When we spoke with Michael on the phone for the first time, we quickly learned how resilient and strong he is. As you keep reading this story, we think you will come to realize what we did: that his positivity is quite contagious.
Michael described himself as a “tinkerer.” He is an auto mechanic, construction worker, plumber, and electrician by trade, and has always worked with his hands. Just a little over a year ago, Michael had a normal day at work, or at least he thought he did, until several days later when he was rushed to the hospital.
For seven days, the doctors couldn’t figure out what was happening to him. At one point, his care team brought in the Infectious Disease Department because they thought he had MRSA. It wasn’t until the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery came in and concluded that a vein in his hand had become infected.
“I was working and unfortunately, it was a very freak accident. I got a splinter and like any other splinter, I pulled out the piece of wood, covered the area with a band-aid, and went on with my day,” says Michael. The infection became so severe that he thought he’d lose his whole hand. On February 28th, 2019, Michael had his amputation surgery.
FINDING HIS PROSTHESIS
During his recovery, he began doing research on the different interventions available on the market. “A thumb is a big thing to lose. I was feeling down and my parents were taking care of me.” He was mainly looking for a device that will give his affected hand the ability to oppose again. When he found Naked Prosthetics (NP), he knew immediately that of all the options he had seen, our ThumbDriver was the right choice for him. He was impressed with the strength and functionality NP devices are able to give our end-users.
As he continued to explore our website, he stumbled upon our YouTube page and found the interviews we conducted with Naked Prosthetics Ambassadors Nick and Matt. Listening to their stories is what truly solidified his decision to get a NP device.
WHAT HE CAN DO NOW + ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF HIS DEVICE
The long process of getting approval from his insurance began and it took approximately three months before they finally approved his appeal. “Now that I have it, it’s the greatest thing that has happened to me since my injury. I use it for absolutely everything! I can pick up a glass. I can pick up a quarter, a dime. I can do the little things that most people take for granted. I can pick up a knife and cut through a piece of steak.”
Michael is also back to cooking and playing his guitar, things he never thought he could do again. “I love to cook. I’m 50% Italian and I’m the only living relative that knows my grandmother’s recipe for her sauces and meatballs. I grew up watching her every move, learning everything I could before she passed,” he adds.
In addition to being able to do the things he loves and is now back to work, he has also noticed that ever since he got his device that his phantom pains are not as severe as they used to be. “It tricks my brain and the pain goes away. I’ve lowered my medication for pain, and not only does it protect my residuum, I’ve also noticed that it has started to help with sensitivity. The skin in the amputated area is very sensitive and the ring is helping me build callus that helps protect my finger.“
Michael turned what once was a traumatic, life-altering moment into a source of positivity and encouragement that he hopes to share with his fellow amputees any way he can. It gave him a different perspective and made him more grateful for the little things.
“Not too long ago, my PT introduced a gentleman who recently lost his fingers. He was completely heartbroken, and I told him, ‘It’s not the end, it’s the beginning of something different.’”
Michael wears his ThumbDriver most of the time. In fact, there had been moments he’s fallen asleep with them on. It has become a true part of him and sometimes for a short moment, he forgets that anything happened. “My kids think it’s the coolest thing, they think I’m Iron Man now. Other children often come up to me and ask, ‘What’s that?’” and I say, “This helps me do what I used to do before.”
Right now, Michael’s goal is to get another device; one for work and one for “going out,” as he said. “I can’t change it, all I can do is to learn to move forward.”