“Did you lose your legs in the war?” This question came from my young, energetic Uber Driver as he folded my Rollator carefully and placed it in his trunk of his vehicle. I must admit that it was the best question I had ever been asked about my missing legs. The war, I thought, now that would make for a remarkable story. At least more interesting than the reality. But, in truth, I lost my legs the old fashion way, cardiovascular disease. No war, no snake bite, motorcycle accident or shark attack. Simply good old-fashioned diabetes.
As the old Eddie Murphy joke goes, “I had a weight problem, I couldn’t wait to eat”. And by my mid-thirties my girth had swollen up to 465! And although I was eventually able to manage my appetite and lose 265 pounds, it was not in enough time to save my legs. I had my first below knee amputation in February of 2017 and my second below knee amputation 15 months later. In between that time, my kidneys “gave up the ghost” and I went into Stage 5 kidney disease, starting dialysis in November of 2017.
Looking back, I am surprised that it took so long for me to have such devastating health issues. I mean, my eating habits were the worst! I never met a vegetable that I liked. A balanced meal for me included two types of meat and a saucy noodle. For dinner, I would have meat with a side of meat. As I grew my career and traveled the world my diet became worse. Nothing can ruin your waistline like a busy career, job pressures and business travel. As I traveled the world, I was the Director of Global Customer Care for the world’s largest retail florist, my diet was consistent. The four deadly food groups —fast food, fried foods, pastries, and sugary drinks.
After a lifelong battle with weight, I finally lost over two hundred pounds through a vegetarian diet. For 8 years I ate nothing that had parents. I am proud to say that I have maintained that weight loss through a pescatarian diet. On a good day, I weigh about 194 pounds. According to most life insurance charts; I have gone from being super morbidly obese to being slightly overweight!
In retrospect, I can say that I have been in a war my whole life. My adversary, however, has been in the form of fries, snack cakes and biscuits. My biggest regret is that I did not start my health journey sooner. My passion now is to share my story with others. Since enduring my health issues I have written two books, “A Day in the Life in a Skilled Nursing Facility: Stories from a Young Man Trapped in a Nursing Home“. My latest book is “With Worn Out Tools: Navigating the Rituals of Midlife”. It is my journey of how, in one year, I went from being a corporate executive, traveling the world, to a below knee amputee. I use humor, inspiration, and faith to encourage others to take preventative action on their health issues now! My wife Elaine and I have created a writing, coaching, training, speaking company, Korrior, Inc. where we create rich, inspirational content. One of my favorite quotes says that “a ship is safest at port… but it wasn’t built for that”.
Today, as a double below knee amputee, I am navigating this chapter of my life as a writer coach, trainer, and speaker. The seas may get rough, but the reward is well worth the journey. I hope that by sharing my story, I can teach and inspire others so that they do not have to experience the hardships that I had to endure.