This blog post is Part 2 of a multi-part series about Dustin’s experience with the Ottobock C-Brace. For more information about C-Brace technology, visit our site, or sign up for a free C-Brace evaluation.
The military was sending me for Veterans Affairs evaluations and trying to prepare me for separation from my beloved career. I was beginning to realize by this time that it was more than a career; it was doing something for my country that I loved more than the job itself. I would hate to see it go, but my health and being with my family had to come first. Many people lose jobs, but move on with life. Everyone has to go through changes, and I wouldn’t make it to twenty years in the military like I was planning. I would be lucky to make it five years.
A week or so later I had an appointment to try an adjustable C-Brace. This is when I met Liz who works for Ottobock. She is really great at her job. She explained the ins and outs of the C-Brace. She made sure I understood what she said because a lot of information was being thrown at me all at once. Then I got to see the big green monster for the first time. When Liz pulled this thing out of a bag, it was huge. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. I took a deep breath and let them hook up this huge contraption on my leg. Liz ensured me that the final C-Brace would be much smaller and more comfortable. I stood up after being hooked up to this monster and was told to put some weight on my messed up leg. I did as was asked of me because I didn’t trust my leg much anymore. To my surprise, the brace allowed me to place equal weight on both legs.
I spent a good bit of time in this universal brace while they made adjustments and began slowly learning to walk again. It was different than walking had ever been before. I struggled at first, but by the end of the hour I was walking around a room, up and down ramps, along with down stairs. I hadn’t mastered going up stairs yet, but would in the future. I was in love with this brace and ready to throw my wheelchair into the trash. I was then cast for the brace and was anxious to get the final product in.
By now, the Air Force had told me they were going to release me from service due to my condition. I was upset, but was told I was being medically retired. Which was good news, even though I was losing my career, I was happy to hear I was being retired. At least I would get something for working my butt off for years. I was still down in the dumps that I was going to be out of the military at the end of September, which by this time wasn’t far away. I was worried I wouldn’t get my brace by the time I left the military. If I didn’t get my brace, would this whole process be a loss? Did I get my hopes up for nothing?
I spoke with Nick and Connie, who I now referred to as “my orthotists” because they had earned my trust and treated me like family. They immediately got on the phone and started working with Ottobock to get my brace expedited as quickly as possible. This isn’t an overnight process getting a C-Brace from initial trial to final product, but for something so sophisticated, I now see why. Nick and Connie called me a couple times a week to update me on the process. We kept in close contact, making sure that every detail of the process was explained and updating me on any changes.
A few weeks later, I got the call I had been waiting on. This was the call to set up an appointment to meet with Liz from Ottobock along with Nick and Connie in order to try on the final product and learn how to use this machine. I would have made the appointment for the same day if I could, but I couldn’t of course. I made the appointment for September 11th, which was the exact day a year before that my hand and leg were paralyzed, lost, or just not working. However you put it, I felt it very peculiar that it fell on the exact day, like it was meant to be.