Pin It
Favorite

Phantom Menace 

One man’s fight against his brain, body and science

click to enlarge art18247.jpg

Jim Boyer’s toes feel cramped in his sneakers. The 57-year-old from Post Falls twitches his silver moustache and fingers through salt-and-pepper hair while explaining that it feels like his left foot is asleep.

Except Boyer doesn’t have a left foot. He barely has a knee. A disease, a 1-in-13 million-blood disease, caused a blood clot. Then gangrene.

“My leg was dying,” he says. “It was either amputate or die of pain.”

Eighteen months ago, a surgeon, “the greatest guy he an occasional series ever met,” severed his leg. Yet he still feels his wiggling toes. He feels pain.

“Sometimes it’s like someone is zapping me with an electric prod,” he says mimicking a cattle rancher.

Medically, it’s called “phantom limb” and “phantom pain.” About 70 percent of amputees experience it. Some research blames damaged nerves; some cannot explain it.

Boyer takes painkillers. He’s a guinea pig for prosthetic companies. He uses massage therapy, mind control and electrodes to no avail.

“The goal is to trick the nerves,” he says. “There’s a spot to turn it off. They just haven’t figured it out.”

Boyer gets depressed. He’s lost control of his imperfect machine — the finely wired matrix of blood, tissues and nerves — that is his vessel for life and his prison.

But he has hope. He mentions roadside bombs, the Middle East and soldiers with missing limbs. War pushes technology.

“They will find a cure for this,” he says. “The next generation of prosthetics uses bionic arms. … It’s like Star Wars.”

He writhes his hands and brushes his silver wedding band. He was once a telephone installer. Today, he’s on disability.

He communicates with God because his body cannot communicate with itself.

“The mind and human body is incredible,” he says.

“I just can’t see us coming out of the sea.”

North Idaho Amputee Support Group • Third Wednesday of every month, 11 am • Life Care Center • 500 W. Aqua Ave., Coeur d’Alene • (208)-215-1246

  • Pin It

Speaking of...

  • Packing Heat
  • Packing Heat

    Rep. Matt Shea’s road rage incident; plus, the FBI’s interest in the Ridpath
    • Jul 25, 2012
  • Fever Dreams
  • Fever Dreams

    Beasts of the Southern Wild brings us a surrealist story and an Oscar-worthy performance from a 6-year-old
    • Jul 25, 2012
  • Five-Man Cage Fight
  • Five-Man Cage Fight

    The scramble to represent Spokane’s 3rd District
    • Jul 25, 2012
  • More »

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Variations of Zuill
  • Variations of Zuill

    Badass cellist. Musical missionary. Grammy winner. Zuill Bailey redefines Bach for the 21st century
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Backstage Story
  • Backstage Story

    Behind the preparation and precaution: Why it practically takes a village to put on a Cirque du Soleil show
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • The Genius of Bach
  • The Genius of Bach

    His lasting influence, and a look at this year's Bach Festival schedule
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Spokane Poetry Slam

Spokane Poetry Slam @ The Bartlett

Third Monday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jordy Byrd

Most Commented On

  • Partisan Pagans

    The political divide is even splintering Spokane's witches
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Finding the Words

    The sounds of 8,000 people taking to the streets of Spokane
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Blind Faith
  • Blind Faith

    In a vacant lot by the railroad tracks, an unlikely friendship is found
    • Jan 7, 2016
  • Answering the Call
  • Answering the Call

    An unlikely romance leads to an inspired Spokane-Rwanda connection
    • Aug 26, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation