Amputee shares experience for Boston victims
BIRMINGHAM - AL —
In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, more than two dozen men, women and children are waking up after surgery to discover they are missing arms and legs.
The immediate reality can be hard to accept, and the recovery can be challenging.
Noah Galloway will be the first to say, there were days he didn't think he could go on. There were also, other, better days when he knew he could.
Galloway credits strength of heart, and a strong support system for his recovery. And he is positive those injured in Boston will be able to do the same.
"Everything is fine and then boom, it's all different," says 31-year-old Galloway.
He doesn't remember the IED blast that took his left arm and left leg seven years ago in Iraq.
All he remembers are the emotions he felt, when he woke up five days later. "The initial shock of being told when I woke up was one shock, but then it didn't really settle in for another week or so that I started to realize, 'whoa' this is real. This isn't a dream. This is how I'm going to be for the rest of my life," says Galloway.Galloway spent years learning to readjust to life without his arm and leg. "It was a huge challenge. I'd go through ups and downs where one minute I was like 'this is fine, I'm going to recover from this, it's not a big deal' and then other times where it came crashing down. Honestly it took couple of years to get through it completely," he says.Part of Galloway's recovery took place at the Lakeshore Foundation, an organization that works closely with disabled veterans and Paralympic athletes.
Kimmie Champion works at Lakeshore. She says the foundation can serve as a "safe haven"."The thing I see a lot with new amputees, is they're afraid they can't do anything. And that's not true. Anything you want to do, you can still do it. It might be different, or difficult, or you might have to re-learn a skill, but anything you want to do, you can still do," says Champion."I was a very physical person, I remember feeling 'two of my limbs are gone, what's left?' At that point I was unaware of what I could accomplish even after an injury," Galloway said.Even now, Galloway runs marathons and competes in other physical contests. "It's something where I feel like I've overcome the injury and now I'm pushing myself," he says.Galloway offers this advice to those who must now begin a new path."You got to trust in yourself and be mentally strong and just ride it through," he says. "It's a struggle. It's not an easy thing to go through, especially if you've lost a limb. It's not something you bounce back from overnight. It's a struggle, but you come back stronger on the other end."
Galloway says he's been in contact with organizations in Boston, including team Red, White & Blue. He wants to visit the hospitals where these victims are, to share with them the personal experience and let them know that life goes on.