the Prosthetic Medic

There has been scuttle around the EMS interwebs as of late and I’ve linked to this little blog from my little blog but have been having trouble finding the right words to describe what Joe Riffe is going through.

I’ll link to his site in a minute, but he’s been in the sidebar for a few weeks.

Joe can better tell you about his past, I’m more interested in Joe’s present.

You see, Joe is recovering from the amputation of his left leg above the knee.  Had this been me, I would just curl up in a ball on the floor and ask for water occasionally.

But not Joe. Joe smiles, gives a double thumbs up and asks the Universe, “Is that all you’ve got!?”

To say that his spirit to overcome this tiny lifestyle change is an inspiration does not do justice to how I feel when reading his day by day accounts of living with and around having only one leg.

Recently a child began to ask what happened to his leg and the child’s parent whisked them away without an answer.  He’s been called a cripple.

I call him brave.  There isn’t another word to describe someone who faces this kind of setback and charges forward, guns blazing, kicking ass and taking names.

When life seems rough at HMHQ I often think back to the days before kids, or maybe when we lived in the City, perhaps even before this staff job finds me in traffic 5 of 7 days, but I can get up, walk somewhere else and change my life if I want to.

That is what Joe is teaching me as I read his accounts of life with one leg.  Sure there are awkward moments like,

How do I pee without falling down?

Do I need a wheelchair?

Will I wear shorts again?


But it makes me step back and wonder what in my life is really bothering me.  Joe didn’t set out to inspire me to reevaluate what’s important in my life, but he is.  My take on his story is a selfish one for sure, that’s just who I am, but this story has really set into my mind to make me think more about what I have, and less about what I think I want.

Joe is about to walk into a whole new chapter in his life with his head held high and I’m honored he’s letting me come along.  You should too.


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3 thoughts on “the Prosthetic Medic”

  1. Justin,

    I’ve been following his blog since before he had the amputation. Joe is clearly one of those people who WILL make it back. He WILL find a way. And I WILL support his efforts.

    And on the term “cripple” that he was called by someone… I can’t believe people still use that term to describe someone who is physically impaired. I learned a long time ago that “cripple” is a state of mind, not an orthopedic issue.

    Thank you for posting this so others can learn from him.


  2. I started following Joe’s blog shortly before his surgery. It warms my heart to see someone so dedicated to this job that they are willing to put themselves through all that pain and suffering just so that they can get back to work.

  3. There is a senior medic who works the street for my agency who has one of his legs amputated too. Back in the very distant past when the medics were allowed to work in dispatch, when he had a bad call or day he would take his artificial leg off and stand it up on the desk – it puts a whole new spin on putting your feet up on the desk. 

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