If you were injured in a split second and had to choose between lifelong disability or amputation, which would you choose? One Temecula high school football player was faced with this difficult choice and chose the latter, perhaps for a surprising reason: he felt he was “losing a limb, but [I’m not] not losing a life.” Furthermore, when a Chicago Bears NFL player suffered the same injury weeks later, both men gained a friend who could empathize and support him.
The Temecula Injury
Last fall, Linfield Christian High junior-year quarterback Alex Ruiz needed to make a split second decision to throw or keep the ball, ultimately deciding to hold onto it. As he was tackled, Ruiz suffered a knee dislocation injury.
Although doctors put the knee was back into place, they didn’t realize that he had also severed his popliteal artery until he underwent surgery 12 hours later. By then, the leg and foot had been without circulation for too long to regain full use. Given the choice to live with a lifelong limp or amputation and the opportunity for a prosthetic, Ruiz chose amputation. He recalls thinking, “Yeah, I’m losing a leg, but I’m not losing a life,” and he looks forward to being able to be active in the future.
An Unfortunate Parallel in the Big League
Just twenty-three days after Ruiz sustained his life-changing injury, Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller suffered the same unfortunate accident. Unlike Ruiz, however, Miller received surgery immediately, and doctors successfully repaired the popliteal artery tear.
An Unlikely Friendship
Afterward, Ruiz’s mother reached out to Miller on Instagram, sharing her phone number and the details of her son’s ordeal. Miller felt for the kid and responded. Now, the two have become fast friends who support one another and talk frequently.
Miller made a video discussing the bond he and Ruiz enjoy, stating, “I’m here for him any time of the day. I don’t care if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning.” He goes on to say that “Alex gets me through everything. He told me he’s not going to let it ruin his life. It’s uplifting.”
The Importance of Remaining Positive
Studies have shown that amputee patients who are able to maintain a positive outlook tend to fare much better in the long run than those who do not. Ruiz has proven to be one of these positive patients and has since returned to school. Though his amputation surgery has yet to occur, he is hopeful. His physical therapist, John Waite, at All-Star Physical Therapy in Temecula, said, “Alex is among one of the best kids I’ve had a chance to work with. His attitude is terrific. He’s trying to find the bright spot in a pretty bleak situation.”
Ruiz’s mother goes on to say she’s proud of her son for making a proactive decision about his injury and body and “the fact that he’s willing to take a part of him off so that he can still run with his kids and still have that active lifestyle and do the things he loves to do — to me, he’s like my hero.”
Getting Legal Help When Needed
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury and needs help collecting the appropriate compensation, contact Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation in Murrieta today at (951) 489-3320. We offer free consultations and will work tirelessly to get you the benefits you need and deserve. Remember: a positive outlook can speed your recovery and inspire others!