Snippets from the frontline)
He was a veteran who lost both legs below his knees in Vietnam, yet returned to California, married, raised three daughters, and started a successful business.
During the 1970s, prosthesis technology was in its infancy, so he improvised “shoes” walking on his knees as artificial legs provided by the VA were too painful. Sitting in my office, I could see patients ring the bell at the front counter, but with Mike I could only see the top of his head.
His visits centered around caring for painful knee blisters, requiring occasional narcotics. Even in the 1980s, we feared overuse when Mike’s increased over a 2-3 month period. My nurse watched this closely, but I was hopeful this was just vacillation in his pain.
Then one morning, she hurriedly came back to my office with our local newspaper. There was a photo of a tuxedoed Mike, proudly walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding…using his painful VA prothesis!
Suddenly the bell rang, medically and literally, as I could only see the top of a head. We quickly ran out to congratulate our friend, Mike.
Thereafter, his monthly use of narcotics returned to normal.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.