Dad here; facts are like swimsuits, as what they reveal is interesting but what they hide is vital. Every time I see the story and pictures of our first meeting with Charlie resurface somewhere new on the Web, I’m struck by the realization that the whole world is seeing a picture of me wearing a colostomy bag and doesn’t even know it. Thankfully, the procedure was able to be reversed after the loooongest four months of my life. Sonetimes these things can’t be “taken down”; I’ll never forget waking up after the second surgery and not being able to make myself look under the sheet to see if my parasitic plastic buddy still had his adhesive lips affixed to my abdomen. Thankfully, all went well, so to speak, but the experience has given me a great appreciation for those that deal with any type of physical or mental adversity; you are true champions.
Last week, Charlie and I reached out to the ranger and other first responders that were involved in initially saving my bacon; I haven’t found everyone yet, and I thought that I had exhausted all of my resources when from out of the blue, I received a call from the paramedic that commanded the scene. It is his hand and leg that appear in the picture of me on the ground at the extraction point; file that bit of info away for just a minute.
Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t post his name here, but I expect he might when he sees this post; that’s his prerogative. We talked for much longer than either of us probably should have; when I mentioned the circumstances behind our discovery of Charlie, the colostomy bag, etc. He told me that he had personally a lost a leg when, as a three year old child he had stepped into a hole that happened to be home to a rhumba of rattlesnakes and was struck repeatedly before he could pull himself clear; one of the bites was over 1.5″ across, and that was just one of many. I can’t begin to imagine his anguish or that of his parents, dealing with a child losing a limb, especially in rural Arkansas at that particular time. As a result, he is on his 37th consecutive prosthesis with all the accompanying issues.
Now when I see that picture of my angels gathered around me on the ground, will I see a one-legged man? No, I see a man that overcame incredible adversity and went on with his life, ultimately saving mine.
So I’m not going to waste it; many decisions must be made, and soon, which will affect the direction of Charlie’s story. I am fully aware that we have all been given an incredible opportunity to make a difference; I know the “who”, the “why”, and even a bit of the “where”, but the big question for now is how? And when?
The horizon is limitless; who wants to go for a ride?