After a horrific accident and seven subsequent surgeries, Paul Neufeld is looking to his final operation as one that will finally set him free.
“It will be my last,” Neufeld said. “They will be amputating my left leg a bit under the knee joint.”
It’s a decision two years in the making.
On a cold November night in 2012, Neufeld lay mangled. His twisted upper half outside the wreck formally known as his truck and his lower half pinned between the dashboard and the seat.
“I felt the presence of God that night, like there was an angel in that truck with me,” Neufeld recalls.
“I knew he was there. There was a reason for this whole thing to happen,” he said.
The memories, other than the supernatural, are nonexistent. Neufeld admits he can’t recall anything immediately before, during, or after the accident. The trauma of the collision, one that left Neufeld with 11 broken bones and internal bleeding, including on his brain, won’t allow him to remember.
“All I knew was I went to Home Depot that day, I had found a receipt in the pocket of my jacket during my stay in the hospital,” he said.
The accident happened on Highway 44 east of Garson and claimed the lives of two elderly individuals who were driving on the wrong side of the road. Neufeld didn’t see them and they didn’t see him.
“There were no brake lights, no attempts to stop at all. Neither one of us saw it coming,” Neufeld said.
Life before the wreck was steady, if nothing else, for Paul and his wife Jennifer. They had a new son, Parker, and Paul was enjoying one of his passions for a vocation.
“We were on cruise control, I was self-employed doing carpentry, we had a 10-month old son and we had plans on expanding the family,” said Neufeld, who was working at Monarch Industries before the accident.
“One day my dad, who is a carpenter, had four guys, basically his full crew quit on him within a month. He asked me if I could come help and consider a career change. I did and I had worked there for eight years before the accident,” he said.
He hasn’t worked a day since.
At this point, Neufeld’s leg is as augmented as they come.
He walks around with a cane, a limp and a shoe that’s about twice as wide as the one on his left leg.
“I have two rods in each leg, the length of each fibula. I have plates on my left fibula, two plates going around my talus, and a lot of screws,” Neufeld said.
The decision to consider amputation has been on the table for a while now, Neufeld admits. And with his ankle not improving after various attempts, both Paul and Jennifer feel the time is right to get it done and move on with life.
“I would rather him have one foot and run and be happy and do what he used to love doing,” said Neufeld’s wife.
“For me, it’s all about Paul’s happiness,” she said.
And Paul has a support network in place, one he can call on at anytime.
“I think it’s a brave choice,’ said Neufeld’s friend, Jethro Bartelings.
“Deciding to cut a part of you off is a big deal. It is clear, however, that Paul has put a great deal of reflection and research into this decision,” he said. “I support him 100 per cent.”
The eighth and final surgery is tentatively scheduled to take place before the end 2014, close to the two-year anniversary of the incident.
“I want to be able to run after my kids,” said Neufeld, who welcomed his second child, Drake, with Jen this past spring.
“I want to be able to play sports again and just be active. This is going to allow me to do that and to get back to normal.”