Jeffrey Klosterman receiving his first prosthesis.
In 2013, Jeffrey Klosterman was in a forklift accident that damaged his right leg. Over the next 4 years he would go on to develop chronic osteomyelitis; a severe, persistent, and sometimes incapacitating infection of bone and bone marrow. After going through 15+ limb salvage surgeries that include artery repair and tibia/fibula bone grafting, Jeff decided to have his right leg amputated above the knee on September 12, 2017.
was first introduced to Optimus Prosthetics through his orthopedic surgeon who highly recommended their office. "My first thoughts in regards to Optimus were [about] the staff. They all were incredibly friendly and professional and I was eager to start the whole process with them."
"One suggestion that I have about the process is be patient. There are going to be a lot of changes that happen in the first few months (in regards to your residual limb) from wearing your prosthesis. I know surgeries can be worrisome, but my own surgery took only 30 minutes and afterwards I felt instantly better because the infection had been removed."
Prior to his injury, Jeff was a search and rescue diver with the US Navy. Jeff was serving in Japan when a
9.1 magnitude earthquake took place northeast of Tokyo causing a tsunami with 30-foot waves that damaged several nuclear reactors in the area. Now, 2 months after receiving his first prosthesis, Jeff is back in the pool at his local YMCA swimming. He typically gets to the gym at 5:30 am. He swims wearing
; a product designed by Australian inventor Marc Lee. The fins are designed to go on your shins, or, if you are an amputee, they can be worn on your residual limb. The fins can be worn in different positions on each leg, as mentioned above. The idea is to balance the down kick of one leg with the up kick of the other. The fins will also help get more power from the arm strokes because the left leg kicking down diagonally balances the force of the right arm pull, and vice versa. You can experiment with the height and angle of the fins around your legs to optimize your stroke.
"In my perspective, the best thing about becoming an amputee is the freedom and motivation to now be able to achieve goals that I had, but could not accomplish before my amputation due to the injury stated above. Just being able to chase my 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter around is one of my biggest rewards. I feel the worst thing about being an amputee, in my opinion, are wet tile floors. Long story short, they are slippery.
"The biggest misconception I have had as an amputee was the thought of having to change my way of life and sacrifice everything I know. Now, as an amputee, I couldn't have been more wrong. With my prosthetic leg I am far more able to do the things I want to do without hesitation or reservation.
"If there is one thing I wish other people knew or understood about being an amputee it would be that just because I am wearing a prosthesis, it does not mean I can't do anything that anyone else can. In some aspects, I have to do things differently, but it achieves the same result."
Optimus Prosthetics recently asked Jeff to consult with a patient that is pending an amputation. "My advice to someone that might be struggling with their amputation is: don't give up and be willing to learn. Everyday is a new day and if you are struggling, never settle! Find a way to turn your struggles in to motivation, motivation to overcome what might not seem possible. Also be willing to change."
Although Jeff is a relatively new amputee, he has achieved so much success with his prosthesis. He graduated from therapy ahead of schedule. "Optimus has meant freedom. Without them, I would not be walking, playing with my kids, learning how to run, or really being able to experience everything life has to offer. My experience with Optimus has been outstanding! They are an amazing company where they place patient goals first and contribute to your success."
|Andrea Kinsinger, PT, Jeff Klosterman and Laura Klagstad, CPO
Jim Handley with Jaimie Howard, CPO
James (or Jim as he prefers) was relatively healthy most of his life until after he turned 50. That was when Jim's health started to take a turn for the worse. One of the challenges he faced was a bad bout of gangrene which started on one of the toes of his right foot and quickly began to spread. Jim was faced with the choice of having to take drastic measures to halt the gangrene's progress. In the end, he chose to allow doctors to amputate his leg below his knee in order to gain the best chance of survival and of ridding his body of the gangrene. It took him a while to heal due to other health complications, and he had to have a few other surgeries to make sure his leg healed properly. However, as Jim puts it, he has learned to "take everything in stride."
Jim's positive attitude no matter what gets thrown at him is inspiring to say the least. When we asked him how he managed to keep such a positive outlook, he had this to share: "I learned a long time ago that things don't always go your way. How you react to things is up to you."
Along those same lines, when we asked Jim if there was a major life lesson he has learned after going through all of this, without a moment's hesitation he answered, "Patience! Patience is the biggest and #1 thing [I have learned]. I had to learn how to have patience because I am not a very naturally patient person. You gotta' learn to take life as it comes at you." Jim relates that he has also learned the importance of celebrating the small milestones. Whether it is taking 10 steps or standing 10 seconds, it doesn't matter, each time you reach a goal and then push beyond it is a cause for celebration.
Jim remembers how he was very active for most of his life. He was an athlete in high school and college where he enjoyed playing basketball and baseball almost every day. Now, because of his health complications and his recent amputation, he was forced to be wheelchair bound for 8 months. He never realized how this would limit his options for things he could do independently, and that is why he was so excited to get his prosthesis. "It means the world to me!! I want to be back out in the world, you know? I want to participate, and I haven't been able to. I want to do things! I want to be able to do my grocery shopping on my own and be independent! Now that I have this [my prosthesis], I am hoping to start doing that [my grocery shopping] by the end of March. That is my main goal right now."
We asked Jim what is the one thing that he wishes that others in the world at large would understand about what life is like for him, he spoke openly and honestly about his desire for inclusion. "I wish people would just talk to me! For example, I will go places and smile and say hello to people, but they see that I am in a wheelchair and know I am handicapped and then they don't say anything back or won't make eye contact. Talk to me! I am a person. I am more than just a handicap. I am a person. If you have questions, ask me. If you are curious about something, approach me and ask. I don't bite."
If given the opportunity to encourage another person getting ready to go through amputation surgery, Jim said he would offer these words of advice: "Don't give up! No matter what, don't give up! If you want to survive and thrive, you have to adapt and overcome. You also need to do as you are told [by your healthcare professionals], and keep going. Don't stop! Don't forget to celebrate all the goals you achieve along the way, even the small ones."
Jim tells us that he has already shared our information with a neighbor of his to try to get them to contact our team for care. When we asked why he would (and has) recommended Optimus, he smiles and said, "You guys are all so nice! You take great care of me, and I have never heard or been in an office that chuckles so much. You guys are always having a great time, and that joy spreads. When I came in today, I was having a bad day because of my transportation issues, but now, after being here today, I am fine and know that the rest my day will be much better all because I was here today."
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