Happy 100th Birthday, Mrs. Lawrence!

When Mrs. Lawrence was born on February 27, 1918, World War I was still being fought.  She is part of what has come to be known as "The Greatest Generation" - those who grew up in the Depression and lived through World War II.  Now, she is also a member of a rare group of citizens who are one hundred or more years old - a centenarian.  

Mrs. Lawrence was greeted at a recent appointment at Dankmeyer's Sinai office with a little birthday celebration in her honor.  Sheryl Nathanson, CPO and Sinai office Patient Services Representative Jeanne Smith prepared the mini birthday celebration, which included cupcakes, candles, flowers, and a birthday crown!  This mobile senior didn't have time to party for long, as she had to catch her MTA transport after her appointment.  

Please join us in wishing Mrs. Lawrence a very happy 100th birthday, with many more to come!

Patient Stories: Moxie - Here We Grow Again!

It is time for an update on Moxie! Moxie is the little English Setter mix adopted by Jeanne Smith, Dankmeyer Patient Services Representative a little over a year ago.  Moxie became a Dankmeyer patient, as she is missing part of her left hind leg.  Her clinician is Jed Newhardt, CPO.

Jeanne provides occasional updates on our unusual patient.  We always enjoy seeing Moxie in the office - she is a sweet girl who loves to get hugs and be petted and we love giving them!  Jeanne wriites:

Much like pediatric patients, Moxie has gained weight and grown taller.   With these growth spurts also comes the need for adjustments, replacement sockets or a new prosthesis.  In order for Moxie to maintain her active lifestyle, she will soon be starting the process for evaluation and design for another prosthesis.  Look for updates and follow Moxie through the journey of her newest prosthesis!   




Patient Stories: Gerald "Joe" Loibel

It was July 23, 2001, a hot July day, and I was riding my new motorcycle to work to Hagerstown, MD.  I met my friend Brian at his dad's house and we took off. I wasn’t 100 ft down the road and I decided to pass Brian.  I was going to hit the top of the hill, pull a wheelie and ride alongside Interstate 68. What I didn’t know was that at the top of the hill was a 90 degree turn and a stop sign. I hit the top of the hill at about 130 mph, and 80 ft in front of me was the guard rail. I decided to try to shave as much speed off as possible but I hit the guard rail at 115 mph.

Twelve ft up the guard rail my fuel tank hit it and sprayed fuel which ignited into a fireball. I let go of the handlebars and my right leg was stuck between the swingarm and the tire. The bike kicked sideways - hit me in the back and flung me 150 ft through the air. I remember hitting the ground and flipping over and landing face down.  My friend said to hold on - he was going to call 911 and when he got back I told him I was seeing things and it was getting hard to breathe.  I knew I was badly injured - I could see it and I could see I was losing a lot of blood. I asked Brian to put tourniquets on my legs and he took our duty belts off and wrapped them around both legs and managed them until paramedics came and took over. 

It was at this point I put my life in God's hands and asked if He just gets me to the hospital I would help Him do everything I could to stay alive.  I was flown to Memorial Hospital in Cumberland by Trooper 5 Medevac Helicopter where I was stabilized enough to be flown to University of MD R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Unit.  More than once they didn’t think I was going to make it.  When my parents arrived I was receiving Last Rights from a priest, but the nurse told them that my heart in my condition was stronger than half the people walking around the hospital! 

Surgeons amputated my left leg at the knee and my right leg below the knee.  Along with all my other injuries, my pelvis was broken and there was concern it would not support my weight.  When I was brought out of the medically induced coma after 14 days my dad was standing over me and told me that I had lost both my legs.  He asked if I wanted to say anything but I had a tracheotomy tube in my neck and couldn’t talk - so they brought over a pad and a pencil so I could write.  I spelled out "new legs" and my dad looked at me and said you mean an artificial leg like my Pappap had? and I nodded yes.  He then turned and looked at the doctors who were in my room and said we're not going to need you - my boy is going to be alright. 

They told my parents I would be there six months but I made it out in less than a month from the day of my wreck.  I was heading to Kernan Rehabilitation in Baltimore, MD where they said I would be for six months.  I made it out of there in three weeks.  Before I was released I met Charles Dankmeyer in the hospital and he told me the next time I visited I would be walking in.  Baltimore was too far for my dad to drive so we found out that Dankmeyer had an office in Lavale, MD right next to Cumberland, where I met my prosthetist Mark Treasure for the first time. 

He told me it would be hard work to learn to walk again with those "new legs", but I was hard headed and very determined.  It was December 18, 2001 when I got my first set of training legs and by January I could walk unassisted, stop, turn around and walk back.  After I got my first set of permanent legs I went back to work full time after only a year.  Then almost 9 years to the date I got Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and had to retire.  I now ride my three wheel bicycle on the bike path, I hunt, fish, golf and do pretty much everything I did before the accident, but run or walk through the woods.  Due to my immune system being weak from all the chemo I received during treatment I have good days and bad days but more good ones than bad.

Joe Loibel, double amputee, rides his three wheel bike.

Since the day I was brought out of my coma I have thanked God every day for letting me live and ask Him to give me the strength to get through the day - as every day since July 23rd 2001 is a gift for me.

Patient Stories: Paul Jennings

I had a nice job working nights from 6pm to 6am.  I felt good and I was never sick or took off work.  My right foot started to hurt. I had high blood pressure and I got very weak and could not stand up.

I decided to go to the emergency room on June 4, 2014 since I did not have a general doctor.   The doctors at the hospital told me I had gangrene in my right foot, and that I was a diabetic.  My blood pressure was very elevated and my kidneys were failing.  I had cataracts in both eyes.  So, I thought I was a caterpillar and my world was over.  With the doctors' help though, I became a butterfly.

The doctors cut my leg off above the knee. They gave me some medicine for my blood pressure, which came down to 130/70!  I had cataract surgery. My kidneys started to function better and my diabetes became controllable.

Physically and emotionally there were a lot of ups and downs in the past three years.  Some were easy, others were hard and took some soul searching. But I made a promise that I would stay positive no matter where the road took me. Having diabetes is an ongoing battle to stay healthy.

I have a prosthetic leg now and learning to walk so I can become more functional. I did go to the Amputee Coalition annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky this past summer, and recommend everyone with missing limbs to attend. It was very motivating and I became a better person. (Mr Jennings also attended the June 2017 of Amputee Walking School, pictured below.)

Last, but very important, I have several sayings that I live by every day.

1) Never ever give up. (Winston Churchill)

2) Always be very positive even if you are terrible.

3) Say the following every day by Christian D Larson:

“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism came true.  Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.  Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no to time to criticize others.  Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.” 

4) Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. (Neale Donald Walsch)

5) Just when the caterpillar thought that the world was over, it became a butterfly in a better world. (Proverb)

So I say, life is not about finding yourself – life is about creating yourself.

Mr Jennings preparing to leave the Sinai Office, wearing his Dankmeyer T shirt.

Patient Stories: Revisiting Richard "Dick" Devers

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.”

Lynn and Dick Devers.