Amputee Support Network

GF Strong Rehab Centre

Amputee Services

Amputee Support Network

Mike - Greater Vancouver and Lower Mainland - Above Knee

Peer Visitor Program

In 2000 at the age of 30 years, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the proximal tibia (upper shin bone). My surgeon told me that he could rebuild my leg, or “salvage” it, using an endoprosthesis. This means a prosthetic device within the body. The affected bone would be removed completely and in it’s place would be a large metal device consisting of a knee and half a tibia. I really had no idea what this involved, and at the time, anything sounded better than having an above knee amputation. Chemotherapy followed soon after my diagnosis and my surgery would come later.

My limb salvage procedure left me with a functional leg. That’s it. Removing the tumorous bone saved my life and the metal knee and tibia saved my leg. Again, that’s it. Despite the medical advancement of being able to reconstruct the bones in my leg using metals and alloys, I was left with a leg that I could not run on or be active with. I worked hard to learn how to walk again, but walking soon became my limit. My surgeon made it clear to me that if I wanted this “salvaged limb” to last for its rated lifespan of 10 to 15 years, I should park my butt on the couch and make a good friend of the television.

After five years of not heeding my surgeons advice and 4 years of pain, soreness and discomfort (and the anticipation of having an above knee amputation done some time in the future anyway), I decided to have my leg amputated. The decision was not that hard and even easier once my endoprosthetic leg snapped in half leaving me with two knees on one leg. I don’t have to tell you this didn’t happen as a result of being on a couch in front of a television.

My amputation was done on October 15, 2005 and it is now April of 2006. I can walk almost perfectly with no pain. I can sleep for a full 8 hours comfortably. I can ride my mountain bike, I can golf (poorly, but that’s not a result of having an amputation), I can even walk up stairs foot over foot. I can’t, however, get over the fact that I didn’t have my leg amputated sooner. Maybe I thought pain was something I should tolerate as some kind of payment for still having two legs. Despite these things, I’ve always known it would be difficult.

Things that are worth having rarely come easy. Having an amputation of any level comes with challenges some people can’t even imagine. My amputation is no different. There have been hard days in my past and I know there will be hard days in my future. For me, the silver lining on the dark cloud of amputation is that I can still do stuff. Being able to do the things I want to do with little or no pain is the goal I set at the beginning of all of this. I think I’m there. I’ve achieved this goal. And the first step I took was to let go of my leg.

One last thing: My new leg is really cool.

E-mail me: mikenancke@hotmail.com

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