A Second Chance
Many people face challenges and harbor regrets. Richie Rayle, an Optimus Prosthetics’ and Beyond Limits’ patient, is no exception to this. Many would say his life has been marked with tragedy; however, that is not how he sees it. He simply says, “I am thankful for being alive! I am thankful for another chance at life. Thankful to be here with loved ones.” Richie is a reminder that while we may face difficulty; life is full of hope, second chances, and opportunities to overcome adversity.
Richie’s near-death experience and second chance at life happened on May 22nd, 2019; when after a decade of battling opioid addiction, he overdosed. He was down for a minimum of twelve hours. Following that, Richie spent three months in various hospitals while doctors struggled to manage blood supply and vascular issues. Ultimately, however, he would lose three limbs. His right arm was amputated below the elbow on June 10th, 2019; his left leg was amputated above the knee on July 18th, 2019; and on August 5th, 2019 his right leg was amputated above the knee. Richie’s mom Susan describes the surgeries as, “Pretty traumatic for me. I stayed as strong as I could for Richie, and we all pulled together as a family.” Richie is blessed to have his Mom, Dad, sister Suzanne, who is a Master Sergeant in the USAF, and a second sister, Jadyn, who is a dental assistant. After those three months of pulling together as a family in the hospital, the Rayle family was finally able to transition Richie to their home.
Richie’s family members were not the only ones there for him while he was in the hospital. Optimus Prosthetics’ patient advocate, Lawrence, met Richie and his family and followed-up through regular visits. He was one of the first helpers to guide them through the process and into their new normal. Richie’s mom, Susan, admits the changes were daunting. “The biggest challenge was the modification to our home as well as our personal lives. Deciding where he was going to live, who will take care of him, [and] what we needed to change about our house to make it handicap accessible.”
Shortly after meeting Lawrence, the Rayle family started working with Optimus Prosthetist, Julia Fry, and Beyond Limits Physical Therapist, Logan Sillies. Julia and Logan have both been instrumental guides in Richie’s recovery. Susan says:
One very valuable thing I have learned throughout this process is that there are very knowledgeable and dedicated professionals that can come together as a team and make things that seemed impossible to me in the beginning become a reality. The Optimus team, specifically Julia, has meant the world to me. They have become family. Julia always made me feel like everything was going to be okay. Julia has been a principal part of Richie’s recovery… and mine.
Richie reflects on his relationship with his team. “Logan’s skills as a physical therapist have taken me to where I am today. He has taught me how to walk again. His knowledge is incredible. The collaboration between Julia, Logan, and myself make it all worthwhile.”
It truly has become a collaborative team effort. Julia often meets Richie and Logan at the Beyond Limits office for his physical therapy appointments. Julia and Logan both bring their individual expertise and work together to give Richie the best outcome possible. However, the progress does not happen simply through attendance at these appointments. Richie outlines his critical role as part of the process:
Each day I get up and put my legs on myself. I practice every single day. I am able to walk short distances with knees unlocked. I am becoming more independent which is a long-term goal. The work I have done with my prosthetic legs has been my biggest accomplishment so far.
Richie’s life is a reminder to all of us that difficulty can be overcome; second chances do happen; what seems impossible can become a reality; and there are many helpers to support us along the way. As Richie said, “Don’t ever give up. Be patient. And most of all, trust the process.”