Thomas Armstrong West Lafayette, IN
Thomas Armstrong's Journey
In February of 2014 my father, siblings and I were faced with a horrible decision, a life changing decision. He was admitted to the hospital on an emergency basis. We were told my father was suffering from a condition called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). What was that? None of us have ever heard of this condition or even knew what it was. PAD is a condition where the arteries began to harden, resulting in a limited amount of blood flow to his lower extremities. His feet and legs were what was described as Blood Pooling. The surgeon's hope was to restore the blood flow back to his legs/feet, but after further investigation they had told us there was no hope to save them, that his condition had worsened. What's our options? Amputation of both limbs. One just below the knee and the other just above.
So his journey began. My dad was always a walker. Every morning, day and night he walked. So when the doctors told him/us that he may never get to walk again. It was NOT an option. He would walk again. He told his home physical therapist he would walk again, not only would he walk again, but he would walk by his Birthday. My dad's birthday is on July 29th and I am happy to say that my dad took his very first step on July 26th with the inspiration of his grandson Dakota, who was his walking buddy.
He has a lot of work still ahead of him and yes there are day where he just wants to give up, but as amazing as my dad is he wakes up every day and puts his prosthesis on and walks. Of course it's hard and yes it frustrating, but my dad's faith and inner strength helps him succeed every time he gets up on his feet. His team of care takers are an amazing team. The encouragement they give him is unbelievable. He was given the nickname Amazing Tom, because no matter the challenge put in front of him, he conquers it.
My dad's life changed that day, our lives changed that day. There are days I get upset, because had we known that there was a disease called Peripheral Arterial Disease, then just maybe things could have been different. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths today, but sadly one of the least funded. There are many forms of heart disease and one of those forms my father suffers from. Not only does this disease affect the heart and lower limbs, but also every organ within the body. Without blood flow our bodies cannot survive. I have become involved in the American Heart Association because of my father and many others like him and my family. Everyone needs to be aware of this disease.
My dad is an amazing person who has just started his new journey. Some people think it is a horrible thing, but I have to say... change this to be positive. After all... doctors, nurses and Physical Therapist didn't believe my dad would walk again, but look at him today. He is a survivor. He would like to send a message to all who will listen. If you are a smoker, STOP. Smoking is one of the major contributors to Peripheral Arterial Disease. You can follow my dad's story and any updates on Facebook, just look for Amazing Tom.