We are famous!
RENARDWC at ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
RENARDWC at ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Wed Mar 3 07:48:48 PST 1999
One fine day Sandy Friend met Andy Warhol and discovered 15 minutes of
SF> Thought some of you might be interested in an article that our local
newspaper - "The Cincinnati Enquirer" - ran on us this morning
concerning us starting a support group. Don't let the picture scare
you, we are harmless! ;)
Go to: http://enquirer.com/today/
Wednesday, March 03, 1999
Easing life without limbs
SF> Sandy (and Rich, who's going to start charging for his autograph!)
Family wants to start support group to share what they've learned
BY SUE MacDONALD The Cincinnati Enquirer
Sandy and Rich Friend turned to the Internet for coping information
after his leg was amputated. Ask Rich Friend of Symmes Township how he's
getting along, and he's likely to wisecrack,"One step at a time".
Humor, he's found, is a necessary companion when dealing with life's
challenges. When doctors had to remove his right leg and most of his
right hip in 1995 because of cancer, he and his wife, Sandy, were
launched into an on-going challenge.
Because they weren't prepared for the impact of the amputation, the
Friends had to learn gradually how to cope with everything from the
mighty to the trivial. Such as dealing with the stubborn wound infection
Mr. Friend battled for 12 weeks after surgery. Or figuring out how to
travel, one of their favorite pastimes, when Mr. Friend can't pack the
van or carry heavy luggage through the airport. Or learning how to carry
a coffee cup from the kitchen to the recliner without spilling a drop
while on crutches. Or trying to find an exercise program tailored to an
"By living through this, we've got a fair amount of information to
share," says Mr. Friend, 54, a self-employed businessman who, with his
wife, hopes to start a Tristate support group this month for amputees.
"We've had kind of a good time learning this information, and we'd like
to help other people by getting this information across."
The effort hasn't always been easy.
High school sweethearts who reunited 25 years after first marriages, the
couple were married in 1992 and looked forward to new lives together.
Three years later, Mr. Friend was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer.
His leg was amputated in May 1995 at the Cleveland Clinic. Because of
the lingering infection, it was months before he was able to get up and
around and look for services, information, physical therapy, and help.
The problem was, the couple couldn't find much. Eventually, they turned
to an Internet mailing list and found information and resources through
members of the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA).
They shared online information and later traveled with other amputees,
sharing tips about exercise, artificial limbs, benefits, insurance
bills, medical care, everyday problems and other issues.
"I would have given my eye teeth to have someone to talk to while Rich
was going through surgery and after he came home," says Sandy, 53. "It
would have been marvelous. If somebody had said to me, there's a gang of
people out there who knows what you're going through and who will be
your best friends, I might not have believed them, but I would have
liked to have heard that."
Even now, four years after the surgery, Mr. Friend is figuring new ways
to do certain tasks, such as balance a bowl of ice cream while on
crutches, rake leaves, or carry items in the grocery store. "You're very
much on your own, and you just have to make this stuff up as you go," he
The goal of the support group is to share everyday, practical
information with other amputees.
Topics they hope to tackle include pain management, artificial limbs,
daily coping tips and strategies, travel, insurance, government programs
and accessibility topics, care-giving, exercise, physical and
occupational therapy, driving, Internet resources and special services
for amputees, such as a national shoe exchange program for people with
Mr. Friend has an artificial leg but finds it uncomfortable and
confining, especially because most of his hip was removed and the upper
edge of the prosthetic juts into his torso, making it hard to breathe
and move easily "like lugging around a bar stool", he says. Most of the
time he relies on his crutches, although he knows he eventually will
have to use the artificial leg more.
Through the ACA, the couple found amputees who can provide information
as varied as dealing with neck/shoulder pain from constant crutch use to
sky-diving and rock-climbing for amputees.
"You learn so much just from being around other amputees, watching them
do this or that" Mr. Friend says."It's much more than you'll ever learn
from a physical therapist or a specialist"
It's especially helpful, Mrs. Friend says, because family members and
friends often don't know what to do.
"They don't know what to say" she says. "They don't know what we're
dealing with, and sometimes they back away. We've realized there are
probably a lot of people out ere who come out of the hospital with very
little information whatsoever." Friends hope to reach out to amputees
who have lost limbs for any number of reasons ; accidents, injury,
cancer, birth defects, complications of diabetes, bone diseases and
Mrs. Friend would like to establish a peer visitation program where
amputees would visit amputation patients in the hospital to provide
information, support and friendship before they're sent home.
She says she watches her husband tackle simple chores with new respect
for what amputees face. "These people to me are an inspiration" she
says. "There are a lot of people who get through adversity, and they
The first meeting of the Tristate Amputee Group (TAG) for amputees and
family members/caregivers. When: 6-8:30 p.m. March 11. Where: Church of
the Savior United Methodist, 8005 Pfeiffer Road, Montgomery.
Information: Sandy Friend
More information about the Amp-l