An inspired, epistolary debut memoir chronicling an amputee’s months of rehabilitation and recovery.
Canadian automotive industry veteran Rollo recounts a harrowing medical nightmare, which began in 2013 after he underwent a complicated eight-hour spinal surgery to alleviate pinched-nerve pain radiating down his legs. The 6-foot-5 author hoped the titanium rods that the surgeon inserted would stabilize his posture and eventually improve his impaired ability to walk. Unfortunately, Rollo suffered a postsurgical heart attack. After an attempt at a bypass procedure, he contracted pneumonia, and a major circulatory impairment to his lower extremities necessitated an amputation of both feet. He narrates his personal story while also including the loving, encouraging words of family members, and he illustrates his work with endearing portraits of his wife and “Chief Angel,” Cathy, and graphic medical photographs. Along the way, he unfurls a tapestry of hope, survival, and genuine emotions that run the gamut from exhaustive desperation to prideful glee. His account of his tribulations during a grueling recovery process is difficult to read at times, but he threads in bits of wisdom, humor, and graceful poetry, which add perspective and personality: “Camaraderie was a balm, a healing ointment that could spread across the wards,” he writes of his time in a rehabilitation facility. His sage discussions regarding medicinal pain management, phantom pain, and even the benefits of prunes offer useful information. He also questions the absence of mental health support for patients who undergo amputation procedures. Overall, this heart-tugging memoir is a story of bravery in the face of mounting depression and seemingly hopeless odds. It shines brightest when the author is most candid about his journey; his inclusion of the months of Facebook posts, however, have a somewhat impersonal, distancing effect. His sobering opinions on the highs and lows of life with prosthetic limbs, though, will surely encourage readers to cultivate a newfound respect for life.
Rollo spins a truly nightmarish medical ordeal into a life-affirming exercise in resilience, optimism, and eternal gratitude.