Josh advises new amputees to get up and get moving immediately, and to not let themselves “get into a pity party for yourself.”

Josh LeLoup likes sports as much as any man, which is how he found himself playing flag football for a charity event at Nissan Stadium. But what was supposed to be a day of fun soon turned serious when Josh tore his patellar tendon.

He went in for routine surgery, and at first everything seemed fine. But then he started to experience extreme pain that was accompanied with fevers. This continued to go on for several weeks, and when he brought up his concerns with his health care providers, he was assured that every patient heals differently and handles pain differently.

The dressing was brought down after three and a half weeks, and that’s when they immediately realized something major was wrong and rushed him to the hospital. He had four wash out and clean out surgeries at that hospital, but by then Josh had developed MRSA and it spread to the bone.

Josh was transferred to Vanderbilt where they did two more surgeries. The first was to implant antibiotic beads in the knee and wait a couple of days to see the infection decreased. After it went down, they were able move forward with the next surgery. It was a two-stage surgery that included removing the antibiotic beads and performing plastic surgery.

Unfortunately, Josh had a spot on his incision that would no longer close because of the previous hospital’s negligence. They split his calf in half and fished it up over the knee joint. They then took a skin graft from his quad and put it over the open area in the knee. They stapled everything together at the knee. Josh had 40 staples going up the split calf and another 30-40 staples around the knee and up the quad.

After his infection levels decreased, he was released with the intention of coming back in two months to have another surgery to recreate a patellar tendon from the hamstring. Josh continued to have healing issues, however, and was not able to continue to the next surgery. He also had to keep his leg locked out in a straight position without bending it at all, which in itself can damage a healthy knee, let alone going through a healing process.

What was supposed to be two months stretched into four, as there was a single small spot that would not heal. Believing it was a suture that had not worked itself out, the plastic surgeon tried several methods to remedy this before moving to exploratory surgery in October to get to the bottom of the issue.

The surgeon didn’t find anything that could be causing the issue so he decided to go ahead and test the tissue as well as the bone for infection. After two days of being at the hospital, he got the news that the infection was still showing in the bone. Josh said the information was actually a relief.

“I had been thinking and considering amputation for months prior to this final conclusion,” he said. “Every time I would make my mind up about amputation, I would have second thoughts and back out.”

On November 17th, his leg was removed. The plan was to leave the leg open for 4-5 days and then close it. During this time, they saw some black areas on the open wound that concerned them, so he was back to surgery to remove it. Finally, he met with the surgeon and it was one of the first times Josh received good news since the start of the process.

“He said everything was ok,” Josh said. “So on Saturday November 25th my leg was sewn up for the final time. I was officially an Above the Knee Amputee.”

Far from feeling sorry for himself, Josh said he is happy that he was able to live through the infection and not leave his children fatherless.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the infection and that scared me,” he said. “It scared me that I was going to leave my kids without a father. In fact this petrified me.”

Since the closure, Josh said he has been moving at a rapid pace. He had the sutures removed three weeks after the final surgery, received his first test leg 45 days after the final closure and received his final leg two to three weeks after that.

“I began walking unassisted the very day that I received the test leg and socket,” he said. “It’s been fairly smooth sailing ever since.”

Since receiving his new leg, he said the most freeing thing has been able to drive again.

“I quickly learned how to drive with my left foot which I thought was going to be difficult but honestly wasn’t,” he said.

He first heard about Bulow OPS through his wife’s friend Melanie Gardner, wife of Brad Gardner, COO of Bulow. He said Brad and Melanie visited him in the hospital when this all first started.

Josh advises new amputees to get up and get moving immediately, and to not let themselves “get into a pity party for yourself.”

“This does not help!” he emphasized. Instead, he said to try and look on the bright side of things. “Enjoy being able to park in the handicap spots because that is pretty cool. Also enjoy going straight to the front of the line at Disney World. That is pretty awesome too.”

A perfect day for him is one where he gets to spend it with his family.

“It is important that we cherish the times we do have together,” he said.

Published by jlbworks