Hugh’s Guide to Freedom and Accessibility
There is no doubt Hugh Hamilton is one positive guy. At the core of this positive mind-set, is Hugh’s ability to act and live life the way he wants – with “Freedom”. Freedom to choose a way to actively seek out and reclaim his basic right to stay mobile. Freedom to advocate; freedom to explore and travel; freedom ‘to strive to be the most he can be, each day.
Against the belief of many professionals who felt Hugh would travel life primarily in a wheelchair, he has remained up-right and active, walking on two above the knee prosthetics, with the assistance of SideStix. Hugh revels in his freedom to do everyday activities, extending beyond common tasks to even perfect his game of golf. There’s no place for self doubt in Hugh’s world and this mind-set, combined with absolute determination, takes him to places all over the globe!
Of course, Hugh says, he has bad days and that’s when he hangs low at home and just takes care of himself. But pretty soon, when he has ‘re-grouped’, he’s back at it, once again pushing away those boundaries of “can’t” and letting nothing prevent him from claiming new freedoms!
How did you discover SideStix?
I was doing some research online and SideStix popped up. Then I saw that you were based in Sechelt and I thought well that is close. I can get there. I did a bit more research and I saw your video from Dragon’s Den. After hearing some of your story, I thought, thats the crutch for me.
Mind you I’m the type of person who needs to try it out first, so a few days later I went to meet Kerith. We took the ferry over from Nainamo, and I think you guys close at 4:30pm and we probably got there at 4:15. Kerith put a sample pair together for me – At the time I was using a walker – I walked from your front entrance to the back of the warehouse. I purchased them right there. Everything about them was wonderful! The distance I was able to walk, the way I could walk, not having to be so bent over. And I hate to say it, but not looking like I’m 70 with a walker.
Oh and the cuffs. Kerith said to me, “Here try these Hugh”. They are fantastic. I can reach things with my Stix and they don’t crash to the floor. I have the side opening cuffs. I love them.
What does Defy Convention mean to you?
To be mobile again. I was told by my Prosthesist that I would be on stubbies for the rest of my life. I said, “Dr. Lam, there is absolutely no way.” He said to me, “Hugh, with everything you’ve gone through, three amputations and sickness, you’d go from here straight to a nursing home. That is what happens with people that are your age.” I guess I’m the exception. SideStix has allowed me to get back to everything that I have ever done.
People have suggested that I stop travelling because “look at you.” Which is basically to stop living. Which I refuse to do.
I do everything I want. I travel. I golf. I’m into riding a hand cycle right now. I go for walks. Sometimes it’s hard to play with my Grandchildren with my prosthetics on, but I’ve kicked a ball. Not very well, but I kicked it.
Sounds like you are a great role model for your Grandchildren.
You know, it’s foreign to me, when people say that I can’t do something. I say, “What do you mean I can’t do it? I have my legs and my SideStix. I can’t do that. I can try.”
What are some of your passions in life?
I’m passionate about life, first off. I love to live. I love to travel which we do. I am passionate about being a better golfer, haha. It can be hard with prosthetics. The goal is to get down to using just one SideStix. I’m not sure if that is attainable but I’ve seen it with others. I’ve tried and I have taken a few falls too. Hopefully I will get there someday.
I’m really passionate about getting back to everything I was passionate about before. There isn’t anything that I’m not doing now, that I did before with both my legs. And that was only a year and a half ago.
Did you have both legs amputated at the same time?
Yes. My first surgery was November 2016. I had sepsis. We couldn’t get the stumps to heal so by December 26th the doctor said to me, “Hugh we’re going to have to make a decision, cause they isn’t good and you’re not healing…” They couldn’t find anything good to hold on to below the knee so we knew it was going to be above the knee.
What is your favorite thing about SideStix?
The cuff is fantastic. The shock absorbers are amazing. The ice shoes you’ve made are great! I can put those on and walk out of the house on the ice, no problem. They grip so well! The rubber tips are so adaptable for any terrain. Uneven ground, going down ramps, I don’t even know how to explain it. Going up stairs, I’ll use one SideStix and hold onto the rail, and the tips never slip out on me.
The first time I used these, Sarah… I can’t even describe the freedom I felt. That first walk… And the service I receieved from you guys has been so amazing.
We have really enjoyed that you’ve reached out to us and that you’ve agreed to be an Ambassador of the Month for us.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A perfect day for me would be getting out for some exercise. Taking care of what my body needs. If I can go for a walk in the morning. Do some golfing in the afternoon. Home for dinner. Have a glass of wine with my wife. That is my idea of a perfect day.
How do you stay motivated in your regular routine?
I’d have to say:
#1 – Setting some goals.
#2 – Waking up early, and happy. This is very important.
I guess I’ve always been motivated… I just get up and find what needs to get done. I enjoy being involved. I’m grateful. I’m glad to just be alive.
Sounds like you’re adjusting very well to the new you, the new Hugh.
You know I really have a new appreciation for those with disabilities. I’m pretty mobile with my SideStix but now when I go to places they are not accessible I am more inclined to say something. I’d make a point to speak with the owners or managers and tell them, “Hey Guys, this doesn’t work. How are people supposed to get in and out of here.” I’ve started to advocate more.
One evening, I went out for dinner to a restaurant directly across from the hospital. Myself, my wife and another couple went over. I was in a wheelchair at the time and the manager said to us, “Sorry but we are not wheelchair accessible.” Well, I thought you’ve got to be kidding me! Right across from the hospital. Luckily for me, I could still manage to get into the restaurant, but I thought about the next person who would come over and wouldn’t be able to get in for dinner. I wrote the company a very long letter. I was quite upset.
Do you have a message for other crutch users?
Use them. Use SideStix. Enjoy the freedom they will give you. If you’re using other crutches or underarm crutches, get rid of them! Seriously. There is no comparison. There is zero comparison between underarm crutches and SideStix. The pain and lack of stability with underarm crutches… Oh man. SideStix are worth a lifetime of crutches.