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80-year-old man learns how to walk again after leg amputation so he could dance with his Wife

Even though his lower leg was amputated due to complications from diabetes and infection, Angel knew he would dance again.

80-year-old man learns how to walk again after leg amputation so he could dance with his Wife
Angel and his wife, Raquel, dance at a physical therapy appointment. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

Angel Alpaca, who is 80 years old, believes in angels. The Peruvian native has been married to his angel, Raquel, for 43 years —- and he praises the "angels" at Cleveland Clinic for helping him walk again, and more significantly, dance again. Angel has been dancing since he was a child, and even after his lower leg was amputated owing to diabetes and infection issues, Angel knew he would dance again. “We have to learn how to live life,” remarked Angel. “Life shows you adversity, you have to live it and be brave, have the spirit of a fighter, and be able to win.”(via Cleveland Clinic)

Angel received a prosthetic after his leg was amputated in Peru, but it did not fit him well. He attempted to create a new prosthetic on his own because he had studied engineering in the past, but it wasn't quite right. A maker of prosthetics sent Angel a model that was exactly sized upon his return to Cleveland, but he still had to learn how to use it. Angel wasted no time in showing up in a wheelchair with his prosthetic limb for his initial session at Cleveland Clinic Physical Therapy in Lakewood. According to Mary Yee, a physical therapy assistant, "His goal when he came to us was he wanted to be able to dance with his wife again. He also wanted to return to Peru to visit. Angel had the motivation to learn to use an artificial leg. That inspired me to challenge him. Everything I gave him to do, Angel did more than I asked."

Physical Therapy Assistant Mary Yee checks on Angel’s leg. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)
Physical Therapy Assistant Mary Yee checks on Angel’s leg. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

 

Mary and the other physical therapists took on the role of his "angels," assisting their patient go from a rolling walker to utilizing a cane. Without an assistive gadget, Mary notes, "He's pretty self-sufficient now." In a way, mind over matter applies here. The age must not be a barrier to your pursuit of your goals. Five months later, in front of an emotional Cleveland Clinic crowd, Angel and Raquel danced to one of their favorite songs. Angel explains, "We express our feelings through dancing and singing, it is a way to show our love, to connect to each other." They keep doing so while enjoying each step and thinking lovingly of the "angels" that assisted them. Angel adds, "When something happens to you, you have to face reality. I had my angels around me. I had a wonderful team."

Angel and his wife, Raquel, dance at a physical therapy appointment. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)
Angel and his wife, Raquel, dance at a physical therapy appointment. (Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic)

 

Another instance where a person relived and rediscovered their old passions is that of a man named, David Brown. In 2021, one year after being given a dementia diagnosis, he went into the institution. As the English department head at Kingshott School, Brown was hailed as an "inspiring figure" because of his professional endeavors. Yet his love of music has long been well known. Even after receiving his diagnosis, Alison Eales, the head of music at Kingshott School, and Gandecha, the senior general manager at Hitchin, U.K., connected to arrange for him to play the violin using dementia therapy tools.



 

 

Brown was overjoyed to be able to play the violin once more. Brown remembered how performing with Miss Eales previously inspired him to play an "unforgettable" and spectacular performance of Bruce Springsteen's "When The Saints Go Marching In," which was "something he hadn't been able to do in years." Gandecha added, "To pay back our teachers a little, with a moment of reminiscence and happiness, was unforgettable." Especially from the viewpoint as a former student, Gandecha said, "To see Mr. Brown and Miss Eales reconnect over lunch and perform a rendition together was a proud moment."

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