Hi, my name is Carlos, and I want to share my story with you all. It all began on February 10th 2005. Getting off work from a tiring day I was on my way to visit my Mom in her violent neighborhood. I became a victim that day. A gang shoot-out occurred and I found myself caught in the middle of a crossfire. Shot down and left to die, I was blessed to have the Ambulance arrive to my aid within ten minutes.
The last thing I recall was breathing through a oxygen mask, arriving to SFGH getting prepped for surgery in the operation room. The lights went out completely, and I remained in a sedative coma for over two months fighting for my life. The grace of God kept me away from death. Upon waking up, to my surprise I saw my right leg was missing. Confused and scared, I can remember my Mom telling me she loved me no matter what. It was in that moment that I realized this was no nightmare, but a harsh reality.
Months of further surgeries occurred. I had infections, which led to more amputations to my leg, leaving me at mid thigh. After a year I got fitted for my first prostheses and that’s when my determination kicked in, working hard in Physical Therapy. I cried when I took my first steps; it was like being a baby learning to walk again. Going through pain and feeling discouraged, depression and hopelessness took its toll. I felt the need to give up due to being tired of struggling. My anger built up as my personal life was suffering with poor relationships as I felt less of a man.
One day I got on the internet and searched for others like myself; looking to find a way to be adaptive and change my perception of life. I had to know if someone else was struggling like myself. I love martial arts, so looked around for others with the same passion. I found myself a local MMA gym by the name of ‘Ralph Gracie Jiu Jitsu,’ and attended scared, not knowing how people would treat me differently. I came out confident after being treated with the utmost respect. Martial Arts is about confidence and courage; somewhere where you often find yourself in a position where you think you can’t make it work.
Martial arts is not about being better than the next guy. It’s about finding yourself and trusting your heart that you are able to adapt. I’ve learn adaptation, determination and perseverance, while not getting treated with special care when training with others; I was an equal. That’s the code of martial arts… respect! I learned of confidence and modification for months. Our minds and bodies are not designed to be repetitive. Martial arts taught me how to modify my movements, and in turn taught me to modify my life. I gained balance and strength, to where my life became modified to fit for me, not the World. I received my blue belt and even competed many times. Despite some losses on my record, I’ve alway gained love and respect from others. My life has changed, not because I needed an outlet, but because martial arts gave me the tools to deal with the World and allowed me to adapt instead of feeling bad for myself.
The injuries have piled up, but I have no regret because I am living an awesome life. God is now using me to help others achieve goals and bring others to realize their potential. I’m amazed how far I’ve come, often humbled and blessed from what I’ve learned from martial arts. Utilizing my new skillset, I can help others achieve their dreams and goals. My life tragedy turned into triumph, why can’t theirs?
There was a time when my prostheses wouldn’t cooperate with my active lifestyle. When I was doing martial arts in the beginning you can imagine how difficult it was sweating inside my socket and then losing traction to the point where my leg would slip off. I started off with a traditional socket that didn’t work to well with my high level of activity. Then came the vector socket 5 years after my amputation. It was a hard fiberglass type model that had open struts that allowed my tissue to flow and expand while walking or doing martial arts. I rolled on a liner onto my limb and connected it into the bottom of the socket via a pin. It stayed on pretty well, but there was a down side. It caused so much pain in my groin area due to the hard material of the socket, causing nasty cuts and burns.
LIM innovations came into my life just recently. Upon using their Infinite Socket, I instantly noticed how easy it was to get my socket ordered. Instead of getting casted or molded, they used top of the line technology, using just photos and measurements. Piece by piece they assembled this comfortable socket. I have been on it six months and noticed major changes, like wearing my socket for over ten hrs. My cuts and burns healed, and I no longer get them. It’s easy in my groin area, which allows me to maintain a high activity level. The most awesome thing is the ease of making adjustments without getting molded again and waiting for a new socket. It’s the newest technology out there and it’s only improving. I’m a proud user of the Infinite Socket for it has made my life less painful and an above the knee amputee.
LIMLegend -Carlos Gonzalez Jr.