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Road to recovery will take Wayne Eyre up the CN Tower on one leg

'It has been less than a year and a half since my amputation so it is hard for anyone to believe I am doing it'
Photo submitted.

Wayne Eyre is getting ready for quite a climb. 

The 71-year-old will take part in the CN Tower Climb for Nature which will take him up more than 140 flights of stairs this Sunday in Toronto. 

Taking part in a grueling event like this at 71 years old is impressive, but what is even more amazing is that he will be doing it with a prosthetic leg. 

You see, Eyre had his right leg amputated below the knee on December 9, 2021.  

"I made that decision shortly after I was able to walk," said the retired paramedic about the climb.

"When I was in physio I was talking to them about doing it with me. It has been less than a year and a half since my amputation so it is hard for anyone to believe I am doing it.

"You can be satisfied to walk from point A to point B and that is it. Or you can decide to have your life back. For me, it was an easy decision."

While his story is inspiring, the path that he ventured on to get to this point has been tough. 

It started on April 19, 2021, when Eyre was working on removing some steel roofing from his brother-in-law's house in Mattawa. 

"I started to slide and basically I could not stop," he recalls. 

"I grabbed the eavestrough, and that helped me land on my feet instead of landing on my back.

"Immediately I did not feel like anything happened. I did not feel any pain to start. I went to stand up and when I went to stand up, I looked down and my leg was at a 90-degree angle."

Eyre had broken his leg in five different places. He was told by physicians the recovery would take more than a year. 

"They told me I would not run again and that probably bothered me more than anything else," said Eyre.  

"I was planning to do another half-marathon that summer."

After four months and little improvement to his leg, Eyre decided to get a second opinion. 

He got a referral to a doctor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto where he got a recommendation that again would change his life. 

"He looked at my imaging, and the first thing he said was I recommend an amputation. It was pretty devastating really," said Eyre.  

"My wife and I were pretty shocked to hear that."

Eyre says he was also offered a second option which was to put a rod in that would go down to the heel but then his ankle would have been stationary.

A third option was given to him to reconstruct his leg with more surgery and more plates. Eyre says that would have led to another full year of recovery time with only a 60 per cent success rate. 

That led Eyre to a very tough decision. 

"So I talked with my wife and I said we should go with the amputation and get it over with." 

So on December 9, 2021 Eyre had his right leg below the knee amputated. 

Eyre was fortunate, during the rehabilitation process he was able to get fitted for his prosthetic within six weeks; a process which usually takes three months.  

"My physiotherapist told me within the first week you leave your prosthetic in physio and you go there every day and they get you to stand up on it first for a couple of minutes and then take a break just to get the feel of it for the balance and that," he explained. 

"To be honest with you on my very first day I walked with it. I wore it home." 

That's just who Wayne Eyre is.  

"I got my prosthetic on a Monday and the following Wednesday I started to drive with my prosthetic," said Eyre. 

"My second day, I climbed some stairs and, by the end of the week, I went for a short run on a treadmill."

The rehab process was going smoothly but it did come with some unusual challenges such as coping with phantom pain in his right leg that was no longer there. 

"The phantom pain is something you will never understand until you have experienced it," admitted Eyre.  

"I would be laying on the couch and the pain would be so intense in my foot, and lower leg that I did not have. It was so intense. I never took any pain meds to any degree through my first two surgeries but this one here I was taking two acetaminophen 500mgs plus 4mgs of morphine at the same time and it would not touch it. It was so intense.

"It was like a major cramp in your leg and in my foot. In the arch of your foot, the only difference is there is nothing you could do about it."

But like everything Eyre has endured he fought through the phantom pain too. 

Despite this amazing recovery, Eyre does not feel like he is an inspiration to others. 

He feels anyone in his position just has to make a choice. 

"Me, I would just say anything can be overcome, you set your own limitations," said Eyre.  

"If you decide you are happy just being barely functional then that is what you will be. If you want your life back you have to decide how badly you want it back and you have to decide if it is worth the effort that it takes. I have had a lot of discussions with people about being handicapped. I don't think I am."

The soft-spoken Eyre, who spent hours still working as a trainer for the Nipissing Lakers varsity men's and women's hockey teams before and after the leg injury, hopes his story will help others who are struggling with the loss of a limb.   

"When I went through this, there was nothing out there to help you through it," he explained.  

"I have made a couple of calls to people that are facing it. they cannot find anyone to talk to about it. You don't know until you have been through it. There is a lot of emotion, and a lot of mental stress going through it. It is just important for people to realize that it is not the end of your life." 

Some would say Eyre made a choice to become handicapped and he is really proving that he is not. 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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