AmpTriLife Interviews Boulder’s Craig Towler: Adapting & Giving Back

From Amp Tri Life

For this blog I interviewed Craig Towler, who started an organization called the Amputee Concierge in order to help people find answers to their questions and connect them with resources following limb loss. I first heard about Craig shortly after the incident that lead to amputation of his legs happened, and was recently connected with him through my friend Nicole DeBoom. Craig is extremely insightful about amputation and life in general, so I hope you enjoy reading the thoughts that he was gracious enough to share below.

Can you talk a little about when and how you were injured?

My amputation was the result of an intoxicated driver on July 4, 2016. I made it home after putting on a 10k/5k run at the Boulder Reservoir to unload my vehicle. I was excited to go celebrate the 4th of July with friends and watch fireworks. Just as I was about to finish unloading, I felt an impact that pushed me into the back of my vehicle, and before I knew what had happened I looked down and saw both of my legs detached. I immediately knew my life was in danger, and action had to be taken immediately for me to survive. I was in tremendous shock at the time, but I remember everything very vividly. I was standing behind the tailgate of my SUV when I felt the impact, and I was pushed into the back of it with my legs hanging out the back. Shortly after the impact, people who were nearby at the time came to my assistance and called for an ambulance. I instructed them to help me lay flat on the ground. To this day, I’m still not sure how I had the mindset that I did, but my thoughts were very clear, and I knew exactly what needed to happen if I did not want to die. Once I was on the ground, I could see the amount of blood that I was losing, and I was losing it very quickly. I then instructed the people around me to remove their belts, and secure them as tightly as possible to my upper legs above the injury to work as a make-shift tourniquet. I later learned from the doctors that the tourniquets had stayed on my legs until I entered surgery hours later, and are the reason that I am alive today. I was taken to the local hospital near my house, and was then air lifted to another hospital with a more advanced trauma unit. Once there, I underwent 5 surgeries throughout the course of the week involving the amputation of both of my legs. One is below the knee, and the other is through the knee. Skin grafts were also taken from both of my upper legs to close the wounds. I was in intensive care for over a week.

What sort of familiarity did you have with the amputee/disability/adaptive community prior to your injury?

Prior to my injury I was not very involved with the adaptive community. Through my work with race production I saw some amazing adaptive athletes compete, as well as worked with a few organizations like Athletes in Tandem, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

What sorts of thoughts went through your mind the first few months following amputation?

A lot of thoughts were going through my mind. In the beginning, everything was happening so quickly it was hard to comprehend what was really happening. Everything changed in a split second. When such a large change takes place without any warning or preparation I think it takes a while to come to terms with the new reality…

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Champion Trail Runner Dave Mackey Decides to Amputate Injured Left Leg

Update to the Dave Mackey Story from the Boulder Daily Camera.

By Anthony Hahn
Boulder Daily Camera Staff Writer

Following news that Boulder trail runner Dave Mackey had chosen to have his left leg amputated below the knee — a decision that follows more than a year of struggle and recovery since it was crushed by a 300-pound boulder during a run — friends and family from the local running community filled the Flatirons Running store Monday night to celebrate the unique occasion.

The mood Monday matched the night’s unconventional purpose — the specialty running store was converted into a makeshift dance hall, with friends and family dressed in various costumes honoring Halloween and bidding Mackey well before surgery.

With a mix of dancing, drinking and an obligatory signing of the leg that was slated to be amputated Tuesday, the night resembled what some of Mackey’s friends referred to as a “Viking funeral of sorts.”

“I think I’m in a good space,” Mackey said Monday night. “I’ve been talking about possibilities. I thought I was out of the woods, but I never really blocked out the possibility.

“Emotionally, it’s tough. It’s going to be tough tomorrow when I wake up without my leg and probably the days after, but that’s only short term.”

Mackey injured his leg May 23, 2015, while running on a trail toward Bear Peak. He stepped on a loose rock and fell, and the boulder rolled onto his lower leg, pinning him.

Doctors were able to save his leg, but in the 16 months since the injury, Mackey said he’s dealt with constant pain.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Champion Trail Runner Dave Mackey Decides to Amputate Injured Left Leg

By Brian Metzler, Published Oct. 25, 2016 on running.competitor.com

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Dave Mackey, en route to a 15th-place finish at The North Face 50 in 2012. Photo: Courtesy of Dave Mackey

Champion trail runner Dave Mackey posted some dramatic news today on his Facebook page about his long recovery from his well-documented trail running accident in May 2015. After more than 16 months of surgeries, physical therapy and continued complications, the 46-year-old trail runner announced that he’s decided to have his lower left leg amputated below the knee.

During what was expected to be a routine trail run in the mountains that frame the western edge of Boulder, Colo., Mackey fell off a rock and tumbled more than 20 feet, badly breaking his left leg in the process. After seven surgeries during a three-week hospital stay, Mackey returned home with his injured leg intact, albeit with an external bracing system and crutches to help him get around. Although he recovered enough to walk with a significant limp over the next year, he still had mobility issues, internal infections and constant pain.

Several more surgeries—including his most recent procedure about three months ago—helped him walk without a cane. But continued complications with the repaired leg put him in the tough place of opting for more surgeries or permanently amputating his lower left leg. He talked through the scenarios with numerous doctors, as well as family and friends, and decided that he will have the amputation surgery on Nov. 1.

Read the full story.