Five months after a below-the-knee amputation and intensive rehabilitation at Sunnybrook, Aristotle ran his first 5k race and has never looked back.
Aristotle survived blood poisoning in 2001, but spent the next 15 years of his life in constant pain. He was diagnosed with Peroneal Nerve Injury, a condition which prevented Aristotle from being able to lift his foot, and suffered through recurring bone infections in his left foot – each one treated with antibiotics and weeks spent on the couch waiting for the infection to clear.
“All I wanted was to walk my dog more than two blocks without crying in pain,” he remembers.
His quality of life was reduced and he knew it was time to have a conversation with his doctor about something they had both been doing everything they could to avoid: amputation. There were risks and a lengthy recovery ahead, but it was time to get his life back.
After numerous tests and consultations with his orthopedic surgeon, Aristotle’s left leg was amputated below the knee on January 10th, 2017.
All I wanted was to walk my dog more than two blocks without crying in pain.
Walking wasn’t enough
The surgery was a success, and Aristotle was soon transferred to Sunnybrook’s St. John’s Rehab for five weeks of rehab as an inpatient. There, he worked with a dedicated team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists to “learn the ropes” of life as a below-the-knee amputee. They began preparing him for a prosthesis right away with intensive strength training and stretching. In his second week of recovery, Aristotle was fitted for a prosthetic foot, and as soon as he took his first step he knew walking wasn’t enough – he wanted to run.
From hospital bed to 5k
Aristotle registered himself in a 5k race and told his team his new goal. Together, they addressed every issue Aristotle had with his body and ensured he had proper limb care and a properly fitted prosthesis that matched his activity level so he could cross the finish line. With his team’s commitment and support, Aristotle was discharged. He walked out using only his prosthesis to support him.
“My team's support in not only educating me in my new life as an active amputee, but also continuously problem solving to help me reach my goals has been the best, bar none! As I become even more active, they have both shown that they will be there to support me further – and that is very important for a patient to feel.”
The finish line
For 15 years, all Aristotle wanted was to walk his dog, pain-free. Then, five months after his amputation, Aristotle ran his first 5k race, and then ran another race a month later, and then another. He now plays basketball, is learning acrobat skills and silks, and is always searching for the next finish line.
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