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Patient Finds that Sometimes Laughter is the Best Medicine

Stories |

“If you are not going to joke about something, you are going to cry about it. I choose to joke.”

Patient Brian K. has a great, sometimes dry, sense of humor, and a positive attitude that seemingly has no boundary. A good thing too because he has had more than his share of health issues. Starting at age 14, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. For many years, Brian managed his diabetes, attending college, and landing a job as a database manager for the Bank of the West in Berkeley, Calif. “Managing my blood sugar and diet, and giving myself shots was just my life,” he said.

Despite his efforts at healthy living, he eventually developed complications including gastroparesis, weight gain, kidney failure, leg muscle atrophy, and one-and-a-half years using a walker. A small cut on his foot led to partial foot amputation, and finally, an infection impacting his blood stream and bones.

Doctors gave Brian some options. He could keep taking antibiotics, and it would help the infection in his foot for a time but with likely continued complications for years to come, or they could amputate below the knee to eliminate any chance of the infection spreading again. “It was the easiest decision I made,” Brian said. “By 2014, I had been in hospitals once or twice a week for 10 years, so I said, let’s do it.

“To some, this might look like such a downer that I have to overcome, but I can’t describe what a freeing and an amazing opportunity it was for me. I have more energy, I’m walking places and doing things I would never consider 10 years ago, or even a year ago.”

Brian credits his successes to his determination to be healthy and to his team at APO – Brent Morgan, CPO, LPO, and Ryan Schuetzle, orthotic/prosthetic resident. “Brent and Ryan are not just prosthetists, but friends. I’ve formed more than just a business relationship with these two guys, they have been so good to me,” he said.

Brent fitted Brian with a transtibial prosthesis consisting of a pin locking gel liner and a low-profile Re-Flex Rotate™ foot. The foot is designed for active patients like Brian, who require a high-performance comfortable foot with optimal shock absorption and dynamic energy return.

Once he had the freedom of walking with his prosthesis, Brian was unstoppable. “I was going to a restaurant for lunch, but I kept on walking until I got 26 blocks away from my apartment. Two days shy of one month with my leg, I walked 4.3 miles. I still can’t even think about that; it’s crazy. I did more distance than a 5K and I wasn’t sweating or in pain. Being that I was using a walker for so long – a year and a half in California – it was inconceivable to me that I walked that distance. It was a real victory for me.

“I am enjoying my life for the first time in a long time.”