Dave Holmes describes himself as an optimistic person. However, he admits that the past five years have challenged him.
In 2017, Holmes had a knee replacement surgery that resulted in complications and repeated hospitalizations. Eventually, he had to have his right leg amputated below the knee.
“I probably had a dozen surgeries,” he recalled. “Then in March 2022, I went to the hospital because of fluid retention. I had stage three sepsis, which is a death sentence. My surgeon had been getting at me to get it amputated. I thought to myself, I’ve dodged so many bullets. I decided that was it. I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to have the amputation.”
That conclusion still didn’t prepare him for after the surgery and seeing his amputated leg for the first time. “It was brutal; it really affected me,” he said.
After reality set in, though, Holmes channeled his inner optimism and set about learning how to live with his amputation and focused on his recovery, which would start at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Mechanicsburg.
A Positive Force
“They said that’s where you should go if you can,” he said. “I’ve only heard good things, so that’s what I did, and everything was a plus.”
At Encompass Health Mechanicsburg, Holmes received therapy three hours a day, five days a week. During that time, his physical and occupational therapists helped him walk with his new prosthetic. He said it wasn’t easy work, but he was up for the challenge, adding that his therapists served as a positive force in his recovery.
“If your brain says you can’t do it, but your therapist says you can, I’m going to go with them,” he said. “I’m going to champion that leg and not give up.”
Holmes said he was determined to learn to live with his new leg. After two weeks at Encompass Health, he was walking and climbing stairs with the assistance of a walker.
His positivity during therapy also impacted fellow patients at the rehabilitation hospital.
“Mr. Holmes dedicated his time at Encompass Health to not only rehabbing himself, but also providing encouragement and education to other patients who were within their amputee/ prosthetic journey,” said his physical therapist Amber Maggio. “He was the first to introduce himself to anyone who he did not know, both patients and staff. His presence in the gym and throughout the hospital was magnetic.”
Returning to His Passions
Holmes is continuing his recovery at home with his family. He said he is growing stronger and getting more comfortable with his prosthetic.
Prior to his amputation, Holmes ran a non-profit for veterans; he’s looking forward to getting back to it.
Holmes started Healing Rivers as a way to help combat veterans who have been traumatically injured. He uses his positive attitude to help them learn to “cope and live with what they have,” he said.
“We offer them outdoor recreational activities—anything outdoors is therapeutic,” he said. “Just sitting outside is some of the best therapy. Everything is positive. We’re using the glory of the outdoors.”
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