A Caregiver’s Point Of View

This December will mark 8 years since Nick had his accident at work. I was getting ready to go see my horses when my phone rang, and I saw it was Nick’s foreman. I picked up and just assumed Nick forgot his phone and was letting me know. It wasn’t until I heard the tone of his voice and instantly knew something was wrong. I was told that Nick had a major accident at work involving his hands and the steel roller, and I needed to get to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.

I took off to get to the hospital emergency room, still not having any idea of the severity of the injury, I just knew that it was bad. Nick wouldn’t let me back there until they wrapped his hands so I didn’t see them. At the time, I was frustrated because I just wanted to be with him, but after seeing a photo of his hands many months later, I understood.

When I finally got to go back to him, he said “Hey babe! How were the horses?!” Even with everything he was going through, he was worried about me and trying to keep me calm. The E.R. doctor working knew that he needed to see a specialist and referred Nick to a hospital in Springfield where he was taken for emergency surgery.

We knew from the moment we met Nick’s doctor that she was going to be amazing. Dr. Barry is so compassionate, but I’ll never forget the moment I knew Nick’s life had drastically changed. Dr. Barry came and informed us that she had to amputate multiple digits and he had a long road with multiple surgeries in front of him. If I remember correctly, he had between 8 and 10 surgeries over the course of a month where he for the most part remained in ICU.  Seeing someone you care about in that much pain and distress is a tough thing to experience. I had to remind myself that I had to be strong for him. His family was also phenomenal during this time. Between his mom and dad, he was never alone, and his sister who was in Chicago at the time kept very close tabs on how he was doing daily. We all spent many days and nights in the hospital through his time there.

Fast forward a month, Nick was released from the hospital and we moved back into his parents’ house for additional help. He had home nurses who would come in to change his bandages and look everything over. Until Nick found ways to adapt to his new life, we did have to help with everyday activities that we may take for granted; using silverware, brushing your teeth, showering, getting dressed, and things along those lines. These things brought frustrations at times because Nick is so independent, he was wanting to do it himself.  It wasn’t long before he figured it out and was able to do everything. Nick had many months of therapy, outpatient surgeries, and appointments. I tried my best to be at all of those with him between working.

Before Nick got his Naked Prosthetic device, I would catch him hiding his hands. He would try to avoid shaking other people’s hands, which was difficult because he was always so outgoing.

We took a trip up to Chicago to meet with Nick’s prosthetist, Dr. David Rotter, CPO. At the time, there wasn’t much on the market for Nick’s level of amputation, but Dr. Rotter looked into Naked Prosthetics and told Nick if he was willing to be patient, he believed it would be the best fit. He was beyond correct. Naked Prosthetics was still in their early stages, but the wait was worth it.

Nick gained his confidence back once he received his device. He wanted it to be seen, he wanted to shake people’s hands again and wanted to tell everyone about it. A huge feeling of relief overcame me knowing this company just gave Nick his life back.

The difference I noticed about Nick from before to after was beyond amazing. Before he received his device, we didn’t do a whole lot outside of being at home with family and close friends. It not only gave him his confidence back, but it also restored his independence. He had learned to adapt before the prosthesis, but now there were no limits. I truly believe his device gave Nick his happiness back.

Some advice that I have for others taking care of someone after a traumatic accident like this is to just be there. Let them vent, let them cry, allow them space to reflect when they need to. Just always be there to help when needed and just be there to listen. Be their emotional support and make sure they know that even though things are rough right now, they will, and you will get through it.

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Jeanie McGarvey | Advocate

Jeanie is based out of Ohio where she wears four PIPDrivers, three MCPDrivers, and one ThumbDriver.

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GLF Designed + Manufactured by Naked Prosthetics. Socket Fabrication by Hanger Clinic and Össur.

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Nick Armstrong | Ambassador

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John Powers | Advocate

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Kenneth Brunke | Advocate

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Alycia Kerrigan-Mize | Agent

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Darrel Comeau | Ambassador

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