A Healthy Approach Replaces Self-Pity With Promise

v-Andrew DeVries visited StoryCorps in Grand Rapids, where he spoke with his friend Karyl DeBruyn. i i

hide captionAndrew DeVries visited StoryCorps in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he spoke with his friend Karyl DeBruyn.

StoryCorps
v-Andrew DeVries visited StoryCorps in Grand Rapids, where he spoke with his friend Karyl DeBruyn.

Andrew DeVries visited StoryCorps in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he spoke with his friend Karyl DeBruyn.

StoryCorps

When Andrew DeVries was recovering from a serious accident in 2002, he met a physician's assistant who helped him navigate his way back to health — and to make a new friend for life.

The wreck — DeVries was struck by a car while riding his motorcycle — shattered his leg. And the damage was so pervasive that surgeons began to prepare DeVries for the likely chance that his leg would be amputated.

Speaking recently with his friend Karyl DeBruyn, DeVries recalled, "As everybody was making plans for my life without a leg, a young hospitalist came up to me and said, 'Andy, what kind of golf ball do you play?' "

The hospitalist — a physician's assistant who acts as a primary care physician for hospital patients — was Sarah Scholl.

DeVries, who is now 62, remembers that with doctors telling him he was about to lose his leg below the middle of the thigh, "talking about golf balls seemed almost idiotic."

But he told Scholl that he preferred Titleist's Pro V1 ball.

The next day, DeVries woke up to find flowers in his room.

"And right in the middle of all those flowers, was a yellow 12-pack of Titleist Pro V1," DeVries said. "That hospitalist, Sarah, had purchased those for me. And Sarah brought hope.

"She had helped me stop thinking about how sorry I should feel for myself — and she brought a glimmer of hope," DeVries said, about life after an amputation.

It was then that DeVries underwent another surgery, one that could result in amputation.

"I woke up in recovery, and I had 10 toes," DeVries said.

"There was a little bit of blood flow — and they decided not to take the leg."

When DeVries was released from the hospital, Scholl was the one who wheeled him out to the ambulance for the ride home. And she had a favor to ask her patient.

"She and I had developed a very, very close patient-doctor relationship," DeVries said.

Scholl told DeVries that she had lost her father some time ago. And, she said, when the time came, she would like it if he would walk her down the aisle to give her away.

"I said, 'Sarah, you don't have a boyfriend.' "

To which Scholl replied, "Someday I will."

At the time, DeVries wasn't sure if he would ever get out of his wheelchair. In all, it took him five years to recover fully from the injury to his leg.

He and Scholl stayed in touch.

"And this summer, I got an e-mail from her, saying, 'I have a boyfriend — will you come?' " DeVries said.

"I had the privilege of walking — rather than wheelchairing — of walking Sarah down the aisle," DeVries said.

Scholl got married in Oregon. When she saw DeVries at the Portland airport, it was the first time she had ever seen him standing upright.

Produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WGVU.

Correction Oct. 21, 2009

In the audio and previous Web versions of the story, Sarah Scholl was incorrectly referred to as a physician. Scholl is actually a physician's assistant.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: