Working in farming and ranching remains one of the country’s most dangerous jobs. Life-changing and fatal injuries are more common in the agriculture industry than in other industries. One such injury is the loss of a limb.
Many people still remember the story of John Thompson, a North Dakota teen who lost his arms in an accident on the family farm in 1992. He survived due to his efforts of self-preservation and through the skills of surgeons who reattached his arms. Like many others with similar injuries, Thompson faced daily challenges.
Psychological trauma, relearning tasks
Here are some of the continuing challenges that confront a person who has lost a limb in a traumatic incident:
- More surgeries: First surgeons must remove the damaged limb. Then they must reconstruct the remaining limb. These steps may be complicated when dealing with nerves, blood vessels, muscles and bones. Skin grafts along with plastic and reconstructive surgery are likely.
- Multiple stays in the hospital: With every follow-up surgery, expect potentially lengthy hospital stays.
- Psychological distress: The trauma from such an injury may stay with you for a long time. Post-traumatic stress disorder is possible.
- Continued therapy: Therapists will help you with your physical injury. In addition, you may have to work with occupational therapists to help you regain skills for work and daily living. Also, do not neglect your mental health.
- Adjusting to a prosthetic limb: Multiple fittings may be required to get you accustomed to the new limb.
- Relearning daily tasks: You will have to do extra work in relearning how to do things such as holding a utensil, eating, dressing, brushing teeth and driving.
- Ongoing pain: Pain at the wound site may continue to some degree. You may even experience pain or other sensations from a “phantom limb.” En route to a hospital, North Dakota farmer Thompson complained that his arms were cold, even though he no longer had them.
Daily challenges often are the norm for a person who has lost a limb. Adapting to these challenges will be difficult but remain possible.
Continue to carry on
What happened to John Thompson was an extreme case that ultimately led to a bittersweet ending. Today, Thompson continues to adjust, while accomplishing a great deal in life. He worked as a realtor and remodeled his home even though he cannot fully open his hands, write legibly or even button his shirt. It is possible to carry on.