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Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook - These men lost limbs but gained perspective

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

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COLOR - Jeff  What is with these guys who get their limbs sliced off?
  Why are they so tough? And why do they have such a positive outlook on life?
  Me? I’m cursing the world and its creator if my computer freezes. These guys who are literally losing an arm and a leg are counting their blessings.
  For 10 years, I knew Cubs legend Ron Santo pretty well. I was covering the Cubs and on a humid afternoon in St. Louis one day many years ago, he talked about how he took a walk in his cowboy boots and developed a blister on the bottom of his foot that “hurt like hell.” He said he was going to have the Cubs trainer look at it.
  Little did any of us know that the blister in question was the beginning of a long medical ordeal that caused him to have both legs amputated. The diabetic also had several internal woes and heart problems that he always seemed to get through.
  We all know everyone is going to die, but for those of us who knew Santo, we were wondering if he was going to be the first tough son of a buck who was going to kick the Grim Reaper in the privates and stay alive forever.
  He did die on 2010 of bladder cancer. Santo — not the Grim Reaper.
  Did Santo complain about his heath? Yeah, once in awhile. But he was mostly positive about living and inspired and helped many others. There is a little walk that’s probably going to have hundreds or thousands participate in coming up in October at Moraine Valley Community College that is named after him.
  And that brings me to another fella I met last week…page-3-COLOR-jvcol-right-photoKent Carson of Oak Lawn poses with — and kisses — therapist Michelle Lamantia of Oak Lawn during Friday’s lunch at Advocate Christ Medical Center prior to an awards ceremony. Carson lost both legs and his left arm last year to Legionnaire’s Disease and was one of five recipients of an award at the hospital’s Rehabilitation Achievement Awards Ceremony. Photo by Jeff Vorva.
  Kent Carson, a short-time Oak Lawn resident, was one of five people honored by Advocate Christ Medical Center and Children’s Hospital on Friday. He won a Rehabilitation Achievement Award.
  On Aug. 4, 2012, he was eating at a restaurant in Chicago Ridge with his fiancée, Cheryl Johnstone. It was hot and humid but after dinner he had the chills. That started a series of events that brought him to various hospitals where he was diagnosed with the potentially fatal Legionnaires Disease
  “The doctor gave me two choices,” Carson said. “He said, ‘Mr. Carson you can either keep your limbs and die or amputate and live.’ ’’
  Mr. Carson chose the amputations.
  The left arm was cut off on Sept. 11, and the two legs were removed three days later. In late September, he celebrated his 56th birthday. Well, “celebrate” isn’t quite the word since he was in a coma and missed the whole thing. But he recovered and rehabbed.
  He moved from Round Lake Beach to Oak Lawn to be with Johnstone in November and the two plan on getting married in the spring and will soon move to Aurora in a ranch house with few steps.
  To talk with this guy, the lost limbs are making him stronger. He admits there are times he feels sorry for himself but he doesn’t let it eat at him.
  “I have my days,” he said. “But you know what? I came to the conclusion that this is not going to change so I need to make the most of what I’ve got. I’m determined to make the best of a bad situation.
  “I’ve worked hard to where I can walk again. Before all of this, if you would have asked me if someone with no legs can walk again, I would have thought ‘no.’ But when I learned I could, that was my goal.”
  He still doesn’t know how he contracted the disease but is thankful because around the same time he was going through his ordeal, some people contracted the disease at a hotel in Chicago and died.
  Although Johnstone couldn’t make it to the award ceremony, Carson gave her plenty of kudos for being there for him throughout all of this.
  By the way, the two are big Cubs fans. And Cheryl’s all-time favorite Cub?
  Ron Santo.

Here, Chick, Chick
  A new Chick-fil-A will open in Chicago Ridge this morning, Thursday, but the real show was Wednesday night.
  Every time a new place opens, hundreds of people camp out overnight in hopes of becoming one of the first 100 customers to receive a free weekly meal for a year.
  People come from all over the country to these things. This is fast food’s version of the Grateful Dead cult.

  In late October, 2010, a lot of folks braved the cold and windy elements in Orland Park for a chance at those free meals.
  The restaurant is located at 9600 Ridgeland Ave.

Retro Reporter feature coming soon
  Some of you readers may have been missing our look back at stories from 10, 25 and 50 years ago.
  I miss it, too.
  As the not-so-new editor, I wanted to make some improvements on that feature rather than just slapping it together, but I have been busy with learning and tinkering with other phases of the paper that I haven’t been able to get to it yet.
  That will change.
  The game plan is to put together a “Retro Reporter” feature which would highlight a story from those years, find a funny, poignant or newsworthy quote from those years and some fun facts culled from those papers in those years.
  I am hoping to get this going starting next week and I’m crossing my fingers we can put in in a consistent spot in the paper from week-to-week.

Hello Dolly winners
  Some new subscribers from Oak Lawn from a recent Reporter subscription drive were presented with tickets to the play “Hello Dolly.”