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Progress On A Long Road

Vanessa Carter, Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant, Eddie Morris, and Scott Odom, Physical Therapy Tech, take a break during a recent therapy session.

A few seconds radically changed Eddie Morris’ life.  Seventeen months later he’s still struggling to rebuild it.

A fleet service clerk for American Airlines, Eddie moved baggage on and off the correct airplanes at DFW Airport for eight years.  January 12, 2007, was rainy, but Eddie was accustomed to braving the extremes of North Texas weather.  As he walked to the terminal to clock out at the end of the day, a truck backed over him, crushing both legs.  Eddie stayed conscious long enough to hear the ambulance coming.  When he regained consciousness two weeks later, he was at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.  Both legs were amputated.

As the weeks went on, Eddie endured surgeries too numerous to count.  During his five-month hospitalization, Eddie was told he was lucky to be alive.  He wasn’t so sure.

Eddie’s occupation and identity revolved around his strength and athleticism.  Loading and unloading baggage is strong, physical work.  Off the clock, he nurtured a passion for baseball.  In his twenties, he played semi-pro baseball locally and even tried out for the Cincinnati Reds.  At 43, Eddie couldn’t fathom living with this challenge to his body and his mind.

When Eddie left the hospital, he returned to his home in the Garden Acres neighborhood of south Fort Worth.  Living alone, it was up to him to rebuild his life.  “It’s hard.  I know if I’m going to succeed, it all depends on me,” says Eddie.   He chose to have physical therapy at Huguley Memorial Medical Center because of its proximity.

Eddie came in for his first physical therapy session in June with a long physical and mental recovery ahead of him.  His goal:  to walk again.  American Airlines has promised him a job when he is walking well, and Eddie looks forward to working again.  Huguley’s physical therapy team works with Eddie through the ups and downs towards meeting that goal.

“I met Eddie when he came in for his first evaluation in June, and I sensed he hadn’t accepted the loss of his legs.  I understand the long road ahead of him,” explains Scott Odom, a physical therapy tech.  As a teenager, Scott lost a leg to cancer and walks with a prosthesis.

In October, Eddie received his prosthetic legs.  Scott says, “I can give him practical advice.  I know from experience that learning to walk again is harder than you can imagine.  You have to set small goals and celebrate baby steps.”  Scott, a certified personal trainer, also works out with Eddie at his home.  “When Eddie started with us, he seemed defeated.  In the months he’s been here, I’ve seen a tremendous change in his attitude.  Now we see his sense of humor and outgoing nature.”

Vanessa Carter, a licensed physical therapy assistant, has worked with Eddie since June.  “Eddie encourages our other patients. When they see his determination, they try harder.  Eddie has a great attitude and is willing to try whatever I ask him to do.  He’s not where he wants to be yet, but he’s come a long way,”

“We were thrilled to see him walk in and walk out of a recent session,” Vanessa continues.  “He’s becoming more secure in his legs.  What he has accomplished so far is huge, and he doesn’t give up.  Eddie is an inspiration to everyone.”