John Cooper has never let his below-the-knee amputations take away his cheerful heart. At 42, he has been living with diabetes since his early twenties. In 2012, an infection in his foot and leg meant amputation was the only option. John was scared, but knew it had to be done to save his life. That was just the beginning of his journey.
Soon after the surgery, John started working with Travis Carlson with Clark & Associates Prosthetics and Orthotics. He didn’t think he would ever be able to walk again, and thought about giving up. He was 497 pounds and was just beginning dialysis. Despite the many difficulties he faced, the support from Travis, his family and his faith kept him determined to get through that incredibly hard time.
His positive outlook started to pay off. He was healing sooner than expected and was able to get fitted with a Steelers-themed prosthetic. He was reaching mobility goals and lost 174 pounds.
Just when things were returning back to normal, John found a sore on his other foot. He knew amputation was the right thing to do and he moved forward with another below the knee operation. He recovered from his second surgery in just three weeks. He was fitted for an Iowa Hawkeyes prosthetic and continued to work with Travis.
John has formed a strong bond with Travis, calling him a family member.
“The knowledge and encouragement they give a patient is above and beyond what I expected, since you generally don’t see that kind of service or care anymore. Travis Carlson is an extraordinary man,” John said. “He doesn’t see his job as a ‘job;’ you can tell he does what he does because he genuinely cares about his patients. You can see how proud he is of his patients.”
John has progressed from working on the parallel bars, to crutches, to canes. He is now working on using just one cane and focusing on steps. John has goals to walk without any help, continue to lose weight, walk down the aisle at his wedding, keep up with his family, and find a part-time job.
Through his journey, John has looked to two Bible verses for inspiration:
“O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” – Psalm 30:2
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
He hopes to one day visit Travis just to chat, instead of for prosthetic needs or therapy. He also hopes to be strong enough to play sports with his seven-year-old son and work with the youth at his church. With his positive attitude and cheerful heart, there’s nothing to stop John from reaching his goals.