Growing up in a family of boxers and Musicians, Adhiambo Mitchell was brought up with discipline of mind and body at the forefront of everything he did and loved. When he had finished high school, he rode with a bike gang called ‘The Kryptonites’ and had applied for the Air Force. Everything he loved and had dreamed of was falling into place, when at 3am on April 5, 2008 coming off the freeway ramp, the brakes of his 2004 Nissan Maxima locked, causing his car to flip and slam into a guardrail, continuously flipping over.
When I came to, I tried to maneuver my legs to exit the car, and that’s when I realized the extent of my injuries. Everything felt like jelly and ham, and I couldn’t call my mom because i was bleeding so much. One leg was severed during the collision, with my other leg in seriously bad condition. Long Island emergency fire department happened to be on the same road and saved my life. To this day, I’ve never had the chance to thank them.
As everything around me became a reality, my discipline came to my aid, and I quickly came to terms with the fact that I was going to be an amputee. At the hospital, they amputated my other leg above the knee.
Friends and Family started distancing themselves from me, and I began to realize that I was going to have a long journey ahead of me. I knew nothing about amputees; I saw some videos of amputees riding bikes, and it gave me a sign of hope. It let me know that if they could do it, then I can definitely could to.
Eager to be fitted with prosthetic legs, I was desperate to get back to my regular activities, and wanted to go fishing, rock-climbing and learn how to swim. It is a clip on the movie, Rocky 3, when Rocky loses to Clubber, Apollo Creed helps get Rocky’s confidence back by telling him “there is no tomorrow” meaning always do the most towards your goal in that day because tomorrow isn’t promised.
I kept reminding myself that “you can’t go back, you can only go forward. I’ve gotta move on with it.” At first, I didn’t get PT, I learned to walk by myself, I wanted to be self-reliant. I walked everywhere: to the car, to the park, upstairs, but my socket was causing unfathomable pain. One day a friend Pierre Lucian drove over 200 miles to come and help me walk better. That day we had gone to the mall and almost three hours in, I had looked into my sockets thinking i was emptying sweat but it was blood. I noticed the sockets were creating an open wound that could never heal properly due their abrasive nature. I never want to feel that pain ever again. See, the pain can really put you off the task at hand,. The knee needs to be strong, the socket needs to be comfortable, the foot needs to be supportive, but everyone forgets about the socket; the interface, the connection with the human body.
You need to find the right socket to walk properly, and if insurance would cover it, I would request two or three sockets at once. Everyone understands that every amputee is different, so why can’t prosthetic sockets be like a mall where you can buy different brands of the same product to ensure you know what works for yourself? Why isn’t prosthetics like that? It’s good to have variety, With my leg constantly fluctuating, no socket would work for me for long periods of time, and it got to the point where I gave up on prosthetics altogether, contemplating my wheelchair instead.
Then one day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the Infinite Socket. I told my prosthetist Ryan Murphy, from NEOPS Manhattan, that this is what I needed to become more active like how I used to be. You need to take control of your destiny and get what you want, and Ryan supported me through that decision until I was fit.
I love how they tighten and loosen with ease. I’m walking with greater comfort than I ever believed I would following my accident. The only complaint, is that every five blocks or so, I need to take off the sockets to clean out the sweat, but the ease of doing that with the adjustable brim doesn’t make this an issue.
I wish there was a way that I could give air to my limb through a liner. Most important for me though is that, I’M ACTIVE AGAIN! I’m more independent, and I can carry on my life. I can drop my kids off at school. I have dreams with my prosthetics now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I have a walking objective, which will prove my most challenging yet. I want to walk to the top of the stairs at Fort Greene Park located in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of rocks and hills before I get to the stairs, which will test my walking stability, so that is the ultimate goal.
The other thing I want to do, is make a difference for other amputees. I started the NYU amputee support group in 2008, and go to the ACA conference every year. I also did the NYC marathon in 2009. I want to be part of a network that will encourage others to achieve great things. My determined nature has even spurred me on to take my Masters. One day I found myself surrounded by a lot of my family who have Master’s degrees. I looked around and thought to myself “if these fools can do it, so can I.” I’m taking Biomedical Engineering, as I want to create more devices that will assist other people like me. Math is killing me at the moment; you need to keep a lot of notes, but by 2021 I’ll be used to it. I will master it, just like I’m doing walking in my prosthesis.
My mission is to make positive changes for myself, my family then all over the world. I will elevate all my skills and knowledge through learning in all aspects of my life with purpose and determination. I will ensure that the journey I’m taking will reflect to others to build and make this world a better place. To solely be the example for my kids and others to look and see a positive role model. I am guided by my own set of morals and principles that I have developed through relationships with my parents, family, friends, peers, and others I look up to and respect and admire. I will keep searching for knowledge and contemplation.