Monday, October 13, 2014

Army Ten Miler

Yesterday was a milestone in my amputee life.  For the first time ever I ran 10 miles.  Consecutively.  Without stopping.  In under two hours.

I owe much of yesterday's success to my wife, Brooke.  She's been running these races for years while I've been the spectator.  This was our first time to race together.  

We kept a good pace throughout the race and got an enormous outpouring of support from other runners.  High fives were easy to come by at every mile.  We even had a group of runners ask if they could pace with us for a few miles.

At the end of the race I felt strong enough to keep going another three miles.  So next March I plan on running my first half marathon with Brooke (the Rock 'n Roll USA Half Marathon).  

The leg felt amazing throughout the entire race.  I couldn't believe how great it did.  Mark, Elliot, Megan, and Ben at Orthotic Prosthetic Center all did an amazing job getting this leg to fit and perform the way it did.

The race ended up being a moment to reflect over the last four years.  We've endured pain, suffering, recoveries, glimmers of hope, and eventual setbacks.  This amputation was absolutely the best thing we could do to improve our lives.  I am so glad I did it.  And I can't thank you all enough for the love and support over the years.  I'm not sure where we'd be without it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Brooke and I first met Joey the day after Dr. Jeng told him he was out of options.  Ankle fusion was the last card in the deck.  The last choice he had to get rid of his severe ankle arthritis.  Worse, there was no guarantee that the fusion would work.  Joey suffered from a rare disease called Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS).  Over time it destroys the bone and synovial membrane surrounding the joint, leading to debilitating ankle arthritis.  Arthroscopic surgery and radiation treatments didn't help.

Over dinner, that night we first met, I told Joey to cut his leg off.

Two weeks ago, Joey cut his leg off.  He even made it easier for Dr. Attinger with a new tattoo.  You should check out all of his ridiculous pictures.  You may have already come across them.  The album made the front page of earlier this week, and has sense spread to other websites and news outlets.

Joey is still only two weeks into the recovery, but he's doing great.  He has an amazing support group in Johnna, his girlfriend, his family, and his friends.  We chat regularly about the recovery process.  The first year sucks.  But on his one year ampuversary, we're going for a run to reflect on our decision.  That will be a good day.

A prosthetic design company called UNYQ came across Joey's story and started a crowd funding campaign with Reddit users to raise money for a prosthetic cover for his new leg.  With just a few day's left, the campaign is a couple hundred dollars short of meeting the goal of $2,000.  If that goal is reached, the company will add in another $2,000.

Joey gave me a call today.  He spoke with UNYQ and, if the goal is reached, they will give me a prosthetic cover as well out of the company's matching contributions!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Running like its 2014

You've seen this apology before.  Guy creates blog.  Shows you gross pictures.  Then, like that, disappears.  Never to be heard from again.

I'm sorry.

I'm still here.  And I'm still dominating.

Last night, I ran over 5 miles in my new running leg.  From my apartment to the Washington Monument and back with my wife, Brooke.  We haven't run that far together since 2007.

I cannot begin to tell you how amazing my life has been since I cut my leg off.  But I know that I need to take the time to document our lives in the last few months.  There are so many of us out there that need to know there's more for us after debilitating ankle pain.

So please stay tuned!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Run

Earlier this evening I ran over half a mile.  It was awesome.  A much overdue update is forthcoming.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Tweet Machine

I graduated from The University of Tulsa in 2005 as a Master of Science in Computer Science.  Tulsa has an excellent computer science school  the Tandy School of Computer Science.  There are many things that make it a great place to learn computer science.

Here's one of them.  Meet John Hale, Ph.D.

Dr. Hale dabbled in "comedy acting" early in his career before fulfilling his destiny to become a Professor of Computer Science.  You may recognize him from his role as Joel Robinson on the popular cult comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  He departed after the 100th episode because he wasn't very funny anymore.

But his quietly surprising sense of humor, the kind where he feigns shock when you laugh at him instead of take his funny story seriously, was perfect for the classroom environment.  Students won't leave the classroom and they feel compelled to laugh at him all from tacit fear Dr. Hale will strike them where it hurts  the grade point average.

All of this is true.  Ask any of his current and former students.

This sets the stage for last week, when I received an unmarked and unsolicited package from a UPS Store in Oklahoma.

Inside I find this contraption.  My Computer Science Radar kicks into overdrive.

"This is a thing.  I must find out what this thing is."

I recognized the board was a Raspberry Pi, a computer the size of a credit card.  Attached to the top was a small LCD screen.  And in the USB port there appeared to be a Wifi adapter.  Several minutes passed before I noticed a card.  I was too busy to notice it as I analyzed what this thing was and when I must have ordered it.

The card reads:
Please enjoy this Tweet Machine, which students in the Tandy School of Computer Science created for you as a get well card (hopefully the coolest get well card you've received!) 
Using the hash tag #snowboardervstree, family and friends can tweet you their get well wishes.  I have enclosed a brief set of instructions from Dr. Hale, should you need them. 
Please let me know should you have any questions, and best wishes on a speedy rehabilitation! 
Director of Development
The University of Tulsa
Lisa, this is the coolest thing I've ever received, let alone coolest get well card!  How awesome is The University of Tulsa and the scientists they've got down in their labs these days?

Dr. Hale included some instructions for setting up The Tweet Machine to my wireless network.  I sent him a note to let him know the machine was plugged in and ready to go.

Suddenly, The Tweet Machine comes alive and begins to flash that I've received a new tweet from the Internet.  The Internet, via The Tweet Machine, wants to tell me something.

It's Dr. Hale, welcoming me to The Tweet Machine.

I discover two students, burdened by the constant struggle to make their laughter sound real in the Hale classroom, created The Tweet Machine as a course project for Dr. Hale.

Seriously.  Where were these cool projects when I was around?

It wasn't long before I received Tweets from the creators.

Thank you to both of you for your awesome work!  This is an amazing gift.  It worked right out of the box.  That sounds like a passing grade  whether or not you laughed at Dr. Hale's jokes.

In addition to The Tweet Machine, the new leg is also working nicely.  Since my last carbon fiber socket in August, we've continued the process of creating test sockets about once a week until we see my leg shrinkage stabilize.  Today we created my seventh test socket.  On Friday I'll get my eighth test socket (today's test socket did not end up fitting as well as we had hoped).  Because I'm able to manage my normal leg shrinkage throughout the course of a day with one long sock and one cut sock, I'll likely get my second carbon fiber socket next week.

As we've gone through this test socket process I've had the chance to be more active now than I have ever been in my entire life.  Two weeks ago we spent some time at the beach in the Outer Banks.  I wrapped my leg with plastic wrap so sand wouldn't get into the carbon fiber foot.  I didn't get into the water, but me and my pale skin had a great time.

This Sunday is the Super H 5k race.  I won't be running in it, but I'm prepared to walk.  Our team is in second place for overall fundraising, which is great!  I'm looking forward to hanging out with all of our friends in support of a great cause.

The race will be an important milestone.  I signed up for the race before I took my first steps as a new amputee.  It was a goal I set early on, before I even had a new leg, to keep me focused and motivated.

The recovery has gone incredibly well so far as a result.  I am going to dominate these three miles.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Most Awesome Post Ever (#NSFT)

Before you scroll down, I have to warn you.  These pictures of my June 14th amputation are extremely graphic.  And totally awesome.

As Dr. Attinger described these pictures, here are steps one through a thousand on how to perform an Ertl amputation.

My sweet epidural. 

Go TU! 

Measure twice, cut once. 

It's like we're dissecting something in biology class. 

Please tie off that artery before I bleed out.

Bonesaw!  Aubrey, if you made it this far, I am proud of you.

Another artery worth saving.

Measuring the length for the fibula bone bridge.

Just a quick game of tic-tac-toe.  Inside my leg.

It looks like a trauma. 

I like how they're treating my foot like a chunk of freshly caught fish with that massive hook in my fibula.

Peace out, dude. 

I'm being filleted.

My leg is starting to swell.

The med student that did this is awesome.  He tried to show us what my ankle looked like.  Read my mind. 

If they dug deeper they'd find some broken screws sticking out down there. 

Cutting off the remaining fibula to form the bone bridge.

The fibula bridge keeps all of its blood vessels to keep it alive.

Perfectly beveled edge for a smooth and comfortable contour.

My leg is starting to look like a stuffed sausage.

I will be framing this picture.  Amazing.


Securing the headless screw to hold the bridge together.

Reattaching the functional muscles underneath the bones to form additional padding.

This JP drain is gigantic! 

If you made it this far, I must say I am impressed.  Of all of the pictures I've ever posted on this blog, these are the most gnarly.  Congratulations on making it all the way.

These pictures make me appreciate the work surgeons like Dr. Attinger do.  This surgery gave me my life back.  I'm so thrilled it was all captured with such amazing pictures!