This blog post is Part 4 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.
I went to work the first time with my brace, I had been telling everyone about for such a long time. I walked in with my head held high and showed off my new piece of equipment. Everyone looked at it and had me walk around asking all sorts of questions. I was happy to show them all what it did. They were all amazed that I could walk because of this device. It made for a great day until I left work and forgot how they taught me to go down steps. I was walking up to a curb, which I was going to step down off of. For some unknown reason I decided just to walk off of the curb instead of treating it like a step. So I stepped down with my good leg and my braced leg didn’t bend then I hopped and peg-legged a couple steps almost falling on my face. It scared the crap out of me. This was probably something that other C-Brace users have done or at least understand. It wasn’t much fun at all and a mistake I won’t make again. It did however, give my wife a good laugh when I told her the story.
Leaving the military was hard. My last day in the Air Force had come and I was nervous, as well as scared. I was happy to be seeing family back in Indiana, but didn’t know what I was going to do being retired from the military and under Veterans Affairs care. I knew life would go on, but didn’t know what I was going to do. I did my final appointment and signed myself out of the military. I went out to dinner with all of my coworkers and said our last goodbyes. It was a sad day leaving the job that I loved. We got in the car and left the Air Force base, knowing that I would never be here again.
Since leaving the military I have more free time, but would rather be working doing weather forecasting for the Air Force. My C-Brace is my best friend. I wake up with my brace next to my bed plugged in, standing in the corner waiting on me. First thing I do is put on my brace and start my day. It has been there for me and changed my life so much. I don’t know what I would do without it.
I have realized being in Indiana with winter getting close one thing that the C-Brace has made more difficult for me. I won’t complain about the brace except for this one thing. Pants are the only problem I have. I have worn shorts since I got the C-Brace. With pants I had no idea how I was going to wear them. It gets cold in Indiana I can’t wear shorts all winter. I don’t wear skin-tight pants or super baggy pants, and the pack on the side of my C-Brace just won’t fit. I have altered all of my pants with the seam pulled on the side where the pack fits. So now the pack is the only thing that hangs out from the side of my pants. It took a little work to get a fix for this issue, but it is better than shorts in the winter.
I have had a few issues in the summer as well, but not with the brace specifically. More with my body sweating and the padding getting sweaty within hours. I figured out if I wore a leg sleeve for bikers/runners on my leg, then put my C-Brace on, I don’t sweat nearly as much. Then I can wash the leg sleeves and put less wear on my liners. It’s the little tricks I have learned to make stuff easier.
People still stare at me on a daily basis, probably more than when I was in a wheelchair. There are days that I don’t mind and other days that I get very irritated with people looking. Some people just look out of the corner of their eye as you walk by (which is still noticeable) and people who just stare at you and don’t hide it. I would rather you just look at it and not try to be sneaky or just walk up and ask me about it. Kids also stare, but I understand they are little and very curious, so they don’t irritate me.
When people do ask about it (which doesn’t happen often—they would rather just stare), they are surprised when I tell them that my leg doesn’t work, but this awesome contraption lets me walk. It comes to a shock that this technology is out there. It reminds me that I am surprised I have this great technology. There are a lot of people that aren’t as well off as me. I am thankful I was given this opportunity everyday.