Paul Harris' Balance™ Foot S Story

In 2017, I was out on a dinner date one night when I noticed I wasn’t feeling 100%, and the toes on my right foot were hurting. I thought it might have been a case of gout. We finished our meal, but I didn’t eat much. The next day I went to work, and I told my secretary to cancel all my calls because I had to go to the doctor to find out what was happening. I saw a doctor who later went on to save my life. She assessed me and recommended I make an immediate visit to the hospital; I was diagnosed with gangrene caused by diabetes.

I went to the hospital, and by 6:00 pm, I was on the processing table, and by 9:00 pm, I woke up with my toes removed. Three days later, the doctors returned to remove my foot entirely to eliminate the gangrene. Three or four days later, they came back and said more surgery was needed, which meant that parts of my leg would have to be removed. By then, I had become frustrated and told them to remove the leg entirely. It was my third surgery that week, and I wanted the problem resolved.

I woke up in recovery with an itch on my leg; I went to scratch it until I realised my leg wasn’t there anymore. I was in a wheelchair during Christmas. I took risks trying to navigate my new life without my leg; I even went up a ladder, only to realise I couldn’t get down. I will try anything once, and if I can’t do it, I’ll ask for help. My amputation changed my attitude toward life because I was so close to death. The doctor told me I would have ten days to live without the surgery. I’ve found, in my experience, humour is the best remedy. By bringing humour into the conversation, I enjoy seeing people laughing.

I had physio for 18 months, and during that time, I was approached by the Royal Brisbane Hospital to talk to 11-12-year-old kids about my story to help bring awareness. During my recovery, I heard about a younger amputee using his prosthesis to run, and I remember talking to a good friend of mine who had also undergone amputation; I told him that I wish I could run. He looked at me and said, “well, why do you wish that? You couldn’t run in the first place!” we laughed because it was true. Life is fun, we are still alive, and I want to make the most of my life, regardless of the circumstances. I find that most kids often don’t know about diabetes. I met a 16-year-old with type 1 diabetes, and it was good to talk to her and encourage her to see the positive. If I can help at least one person, I’ve achieved everything I need.

I don’t like to consider myself “disabled” because I feel confident that I am able. I am independent, and I drive myself even though I am a right below-the-knee amputee. With my right leg on the accelerator side, I had a left-handed extension installed on the left side of the brake, which allows me to use my left leg to drive. There’s no stopping me!

The first time I stood up with my Balance Foot S was the best feeling. I feel balanced as if I have real toes. With my old prosthetic foot, walking on grass was difficult due to the uneven surface. Simple things like mowing grass have become a lot easier.

I find my Balance Foot S is far better than the ordinary prosthetic limb that I was using previously. My walking has improved significantly. I don’t take my leg off during the day. The Balance Foot S is the most comfortable foot I’ve ever walked on, and there’s no more rubbing or redness on my stump. Physiotherapists always commend me on my ability to walk. I use the Balance Foot S when I shower so that I can stand balanced without assistance and will remove it when I need to wash my stump. The Balance Foot S makes me feel like I have toes again; I’ve got my life back!