Facing Amputation, Surfer Finds Comfort in Shared Experience

John Hacker will soon lose his leg to infection. A friend who’s been through similar struggles helps him focus on what he’ll still have after the surgery.

John Hacker of Fountain Valley is the quintessential Southern Californian. He is a surfer, a beach volleyball player, and an outdoorsman. But now he's facing losing all of that because of a tragic moment over a decade ago.

Twelve years ago, Hacker was run over by a car while waiting at a red light on his scooter.

"I was all busted up, shattered ankle, busted pelvis, compound fracture on my femur, busted shoulder," he said.

His wounds healed, but an infection lurked undetected. At first it defied anti-biotics, then mutated, and colonized into a full-blown staph infection. In order to avoid a potential death sentence, Hacker now has to have his leg amputated.

"I didn't want it to happen, I still don't, but I've run out of choices," he said. "I don't want to be in a box. I still have a lot of life left."

Losing a limb can be incredibly difficult, not just physically, but emotionally. This will not be an easy transition for Hacker, but he has the support from Randy Alltizer who had his two legs amputated in three years, and he has never let it stop him from having a positive attitude.

"I've never been one to say poor me. I've always had a really good attitude," said Alltizer.

For someone facing amputation, having the guidance of a person who has been through similar circumstances can be incredibly helpful, according to Valerie Sanden, Director of Outpatient Wound Care at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.

"When you talk to someone else who's had it and not just a physician, it just make a world of difference in what they know they're about to go through," said Sanden.

Randy is able to provide practical advice to John, like tips on getting around in bed after surgery. He's also able to provide John with a view of what lies in future and show him how much he'll still be capable of.

"I can walk. I can cook. I can drive myself. I can get around. I can do yard work," Randy said.

"He's a great example of who I need to follow and he will help me get through this," John said.

The only thing John wishes for now is to continue with his life--with a leg or without it; although he hopes to be able to get a waterproof leg so he can get back on the water.

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