A two-mile walk that was two years in the making
Eduardo “Eddie” Ramirez, his wife and his doctor finished the two-mile walk of the Shamrock Shuffle together in Chicago on Sunday, but their path to the finish line was much longer than that.
It all started in April 2017, after Eddie picked up house locks from Home Depot. On his way home, a car ran him off the road, making him the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Thankfully, Eddie had his motorcycle helmet and proper gear on, but it could not protect him from sustaining serious injuries: a bruised lung, concussion and two crushed legs.
Eddie was flown to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., for specific orthopedic expertise to try and save his legs. Dr. Evan Dougherty, orthopedic surgeon, became his physician. Over the next two years, Eddie had two amputation procedures on his left leg and had at least six surgeries on his right leg, which now has a steel rod for a tibia and a steel plate.
“I was angry and depressed at first after the accident because I used to be always on my feet, full of energy and upbeat,” Eddie says. “But I realized withdrawing was the worst thing to do. So I got vocal in sharing what was going through my head and heart with my wife, the nurses and anyone who was around me.”
Eddie’s primary doctor was Dr. Enrique “Ric” Saguil, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Bartlett, Ill. When Eddie met with Dr. Saguil after his accident, he had a health goal already in mind.
“I needed to get off my pain pills,” Eddie says. “These were hardcore pills which I needed after my accident to get through, but they made me feel loopy, out of it and not me. I am the guy who always has a smile on my face.”
Dr. Saguil was able to help him carefully wean off the pain medications keep him healthy via eating well, using supplements where necessary and teaching him how to use an upper body routine while in a wheelchair in between his surgeries and bone grafts. One just finished last month. Eddie now has a new prosthetic for his left leg, his legs hurt less and he can now stand 50/50 holding onto a walker.
Then, on Sunday, Eddie and Dr. Saguil finished the Shamrock Shuffle together — with Eddie walking the last few steps on his own.
“Eddie’s next goal is to walk, which is going to happen this year,” Dr. Saguil says. “He has been going to physical therapy and he has a great outlook on life. He is always smiling and is an encouragement to other patients, which is why I said I would push him in his wheelchair at the Shamrock Shuffle.”
Eddie’s advice for others who have been in a serious accident?
“Talk to someone,” he says. “Don’t be in it alone, which is a darker path. Even if you don’t know what to say or it goes sideways, get it out, as you will get better about explaining what is going on with you the more you share.”
About the Author
Jennifer Benson, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Aurora Health. She has 10+ years of community development and communication experience for non-profits and has a BA in Architecture from Judson University in Elgin, IL. Outside of work, you can find her planning the next adventure near water or rocks, re-organizing spaces, working on her Master’s in Public Health, caring for her senior citizen cat, keeping to healthy moving and eating disciplines and growing green things wherever she can find room.