Chris Daniels speaks with Valerie Lego at Mary Free Bed Hospital. (April 16, 2013)
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The severe injuries many received in the Boston Marathon bombings have been described as war-like, especially in the case of those who lost limbs.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids is rehabing quite a few veterans who have returned from the war without a leg.
Chris Daniels is one of them, he lost his leg 10 years ago while serving in Iraq. A roadside accident crushed his leg below the knee. After several surgeries to save it, he was faced with a harsh reality.
"About a year later I developed an infection in the leg. I was given two choices," says Daniels. He could continue having surgeries with no guarantee of saving his leg or amputate it. "After thinking about it I decided to go with the amputation."
Daniels remembers the first time he looked at his amputated leg. "It was a big wake up knowing that I wasn't a whole person. The first time I looked down and realized my leg was gone, it was more fright and 'what did I do to myself?'"
About a month after the surgery Daniels went through an intensive week of physical therapy.
"It was very emotional; you're learning how to walk all over again and learning to do stuff that you take for granted. You have to remember that your leg is not there. It was a couple years before I finally got to a point where I was okay with the decision I made," says Daniels.
He says watching what happened in Boston was tough. "It brought back some of the memories of the things I went through over there."
But he hopes the victims who are about to go through the same type of rehabilitation realize one thing: "You life isn't over," says Daniels with a smile.
And he's proof that it's not. This past winter he put on a pair of hockey skates and went ice skating with his kids for the first time.