Facebook Saved My Life

Wow is what we have to say after learning of this great, inspirational story of a gentleman who has gone through so much. His story is so touching that we hope you will share it with the world.

At Customer WOW project, we believe in the power of Facebook and social networking. There are many other stories out there to hear and share. Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for creating something so powerful that it not only builds up communities and relationships, but also saves lives. Do you know of a great Facebook or social media story that needs to be shared or known?

What touched you most about Bruce’s story?

Facebook Saved my Life

By Bruce A Daugherty

One may be led to believe that by the title of this writing that Mark Zuckerburg came to my life saving rescue in some heroic event or that Mark and I are good friends. Although that would be cool and would make for an interesting conversation, unfortunately that is not the case. In fact, when I joined Facebook in December of 2007, I had no idea of who the man was (I had no idea of the court case of how he “acquired” Facebook either). At that time, I did not know how in the future of my life Facebook would play out as being an important tool in my life. I joined this social networking page because my family and I were moving to Colorado from Arizona and I had gone ahead to blaze the way for my family while they remained in Arizona for three months. It was a way for me to stay connected with them in this trying time of our lives. I had no idea that I was social networking, but I was!

 

When my family joined me in Colorado in March of 2009, my wife had to show me how to use Facebook. “Notifications, what are those?” I replied. I had seventy eight of them. I also had about twenty personal messages. I bet people who were trying to “connect” with me thought I was rude and wanted nothing to do with them. Truth be told? I had no idea on what I was doing with this new social networking tool. That soon changed and I caught on of how to effectively use Facebook. I especially enjoyed Farmville; I was all ways looking forward to harvesting time, picking out my next crop trying to decide on what to plant next. I had a rather large farming empire.

 

However, in 2010, I found myself at one of those “life” cross roads, and with that, Facebook would start to take on a new meaning for me in 2011.

 

I was born in 1970 with a severe birth defect known as CongenitalTalipes Equinovarus (CTEV) also called, Club foot. (If I had to choose, I would have selected a birth defect that was easier to pronounce)  During the course of my child hood, I would have eight corrective foot surgeries with my first at the age of two weeks old and my last at age seven-teen. I lived life as normally as I could, never letting anything get in my way or stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I’m sure on many occasions I worried my mom sick! We lived on a farm in Illinois and I was all ways climbing our big Oak trees, running around being a crazed farm kid. Today, looking back, I realize that even then I had an unstoppable drive on pushing the limits of life. On into my adult years I found myself driving a semi-truck over the road. I did so for thirteen years until December 6th, 2009. That was the day that the wheels were set into motion that would change my life as I knew it.

 

At the age of thirty nine, my birth defect decided to show its ugly face once more. The truth be told, this day had been coming since 2007 and I refused to pay attention to it. I had been fired from several jobs from 2007 to 2009 because I could not perform the tasks that were required of me. The pain was unbearable at times, I found it hard to walk and when I did walk I had a very noticeable limp. I had learned that my ankle was filled with scare tissue and arthritis not to mention that my ankle was self-fusing. In addition, my right leg was two inches shorter than my left leg below my knee due to all of the surgeries as a child. In short, I was slowly crippling up.

 

With that, I was given some options. 1) Have my ankle fused and always walk with a limp. 2) Try an ankle replacement but run the risk of my body rejecting the ankle resulting in an amputation. Or 3) Have a below the knee amputation. I would sit on these options for two months as I spoke with other medical professionals as well as my family so I could make the best informed decision. I have never in my life been faced with such a decision and I wanted to make the right one. By the end of February, 2010, after weighing the pros and cons, I had decided to proceed with an amputation that would make me a below the knee amputee (BKA).

 

I would set the surgery up for my fortieth birthday. To me, this day seemed fitting since I was born with this; why not put it to rest forty years later? With that, I began to write a new chapter in life.

 

After my amputation I was left sitting there on my own for eighteen months as I asked myself over and over, “Why, What now, did I make the right choice?” Not only did I lose my foot, I lost my career! How will I play with my kids? How will I be the husband my wife needs me to be? There was not a support group that I knew of for me to reach out to. No way to measure if I was progressing as I should. Simply put, I needed to connect with another amputee; I needed to hear that life was going to be ok. During those eighteen months depression would set in a take hold of my life. I put on a fake mask for those around me to cover up the emotional conflict I was feeling inside because I needed to be strong for my family, but inside I was constantly entertaining the thought of suicide. How would I do it? When should I do it? Where should I do it? I played the scene in my head over and over of what if my children found me and what scares would they carry around with them for the rest of their lives because I chose the “easy” way out. I just wanted the emotional conflict inside to stop!

 

I tried to get back into my hobby of model trains but it could not retain my attention for more than an hour or so during the day. My wife tried to get me out of the house on several occasions to no prevail. I only went out to my Dr Appointments or to physical therapy. Other than that, I sat in my living room chair with the windows blacked out spending the day in my sweat pants or pj’s. It would be allot if I took a shower that day. Today as I sit here writing this, I Look back of where I was emotionally during those eighteen months of isolation, I just did not care anymore as I withdrew myself from life!

 

Fortunately, that was not the end of the story of my Journey. Thanks to chance meeting of an individual who was also a below the knee amputee of his left leg. This is where Facebook reenters the scene in my life.

 

I belonged to a private Facebook page called the Moffat Road Historical society. This is a group that advocates in the preservation of the old railroad bed that runs over the continental divide from the west side of the mountain near Winter Park CO to the east side near Rollinsville CO. There are many people on this page like railroad enthusiast, fishermen, hunters, hikers pretty much anything out doors type people. One day I saw an individual had commented back to me on one his pictures I saw of him and his dog taking a mountain hike. My Original comment was, “it must be nice to be able to get out and enjoy life!” His reply back was, “Hang in there bro, life will get better.” His comment upset me. I closed my computer I thought, “He does not even know me, he has no idea of what I’m going thru!” Soon after, I told my wife of the comment. She asked me what his name was so I then told her it was Mike Shea.

 

The next day, without my knowledge, my wife took it upon herself to look up Mike Shea to see what he was all about. She then told me that I needed to look him up again on Facebook and stroll into his pictures. I ignored her suggestion at first but latter that evening curiosity got the best of me. So I reached for my laptop next to my chair. I proceeded to log into Facebook and did a search for Mike Shea. Once there I clicked on his profile and found my way to his albums. After I entered one of his albums, I did not have to look very far when I saw it. I began to uncontrollably sob because standing there smacking me in the face I saw in his picture that he was sporting a prosthetic on his left leg below the knee. After eighteen months of hell on my own God had united me with Mike and he knew exactly what I was going thru.

 

Soon after, Mike and I started to talk on a regular basis via Facebook. After meeting him my spirits were uplifted as I started to get answers to my many questions about this new life as an amputee. I was surprised when I learned that despite being on my own for over a year, I was progressing as I should. In fact, I was doing better than most my age that has gone thru an amputation. I then asked Mike how he dealt with his depression after his amputation/accident. To my surprise, he told me he really didn’t experience any depression but he did however become dependent on pain killers that lead to substance abuse. That was his demon that he had to battle and eventually one that he was able to overcome with the help of rehab therapy where he checked himself into. He began to show me in his pictures of snowboarding, hiking and skateboarding that there is a ton of life for me yet to live as an amputee. I just needed to get involved in something that excites me and see how that grows. He also suggested that I start to surround myself with positive people who help lift me up as well as supports me. He also taught me that we have the power within us to test the limits of my abilities and then push the limits, never settling of where I might be today.

 

I’m not sure exactly how it started but I began to find other people on Facebook who are amputees, before I knew it, I had a large Facebook community of amputee’s. I also found several nonprofits that support and encourage amputees to get reconnected back into life. As my community grew, I became more and more amazed at all of the things that other adaptive people were doing. They were bike riding, mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, paddle boarding, rock wall climbing, the list goes on. Simply put? Amputees can do anything that able bodied people can do, maybe even better! I have learned that, if there is a sport out there, an amputee is doing it! After some time I began to think, “Why can’t I do those things?”  This is about when my drive for life began.

 

About this same time, my oldest daughter was getting ready to start at a community college. She asked if I would like to go with her to give the college my tax info. As I was standing there listening to the college financial aid advisor, I began to think, “I’m going to go back to school!” Long story short, I found myself starting my first semester in the spring of 2012 with the goal of a 2 year AAS degree in Marketing/Management. In the fall of 2012 I found myself on the Student Government Association as the V.P. of Campus Life. It was here that I was given the awesome opportunity to share my story for the first time in a talk I called, “My Journey” (where I met Mike Shea for the first time face to face, he drove from Winter Park to be at my talk). During those first 2 semesters I had learned so much about myself. One of the things I had learned is that I possess the ability to lead others not to mention the development of an unstoppable drive that propels me to the next adventure life has to offer.

 

Despite an emotional time in 2013, my drive continues to push on. Because of meting Mike, I now enjoy the sport of snowboarding; which that in itself is odd, because I never had the desire to snowboard before my amputation. I have been able to share my story publicly on eight separate occasions, and now I find myself starting my own business (Bruce Daugherty LLC) in an effort to help others to find their true potential in testing and pushing the limits of life. Further, I enjoy sharing my sense of humor with others about being an amputee. As of today I have 49 videos posted on YouTube (Bruce Daugherty) where I share my snowboarding, talks I have given as well as some funny off the wall videos that I had created. During my emotional healing, I had learned that laughter is the best medicine no matter what the situation is.

 

Over the years, Facebook has proven to be such a great platform in my life in the way of, healing, building relationships, promoting things or ideas in my life as well as the lives of others, not to mention building a business platform. I know at times Facebook has its down points in the way of some unwanted posts posted by others, or the unfiltered dirty laundry or that picture that you should not have looked at. I guess in this case you have to take the good with the bad. I guess one could block report or delete the poster. Unfortunately, you rarely hear of the good that has come in life as the result of Facebook. This social website has been more to me than I ever thought it would be. In fact, I often wonder where I would be today if I had not met Mike. Or is it safe to ask, “Would I be where I am today if I had not signed up for Facebook in December of 2007?” Or would I even be alive? What has Facebook meant to you since you became a user? Thank you for reading my story and I do hope that it has meant something to you. In life, just remember to test and then push the limits life has to offer. You never know what tomorrow may hold.

Bruce on stage

 

 

 

 

 

 

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