Jeff Quelet prides himself on being a passionate man. He brings passion to everything he does, from work to family life, and everything in between.
Jeff is a high level above knee amputee, having lost his leg to cancer at age 10. This year will mark 40 years since his diagnosis and amputation, and Jeff doesn’t take that lightly. “Life is precious,” he says. “It’s the only one we’ve got and we have to fight every day”. Jeff recently learned that the cancer treatment he received as a child showed a high correlation to life-threatening health conditions by age 45. It took all the strength he had to hang on to the thin notion of hope he felt and swing out of his old life into a new life on solid ground. During this painful transition, what became clear to him was how important it is to appreciate family, faith, and life.
Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, now living in Hagerstown, Jeff has been able to combine his life experience with his passions for technology and helping others through his work with Proteor. As a senior clinical prosthetist, Jeff is able to help educate prosthetists so that they can better serve their patients. He’s worked in the prosthetics world for 26 years, and is well-versed in the ins and outs of the industry, as well as the opportunities for growth and change. He is proud to have been part of a beta test for a Microprocessor knee for three and a half years, for a company that now falls under the Proteor umbrella. It was important to Jeff to help the engineers with this new technology, so that the product would be able to help others around the world as well. In this month’s blog, Jeff was able to share his candid view on emerging from unexpected loss, his excitement about the technical breakthroughs in prosthetic designs. “I’m very excited to be part of this ride,” he says. “It’s been exhausting, but it’s been great.”
What is your definition of ‘defy convention’?
My definition is overcoming obstacles. We live in a society, like most societies, where there are constant obstacles, because people with disabilities aren’t thought of.
My father always told me that you have to accommodate yourself to the world because the world’s not going to accommodate you. I learned from every obstacle I had to overcome.
What helps you stay motivated?
Okay here are my five things:
- The fact that life is ever changing
What habit have you developed in the last five years that has helped you?
There’s something called BodyPump, which is a group exercise that is very low weights, but with specific angles so it’s preserving my joints. It allows me to do activity but not stress myself out.
What trait do you most admire in yourself?
The thing I’ve heard most is that I’m passionate. I will continue to be passionate because I always feel like amputees get the short end of the stick. Passion is in everything that I do, whether it’s sports, friendship, or marriage; the passion has always been there. It’s probably the word I would say describes me most, currently.
What trait do you admire in another person?
I admire somebody that reciprocates, and by that I mean somebody who’s not just going to take what you have to offer, but also offer it back. Those are the people I like to surround myself with because they are truly caring. Too often in our society we have too many people that love to take but not give. I always joked around when I was working with other amputees that I got more energy from them than I gave! I love to give. Giving back is something I enjoy doing and will continue to do.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or unfocused?
When you’re pulled in multiple directions, with your work/life balance or family, what you have to do is take a time out and center yourself. When those occurrences happen, you might hurt a few people around you, but it’s not intentional; you just had to focus on yourself for a little bit.
It’s a never-ending cycle, especially in a COVID world, which is another problem because we can’t communicate and interact like we’re supposed to. So when you’re being pulled in multiple directions, that’s when you have to call a timeout and focus on yourself, even if someone is a little hurt by it.
Another solution is exercise. It’s still a great equalizer, whatever the exercise is, walking, cardio, etc.
What is your favourite thing about SideStix?
I really believe in this product. I’ve had mine for almost five years and they continue to do everything I need them to do for me.
My first response is to mention the compression and rotation. I could feel the compression load in the rotation moment, which then decreased my wrist, elbow, and shoulder pressure. That was probably the biggest thing. Then, you have the engineering of the hand grips. They help with weight distribution. Those are my top two, but I have more! Another one is the angle of the forearm pieces, as far as the way it goes to the hand so that pressure is decreased. And the design of the cuffs, so when I’m lifting up, they’re not springing out or going over.
Do you have a message for other crutch users?
My number one note would be about preservation of joints. Everybody’s built differently, everybody walks differently, everybody has different angulations. We should be doing anything in our power to preserve our joints, whether that be your hip, knee, shoulders, back, whatever. Preserve your joints.
My other tip is about being engaged. It becomes easy to disengage quickly, but you need to continually be engaged in whatever you’re doing: home life, friends, family, church… don’t let your disability limit you from your engagement.