For Shawn Rohe, the decision to have a limb amputated came as almost a relief, after years of pain and disability, beginning when he was just a senior in high school.
It all started with vague symptoms of “just not feeling well.” But he convinced his parents to let him go to school. “I hadn’t missed a day in over three years,” he says. “I wasn’t going to let a stomach bug end that streak.”
It wasn’t a stomach bug – it was a ruptured intestine. After emergency surgery, he woke up with a colostomy bag. “I was in rough shape,” he says today. “It was no walk in the park – especially for a high school senior.”
Several months later, Shawn underwent further surgery so that he would no longer need the colostomy bag. While it initially appeared that the surgery had gone well, he began experiencing severe pain in his legs. His left leg developed compartment syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition which required further surgery to remove the pressure on his leg.
Unfortunately, the situation was already dire. During emergency surgery, his 17-year-old heart stopped.
But he survived. And during what he calls “the in-between years,” he lived a rich and action-packed life – skiing, snowboarding, surfing, a career as a chef and a certified airport firefighter.
He did it all on a leg that was painful, weak and verging on useless.
Still, he persevered. “I kept going for my family, my beautiful wife and amazing son.”
In a blur, the years passed. His foot was a continual problem. The pain was tough, the limitations tougher.
By the spring of 2018, he knew what he had to do. And on April 26, he had his surgery. “Goodbye to the dark days,” is how he describes it – and he credits his care team for supporting him the whole way. “Dr. Michelson is awesome. He doesn’t treat me like a patient – he’s the first doctor to really listen to me and understand what I was going through.”
And today, true to form, Shawn is looking forward to making the most of the days ahead. Once he is fitted for and becomes accustomed to a prosthesis for his lower leg, he will be able to do more, and without pain, than he has for many years. And along the way, he will surely be enriched by the love and support that has sustained him so far.