There’s no slowing down, Tim Force.
Wait, what? Did I hear that correctly? Hanging drywall, up on ladders, riffle hunting… all on ONE leg and crutches! It’s hard to impress an amputee like myself, who has been living on crutches for 45 years, but those tasks I just mentioned seem pretty challenging to me!
Tim Force likes a challenge and will go anywhere his exceptional balance and strength will take him -including construction work. Best of all, new tasks make Tim think ‘out of the box’ and require him to problem solve. As a self proclaimed ‘closet engineer’, Tim enjoys the process of coming up with solutions to problems and obstacles he has faced since the loss of his leg to cancer. “I’m more patient and think harder, when it comes to overcoming barriers”, Tim said. Tim is also more grateful learning lessons along the way, as he problem solves on the spot, something he was trained to do as paramedic-firefighter. “It’s the in-between parts, the journey, where the blessings are found.” “My wife Dawn is a perfect partner, as well as keeping me motivated, she helps me cope and makes sure I stay independent.” Tim and Dawn have raised two girls and have recently become empty-nesters. Tim’s new goal is to get out traveling and see more of the world!
As Tim continues to channel the positive energy that enhances his natural physical and mental abilities, he is learning to do more than he imagined possible on one leg and in the process, impressing a seasoned amputee like me. Perhaps it’s time for me to expand my own horizons… and throw some sheet-rock on a wall!
What is your passion in life?
Tim – I love to hunt. I love to hike and ski. I love all of those things but what I love about those things and what I find most rewarding is overcoming obstacles and finding solutions. I like to think of myself as a kind of inventor. And I think you have to be as an amputee, you need to come up with new ways of doing things. I get reward from that, I truly do. I get a lot of reward out of figuring out how to carry a cup (with forearm crutches) or getting on a plane or getting on and off a boat. Hunting especially, is challenge for me. I am a real nature lover. Hunting has allowed me to really push myself. I think that the same hobbies I had before, I am more passionate about and push myself that much more doing. It is almost like my mobility issues have become a sport. Now I find, that there are ways I succeed that much more in my life because I wouldn’t have tried before. Things that I might have taken for granted before.
How long have you been an amputee?
Tim – I’ve been an amputee since 2000. I started out with the crutches that they give you at the hospital. I found that those were limiting me a lot. I really wanted to switch to forearm crutches but everything that I could find over the counter, were so clunky and clacky. I ended up with some Fetterman crutches but they broke on me. During the time that I had those, my body poster changed and I actually shrunk down a bit. I really appreciate being able to adjust my SideStix because they are modular. The day I got my Stix, when my wife passed them to me, I remember thinking how light they were. It’s like getting a really great quality pair of shoes. All of a sudden I felt like I could move around and go with them.
Do you use any of the attachments?
Tim – I do. I use the sandshoes. I actually use them in the snow as well. I don’t do any snowshoeing per say but I use them when I go skiing. The snow that I need to move over, I don’t feel like I am sinking as much.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience hunting?
Tim – Sure, I rifle hunt and I go out with good friends that really want to see me succeed. I actually got into hunting after I lost my leg. What I do is I get companion permits. If I am hunting and I wound an animal, they are able to go and retrieve it. I was most worried about that when I started because I really didn’t want to wound an animal and have to way to retrieve it. So, I always have one or two people with me when I go out.
As far as firing a rifle, I can’t really walk through the wood with my rifle, I need to been more patient. I need to position myself. I can get into those areas with my SideStix but then I need to set myself up, make sure I am stable and feeling confident in what I am doing. I think that because we have to position and wait it makes the whole thing a little bit more challenging. We have to think harder about where to be and when. I feel as though I need to have more patience.
Life is about setting goals and achieving those goals but I also think it’s about the journey. With mobility issues you find blessings in all of the little achievements that you accomplish on the way to your goals.
What field of work are you in?
Tim – I was a Paramedic Firefighter when I lived just outside of Washington, DC, before I lost my leg. That line of work was the same in a sense. I had to come up with solutions on the spot. After I lost my leg, my wife and I wanted a business that we could do together. So now we became Burger King franchisees. That’s what we do primarily around here. I guess you could say I am a closet engineer as well. We remodel homes. I’m not happy with slapping some paint on the walls, I need to dig into the building plans. I love to build and learn.
So, you do your own building and renovating work on the homes, with one leg?
Tim – I do. I get up on ladders and put up drywall. We build walls and paint. I get right in there. That’s probably why my crutches get so covered in paint.
How do you balance to paint?
Tim – Usually I lean up against a step stool. Just lightly leaning my knee against it and I balance on one leg. The more I focus on the painting itself the better my balance is. We also have a commercial sprayer for larger walls which I need to hop a little bit for that.
What is your favorite thing about SideStix?
Tim – I would say, how light they are. I don’t like noisy, clicky crutches. The balance I feel with my SideStix is really remarkable. Some other crutches that I’ve used before… I don’t know what it is, but it feels like they don’t want to stop moving when you stop moving and the balance is just really hard.
Also, I like the adjustability of my Stix. I can raise them up a bit if I’m wearing cowboy boots or lower them in the summer if I am barefoot.
Do you have a message for other crutch users?
My message would be to challenge yourself because it is amazing where you can go and what obstacles you can overcome.