For Brandon Hartley, the struggles of life can be summed up in a metaphor involving dogs.
"A Chihuahua and Great Dane both walk through a mud puddle. The Chihuahua gets covered in mud and the Great Dane only gets his paws dirty," he said. "Things affect everyone differently, don't compare yourself to others."
Brandon has certainly had his fair share of mud puddles in his life. He did a front flip off his friend's truck, resulting in a severe mid-foot dislocation. After several surgeries involving screws being put in his foot, Brandon finally made the decision to have it amputated. It was a difficult pill to swallow, as he had aspirations to go into the Navy Seals.
"I had two Seal contracts. I was medically released all while laying in a hospital bed watching everything pass me by unable to do anything about it," he said.
That wasn't the end of his personal woes, though. Brandon got into a fight with his best friend, the very friend on whose property the accident took place. The fight turned physical, with Brandon pushing his friend to the ground. The friend got up, shook his head, and walked away. That was the last time Brandon ever saw him.
"He wouldn't talk to me, then two weeks later he killed himself," he said.
In spite of this, Brandon has managed to maintain a positive attitude.
"I was letting all the people I had lost bring me down, and that's not what they would've wanted," he said.
Keeping things into perspective has also helped him.
"There was a guy that was missing both his legs and someone ask him how he can be so positive with no legs," he said. "He replied, 'How can you be so negative with both of your legs?' It's a mindset."
So far, his biggest challenge has been finding love after all he's been through. He said that when he meets a perspective romantic partner, they act "weird," once they find out he has an amputation.
"Relationships are hard right now because it makes people uncomfortable," he said. "I want to meet someone who sees me and not my amputation and takes me as I am."
He credits Optimus Prosthetics for why he is walking again.
"I don't have words to describe it," he said. "If something is wrong you come and see your practitioner and they fix it. Then you leave feeling better than you did when you came in."
He said that Dayton Clinical Manager Glenn Schober even gave him his cell phone number to call him whenever he needs to.
Optimus is amazing, and it's been a great experience," he said. "Everyone here is awesome."