has in some ways made him a different person, and that others have commented on that. And while he depends upon Lynn more than he used to, and the support of family and friends, the willingness to adapt and keep a positive attitude has almost reinvigorated him. He says that 25% of the recovery was physical, but 75% was mental. Coming to peace with his limb loss and contemplating his many blessings allows him to make better what he can. Now he is thinking about what he is going to do to keep himself busy as the colder weather moves into West Virginia. An avid hunter, he intends to hunt this season, keep an eye on his West Virginia Mountaineers football team, and plan for a trip out west come warmer weather. And, as always, wake up every day with a prayer and tell himself “onward and upward.”