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 without 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.