My name is Chris Garner, I am a 38 year old single father of 3 AMAZING kids aged 15, 11, 8, and due to recurring benign bone tumors and a resected section of my fibula in my left leg, in order to regain my life back I am having it amputated.
My Story begins in 2002 when I was diagnosed with a massive Osteochondroma in my left leg. It was successfully removed and life returned to normal. In 2014 the pain returned and I was diagnosed as having a recurrent tumor. This time the surgery did not go well and my fibula shattered, which left me with increasing chronic pain. On top of that, the surgeon who left me in this condition moved his practice from Ontario Canada to Texas USA leaving me with out a treatment plan or a surgeon to follow up with.
I had arranged several other appointments with various doctors, none who would take responsibility for my situation and all advising that I live on pain medication for the rest of my life. This answer was not acceptable to me, and it was then that I made the choice to have my leg amputated. The problem now was finding a surgeon to perform the procedure.
I met with Niagara Prosthetics who recommended a doctor who in the past has been known to be sympathetic for elective amputations. There was a 4 month wait to see this surgeon, but finally when the appointment came I thought I was going to have a time frame to end this madness. Instead, I got the same answer, that he did not feel comfortable working on me. I sunk into a heavy depression and reached out anywhere I could think of to see what I could do now. Niagara Prosthetics had previously mentioned a procedure called Osseointegration, however the cost was well over $100,000. At this point however, there wasn’t any other options, so I decided to look into that further. I also reached out to a local orthopaedic surgeon asking if he would consider amputation. Instead of saying no, he asked if I would give his mentor in Toronto a try, and if he couldn’t find an answer that we would amputate. I agreed to set up the consultation to see what we can do, but decided that I would actively go after Osseointegration in the mean time, because I did not want to wait an additional 2 months to only be told the same thing. If his mentor had another idea I would be 100% receptive.
I reached out to the Australian OI group and after my phone call consultation was approved for OI amputation direct to implant and was sent all the information for the procedure including the Estimation of Fees. A Crowdfunding campaign was set up and funds had started to be raised. While this process was starting, the Australian group was dedicated to finding another solution aside from amputation, however as soon as finding was secured unless there was an answer we would be good to go. I had been asked to look into a technique called Targeted Muscle Reinervation (TMR) where the procedure would essentially cut the main nerve in my leg but taking away the use of my foot. This would eliminate my pain, but the trade off is I have to wear a brace the rest of my life and have no feeling in my foot. The main risk is having cuts that get infected with out knowing. I was not satisfied with this idea, however it was being encouraged to actively go after. I had reached out to a clinic in Ottawa where they asked if I would go see them if I did not have any luck with my upcoming appointment in Toronto.
At the end of January 2018, I met in Toronto at Mt Sinai with an Orthopaedic Surgeon. This surgeon was the first to agree that I am ready to amputate. He wants to consult with a specific nerve specialist before scheduling surgery, however he believes he will be able to perform a below knee amputation where I will be able to keep my knee. The OI procedure would have been above knee and given me a mechanical knee. This way there is still a chance that in the future I will require a revision surgery to either what is called through-knee or above knee, at which point the OI procedure should hopefully already be a regular procedure in Canada. If I require that revision, then he said he would assist in getting me into the top OI doctor in Canada who is a colleague of his in Montreal.
With this new information, I weighed out the options and discussed with the amputee community and it was a no brainer that I should attempt to keep my knee at all costs. I have decided to follow through with the suggestion in Toronto.
The Fundraiser was immediately put on pause until I have the opportunity to meet with Niagara Prosthetics to discuss the various costs that are involved, and what additional costs my unique case may have. If the funs that have been raised are more than enough to cover those costs, then the remainder will be used to start my savings for my first replacement socket. Sockets are required for each prosthetic, and need replacing about every 3-5 years depending on wear at a cost, for below knee, between $5000-$7000.
Immediately following my rehab I will be start my next adventure in life where I hope to raise awareness to help people take control of their own health as I have. I hope that my story inspires others that its ok to do what ever it takes to get your life back. That there is always a reason to keep fighting regardless of what answers the doctors tell you. You should not be forced in to procedures that you are not comfortable with. You should always have a choice.
I still have some challenges ahead of me, and this is not going to be easy. I expect the challenge ahead to be harder than anything I have ever been through, but this is my choice. I feel as if I have a better chance at a normal lifestyle with my family, and its not up to any doctor to tell me that I am wrong. I am here to prove them and any other neigh-sayers that they are wrong. Not only will this give me my life back, this will give me a better life, and allow me to help other people to have a better life!
My name is Chris Garner and I OWN my own Life. I Will Win!!!