Story over a cup: Up the creek with a paddle

Published 9:50 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

By Michael Cole


I lost my right foot in June of 2011.

No, I didn’t misplace it, though my wife says that it is in the realm of possibility. I had it amputated.

Why do you ask?

Because I am a purist when it comes to costume parties and decided to go as a pirate that year.

Kidding, that was not the reason.

Or was it?

All kidding aside, for now, it was the perfect storm of infection to the bone and diabetes.

So, to condense the story a bit, I got a foot infection in the Fall of 2008, and after countless hospital visits, by the time the infection had been beaten, the infection had cost me several bones and the foot was no longer weight bearing.

I was told that I could lose the foot now that I was relatively healthy, or later when I was not.

The decision was pretty easy.

So they gave me a saw and asked if I wanted to play a game.

No, really, it was pretty much a three-week stay in the hospital. One week for recovering from the surgery and two in rehab to learn how to walk on crutches until I was able to be fitted for a prosthetic.

I have to admit, learning how to walk again will humble any man or woman alive. All I can say is that our brave men and women in the armed forces that had to endure this, I cannot thank you enough.

I dealt with my amputation a lot better than most. I think that there were no real blow-ups or depression simply because I had three years of foot surgeries and hospital stays to prepare me.

Even though a doctor said I might develop PTSD from the affair, as of yet I have only had a couple mini-breakdowns (hey, you get stuck in line trying to get a coffee when you haven’t had one in a couple hours and see what happens.)

But to date, it has been a journey in finding out who I am, and who people are around you are.

However, I was born with a sick sense of humour and that did not end with my amputation.

You learn pretty quickly that you can laugh about it or fade away.

So, the first school year back at the High School I worked at, I continued doing Morning detention. Morning detention was a place to send students who had excessive tardies, or other minor infractions.

Believe me, when I say, target rich environment for practical jokes and one-liners.

And I was in paradise.

I remember early on, a freshman asked me why I was missing a foot.

I looked right at her and said, “They take being late to class very seriously at LC-M.”

I never saw her again.

Then on another occasion, I was on my crutches going from the office to my class when I heard a couple teenage girls behind me whispering, “Is that guy missing a foot?”

I couldn’t help it.

I looked down and exclaimed, “Oh my god! Where is my foot?”

The girls rushed to class.

I was in heaven.

And it didn’t stop there.

I was coming out of a restaurant and said to a guy, “Be careful, they literally do charge you an arm and leg!”

He turned a shade of pale that you do not see very often.

Once, I heard a couple talking to each other about the rise of the robots and AI that would enslave them all.

I pulled my pant leg up and said to them, “Don’t worry about that, when we robots take over, I will put you in my people zoo.”

Then my wife said that if I continued leaving the toilet set up, I would be up the creek without a paddle.

I pulled off my leg and said, “Ah, but I will always have a paddle. “

She was not amused. And even less so when I wanted to take an older prosthetic, turn it into a lamp and put it in the window.

We compromised, I dropped the idea, and she didn’t set fire to my prosthetic.

Later on, I realized that there was a more fulfilling part of missing a foot.

I had impacted people in a positive way.

My jokes and lightheartedness had gotten people’s attention.

And it was all unintentional.

I have had people say they admired me.

I was confused, why?

I am not a hero, I am not even an antihero. My amputation was not born of a military injury or any heroics.

I will never consider myself something special.

But let me impart this wisdom, for me, my limitations are set by my attitude. I am only disabled if I choose to be.

And it is the same in life.

I can do anything, and so can you. It is not about what I have lost, but what I have inside of me or what is inside of you.

I only consider it an impediment when I drive. Which brings me to my next grand prank. I want to try this when I am next pulled over for speeding,

“But officer, I really do have a lead foot!”


Michael Cole is a syndicated columnist that when he is not writing, he is plotting global domination. You can follow him at