From impending world wars to intense political unrest to the novel and deadly coronavirus, 2020 has been a trying and uncertain year for us all. However, for 29-year-old Adam Troutman of Charleston, South Carolina, times have never been more challenging.
On December 27, 2019, the physical trainer was involved in a motor vehicle accident, putting him in critical condition. The severe injuries that Troutman sustained necessitated the amputation of his left leg below the knee the night of the accident, as well as his right leg a few days later. Additionally, he was left with a broken femur and a ruptured bladder.
Since then, Troutman has undergone a series of major surgeries that have addressed his significant health problems. While he did not have a choice regarding the amputation of his left leg, he was given the opportunity to save his right leg.
However, wanting to initiate his recovery as early as possible, Troutman expressed that the decision to go through with the second amputation was relatively easy.
“I didn’t want to have to have surgeries two, three, four, or thirty years down the road, which they told me was a pretty high probability,” Troutman explained, “It didn’t take very much convincing at all.”
After being in the ICU for two weeks, Troutman was admitted to the general hospital where he would undergo the rest of his surgical procedures.
“From the 27 of December to [the] 22 of January, I had anywhere from 16 to 17 surgeries, mainly on my left femur. I basically just had to get a bunch of stuff cleaned up. It was a mess, to be honest. I had never even broken a bone, or been in the hospital, really, before this.”
Troutman’s journey in the hospital lasted about three months, and it was filled with surgeries and included stays in four different types of facilities. “I was in the hospital, laying on my back, sleeping in the same position, not moving really, [except] a little physical therapy here and there.”
This stage of his recovery, he said, was the hardest he has encountered thus far. “Eating [hospital] food, taking a lot of medication I’d never taken before, It was not fun, to say the least.”
Troutman considers his transition from hospital to home to be his biggest milestone up to this point. “I think I’ve done the most healing here at the house, and that’s not just physically but also mentally and emotionally.”
Troutman expressed intense relief at being able to regain some independence through choosing his own meals and occasionally working out, saying, “I haven’t even gotten up on my feet, so my story isn’t even written yet.”
Troutman regards the challenging road ahead of him with excitement, as he is truly grateful to have survived the worst of it.
Of course, the world of 2020 has turned out to be new for everyone. All of us are re-learning how to interact with the outside world after months of isolation. Troutman said that this shared experience helped his recovery and mindset while he was stuck in the hospital.
“It’s been kind of a crazy time for everybody. [This] is probably a little selfish for me to say, but I’ve been in quarantine for 3 months in the hospital, and for other people, they couldn’t do anything either. It made me feel like people were in the sort of the same boat as me and helped with my mood.”
Charleston, a town on the southern coast, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and potent historical heritage. Many of its inhabitants would have spent this past spring outside, whether by going to the beach, boating, or simply enjoying the sun if it weren’t for the social distancing restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Troutman confessed that he felt as though he and everyone else in the world were “in this together, even though I don’t really feel like everyone else. It’s been a hell of a 2020 year, for me especially, but for everybody.”
Regardless of the substantial challenge put before him, Troutman has an incredibly optimistic outlook on life. “Family has been there from day one and they’ve helped me out tremendously,” he stated.
Through little things such as giving him a break from hospital food and keeping him in a positive mood, Troutman’s family and friends have been essential to the recovery efforts that he has been through thus far. “It’s hard to be down in the dumps when everybody’s got you. In a situation like this, you can’t be down for too long. It will just suck you in and eat you up.”
Troutman’s incredible support network makes this massive obstacle before him seem achievable. After apologizing for the clichés to come, Troutman gave some advice for those struggling with their own problems.
“Don’t give up,” he said. “Stay positive, and it will always get better.” He stressed that we as humans cannot let ourselves be defined by our problems, the same way he does not let his accident define him. “Use your problems to grow: struggle and then succeed.”
Troutman has high hopes for his future, but understands that his life will be reasonably different from the way it used to be. “I won’t be able to do everything that I did before. I’ll have to plan more than everyone else. When someone says they want to go to the beach or on a boat, it won’t be as easy for me.”
Troutman recognized that there may come days when his legs will not be up for an outing. Furthermore, even if he does have the ability to go out, there are many things he will have to account for.
For example, trips to the beach will have to be planned from here on out so that he can protect his legs from the salt, sand, and erosion. Troutman admitted that although many things in his life moving forward will be different, he has no intention to abandon his spontaneity altogether.
For his future, Troutman hopes to get his legs and conquer physical therapy. While he knows the rest of his recovery is going to take time and dedication, he looks forward to being able to go back to work, travel, and do whatever it takes to live his life to the fullest.
“I definitely can’t wait to get back on the golf course,” Troutman said. While Troutman has endured so much hardship in the past six months, he looks forward to the challenges to come. “This is just the intro,” he said, smiling.
“I’m not one to just sit here and dwell on what happened. Plans change and you’ve got to adapt and grow. I’m thankful to be here and I actually like the challenge. Obviously, I don’t want this for my life, but I’m looking forward to the physical therapy and getting back to, kind of, where I was; feeling confident and feeling good about myself.”
In a world that is being bombarded with change, death, and disease, perseverance and resilience can seem impossible at times. However, Troutman’s story, even if it has just begun, is a testament to what we, as humans, can achieve against all odds.
His advice that we cannot let ourselves be defined by our problems is incredibly meaningful in the world we find ourselves in today. We have become increasingly isolated from our senses of security being taken out from underneath us. However, even in times as difficult as these, Troutman has proven that we must be able to use hardship to grow and prevail.