Joe Pleban chose humor over self-pity when deciding to amputate his left foot. He chronicled the time leading up to surgery with a photo series called “The Last Adventures of Joe’s Left Foot.”
Your first thought may be, “Why in the world would someone decide to amputate their foot?” Good question! In some rare cases, a deformity or condition leaves a leg that is not 100%. In these rare conditions, technology is such that a properly fitted prosthetic leg can give a better quality of life and allow the patient to do much more in terms of activity, sports and even extreme activities. Mt. Everest has been climbed by a man with two prosthetic legs!
Pleban was diagnosed with pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) after a wake-boarding accident six years ago. This rare, painful joint disease is characterized by inflammation and overgrowth of the joint lining as well as hemosiderin (iron) build-up inside the joint. It usually affects the hip or knee, but can also occur in the shoulder, ankle, elbow, hand or foot.
It is unknown what causes PVNS. It doesn’t appear to have a genetic component, or caused by certain jobs or activities. While surgery can be helpful, PVNS comes back about half the time.
After initially trying to live with the pain, Pleban opted for amputation when the disease began to take away his active lifestyle and love of sports.
“After six years of watching every sport I loved being taken away from me because of my ankle, the idea of taking my ankle away and getting the ability to play all those sports again was almost a no-brainer. On paper it was the logical thing to do, it just took me a little bit to get past the emotional piece,” he wrote on the reddit forum.
Pleban’s foot was amputated June 25 at Georgetown University Hospital in D.C. He is home recovering and working with a physical therapist. He hopes to be fitted with his first custom prosthesis shortly.
We wish Pleban all the best as he starts this new pain-free chapter in his life; we’re confident his humor and grace will continue to serve him well.
Source: NBC Washington
Photo courtesy of imgur albums