Concordia Rehabilitation Helps You Get Back to Life

Contact: Shirley Freyer
Concordia Lutheran Ministries
Tel: 1-724-352-1571 x8266

Concordia Rehabilitation Helps You Get Back to Life

Jefferson Twp., PA - "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strength. When you go through hardship and decide NOT to surrender, that is strength."  

This quote appears on the wall across from the tricep extensions equipment Bill Fox uses each day he works out at the local fitness center in Leechburg. He and his middle son, Angelo, who he calls his personal trainer, are building up his upper body strength working to get Bill "back to life" following his short-term rehab stay at Concordia at Cabot.

Bill grew up in the Point Breeze section of Pittsburgh where he played baseball from the time he could hold a bat. As a catcher, he was used to being hit by baseballs, but when he was in the seventh grade, one struck him in the calf, an injury that eventually changed the course of his life.  

The impact formed three hematomas in the tendons, which caused a cancerous growth. After three operations and radiation treatment, his left leg was saved but grew weak, was shortened by a ¼ inch and his immune system was affected. He played softball for the next 18 years, ignoring the pain, overcompensating for the slight limp and the susceptibility of infection.   

But his vascular disease was growing more severe and after four episodes treated with rest and medication he came home from work last August and couldn't walk. He thought to himself, "This is bad" and went to the local emergency room near his home in Leechburg and was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital.  

After a 3 ½ hour surgery, he awakened to see a stent in his foot. But complications - blood clots and kidney failure - followed and at age 55, he was the victim of an above-the-knee amputation.

"My aunt was at Concordia for rehab and she was astounded by the treatment and care she received as well as how quickly she recovered," Bill recalled. So when the doctors recommended therapy, he chose Concordia and spent eight weeks in our inpatient unit.  

"It was a grave situation when I arrived," he said. "I was very weak, disoriented and experiencing phantom pain as well as anxiety not knowing what lay ahead of me."   
But his faith was strong, having been a student at Central Catholic, and he believes, that "being here has increased that faith. God gave me a second chance."

During his stay at Concordia, he made friends with other patients and staff members. "It was like a job.  I got up at 7:30 a.m., went to breakfast in the dining room and never went back to my room until 8 p.m."  

A regime of physical therapy three times a day as well as occupational therapy and lap after lap up and down the second floor halls in his wheelchair yielded some lifetime friends, whom he still visits.

But Bill, the consummate helper for anyone in need, knew he had a delicate journey ahead of him. This upbeat, happy-go-lucky husband and father who always took things in stride was faced with wearing a prosthesis.  

"My three sons are great and Alexis, my wife, is an inspiration for me as she has made a comeback from cancer twice and just underwent back surgery."  

Besides his visits to the fitness centers, he is back to driving and spends lots more time at Northmoreland Lake watching the fishermen and those feeding the ducks.  

"I would never have spent time doing that before but it's different. I can reflect on things that I used to take for granted."

He wants to get back to coaching dek hockey, back to working the register at the grocery store, back to life.