Do, or do not, there is no try

Tonight I had a wake up call of sorts. I am back on the Jiujitsu mat again, and I am really enjoying it. for me and my trainer there are a lot of challenges because of my being..erm… two feet shorter than everyone else. Some things work great for me, and some things don’t. I have a few advantages, but a lot of disadvantages, so it is kind of give and take.


Tonight, was a bit rough on me. I wont go into a bunch of technique talk, because that is not the point I want to make tonight, really. Suffice it to say that I couldn’t do things the way i wanted to, my workout partner and my trainer both had to help me figure out alternatives, and there weren’t a lot to choose from. :/


I got mad, really mad at myself for not being able to just do it like everyone else, and I crawled off the mat a bit frustrated. A lot frustrated, actually.


As I got my legs on and my gi and gear packed up and was about to walk out when my trainer, Eric, asked (as always) “did you learn anything tonight?” and then followed that up immediately with “frustrated, huh? Hey, there’s ups and downs, tonight was just a down.”


Like a great big smack in the backside of my forehead a thought came to mind and I had to tell him that yea, I was frustrated, but…. two years ago I was lying in a hospital bed wondering how I would ever get into even a wheelchair, and now I am wondering how to accomplish some of these moves on the mat.


Needless to say, I felt much better after walking out the door. I actually thought about it all the way home. Two years ago my sick and broken body was lying in the hospital, and I didn’t even know when I would ever go home again. A year and a half ago I was given a pair of what felt like stilts and I wondered how I would ever walk on the damned things. A year ago I wondered how I would ever make it a day walking on campus for college without giving out. Six months ago I wondered how the hell I was ever going to keep myself up on a motorcycle…


And now? Now I’m wondering how to work past having no legs and only one hand to grip with on the Jiujitsu mat.


See the theme here? Problems are all in perspective…. when I woke up from my coma I had to push a button just so someone would come put a bed pan under me so I could go to the bathroom! Do you know how frustrating that was? I now have that same level of frustration at a problem so utterly small in comparison.




I got through those other things, and all the other little problems I had because I didn’t give up…. I owned those problems. I bought them lock, stock, and barrel. I didn’t put them on lay-a-way to pick up at a later time, I put my name on them, and then I freaking owned them!


I am telling you this because tonight it just seemed so profound to me the paradigm shift in what I consider frustrations and problems, and I want you to know that whatever problems are so bad in your life right now… Well… Two years from now, they are not going to be problems. Now don’t get me wrong, here. This isn’t a “my problems are bigger than yours so quit crying” thing. Don’t you dare feel bad about being frustrated over your problems, or compare them to mine. We all deal with our own demons, and I can’t compare mine to yours, and vice-verses.


What I am saying is, own your problem. sign it on the dotted line, square it away, and put it away, so you can move onto the next thing that will surely frustrate you. If you don’t own it, it will never be yours to put away. This is not something you can try to do, this is something you either do, or don’t do.


Do, or do not… there is no try….


Own it… I did…. you can too….

A long time coming for Sara Jo!

Terri Ross, Sara and I all trucked up to Louisville today to go to an amputee walking clinic. Sara sat in her chair listening to the lectures, and watching other amputees walk….. Until it was time for the open session!

Dennis, the gentleman in the white shirt –and a paralympic gold medalist — along with a PT (I think1) named Pace talked her into getting on her feet!

So here you go, all those that have strived to help Sara, your efforts have paid off!

She walked down and back twice the entire length of the conference room we were in, then, in a quick trip to my prosthetics team office at Kentucky Prosthetics down their bars after an alignment adjustment by Matt Hayden.

Proud of you, Sara! Keep it up!

Sockets, struggles and a bit about Self Pity

The last couple of months have been tough for me. Around Mid-July I went to Chicago for a few days to be a guinea pig for the gang at Coyote Designs and got to try out the RCR sockets. My prosthetic gurus from Kentucky Prosthetics attended, and it was a great time, as well as an awesome socket concept. I now have a set of RCR style sockets of my own, and like them quite a lot, very comfy.
Everyone there was very professional, and I learned a lot about what CP’s and CPO’s go through to learn and do what they do. I also had an eye opener about how some amputees feel about technology advancement. Another DBK amputee was there to help with the class, and he was walking on a set of legs based on 25-30 year old technology. I was amazed that he was totally fine with that, and he himself is a prosthetist. As I played around in my RCR test socket, testing the limits of my movement, (I was seeing how far apart I could spread my legs and still be standing) he asked me why in the world would I want to do that? My only answer was “Well, why not?”

The real answer is, because I always want to push the envelope.. I always want to go a little farther and do a little more. I am never happy with where I am at, and am always striving for that next challenge, no matter how big or small. I am sure my prosthetics team must want to pull their hair out at times over me, but they take it all in stride and help regardless!

The point here is, for anyone in life, amputee or not, you should never settle for what you have and should always strive for more. Always move forward, never stand still!
While in Chicago I also got to hang out with a friend, and she drug me all over downtown Chicago! We had a great lunch with crappy service, and I wont even begin to go into trying to get a cab ride out to the airport! That was a nightmare, but it was well worth for the time spent! Thanks Nicole for showing me around downtown!
The morning after my flight back, we had did the poker run and event for my friend Sarajo Mayer, and it was a success! We had a great ride, (well, all except for my bike breaking down lol) great food, and the Cold Shot Band played some great tunes into the night. I want to thank everyone who attended and helped out Sarajo! Your donations are helping her to get into a set of legs she can use, and on the road to walking again!

All that activity in such a short time took it’s toll on me. I messed up my knee, and had to be helped out the door of Sarajo’s event when all was said and done. I ended up being off my legs for almost three months! That was a tough time for me, and honestly why I haven’t posted a blog for a while.

Me, Joe and Kevin

My only real time on my legs during that time was for a video and photo shoot for Kentucky Prosthetics and Otto Bock. I was honored to be asked to be asked to participate in some promotional work for amputees in the EMS community. Fire, EMS and Police will be represented in several videos from Otto Bock by Officer Kevin Trees, Paramedic Joe Riffe, and myself. Both of these guys are amazing individuals, and I am proud to have worked with them on this project.

It was a tough one for me, as I could barely walk for the pain of my knee injury, but I made it through. That’s me, the short guy there on the left, Joe Riffe in the middle, and Kevin Trees on the right.

Kevin has been back on active duty as a police sergeant for years now, and I am happy to say that Joe recently announced his return to active ambulance service as of yesterday, I believe. Joe is the only above knee amputee paramedic working in the Louisville area! I guess it is my turn to hurry up and get back to the fire service, I’m falling behind these two!

I am now back to walking full time, and I have some ground to make up from being off my feet so long. Right before I got hurt, I had started back on the Jiujitsu mat working out again. My friend and trainer Eric Myers, owner of Myers Dojo was happy to accept the challenge of training a guy with no legs in BJJ. I am happy to say next week I should be starting back my workouts and getting back on the mat!

So, life is getting back to normal for me, college is going as well as college can, and I am again moving forward. Throughout my entire down time I got mad, upset, a tad bit down, and really really bored. The one thing I tried not to do was feel sorry for myself. That never helps anything.

Self pity is an enemy to all, even if your not an amputee, and if you let it in it will ruin you. I know now it seems a bit cliche because of of it being put into a movie, but DH Lawrence’s poem Self Pity can be a lesson for us all:

Self Pity

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
Those are some very powerful words. I think I would prefer to be a wild thing myself, how about you?

And just because Mr Mortensen does it so well, give him a listen!

And this clip here is for a buddy of mine who very recently lost his leg… I think he will be a wild thing too, and although right now he knows pain, I don’t think he will ever know self pity. This one’s for you, brother!