Dane Tidwell lost his leg to osteomyelitis when he was just 18 years old. He spoke about the confusion and loneliness that came with being an amputee, and how his grandfather gave him support to get through it. Unfortunately, the current pandemic is making it difficult for amputees to get the support they need, but Dane aims to fix that.
Osteomyelitis occurs when bacteria infects the bone, typically in the legs, spine, or arms. When an infection travels through the bloodstream to a bone, or if an injury exposes the bone to germs, people can get osteomyelitis. Symptoms consist of fatigue, fever, excessive sweating, bone pain, chills, bone fragmentation, swelling, malaise, and open wounds. After noticing these characteristic symptoms, doctors will use bone scans, MRIs, X-rays, blood tests, and bone biopsies to obtain a diagnosis. Treatment consists of antibiotics, bone grafts, surgery to remove any dead tissue, and amputation if the case is severe.
How the Pandemic Impacts Amputees
Having a limb amputated can bring feelings of loss, confusion, and loneliness. Going through all of that alone can be hard. Fortunately, Dane had a support system, with people like his grandfather helping him along. Now, with the current pandemic, many amputees do not have this same support system.
No one can have visitors because of COVID-19, making it very difficult for amputees to receive the support that they need. Because getting a prosthetic is not life-threatening, visitors are not allowed. But because an amputee cannot skip getting a proper prosthetic, as they decrease pain and discomfort, they have to deal with the ensuing loneliness of being in a hospital without visitors.
Dane wants to help people stuck in that situation, and he is doing so through being a patient advocate for Fit Prosthetics. He guides people through their procedure and what comes next. Currently, he is helping Brian Ellsworth.
The two use Zoom calls and other forms of communication, and Dane even does home visits – wearing a mask, of course. He gives the support that people need. It is important to remember that we can come together and help each other during the pandemic, it might just be in different ways than we’re used to.
Read more about Dane and his work here.