Visiting the Boston Marathon Victims

Aaron2

On our way
On our way

In my first blog I mentioned that I was part of an organization called Wiggle Your Toes. Wiggle is an organization that assists individuals who have suffered limb loss in their recovery and rehab efforts through planning, consultations and referrals. When the bombings at the Boston Marathon caused many individuals to lose limbs, Wiggle was invited to Boston to spend time with the survivors – little did we realized the impact we would make on the community! For this blog I have decided to share an abbreviated portion of the update I wrote to my board on our return flight.

Wheels up! We are heading home after spending the last few days in Boston. A rewarding, gratifying and very emotional visit – but mission accomplished! We were able to inform, inspire and motivate – more than we ever could have anticipated.

Day one was spent at Boston Medial meeting, greeting and sharing our stories with the medical staff at BMC that just 9 days earlier played a tremendous role in saving a lot of lives. I think I have this right – after the first explosion BMC had 30 trauma patients come through its doors within a ten- minute time frame.  And they didn’t lose one life! I talked about the day I lost my legs after being struck by a car, I was THE trauma patient at the hospital. I had the attention of every trauma doctor, nurse, nursing assistant in the hospital. I had 10-15 people helping to stabilize me after my accident. We applauded the work, dedication and professionalism of the medical staff, the silent hero’s, and thanked them for everything they do.

In the afternoon we were able to meet with the chief surgeon at BMC and talk with his about the day of the bombings – very difficult to fathom what occurred that day. In the afternoon we were introduced to more of the survivors. A couple from California – the husband was in pretty rough shape so the conversation about dealing with a traumatic situation was with his wife. We were then introduced to a mother and daughter that were injured. Mom suffered the loss of a leg, above the knee. These two were very positive, upbeat – perhaps numb as the media has been all over them since the bombing. Leslie lit up the mothers face when she let her know she was wearing a prosthetic limb. She was very excited to see how Leslie was able to used a cosmetic cover and that she had no idea when Leslie walked in, she was an amputee. The female connection (they talked shoes, dresses and all that girly stuff too) was big!

I was very impressed how BMC opened the doors to us. From the Sr. trauma surgeon to the entire rehab, physical therapy, doctors, nurses, nursing assistants – we touched a lot of people.

Friday morning Wiggle walked Boylston Street past both bombing sites to the memorial set up to honor the victims.  We were surprised when people started to approach us, thanking us for being there. One person made the comment “I look at you and see the future”. Another stated how good it made her feel just seeing us walking, talking and laughing – it brought her hope for the victims. I never thought of the tremendous impact the uncertainty (and / or lack of knowledge) re: limb loss – has affected this community. It makes sense – people don’t know about the technologies we work with – and that these survivors that have suffered the loss of a limb / limbs will heal, recover and eventually flourish. Our group (3 legs between the four of us) helped bring some closure, hope and vision to the people of Boston.

Friday afternoon was spent at Spaulding rehab. We met and talked with more survivors including a dancer that wants to dance again, a woman who wants to get back to work and an 81 year old man that just wants to be able to go home.

In summary it was a great trip and we probably could have stayed for a couple more days. There was some discussion of making another trip to Boston in the near future – perhaps as early as next week. The next few days will determine whether a follow up will be necessary. We gave out a lot of our information, exhausted our inventory of brochures and business cards. We also made the local news in Boston taking interviews from 4, 5 and 7. I haven’t checked the sites to see if we can view.

Friday night, we were treated to a tour of Fenway Park including inside, outside and to the top of the Green Monster. We enjoyed a great ballgame at a historic ballpark and met some fantastic people including the CEO’s right hand man, the Director of Security, The Director of grounds keeping and last but not least – the guy who keeps score on the green monster. Proud to say that “Wiggle Your Toes” is written on the inside walls of the Green Monster with a Sharpie!!! The staff at Fenway gave us the ultimate treatment – they stated that they were so very grateful for what Wiggle was doing for the people of Boston!

After meeting and talking with many of the survivors I got the impression that reality hasn’t set in quite yet. There were cameras / media everywhere. Fortunately we were able to talk with a lot of the family members of the survivors too. We let them know that when the lights dim and the cameras go away – that is when they will be needed most, and that Wiggle is available for a return trip.

Wiggle your toes team
The Wiggle Your Toes team in Boston.

I never would have imagined what an impact we could make on the great people of Boston, just by being there. From Boston Medical, Spaulding Rehab, Boylston Street and Fenway, with three legs between the four of us. Wiggle’s presence made many realize that with today’s technologies and the passionate people that work with prosthetics, the survivors will walk again! Wiggle allowed them to see the future!

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