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Still Standing

Greg Standing Pic

Dear friends and family,

It has been some time since I last wrote, over the past few weeks a few things have happened which I would like to update you on. Two weeks ago, I was casted for my first prosthetic leg. In the process of about forty-five minutes, the prosthesis technician, Bob, created a mold of my leg using simple plaster. Over the course of the next week, Bob worked with the product and on Thursday November 10th, he presented me with my first artificial leg. As stated in previous messages, this leg is a very basic “starter leg,” known around here as a “stubby.” With no knee joint, and holding me only around ten inches above the floor, Bob helped me insert my leg into the prosthetic – For the first time in six months I was able to stand up. There to witness this event was my mother, Joan, my girlfriend, Summer, and my college friend, Harry. They took photos and watched as I pulled myself up out of my wheelchair, and up onto my new leg, bracing myself between two parallel bars in the gym at the CFI.

While the experience was definitely a big step, I sometimes feel as if it was overrated. The hard plastic rim of the prosthetic dug into my groin as the few pressure points where my leg held onto the prosthetic supported all of my body weight. With only one leg and no knee joint, I stood there, took some pictures, and a couple minutes later sat down in my wheel chair.

I must admit, however, the moment was also joyful. A warm feeling of happiness and accomplishment slowly began to sink in, as Bob told me that he would work with me in the months ahead to refine the prosthetic to be more comfortable, and would create a prosthetic for my other leg in the following week. In addition to my prosthetic leg, I turned in my electric wheelchair in exchange for a “power assist” chair that, with minimal push from both arms, allows me to travel faster than a traditional, manual wheelchair. It is still quite difficult as the brace on my right arm is unable to grip the wheel enough to get an even tread. While more difficult than the electric wheelchair, it is a big step in regaining my independence. With the “power assist” wheel chair, I am able to travel easier on my own then with the heavy, electric one.

Unfortunately, despite these advancements in my rehab, my momentum forward was again slowed by another infection in my right arm. The infection was caught early, and is being treated as cellulitis, an infection in the skin surrounding some of the pin sites where the brace is drilled into my bone. Along with the infection, I have been experiencing intense pain from my neck down to my fingertips. The soreness I have been experiencing over the course of the past two weeks has put me in states of agony, which I have not felt since I first lost my legs back in May. I was hospitalized late last week to begin taking care of the infection. I was sent home on Friday with intravenous antibiotics, and was able to enjoy a wonderful weekend trip to nearby Austin with Summer. This was my first time outside San Antonio since I arrived here in May.

While the infection and my struggling with the severe pain held us back from some activities, our trip was refreshing and finally allowed me a true vacation. We returned on Monday looking forward to the week ahead, in which I was scheduled to continue working with my new prosthetic. After two sleepless nights of dealing with increasing pain in my arm and shoulder, I had my doctor’s readmit me to the hospital for pain control. While I am still experiencing occasional pain, for the most part I am beginning to feel better, and am getting some much-needed rest.

This upcoming weekend, members of my platoon who were on patrol with me on the day of my injury will finally visit me. These men were responsible for applying immediate first aid and coordinating the dispatch of MEDEVAC helicopters to pick me up. In other words, these men saved my life. I cannot express how much I am looking forward to this visit, and I only hope that I won’t have to be in the hospital while they are here.

With Thanksgiving approaching,  we all know that this year I have many things to be thankful for. Not the least of which is the fact that I am still alive. I am not sure that I will have the chance to write again before next week, so I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of you for your continuous support and overwhelming love that you send my way. Whether it be a hand stitched afghan, a box of Halloween candies, autumn leaves from our National Mall, brownies from the best bakery in New York, a fresh fruit basket, or a thoughtful card or voicemail, I deeply and truly appreciate every small token of your kindness. I will be spending Thanksgiving here in San Antonio with members of my family. I hope each one of you is able to spend the holidays with your loved ones. Until we speak again, my love to you all.

Greg

11 Comments
  1. Julia Costello #

    Hi Greg,

    I’m Damien Isabella’s sister and have been receiving updates from my family. Although we’ve never met, my family speaks of you and your brothers with such love and respect. I just wanted to drop you a little note to say thank you. It seams such a meek thing to say considering everything you have done for us and our country, but there are truly no words to express our admiration and gratitude. My husband TJ is a former infantry Marine and we’ve just moved our family to Charlotte NC. Honestly, if we can help out in any way, please let us know.

    Holding you and your family in our hearts,

    Julia Costello

    November 18, 2011
  2. Terri Cooper #

    Dear Greg,

    What an amazing achievement – I’m sitting here in the Deloitte Offices in NY with tears streaming down my cheeks because I’m so incredibly proud of you. You remain a remarkable inspiration to me and I give thanks for the fact that I’ve had the privilege to get to know you. I can’t wait for my next visit on the 7th Dec.

    Take care and every best wish to you, your Mum, Summer and Steve

    November 18, 2011
  3. Lee Hilliard #

    Greg,
    Your courage and perseverance are remarkable.
    Have a great visit with your squad and a peaceful, restful Thanksgiving.
    Our prayers continue.

    November 20, 2011
  4. Gretch #

    Thank you so much for updating your website. We pray and think of you daily and the website allows us to “connect” with you. We are so blessed to have YOU in our lives Greg and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please thank your platoon for saving your life! We LOVE you so much. Kisses and Hugs to the whole family. All our love and strength for continuous improvement. With all our love and prayers! Gretch and Bob

    November 20, 2011
  5. Glen Billings #

    Greg,

    I know we haven’t spoke since probably high school but wanted to leave a message. Thank you for keeping us safe and thank you for keeping us updated on your recovery. The process you are going through I could never imagine. If there is anything you need please let me know- I am sure you hear that from everyone- but now you will have anything I could give you. I am looking forward to sometime in the future seeing you back in Glastonbury. I hope everything continues to improve for you and that you continue to stay strong.

    November 20, 2011
  6. Becki Waterman #

    Greg, you are probably the most amazing man I know. Keep smiling, love the pictures. Have a great weekend with your guys! I’m so happy they’re getting to come see you finally!

    November 20, 2011
  7. Letitia #

    Dear Greg:
    You continue to amaze and inspire us. We hope the pain you are suffering eases up so you can enjoy Thanksgiving. We are with you in spirit and give thanks every day, and especially on Thanksgiving, that your life was spared and that you have the strength to fight every day for your sure to be bright future.
    Our love and prayers continue for your speedy recovery.

    Love, Fernando and Letitia

    November 21, 2011
  8. Mary Olsen #

    Thanks for taking the time to update us. Wishing you and the family a happy Thanksgiving.

    November 21, 2011
  9. Karen (Galinsky) Lesh #

    You continue to amaze me! Congrats on the progress! Sending love to you and your family this Thanksgiving!!!

    November 22, 2011
  10. Colleen A Small #

    Thinking of you and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving !
    Colleen A Small

    November 23, 2011
  11. Colleen A Small #

    Greg,
    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and I continue to keep you in my prayer’s.

    Much love to you,
    Colleen A Small

    December 23, 2011

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