An Active Life on Pause
Dena has always led an active life. As an elementary school teacher and coach, she highly values sport and fitness. In 1993, following surgery on Dena’s left ACL and meniscus, she developed tumors in the back of her knee. Between 1993 and 2001 Dena’s doctors tried surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to stop the tumors, but they kept coming back. During a follow up surgery, an accidental nick of her femoral artery and then failed vein graft led quickly to a leg that was essentially dying. Left with few options, Dena elected to have an amputation.
Before she had surgery, Dena sought out a few prosthetic companies in the area to get an idea of what she needed to do in order to have the best outcome. Despite her best efforts, Dena says she didn’t know enough, “My doctors really didn’t prepare me. I should have gone to a clinic or rehab of some kind to strengthen my muscles.” As she started to get prosthetic help, the challenges continued, “The first place I went wasn’t very successful. They didn’t give me the attention that I needed. I don’t have a well-rounded stump. It’s very short, and has a gap that has to be filled. Actually, my limb has lots of issues that make my fit a challenge. It was clear they weren’t confident in the relationship with me. I don’t think they took into consideration all of the things that I am able to do.”
“I was at a social event and saw Rob. At the time he was just about to start SPS. I could tell that he wanted more for me,” says Dena. As it turns out, Rob, Patty and Dena were high school classmates, and Patty was a teammate all through school. Dena started to work with them as one of the first SPS patients. While her 2.5 inch femur remains challenging, there has been progress over time. Dena was recently fit with a Hi Fidelity Interface, with an advanced prosthetic socket that delivers her a variety of advantages. “It offers by far, the most comfortable, solid control I’ve ever experienced. Rob knows; if it’s not comfortable, I’m not going to wear it! It’s a million times better than a traditional socket.”
Taking Time to Get it Right
Dena doesn’t feel like she is just another appointment on the books, she says, “Rob is awesome about asking what is working, and what isn’t. In a half joking/half serious way, he encourages me to be high maintenance, because he wants the best for me. While Rob has a great mind, he also has a really big heart. He is a perfectionist, and he wants the best possible outcome, always. Patty is on the lighter side (she gives everything a bit of humor), so they are a great mix, they balance each other out. She follows through on everything, and makes sure I do what I need to. She’s an extra set of eyes when I’m walking around the office. She knows to look at how I’m walking and can see things from a different angle.”
With several years of amputee experience, Dena offers some wisdom. “People ask me who I go to and I can’t say enough good things about Rob. In this situation you want someone who really cares about you and is willing to do whatever it takes to do what is best for you. To others you could just be another patient or insurance number. That’s not the case with Rob. Through the process of having a prosthesis you have to have a good support system. You have to have people who will stick with you no matter what. Also, I wish I would have found out more about my options: should I have been at a care facility or get more care directly after surgery? I wish my limb could have been reconstructed to offer a better foundation for a prosthesis. I may have been better prepared with the right prosthetist involved from the beginning. Most people aren’t aware of what it takes to amputate correctly, or the difference it makes later in producing a successful walker.”
“My doctors really didn’t prepare me. I should have gone to a clinic or rehab of some kind to strengthen my muscles.”
“It offers by far, the most comfortable, solid control I’ve ever experienced. Rob knows; if it’s not comfortable, I’m not going to wear it! It’s a million times better than a traditional socket.”
"In this situation you want someone who really cares about you and is willing to do whatever it takes to do what is best for you. To others you could just be another patient or insurance number. That’s not the case with Rob."