“I am very eager to return to work,” Pell City Police Sgt. Alan Shaddix said.
In June 2012, Shaddix was taking a motorcycle trip to visit a friend in north Georgia. While driving on Georgia Highway 3, just outside Cartersville, a man driving a pickup truck failed to yield the right of way and pulled out in front of him.
Shaddix said he has no memory of the accident at all. The accident caused numerous injuries including a broken left leg near the knee, a broken right arm, broken right wrist, broken right ankle, 12 broken ribs, two punctured lungs, a ruptured diaphragm, bruised heart sac, lacerated liver and lacerated and dislodged kidney. He was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he spent 34 days. Shaddix was released to University Hospital in Birmingham to finish recovery and spent five days there.
“The surgeon told me surgery on my ankle would be basically useless unless I wanted essentially straight bones, and surgery would not decrease the pain or increase movement,” he said. “After considering the lack of mobility and my other leg injuries, I had my lower leg amputated below the knee in February and replaced with a prosthetic leg.”
Shaddix has had his new prosthetic leg, a Pathfinder II, for about three weeks.
“It’s a K-4 level, which means it is designed for the most activity,” he said. “There were more than 120 models of prosthetic feet, but only one-quarter were K-4 level. The leg has two carbon fiber leaf springs and a hydraulic damper, which is basically a small shock absorber.”
Shaddix said he went through physical therapy and is getting used to his new leg.
“Adjusting to a prosthetic leg—you have to get out there and use it and get used to using it,” he said. “I can walk very well and at a rapid pace. I will work up to jogging and maybe sprinting. I always prided myself on being fit for my age, but after the wreck my body will never be the same. I can make the best of what I’ve got. In my own mind, I have a level of fitness and ability I need to meet so I can do everything I need to return to week.”
Shaddix said his right wrist and hand have also needed rehabilitation.
“They immobilized my wrist with a metal rod for 4-5 months,” he said. “Now I have much more use in it. My hand orthopedist said the x-ray of my hand was ‘horrifying,’ and that it was a miracle I have the movement and use of the hand and wrist that I do.”
Shaddix said after the wreck, he was forced to move from right-side dominance to left-side dominance.
“I had to learn to eat left-handed and write left-handed,” he said. “It was my weaker side, and then became my stronger side. I’m working to even it back out.”
Shaddix said he started police work in 1989 with a goal of serving a minimum of 25 years.
“The new prosthesis is better than what I had with my injured leg,” he said. “I’m hoping to be back at work middle-to-late September.”
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.