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Randy Olsen

Amplify Story - Randy OlsenNever, is never an option

The first couple of years of my life were not the best. I was born with an extreme case of two club feet. My parents did the best with what they had at the time but the diagnosis never clearly identified what was going on with me. My tibia and ankle were slowly grinding away on each other, leaving me with issues in both feet. Bone graphing was done, screws were put in in addition to plates to hold the bones together over the course of three surgeries. At the end of the three surgeries, the doctor stated that he was off in placement of the tibia bone correctly matching up to the ankle. He explained that he was off by three degrees, which would slowly cause the ankle on my right foot to slowly degrade and my leg bone to bow out to the right without more surgery. I begged my parents not to do it, and they agreed it was not the time nor the place to do another surgery. We asked the doctor how long until he thought this would happen and he stated some small surgery would have to be done in my early 30s to correct this.

So years pass by, I graduate high school move on to become a business owner in my 20s and to work after selling my business to become an IT analyst. Things were going great in my life. I was traveling and seeing the world for what it had to offer. I completed my first bike metric of 100 miles, hiked a volcano in Maui, Hawaii, at 10,000 feet, found the love of my life and married her soon after.

I was training for another bike metric in May of 2016 on a routine ride, when all of a sudden I had a HUGE stabbing pain in my knee. I went three weeks without training and the pain persisted so I went to visit to my local orthopedist. He took some x-rays and come to find out my ankle was the cause of the blow out of my knee. The right ankle did exactly what the doctor had predicted and had gotten worse and caused my leg to bow out. This was causing my knee to bow out to the right and my hip was taking a good amount of pain from it as well. We checked into one of the local ankle doctors in the area and had the routine x-rays done. To my surprise, the right ankle was much worse than what the doctor had stated. My ankle was sliding to the right side and my fibula was going underneath my ankle, and I was walking on it without even knowing it. All of the siding to the right was causing the knee to blow out and my hip to grind inside of the socket. The screw that the doctor had left in the foot caused so much arthritis that it would be difficult to perform the operation without having pain for the rest of my life. After seeking six different second opinions, we were left with only two options. Option one, total ankle fusion, which would leave my ankle unable to move or function as it did before and possibly leave me in pain for the rest of my life. Option two, do a complete below the knee amputation to gain quality of life without the pain in my foot anymore. I was so upset, thinking: “Why me? I have dealt with this for my entire life. I finally find my passion in doing bike metrics, living a normal life with the feet that I had and, just when I think I’m in the clear, this happens.”

After a week and debating what to do with my wife, I opted to have the below the knee amputation done. Now, before doing this I thought since this is happening, how can I reach out to others and let them know what happened to me and possibly help someone avoid going through what I did. How can I help other amputees (or soon to be amputees) out there with the knowledge that I gain from this experience. Therefore, I created the YouTube channel called “RiseAboveAmputation.” This channel has been dedicated to my story, with posts from every single day that I was going through the procedure sharing the knowledge that I have gained from it. On October 14, 2016, I had the amputation and every single day I documented my life as an amputee from when I woke up to when I went to bed. I have never been the person to say I could not do it or it will not happen or it is impossible you are never going to do it. Over the course of the last four ½ months, I have managed to almost rehabilitate myself back to normal and get back to the thing that I love the most which is biking. I have one bike metric scheduled for June 2017, which will be my first 50 mile since the operation. In addition to my YouTube channel, I have received a certification of peer mentoring with from my prosthetic clinic to help people in need overcome the operation and becoming an amputee. I can honestly say this choice has been an absolute blessing to me and the best part of the amputation is that it saved my knee and my hip from degrading even further.

I always tell everyone, “the sky is the limit” and “never underestimate the power of the human brain.” All of us have potential to succeed and overcome what life throws at us. I believe that everything can be replaced with something better than what we had before and we can become better from that piece that is given to us. Never underestimate yourself and keep moving forward. Success does not come to you, you go for it.

Randy Olsen