Under the Radar

Losing a Limb, Making a Point


By Ho Lin

We know about risking life and limb for a good cause, but an Army veteran who is actually losing a limb is taking it one step further. On the chat website reddit, Jody Williams, who is scheduled to have an amputation below the knee within the next two weeks, is telling his story about his injury, walking readers through the amputation process. The bottom line? He feels his original injury was misdiagnosed, leading to a worsening condition that left him no choice but to amputate below the knee.

Here’s the story in Williams’s own words:

I entered the Army on February 24th, 2005, just days before my 26th birthday. I chose to become an Abrams Crewman (tanker - 19k) because I wanted to do something active, I definitely wanted to deploy, and I was honestly hoping to see combat. I was younger, braver, and quite naive at the time.

Months after I joined, I was on my way back from a welcome briefing on Fort Hood when another soldier used the oncoming turn lane to pass a line of cars. I tried to dodge him but he clipped the rear wheel of my motorcycle causing it to fall down and pin my left foot as the foot peg folded up. My foot was crushed, but was immediately diagnosed as nothing but a bruised bone. 3 months later it was discovered that most of the bones had fractures of some kind and that the ligaments over my mid foot were damaged (a LisFranc fracture/dislocation). I underwent 3 surgeries while still serving, the last one being a fusion of the joints. I would never run again or stand without pain.

Until late 2014, that is. After 3 more operations by the VA, years of doctors visits, and even being part of the VA scheduling scandal, the ER visits and narcotics refills became too much for my doctors and they referred me to a private doctor. With the support of 4 VA doctors (including my primary) and the private doctor I'm now seeing at San Antonio Orthopedic Group, I have chosen to electively have the bad foot and leg amputated below the knee.

The reddit thread includes photos of Williams’s foot, his thoughts on the upcoming surgery, and reflections on the VA healthcare crisis that he believes contributed to his condition. Williams isn’t taking the situation lying down (no pun intended): he has a few choice words for VA on his leg, and has offered his soon-to-be-gone limb as a canvas for tattoo artists and folks who want to get out a message for a good cause to go wild. He intends to donate his leg to science after the operation. For more details, and if you’re interested in potentially getting some ink on Williams’s leg, visit his reddit thread. Show Full Article