The Amputee Policeman

Real talk from an 18 year cop

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Hammered by Misery or Drunk on Life, Pick Your Poison!

Hammered by misery or drunk on Life?

Hammered by misery or drunk on Life?

Hey all my amp peeps!  It’s been a busy week for my division given all the crazy events that exploded onto the national scene one weekend ago, so I am just now finding the time to sit down and throw out some thoughts.  And like many others I’ve written, this one came about after having a conversation with a new amp about the future.  The bad news is, over the last month, I have personally talked to five new or about-to-be-new amps.  Unfortunately, only three of the five have a positive outlook concerning the rest of their lives. The good news is, their future success, like most everyone else’s, is completely up to them!  So without further ado…

I proudly/ cautiously/ apprehensively consider myself a control freak!  Always have been!  So after my accident when medically everything was out of my control, I was stressed to no-end trying to take charge of something.  Surgery after surgery failed and my knee replacement let me down, so after I finally gave up the fight and threw in the towel, ironically I found myself back to having some control of my life.  The fact was, after my amputation I’d only been given two choices on how I was going to spend the rest of my life.  That was it, two.  Yes, I mean, I did beg for more from Life, probably like most of us do on a regular basis, but in my case it wasn’t happening.  So I had to settle on two!  And in retrospect, it was a blessing.  First, I could have crawled away to a comfy dark corner and thrown a pity party.  And it could have been a big one too!  But the problem was, I most likely would have stayed for a really long time because, after all who doesn’t like a party especially when it’s for them?  Fortunately, I knew that the longer my party lasted, the more tired my guests would become to the point where they’d be making up excuses why they would have to leave early.  And then the next time I planned one, nobody would want to come because they all would remember how miserable the first one was.  Ever been to a party like that?  Sheew, I know I have!  And then did you have to tell a white lie (that sounds much better than saying a BS story!) the next time you were invited back about why you couldn’t make it?  I know I have done that too!  So, if I had chosen to throw a pity party, at first I would have had lots of people there who would tell me all kinds of encouraging things to get me up and moving again, but the longer it lasted the greater the chance I was risking of running off the very people who supported me through all my hardships.  And really, who could blame them?  I mean, we all have our limits when it comes to dealing with other people’s problems.  Yes we want to help them, but after a while we also want to see that the person we love is willing to help themselves! Because in reality, no one can be helped unless their willing to do that first!  Besides, our friends and family have their own lives to navigate and can’t let us consume their own ability to take care of that.  How selfish would that be on our part?  Now, I know some of you just said, that is what family is supposed to do, and I agree with you for the most part.  But I wasn’t willing to risk pushing them away because I was being selfish.  That part would have been my fault!  But more than all that, crawling into my corner and throwing pity parties would have certainly let the world know I had been beaten!  After all, I had been reminded time and time again that no one would have ever blamed me for finally quitting; that I could have file for social security benefits and never had to work again, all at the age of 36.  Even my human resources department at work encouraged me to retire.  Despite possibly missing out on everything I considered important in my life before my accident, option one was, by far, the easiest and least painful one to pick!  And I’d be lying if I didn’t confess it still interests me a few days a year!

And then there was the only remaining choice.  That one would be where I just moved on with what I had left and in the best way I knew how.  And maybe if I looked like Life didn’t get the best of me, I could even be a positive example to other people struggling with their own stuff.  Yes, without a doubt each day would be full of hard times, maybe some pain, maybe some embarrassing moments or a touch of discrimination, but the reward of being a part of life again would outweigh all that and then some.  More importantly, I’d get the opportunity to show my children that I never let Life beat me; that I was as tough and as strong as they thought I was!  Yes, regardless of what Life sent my way, I’d get to be a positive example for my children.  And hopefully through my example of perseverance, my children will also persevere when something crappy happens to them.  And besides, choice two sounded like more fun than a pity party anyway!  I’d get to coach my son with football and walk my daughter down the church aisle at her wedding.  I’d still get to creep out my daughter’s friends when they stopped by the house.  I’d be one hell of a pirate on Halloween!  And I could still be the same person I was before my crash, just a little shorter on one side.  The fact that I would only live as an amputee for 50 years and not 500 more also made the choice an easier one to make; I’d already wasted 8.3% of my life being laid up.  I was done with that!  If you ask me, I think too many people get hung up on the decision to give up or move on.  To me it was a no brainer!  Besides, given the fact I was almost killed, I thought it would be arrogant of me to ask God for more than what he’s already given me!  Choice number two was my pick…

Peace out amp peeps, Kevin

 

 

The Power of Passion

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Often as a sergeant, I am asked my opinion on what makes a good leader by the people who know my past.  Proudly, or naively enough depending on who I ask, from the age of 14 when I earned my Eagle Scout Award to when I was 19 years old and the youngest first-line supervisor at United Parcel Service in Louisville, to my days in corporate American or my time in the hard-charging Marine Corps as an Non-Commissioned officer, or finally to the present as a police sergeant, for the last 31 years I have lead something!  Oh, and let’s not forget the 6 years of little league football coaching which was more like herding cats and less like instructing.  As a side note, I always tell people and I’m very serious when i say this, if you want to learn to be a good leader, coach a group of young kids on a sports team!  Not only do you have to be organized, but you must be creative enough to keep their attention all the while dealing with difficult parents who think their kids should have already signed an NFL contract at the age of 5.  Try it and you’ll see what i’m talking about. Plus if you’re a parent of a young athlete, the years you spend coaching will not only be rewarding for you, but your kid will always remember the time you spent together.

Back to leading…  Now, maybe I was just too outspoken or hard-headed or stubborn to sit back in the rear of the pack while others brainwashed me with ideas that I didn’t agree with, or maybe I was simply too dumb to know the investment it required to be a good leader, but either way I found myself making a difference by leading others.  And personally, I found that when I took the reigns, I got things done in the manner for which I thought would make the biggest difference.  Being a natural teacher and Type-AA personality certainly didn’t hurt either.  But, all that being said, there is one common trait that I have learned all good leaders must have to be successful.  And its something that everyone has about SOMETHING!  Its passion.

Passion is the biggest trait of any successful leader.  It keeps us motivated and fueled and energized to make positive and effective changes while influencing other people.  Since passion never sleeps, it also keeps us awake at night tossing around ideas that hopefully can be used to reach those same goals.  Passion is powerful and unwavering and immortal.  As long as you embrace passion you possess the power to change the world.  So what the heck does passion have to do with being an amp?  Well, unless you’re stuck in a selfish corner feeling sorry for yourself, as amps new and old we all should feel passionate about helping others to never have to go through the same pain and traumatic ordeal that we all did…  Because from what I remember, those were some pretty dark days in my book!  However since we all are pretty certain that there will be future amps to join our elite family, the only thing we can do as caring people is use that same motivating passion to make the transition for others more understandable and bearable.  And as you know, I believe life is about helping the greatest number of people in this world before we die.  Yep, pretty blah, but very true!  So as a amputee you have passion, and with that passion you have the most important trait of any leader.  And with that trait, I challenge you, especially if you don’t think you make a difference in this world, to bottle up your passion and make it a point to help just one new amputee get through their dark days and find the light that motivates us all to live this short life we are fortunate enough to enjoy!  Be powerful, be passionate, be a leader.  And if you cant do that, at least have a passion for life!  I know I do!  Until next time, peace out my amp peeps and keep your stump dry!

   

Keeping my Side of the Deal

A Good DAyIn the months following my accident on April 4, 2003, I was so desperate to escape my pain and hell that I know I must have said more prayers than the last 5 Popes, maybe ALL of the Popes, put together!  I mean, that’s how I spent my every waking hours, praying and making one-sided deals with God.  “If this happens oh Lord, I promise I’ll….”  and then i’d intersperse the word “Please” in there 20 or 30 times to make my argument more convincing.  Then, after making the deal, i’d sit back and look for any sign of hope that my prayer was heard and a miracle was coming; it could have been a funny shaped cloud or a enlightening dream or a coincidence of sort.  Yep, probably a bit goofy I know, however given the amount of good pain medicine I was on at the time, I saw alot of crazily convincing signs!  But out of all my negotiations with God, my most frequent one was my offer to trade the ability to walk again for a life time of paying my lessons forward to others.   Of course I arrogantly asked for a full recovery too.

Although not how I imagined during my deal making days, two and a half years later my prayers were answered when I got my prosthesis 6 weeks after an amputation in November 2005.  And as requested, I was up and walking again so well that I was able to keep my job as a police officer.  After that, life took off at full speed like before my wreck and I found myself happy and with purpose once again.  Now, at that point, I was walking and feeling great and doing most things like before, so it would have been very easy for me to forget about the desperate deals I made with God.  I got what I wanted after all.  Yes, I could have said since I had to lose a leg in the process, that the deal was off.  But the fact was, I asked to walk again and that’s what I got. If I was going to split hairs, maybe I should have been more specific, like maybe I should of said I wanted to walk again with all the parts I was born with, but who was I to decide in the grand scheme of things! I was walking as requested.  Well, after all that I knew it was my turn to honor my end of the bargain with God.  So for the last 8 years I’ve tried to pay forward what I learned along my own difficult journey. And hopefully I have done an OK job so far.  Just with this blog alone, I’ve reached 10,000 views in 3 months and have had a lot of great feedback concerning my messages.  I’ve also been able to help a lot of people either recover physically or navigate the emotional jungle a new amputee is inserted into. As we all know that can be trying experience!  But all that being said, without question the best part has been the hundreds of new friends I have made along my journey.   Thank you to you all.

In closing, if you were like me, I’m sure you had a few key figures who helped you get through your ordeal.  It might have been a best friend or a spouse or a child or clergy person or your God.  Regardless, whoever it was that kept you moving forward through those dark days, be sure they know how appreciative you are for their unconditional love and support. And by George, if you made a few deals with others along the way, make sure to keep those promises too!  Until next time, keep your stump dry and your pallette wet!

Understand that Most People won’t Understand. Understand?

This past week I was talking to some people at work about my amputation and how almost dying, at least for me, was a blessing and a curse.  It was a blessing because it caused me, in the most abrupt and violent way, to be shaken to the core which forced me to slow down and smell the proverbial roses that I never knew existed at 200 miles per hour.  For that immediate reduction in speed, I am totally and completely thankful because the good Lord knows I wasn't going to do it on my own.  The word slow just wasn’t in my vocabulary before my wreck.  Sadly, it took a tree to make it happen.  Dear God, could you have picked something a bit softer though?  Whew!  But then on the flip-side, waking up each day knowing that I am alive after an accident, that should have killed me, makes me pretty much stop right there and not ask for much more of anything out of life, like the desire to advance in my career or make more money doing things like public speaking or writing.  I mean, career advancement is always a good thing and my wife loves to spend extra money shopping online, but who am I to want more out of a life when I almost didn’t have one?  And as such, I now spend all my energy trying to help others by passing on what I have learned through all my ups and downs of life.  And I am proud to say, I have been given the opportunity to help many folks around the world.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take free food and small gifts as payment for my advice, but as far as I’m concerned, paying it forward is my modus operandi and most importantly, it is my purpose for existing.

With all that said, have you scratched your head yet and wondered if I was sane?  Well if you have never fear, you just joined plenty of others who thought I was crazy, and a million more who have looked at me like they had no idea what I was trying to say.  And really it’s okay because I know they don’t know.  Just like all my amp peeps reading this, unless they walk a mile with our prosthesis or try to hold a child with only one arm or hand, there is no way those weird “normal” people are going to understand anyway.  But for us the limbless, we do understand; like it’s a secret handshake or unspoken gesture, no matter how crazy we sound to others, we amps understand each other, if even just a little.  It’s because we each have our own philosophies about life and about why we had to lose our beloved body part.  In an attempt to make sense of it all and answer that question of “why”, we all looked to something only found within each of us in order to find guidance through those dark days.  And to complicate it further, our analysis was framed by our past experiences and by how we saw our future as an amputee, and by how traumatic the events that led up to our amputation were.  It is a train of thought that only we as amps are privilege to have.  So really, how can we expect anyone else in our lives, loved ones included, to even remotely begin to understand where we are coming from when we talk about getting through our ordeals?  It’s simply a foreign concept that they are incapable of comprehending.  Well, I made that mistake this week and left a handful of people looking at me like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound; their heads cocked to the side, bewildered about what I was saying and wondering when my story would end.  When I saw that, I purposely wrapped up my speech and went on with life.  No, my feeling weren’t hurt and I wasn’t angry when they lost attention.  I just had to understand that most people won’t understand, and I went on with my day.  Understand? Have a good one, until next time.   Image

On the back… Where I Belong?

Check out @kriskelmom411’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/kriskelmom411/status/443849733006954496

Why Does it Always Seem…

Every time a young child is killed in a tragedy, be it by a natural force or by an intentional hand of evil, social media posts blow up with heartfelt reminders that we need to hug our own children and appreciate the fact that we still have them with us.  Yet, each day in our country, children die from violence, by unavoidable natural causes and by accident.  Every day across our country, a mother softly kisses her sick child on the forehead one last time before they silently go to sleep forever.  Every night, a child’s life is abruptly ended in a senseless argument that words could have resolved; alone and scared, wanting their mom, their final breath taken as they lay in a pool of blood on a dark sidewalk, lifelessly starring at the night sky.  Each day, our children are killed in careless vehicle accidents and in senseless suicides.  Every day people die.  And every moment a child dies, parents become lifeless themselves as a gapping hole is impaled through their heart that will never heal.  And if you are a parent reading this, you know that it doesn’t matter if your child is eight years old or 38 years old, if our children pass before we do, the pain will feel is the same at any age.  So really it seems, any time anyone dies, a child always dies.  Then I wonder…

Why does it take death to remind us about life?

It could happen to any of us.  Appreciate.

What is Your Purpose in Life

Finding your purpose in life will not always be as obvious as each of us hope.  It’s not going to come with a billboard or neon lights; it’s not going to have a red carpet or a look at me moment.  It’s going to show itself only after you have sat down and thought about the number of people you’ve helped along the way.  In the eyes of Life we are all equal; else we would not end up in the same way after we take our last breath.  Furthermore, Life doesn’t consider money with anything it does and Life does not rank you or your importance by the money you earn.  We all are born, we all get sick, and we all pass away.   Your purpose is ONLY defined by the number of people you affect in a positive way; that is the only measurement Life will consider.  And in the end, the only measure that society will put on your purpose is the number of people you touched by your presence on earth.”

K M TreesImage

Cop Back to Work Using C-Leg

Please take some time to view and share my other blogs on here with other new and future amps.

The Amp Cop

Some people will never…

Some people will never learn how to live until they almost die. After that experience, hopefully they can appreciate how quickly life changes. Be safe, be thankful,

Amp Cop

What Happened to Me? What Happened to You?

I’ve met a lot of people from all kinds of places around the world, and the more people I meet the more I get asked about what happened to me?  And its not because of my mental state or some of the things I post on here that lead to that question!  That being said, I think most of us amps have been the victim of at least one rude stranger with absolutely no interpersonal skills or tact, that blindly appear out of no where and asks what happened?  And all depending on how well our prosthesis is fitting that day or how we feel about ourselves at that particular time, and how many people have already pointed and stared for the day, will dictate the answer some people get.  That being said, small children and really old people are fair game and I will never be an ass to either one of those sectors of society.  I figured, with kids, explaining what happened to me and talking to them about my accident and prosthesis could potentially lessen or even eliminate the stigma attached to being an amp.  And with old people?  I figured, with age their tact filters are all worn out and they are going to ask.  Here is an excerpt from my book tilted, The Serious Business of Laughing at Life about the three weeks after my accident when I had to live in a nursing home.

…As I learned to get out of bed and into my wheelchair with minimal help, I started traveling the halls of the nursing home meeting new faces.  The first day or so, most of the residence stared at me before gathering the courage to ask what I was doing there.  When they finally got around to it, they used little tact and came right out with a, “What are you doing here?”  or “What happened to you?”  I laughed every time because they never beat around the bush.  In their minds, time was of the essence, I guess.  Initially I answered their inquiry with the long version of my story, thinking I had a great tale to tell, but after one resident fell asleep during my story, I started telling them, “I had a wreck” And kept the explanation to a minimum.  Then that usually was enough for them before they got bored.  Besides, I knew they had hundreds of experiences I could only read about in history books, I wasn’t going to impress them with a motorcycle wreck.  The stories they had were about fighting the Germans during War World II and starving during the Great Depression, participating in the civil rights marches and watching Kennedy’s assassination.  Mine?  I hit a tree.  I couldn’t compete.

During my second week at Mount Holly, I took the opportunity to meet some of the residence and spent many hours listening to stories about grandchildren, their deceased spouses and the favorite pet they once had.  Usually they put their trembling hand on my arm as they spoke.  Many carried around tattered and faded pictures of their family, ready to show anyone who cared to take the time.  Like a pro-athlete from days past, they relived their life through their stories, just like it happened yesterday; sometimes they cried, most times they laughed.  But as I sat there, admittedly sometimes bored listening to their stories, I couldn’t help to wonder if their family still came to visit or if we spoke of people who long ago forgot about them as they lived out their final days stashed away in the confines of the nursing home.  They truly were part of a great generation.

Having that three week experience in the nursing home taught me that, sometimes people mean no harm in asking what happened.  The elderly especially.  Have I been rude back to people my own age who knew better?  Yes I have, and it was on one of those days I wasn’t feeling good about myself. Was it right, no.  Did I look like another bitter amputee, yes?  How you respond to that question will be up to you, but what I learned is, if you kind of have some idea of what you are going to say when the question arises, you’ll feel less stressed, help show the world that we are normal people too and the encounter will end quicker is you want it to.

Last, I know of two new members to our elite amp club over the last two weeks who are going through the same doubts most of us had in the beginning.  Keep them in our thoughts and stick together for each other.

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Also, my book is available on amazon.com on in hard copy and e-books and my funny amputee t-shirt store is up and running at cafepress.com/thefunnyamputee

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