Ordinary people can live extraordinary, inspiring lives–Robert of Los Angeles, California, is a shining example. 51-year-old Robert had to undergo a below the knee amputation after developing a serious and potentially limb-threatening complication of diabetes known as Charcot foot syndrome, a condition that weakens the bones in individuals who have neuropathy or loss of sensation. It includes fractures and dislocations of bones and joints that occur with minimal or no known trauma, causing the foot to change shape. This is a serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation, the latter of which what Robert had to go through.
After living with and enduring considerable pain for a year, he eventually considered amputation. Robert was given the option to try a new kind of surgery, but he was afraid of the possible complications and unsure if it would work. After careful consideration, he decided to have his leg amputated for a better quality of life. It takes immense courage and emotional strength to roll with the punches and take what life throws at us, but Robert held on to the certainty of a better life after amputation which kept him from ever being depressed over his limb loss. A lot of amputees experience bouts of depression, especially right after surgery as they get used to the absence of their limb. "When a part of our body is lost, we experience a grieving process that is not easy. Emotional recovery, like physical recovery, is based on your own timetable and other factors. The new amputee may experience feelings of depression that are difficult to ward off.", says Omal Bani Saberi, LCSW, CCHT.
Just like everyone else, he has his good days and bad days–he admits that recovery requires a lot of patience as you adjust to a different body and your prosthetic leg. "It's worth it", he says, because his life did improve. Despite losing his leg and vision to diabetes, he continues to work as a massage therapist at a well-renowned spa in Los Angeles. He lives independently and takes public transportation to and from work daily – a subway and 2 buses to be exact.
Robert's most notable and admirable qualities are his incessant joyfulness and unstoppable sense of humor. He has a knack for making light of anything and everything, no matter how difficult a situation gets. His drive and outlook in life are what keep him moving. Robert grew up in Silverlake, Los Angeles, and has been a massage therapist for over a decade now. Laughter is perhaps the best medicine, as Robert–despite his condition–lives each day, one smile at a time.
Have you met someone like Robert or have any inspiring stories to share? We would love to hear from you and continue to pay tribute to these amazing individuals who show us that being an amputee shouldn't stop anyone from loving and living life, being happy, and focusing on positivity.