Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3

I wanted to send out a quick update on my progress. Today, I had the opportunity to go test my prosthetic leg and I've attached the video of the very first steps I took. You may be able to hear the voice of my wife and the gentleman who is making my prosthetic telling me to keep my hands on the bars. I just wanted to be free at last...ha! I will be returning to test my leg again next week after a few minor tweaks are made, and I should be able to take my leg home with me in 2 weeks. I will return to my LEAP posts with "The A" explanation very soon. Thanks for all your support! As always, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The E"

Before I delve deep into the second phase of the LEAP, "The E," and what it means to me, I must first give a few shout outs and explanations. First, in my last post I talked about "The L," Love, in LEAP, and I mistakenly forgot to mention the three people that I love the most, my wife Kristin, and my two beautiful daughters, Maddie and Maya. Secondly, I would like to explain the logo pictured at the top of this post. Last Friday, as I wheeled myself in to work, I had no idea what I was in for. As I got in to my office, people from work started showing up in bunches with one thing in common. Everyone, and I mean everyone (teachers, administrators, secretaries) had on a gray t-shirt with that logo on the front. This was orchestrated by two of my great friends, Mark Tremayne and Lou Vazquez. The m squared represents my initials, and the Stay Strong has been my mantra throughout my journey. Thus, I would be remissed if I did not give a great big thanks to the staff at Darby High School, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart! If that is not a real life example of LOVE, I don't know what is. Additionally, the ENERGY that was generated in the building last Friday was intense. Which leads me to the subject of today's post.

As I mentioned in my last post, Steve Farber uses the acronym LEAP to describe the essential qualities in becoming an "Extreme Leader." Today, I would like to discuss the E, ENERGY, and what it means to me in my daily approach to life. As Farber states, it more than just energy that the extreme leader possesses, it's the ability to generate energy in those around them. In the A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, on page 169 to be exact, there is a quote that resonated within me, and one that I have often asked myself throughout my life, especially in times when facing adversity:
"What effect does my action have on the energy of the people around me?"
As I've mentioned before, I have experienced a great deal of adversity as a result of the numerous ankle surgeries I've had. At a young age, I learned that my reaction or approach to these directly effect how those around me respond.

Whether it was returning to play football, returning to teaching and coaching, or most recently returning from the amputation of my right leg, I have found jumping back in to whatever I'm doing head first with focus and a great work ethic has enabled me to overcome any obstacle or adversity that stands in my way. Additionally, this has approach has made me feel successful in whatever challenge I have faced. I want to make it clear that when I say successful, I am not defining that by being named all league or coach of the year. I simply mean, I did not let my legs determine my future, and I'd like to think that along the way, I may have inspired some around me to work hard and take on the same approach as they face a difficult time in their lives.

Although I do not wish bad luck or injury to any of you, I do hope that when an obstacle or any type of adversity presents it self, you take it on and conquer it with hard work and a positive energy. Trust me, others will notice and feed off that energy. If you've never been presented with any type of adversity, I apologize to you and hope you will begin to challenge yourself and set your goals higher. There is no better feeling than coming back stronger and defeating something that's in your way.

Finally, just recently I started reading another business parable, The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon and there is a line early in the book that exemplifies my approach to life, or ENERGY:
"Every problem has a gift for you in its hands as my man Richard Bach says. You can choose to see the curse or gift."
I have chosen to find the gift, and I challenge you to do the same!!! Sorry for such a long post, but as you may be able to tell, I am a firm believer in the power of positive energy. I will return soon with my thoughts on the A and the P. Tomorrow I get to test my leg at 3:30 pm tomorrow afternoon, and I hope to have pictures and video to share. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


p.s. Many people have expressed an interest in buying a shirt. I'm trying to coordinate this, and sell them for $10. I would like to donate all profits to kids that need prosthetics.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The L"

On June 25, 2007 I had my right ankle fused at a 90 degree angle. The days following that surgery were extremely painful due to the fracture blisters that I had developed. Additionally, for the first time in a very long time, I felt somewhat sorry for myself for a number of reasons. First, as a result of the severity of my surgery, I was in a tremendous amount of pain for quite some time (really until about 3 weeks ago). Secondly, as I laid on the couch in my "man cave" watching Big Brother and various other reality shoes on my DVR, I felt as though the lives of my family and friends were going on without me. Finally, it was during this summer that I interviewed for, and missed out on a job that I really wanted. Fortunately for me, I took a gamble on a job that gave me an opportunity to work with a great group of people and thankfully it helped lead to where I'm at today. The other positive that I will take from the summer of 2007 came in the form of a short read that I continue to reference to this day, and brings me to the topic of today's blog post.

Those of you that know me well, know that one of my favorite books, if not my favorite book, is The Radical Leap by Steve Farber. The book is a business parable and speaks to how to become an "Extreme Leader." The story is told through the eyes of Steve, and it chronicles his interactions with two very interesting individuals, Edg and Pops. The word LEAP serves as an acronym, and today I would like to discuss the L, LOVE, and what it means to me in my daily life.

At this point, I know what many of you may be thinking, "I thought this blog was meant to chronicle Otis's road to recovery, and this is beginning to look more like a book review." I hope you bear with me for just another moment. I want to share a line from the book, to be exact it is on page 165 in my copy, on the first page of the A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, found at the end of the book:
"Without the calling and commitment of your heart, there's no good reason for you to take a stand, to take a risk, to do what it takes to change your world for the better."
This brings me to today and where I'm at in my recovery. As I've mentioned before, for the better part of the last six and half years I've struggled with my right leg/ankle. This struggle only seemed to get worse as each surgery passed, and since that ankle fusion in June of 2007, the pain that I experienced was constant. Between the lack of mobility and function, and the increasing pain, I desperately needed to take a stance, a risk, and do something to change my life for the better, which I did on March 15, 2010.

Today, I stand before you (or crutch, or sit in my wheelchair) feeling much better. My spirits are up, my head is clear, and for the first time in a long time I'm truly excited about what the future holds with my leg. This is especially true after my appointment yesterday with Mike at American Orthopedics. I was blown away by the care and attention he provided me with in beginning the making of my prosthetic. Additionally, I was blown away by the technology, I mean seeing Mike scan my leg with what appeared to be 2 video cameras and a bar code scanner, and watching an exact 3-dimensional replica of my leg appear on the screen of the computer was amazing. I can't wait to go back next week and test it out.

I'd like to wrap up today's post with some tattoo talk. I mentioned in my first post that I have a passion for tattoos, and I want to get my prosthetic tattooed much the same way that was shown recently on LA Ink. I would also like to add a little ink to one of my current tattoos. On my right arm I have a tribal sun with the phrase "CARPE DIEM" written in old english script underneath it. As you probably know, this is Latin for "seize the day." This motto is something that I have always tried to live by. I've always tried to have this positive outlook on life, in fact, I can easily say that I LOVE life and I thirst for more out of my life. Thus, I would like to add the phrase "SITIS PRO VITA" above the sun, which, in Latin, means "thirst for life."

I will return very soon with the rest of the Extreme Leadership qualities found in LEAP. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Next Step

Today was a great day on my road to recovery. I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor and received the word that I am cleared to move on to "the next step" in the process. Next Wednesday morning I will be casted or have a digital image taken of my right leg that will allow them to begin making my prosthetic leg. I will return a week later to try on a test socket and leg. As long as that appointment progresses without a hitch, I will return again in another week and be in possession of my prosthetic leg. Think about that for a moment. On March 15th, I had surgery to amputate my right leg about 8 inches below the knee, and there is a great possibility that I will take possession of my new leg, and new life for that matter on April 28th. Has that sunk into you yet? I know it hasn't truly hit me yet. To think, in 44 days I will have gone from chronic pain and limited mobility to literally being back on my own two feet again. To say that I'm excited is an understatement.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm constantly searching for a book, a quote, a saying, a video, or anything that I can hold on to and utilize in my life for motivation or inspiration. I do this not just for myself, but for those around me as well. Tonight, I return to you with 2 such nuggets. The first is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Mark Sanborn:
“Use your past as a springboard instead of an anchor. Deal with the issues that are holding you back.”
This is something that I feel I've always been fairly good at doing, having gone through 3 surgeries on my left foot/ankle/Achilles and 11 surgeries on my right foot/ankle/Achilles (9 of which have occurred in the last six and a half years). However, I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy to look adversity in the eye and fight back. I have always tried using these setbacks as motivation to move my life forward or having them serve as inspiration to those around me. This has proven to be far better than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself, and welcoming pity from those around me.

I want to leave you with a video of man who embodies the quote above, and he has truly overcome the obstacles he has been presented with. Please take a few minutes to take a look at it, it starts with a short commercial. I think you will find it inspiring. Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!


Meet Butch Lumpkin - Golf Video | Golf Channel

Friday, April 2, 2010

My New Beginning

As many of you know, I recently made a decision to change the course of my future life for the better. On March 15th, I went under the knife to have a below the knee amputation on my right leg. I know what you may be thinking, "how can an amputation change the course of my life for the better?", but those of you that have been in my life in the last 6 and a half years know the struggles I have been dealing with having had 8 surgeries on my right leg during that time span, and a total of 10 throughout the course of my life. At this point in my recovery, I can honestly say that the chronic pain I had been experiencing is gone, my spirits are up, and I feel as though a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Additionally, I'm extremely excited for what the future holds, getting my prosthetic leg and becoming much more mobile and active for my lovely ladies (Kristin, Maddie, & Maya), which brings me to the title of today's post, "My New Beginning."

Ok, enough about my medical history. I would like to talk about the "Outlook from Otis," my nickname and sometimes alter ego (I will explain how I got the name at a later time). I've always been considered a positive and passionate person, and I would like to think that I do a relatively good job of helping those around me achieve their goals and serve as a good friend to them. One of my many passions is my ongoing search for some quote, saying, or book that I can utilize in my life. I have always found myself doing this throughout my entire life, whether was when I was younger playing sports and going to school; in college to prepare myself for my career; when I was teaching and coaching; in my current position as an administrator; in my family life; or as I've been dealing with the many adversities my leg has presented me. I often reference these books suchs at The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, Greater than Yourself, You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader, and many others. I try to pull something from each one to help shape and mold my "Outlook" and aproach to life.

Ironically, I heard a quote today that I could truly identify with while watching a favorite show of mine, LA Ink (tattoos happen to be one of my passions as well). Coincidentally, it was an amputee who was in the shop looking for a tattoo on his prosthetic leg. He said
"The pleasure you get in life is equal to the attitude you put into it!"
His words resonated with me, as I could truly identify with this quote. I've always tried to see the positive in everything in my life, whether it appears to be an obstacle or not. As crazy as it sounds, I truly feel blessed with everything that has happened to me in my life, even what has happened to my leg since it has made me realize the value of hard work and appreciate what I do have.

So, it is the goal of mine through this blog to provide everyone with "something" they can hold on to and hopefully put to use in their lives. I would be remissed if I did not tell everyone a giant THANK YOU for all you have done for me and my family throughout my recovery!!! We can not say how much it has meant to us to receive the support we have had. It has truly been overwhelming and we can't thank you enough for your support as we enter "our new beginning."

Sorry for such a long 1st post, but I felt the need to let it all out! I hope to you find this useful and come back again. Until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!