Season 5

Episode 5

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Veteran Quad- Amputation

In this episode we will discuss not just continuing life after a horrific injury, but excelling and living life to it's fullest, minus two arms and two legs.  United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms.

  

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More About Our Guest
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Travis Mills’ keynote speech teaches and inspires audiences nationwide to “Never give up. Never quit.” no matter the obstacles or circumstances. Mills’ larger-than-life personality, sense of humor and incredible spirit for life engages audiences from the moment he takes center stage.

 

On April 10, 2012, United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms. He is one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive quadruple amputee injuries.

 

Thanks to his amazing strength, courage, an incredible will to live, the heroic actions of the men in his unit, the prayers of thousands, and all the healthcare providers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, near Washington D.C., Mills continues to overcome the obstacles of living life as a quadruple amputee. Every day is a battle, but Mills continues to astound everyone with his progress and with his amazing spirit.

 

SSG Travis Mills is a genuine American hero, and for his incredible sacrifice, we are forever in his debt. In September 2013, Mills founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization, formed to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans. The Travis Mills Foundation supports recalibrated veterans and their families through long-term programs that help these heroic men and women overcome physical obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide welldeserved rest and relaxation. Since opening in 2017 TMF has hosted 210 combat injured veterans and their families. TMF supports these veterans through their nationally recognized retreat located in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. Veteran families who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid, barrierfree vacation in Maine where they participate in adaptive activities, bond with other veteran families, and enjoy much-needed rest and relaxation in Maine’s outdoors.

 

Mills’ story inspired the creation of the documentary Travis: A Soldier’s Story which played in theaters nationwide and has been featured on local and national news including Fox News’ Happening Now with Jenna Lee, The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly and CNN with Barbara Starr, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

 

Mills’ story is being adapted into a major motion picture. Speaking Topics: During his three combat-filled tours of duty in Afghanistan, former college sports star and skilled paratrooper U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills never once backed down from the hardest challenges that came his way. The big, likable guy literally woke up every morning proudly singing the 82nd Airborne song to encourage and motivate the men he led. But late one afternoon in April 2012 while he and his men were on a routine mission near a remote village in southern Afghanistan, the unthinkable happened. While patrolling for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the minesweeper missed one IED, and Mills' world changed forever. In his vivid lectures, Mills recalls his heroic fight for survival, the action-packed and challenging days of his earlier tours of duty with the legendary 82nd Airborne Division, the agony of encountering a hidden bomb while on patrol with his men, and his odds-defying physical and spiritual struggle afterward to come back from severe quadruple amputee injuries and rebuild his life. Travis Mills' story inspires, encourages, challenges, and motivates audiences to move forward. He illustrates how resilient the human spirit is, how unbreakable the will is when pressed with difficult demands, and how triumphant a person can be when tasked with the seemingly impossible

TRANSCRIPT

PodcastDX-Quad_Amputee

 

Lita T  00:10

Hello and welcome to another episode of podcast dx. The show that brings you interviews with people just like you whose lives were forever changed by a medical diagnosis. I'm Lita

 

Ron  00:22

I'm Ron,

 

Jean  00:23

and I'm a pina colada.

 

Lita T  00:24

You're not a pina colada she's Jean Marie. Collectively we're the hosts of PodcastDX. On today's show we're speaking with Travis Mills. Travis, if you're not familiar with him by now is the quadruple amputee from an Afghanistan IED and we're going to hear more about his story in a little bit. And he also is running a foundation that provides R&R services more or less for other veterans that have been injured. Is that right Travis?

 

Travis  00:55

Yeah, absolutely it for physically injured and now we're moving towards all injuries.

 

Lita T  01:00

Great, great. Well, welcome to the show. Go ahead, Ron

 

Ron  01:05

Travis. Hi, this is Ron. Again. Thank you for joining us today on our show. First, I would like to start off by saying thank you for your service to our country.

 

Travis  01:15

Well, no, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. And I'm excited to be here. I'm looking forward to hanging out with you guys for a bit. Yeah!

 

Ron  01:21

 I read a bit about your injuries and your recovery. I gotta say, I am amazed by your determination and your tenacity. It seems like you've overcome a lot of challenges since April of 2012. Could you tell our listeners a little bit about that day? didn't it just start off as a regular day for you.

 

Travis  01:41

You know, it did we were on our, you know, deployment. I was supposed to be there for nine months as my third deployment. And we had a phone call come in from the village elder that there was some IEDs we had a checkout. So we put our gear on like normal. We went on patrol and try to help them out. And we went, you know, the same routes that we always would take not the same routes, the same general direction. And I had the guy in front of me with the Minesweeper and swept the ground once again, twice like we are protocol. And it just didn't alarm that there's anything under the soil. So I happened to take my backpack off and I put it on the ground. And then the bomb went off. You know it. It shocked my world to be honest with you.

 

Lita T  02:19

Well that's For sure.

 

Jean  02:21

Yeah. I can't even imagine what you were going what was going through your mind at that time? Probably. Yeah, shock. What were the next steps after you were evacuated from the site where you were actually injured. For instance, how soon after the attack, were you transferred back stateside? And was there an intermediate location or two for immediate surgical repair?

 

Travis  02:40

Well, I mean, what they did was, like I hit, my arm right side was completely gone, my right leg was completely gone. They disintegrated and they're found those pieces of me my left leg was snapped to the bone actually. So if you imagine the left ankle bone touching the left thigh, and my left wrist was blown out pretty bad. I hit the ground and rolled over on my back and I saw the aftermath. And in my head, I kept seeing the movie, Saving Private Ryan. And I thought you know about the medic that gets shot stomachs and then he cries out for his mom and ultimately died. I had I said no way like that ever remember me to freaking out or complaining or crying or feeling awful, you know begging not to die basically. Because at the end of the day, it's not my choice and I'm always wanting to exude confidence never showed fear, I led from the front and you know, I just, you never do that as a leader. So I calmed myself down, my medic worked on one side of me my Platoon Sergeant worked on the other side of me, they got four tourniquets on and then I with my left hand that was still left on my body. I reached up and grabbed my microphone and I called my Lieutenant I said, Hey, 6 this is 4 I got guys injured. I need your medic with mine. two of my soldiers got hit. So I you know, I called them and they radio back they sent Doc Voyce over. And Doc Voyce came to work on me, we're working on you know, my other men, and then me. I had to kind of calm him down he was in, stuck on repeat, you know like an old CD we could skip start skipping, he was doing what his training taught him to do so I kept saying "You'll be fine Sgt Mills, you'll be Okay, You'll be fine Sgt Mills, you'll be Okay,  he kept working he just kept saying it. I had to look at Doc Voyce and say "Hey Doc Just do your job. It's fine." And they got me on the helicopter about 10 minutes after Doc Voyce got there so really about 12 to 15 minutes being injured I was on a helicopter and I was transported to Kandahar hospital where I didn't know this then and I'm happy that it's, you know, a known fact now but 99% of patients that make it to Kandahar hospital leave Kandahar hospital alive.

 

Jean  04:36

That's amazing

 

Travis  04:36

And yeah, so they started wheeling me right into surgery as 14 hours of surgery took me into and just a wonderful team of nine doctors and seven nurses working for 14 hours straight to put me back to, well not put me back together I guess. that I was laying around with prosthetics but to you know, heal up my wounds and...

 

Lita T  04:56

Saved your life

 

Jean  04:57

Stabilize

 

Lita T  04:58

 They saved your life, yeah,

 

Jean  04:59

yeah.

 

Travis  05:00

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Lita T  05:01

I'm guessing that those medics at the at the frontline are really the ones that saved your life. I know this wasn't something we were going to talk about, but do you stay in contact with those guys?

 

Travis  05:10

Oh, I do. Yeah, actually, um, you know, I know very fast forward but my wife and I had another child fortunately. So we have two now. And my son's name is DAX. Oh, he DAX is for medics, Daniel and Alexander as those who made it possible. Somebody will like name my kid in their honor. So  that was great. My wife kind of came up with the idea of more than I was going for Travis Fieldyen Mills the second but she said no

 

Lita T  05:29

That's amazing  (laughter)

 

Travis  05:39

 I name everything after myself, my my business, my foundation, you know,

 

Lita T  05:44

At least everybody knows where they're going.

 

Jean  05:45

It worked for George Foreman, so why not?

 

Travis  05:48

Exactly.

 

Lita T  05:49

According to the Department of Defense, as of January 2018, more than 1500 service members have lost limbs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since all of this started in 2001, and an article back in 2018. In July, it pushed the number up to 1900 and 14. So 1914 Have you met any other amputees since you have been injured yourself?

 

Travis  06:21

Had I, you mean previously or since?

 

Lita T  06:23

no since then?

 

Travis  06:25

Oh, yes. At the hospital that we had a bunch of better, everybody at the hospital was an amputee

 

Lita T  06:30

Okay. Okay. So this is a very common wartime injury currently correct.

 

Travis  06:37

Oh, yeah. Yeah, but it's common to the hospital. So like, I had no idea like patient things like that. I mean, you figure you lose a leg, your life's over. Like it's gonna be the worst thing ever. And, you know, I got to the hospital and when I find it, they woke me up from a medical sedation. I was kind of like questioning why that person got hate me. What would I do wrong in life, talking to your husband and father and you know, the biggest thing I wonder is, why not just die? Like, how is this better? And in truth, I didn'twant to talk to my wife, my mom and dad at all that my parents didn't want to deal with the situation. But then I got to, you know, wake up, my brother in law was in the room, he was in the Military as well,  a friend of mine, I met his sister, my wife, and my parents, my wife, and I did. And then I didn't really have a conversation with them. It's kind of like, I don't want to talk about this, I want to deal with it. But finally, I got to meet Todd Nicely. He was a quadruple amputee, I'm actually one of five, I'm the fourth one out of five of us, and he walked into my room was like, Hey, man, you're gonna be fine. You're gonna walk again, you're gonna drive again, you're going to feed yourself, you know, you do everything you need to do by yourself. And I know doesn't sound like it, but you're gonna be independent. And I'm sorry. And that was all the, you know, the motivation I needed.

 

Lita T  07:48

So they kind of turn you around you think?

 

Travis  07:51

You know, my wife, and I thought she should leave me. Turn me like okay, let's get better. I won't be a burden on anybody. I mean, I'm very demanding husband. Unfortunately, you know that I expect a lot of help things but I'm very lucky my wife stayed. My daughter was six months old when I got hit. So she was there more with me every day. And I actually learned how to walk with my daughter kind of cool. You know, little thing me and her have

 

Lita T  08:15

That's so cool

 

Travis  08:16

 so and she's eight years old. She goes, and she tells people, you know, I taught my dad how to walk.

 

Lita T  08:22

So cool, I love that. Yeah, it's gonna be hard to not tear up right now.

 

Jean  08:27

Yeah, especially after watching the movie with the two of you,

 

Lita T  08:30

right?

 

Jean  08:31

 Yeah, she was right there for your physical therapy and everything and your wife was right there too. And it's, that's amazing.

 

Travis  08:36

Oh, absolutely.

 

Lita T  08:38

After that. They got you back, you know, alive and somewhat functioning. Did they give you the chance to remain in the military in any status like you know, just state side desk side or do they just tell you this is it

 

Travis  08:53

you know, they did actually General Odierno and the Sergeant Major of the Army at the time came in Chandler came in talking to the hospital about, Hey, you know, we'd love to have you stay in, you can go around and maybe present on behalf of the military and I teared off and I said, Look, I plan on doing 20 years, gentlemen, but not like this. And my time has come to an end. I can't be Infantry anymore. I can't, you know, be airborne anymore. And as sad as it was to come to that realization, it was just, it was time. I think I made jokes and I really don't want to get restationed anywhere. And General Odierno said, I don't think we restation Sergeant Mills. I don't think so either, sir, but I'm going to call it today. I appreciate this conversation, you know, cuz it was emotional. I planned on 20 years at whole career path lined up, but it just didn't work out for me and that's okay. Cuz like, you know, it's gonna play some curveballs and you got to keep pushing forward and do the best you can and I feel like I've taken that curveball, and that's kind of knocked out of the park with everybody that helps. 

 

Lita T  09:53

That's super

 

Ron  09:55

Travis, I've seen some of your videos on YouTube. Absolutely. Amazing. And I could tell you're a pretty humorous guy. How did your humor and your personality I guess, how did it help you with the recovery process? And how long after the amputations where you fitted for the prosthetic that you wear?

 

Travis  10:18

Well, the humor that I have came back right to me. I met in fact, one day, I was sitting there in my hospital bed, the hallway from the nurses, and I could see them holding their like change of shift brief and I started yelling, oh, my legs, my arms and legs where did they go?  How did this happen? And I'm just joking to get their attention. And a little 10 year old walked by, and I was like, Oh, I'm just kidding. Sorry. Girls, like I'm so sorry. But, of course, you have the humor. And I think the best compliment and sometimes the worst compliment that I get is that I'm the same person that I was for the injury. So depending on who says it, you know, if you know somebody that's a friend of mine that grew up with says that's awesome, but if it's like a like a Maybe old school teacher from high school. Oh, sorry.

 

Ron  11:02

Yeah.

 

Travis  11:05

 But as far as my prosthetic, I was able to get fitted after five weeks time, so a relatively short period. And then seven weeks and four days, I was able to start walking again so just shy of two months. I took my very first steps at Walter Reed. I mean, it was a short, legs a very different feel from walking, but I was starting my comeback,

 

Jean  11:24

right? It's amazingly fast.

 

Lita T  11:27

Amazing. For sure.

 

Travis  11:29

Well, I appreciate that. And then Believe it or not, I have no arms and legs like I do. I just made a video this morning. I was at the gym and I was actually running this morning at the gym. It's first time in two years. I took a hiatus because a no excuse, but back running now. So it's good.

 

Jean  11:45

That's awesone, that's absolutely awesome

 

Travis  11:47

Well yeah, I mean, I travel I travel the nation motivational speaker and I started every time off by saying I tell jokes disarm situation. Knee slapper if you got it, you know, don't have arms or and I also can't slap my knees. But I think it just makes people look past the injury that I sustained and more at the man that I am

 

Ron  11:47

. I say I'm work. I work in the disability community. I'm involved in Disabled Sports. And I tell you, it is a very interesting community with the humor so I understand exactly where you're coming from. You know who can say what?   absolutely

 

Travis  12:22

happy, you know, because I want to break down barriers and walls and people are just at Whole Foods to be honest with you and a little boy walked up, he's like, "what happened to your arms?"  His mom's like. "don't ask that"  like don't ask that to know, I probably have people asking like, then stare and like, kind of shy away from it. So I told him I, you know, had that day at work. And now I'm like Iron Man with, you know, the superheroes. He's all about it. He followed me around for a little bit. So I was like, Hey, man, I really gotta go.

 

Jean  12:49

Oh, wow. So every day, you're just

 

Lita T  12:52

 inspiring people,

 

Jean  12:53

 inspiring people wherever you go. That's fantastic. And Travis, my mom and I both know that, you know The army is not only a community, it's kind of like a family. But apparently that's really the case for you. As you had said your brother in law is also in that in the military. And that's actually how you met your wife.

 

Travis  13:12

Oh, yeah.

 

Jean  13:13

 And what role has that played in your recovery?

 

Travis  13:17

As far as military Brotherhood in my recovery, how's that? Okay, yeah. So at the hospital, I answered the military in general, you have a brotherhood, right? Like I didn't go on my third deployment. I was supposed to go to Fort Hood, Texas, and help build a per day up ticket timeout from the point that so much time but I had all these young guys that came from across the nation that believed in me, I said, Nope, it's not fair to them. They believe me, I'm their leader. My wife understood the calling there at her house with five kids and she knew I had to go.  There is something ingrained in you as a servicemember. So I went overseas, and I got injured, right. So you go from the platoon size brotherhood and then you have the hospital without Todd Nicely coming to talk to me. Shortly after I was injured. I've never know the possibilities that lay the head. So I work properly as motivated when you get down to the military advanced training center, where all the injured guys are at and then we tell you something is just amazing. Because that's a tight knit group, and you're all working together and living together. going through the same thing with the with your spouse will do the same thing or children and having them to lean on. Plus, the staff at Walter Reed are just top notch physical therapists, occupational therapists, you know, in the driving of cyclists, the process everybody, it's just one well oiled machine, the doctors sorry and Walter Reed is a Brotherhood and having everybody that was injured. Like me, or you know, not like me with no arms legs, but like maybe missing the leg missing the arm, spinal cord injury, whatever. It was nice having them there because, you know, you feed off them, they still got the mentality of, you know, being in the service.

 

Lita T  14:54

Right. Could you please tell us a little bit about the prosthetics that you're using now. And an add on question, I guess. Do you start out like a person that has an amputation? Do they start out with one type of a prosthetic and move on to different ones as they get acclimated to the use? Are there like prosthetic training wheels of sorts?

 

Travis  15:16

Yeah, absolutely There are so we'll start with the hands the first one that I got called the mile electric I still use things that Dan that I have that but he only went for one hour a day and then it got progressively more and more so without I was on I want so like I've added on 20 hours or whatever, you know, up and up that long working or doing whatever. And they just, you know, it's muscle flex base. So I certain muscles blow it up into flex, but they muscle fat that rotate and download down fast. And it's pretty awesome because I mean, I could eat a sandwich, I can open the door, I could drive my truck, do everything I need to with that one hand that I wear on the left side, the right side. I'm so high up injured. I don't wear prosthetics on it. Unless I'm doing that. activities like downhill mountain biking, or kayaking, and things of that nature. Okay, snowboarding, I do all that stuff, which is pretty awesome, then. Oh yeah. And then as far as the prosthetic legs is definitely a training wheels type session where you start on short legs, so they mold your legs start on really short prosthetics and you got to rebuild everything from 250 pounds when I got injured to 140 pounds. I lost all my muscle mass. I couldn't roll right and left for sit up myself for a while there. So I had to regain all my core muscle and strength. And he started on shorter legs. So when you get stronger on those, it's basically like if you imagine where your kneecap is, there's a foot at the end of it for me it would have been difficult to deal with Sure, yeah. It and then you grow taller and taller to the point where you have straight legs that are like still so you're standing up as high as they're going to make you okay, I was six, three, almost six foot right now. I was you know, so they Currently, Sanchez Blitz offer safety and gravity and whatnot. And then they give you the legs I'm wearing now it's called x threes. And they're the top of the line. They're waterproof. They're Bluetooth, that have like a locking remote, much better angle. They have little computers in each leg. So they're microprocessors fitter. So every time I move over here and adjustments get made to keep me as upright as possible. And then the last thing is they have hydraulic brakes built in so when I go down the ramp, I can slow myself down. I find a lot of airplanes actually good motivational speaker. So when I go down on the jetway, I don't go bowling for people.

 

Ron  17:36

So yeah, that in the video too. Right, right. Yeah,

 

Jean  17:39

that's, that's incredible.

 

Ron  17:42

was funny. One of the other things in the video talked about your prosthetic hand and your daughter's future boyfriend. I thought that was pretty humorous.

 

Lita T  17:53

Yeah, tell us about that firsthand.

 

Travis  17:55

Yeah, I got it. Yeah, keeping a Crown Royal bag in my closet. It was 45 pressure, and then 35 pounds of pressure. And the reason I keep in the closet is because when she's 16 her mom lets her go on a date, I'm gonna bring the handout. I'll probably you know, crush his hand, when he's crying I'm going to tell him "no   fingerprints".  But don't mess with me, bro. Let him go

 

Lita T  18:15

(laughter)

 

Travis  18:15

To subdue any, you know,

 

Lita T  18:17

Questions that he might have had

 

Travis  18:18

Ideas he was thinking about trying?  My wife says I'm not gonna be able to do that. But, you know, we'll see.

 

Lita T  18:19

 Right right That's right, that's right

 

Travis  18:27

 And high school buddies like real good friends of mine are so excited because their kids get old enough they can't wait to  buy me into the same thing. I'm like, I'm coming let's throw a party. That boys to style like Bad Boys 2 with Martin Lawrence, and Will Smith the show that day.

 

Lita T  18:41

Sure, sure.

 

Ron  18:42

Yeah, that's too funny. You just mentioned your friends. It's actually leads me into my next question. Your friends and family, including your wife. how supportive as they put you through this little this journey.

 

Travis  18:58

Oh, I mean, stop that. I I definitely gain and lose friends through this and you know having my wife at my side every day was a reason I kept fighting to get better because she's not leaving me, then I gotta do my best to not be a burden. And you know a lot of places that she goes for other nonprofits maybe they bring up like, you know, the problems that have their husbands or issues they have their husbands. You know, some of the other spouses might say like, we can't do this because of that I felt like was Travis Travis Travis takes boys to gymnastics he runs around does grocery shopping when he when he can and things so I try to be everyday average normal husband, fathers, I can't be but then having you know, my friends, bear with me. And now with the foundation. I've been able to bring up a lot of really cool families that I want to help out. So we help all physically injured, sterilization spinal cord, service families and it's all free to them and it's all about Hey, get out out there be active in community and in your society, because some people aren't as open as me. And I think having support group that I had and having that I, I had  to learn things like, like walking and stuff as I'm fortunately so successful in my everyday life.

 

Lita T  20:17

Sure, sure.

 

Ron  20:18

 Oh, that's fantastic. That's fantastic.

 

Lita T  20:20

Definitely. Travis, what do you wish people knew about amputees? I know that you say that, you know, go ahead and ask That's for you personally. But what do you wish people would know about amputees? Like the emotional changes that a person goes to you? So like, in other words, if somebody wanted to ask a question, but they were afraid to ask, you know, pretend like you're asked, answering those questions. What What did you have to go through emotionally?

 

Jean  20:47

And I would say like, what, what do you wish they knew?

 

Lita T  20:50

Right?

 

Jean  20:50

 Yeah.

 

Travis  20:51

Well, I mean, honestly, for me, a lot of my buddies that I know rather than have the conversation than the looks, the stairs, and like the The awkward, you know, oh crap, they're looking at me I'm going to look back, or up at the ceiling or whatever and look back when they're not looking. So, really people they want to be delicate, which I appreciate I understand but, you know, everybody that I know is everyday, regular person, they just had some mishap at work but didn't change them, you know, into being this person that needs to be, you know, you know, babied around or, or ostracized I guess. So, you know, for me, why don't people know is like, have the conversation say Hey, how's it going? People ask me. It's a funny thing. Like, hey, Travis, you know, when I see someone like you, What do I say? I'm like, I usually say hi or hello

 

Lita T  21:42

Exactly, exactly right, right

 

Travis  21:45

And, you know, also, I'm trying to change the narrative. I say I'm recalibrate because my voice those out you want those wounded guys, it doesn't feel very good, don't have any more injuries. I have scars. So I'm trying to change the whole life. Word wounded, is that the negative to recalibrated it right?

 

Lita T  22:03

Okay,

 

Travis  22:03

based off a little bit. We're good to go. It's good. And then then also, I think that the term veteran in general has become kind of like, oh, you're one of the veterans Do you got that, you know, pts or what's wrong and I'm like, nothing I serve my country had a great time doing it, love my job, had a bad day at work. I gotta move on. So, you know, my foundation, we're actually expanding our program to help people get back on their feet. That may be something for PTS, things like that. Because I really truly feel that you know, you need to get help to get out of your own way to be successful,  I'm fortunate. We're going to talk about that I run I own part owner and two, and I run one with my wife. So three businesses plus nonprofit that's very successful.

 

Lita T  22:47

That's great.

 

Jean  22:48

Well, we weren't must be very busy.

 

Lita T  22:50

Yeah, I would say so. Yeah, well, yes, for sure. I'm getting back to the physical thing that you've been through. How many surgical procedures have have you had?

 

Travis  23:02

I think 13 they said they

 

23:06

Yeah, 13 surgical procedures,  maybe more, but I didn't have any. I didn't have any surgeries. Kind of weeks easily get with me What's up, let's go internal. Then I had my eardrum repaired, which was the worst surgery that I can remember. But and then besides for that, nothing too crazy. I was very fortunate and lucky there no infections or anything like that.

 

Lita T  23:28

Do you think they'd be in the best physical condition that you were in prior to the injuries was what helped your recovery?

 

Travis  23:36

I think so. I think it did. For sure. I was a weightlifter. I picked anything up that was heavy and put it down. You know, one of those meat is kind of nice. But I also I think it was on the battlefield. The reason I didn't lose my blood out and everything. I remained calm. I didn't get my heart rate up. I didn't freak out. I kept telling myself whatever happens happens. Not my call at the end of the day. So don't freak out. And I think that might have saved my life as well because instead of yelling, I don't want to die and freaking out and panicking, I just like to stay calm and ride this one out. So very fortunate that I'm kind of stuffing it in the best way possible, which are my thing. And the most worst way. Yes. All my family members, maybe.

 

Jean  24:22

Well, yeah, that's, that is truly amazing. And it says a lot about who you are as a person who you were before, and who you who you have always been, and your injuries were in 2012. Do you still have like phantom limb pain? And is there anything that they can do to help treat that part of the injury?

 

Travis  24:39

You know, it's great question and I can't reiterate the documentary and I wish I could, because I say that the academy coma I don't think I would do it again, which is I only did that. You know, the documentary was five months after my injury. In truth, the phantom limb pain I would 110% not be the person I am Today if I didn't have the ketamine colon Academy coma, they're doing a case study. And what they did was reset my brain to think that my nerves and where they were blown off and finally beat. And I, I have been absolutely pain medication free since October of 2012. I quit it cold turkey, and no pain medication. No medication whatsoever, actually, which is very unfortunate, but because of my case study they did. It's more of a common use process. And I have no phantom limb pain, no pain to speak up. And I'm very, very lucky. I know that so it's, you know, that's one thing that at the time when I said it in the documentary, I didn't know the results of it and now looking back like it was probably the best thing for me because my life is obstructed by anything, I don't live, you know, any medication and just keep pushing forward with with a pretty worryfree life.

 

Lita T  25:58

It's amazing.

 

Jean  25:59

Yeah, that's awesome.

 

Ron  26:01

Try to watch the video that showed you and your modified truck. Oh, you know you still drive? What about any of your other recreational pursuits? Do you need adaptations? Or how do you how do you do done?

 

Travis  26:15

Well, you know, luckily with the remote to my truck, and I click My legs are better your angles I can drive my truck No, no no problem and therefore a lot of us like to get into get adapted. I just kind of drove it every day and made it work with a steering wheel handle so I can drive most anything but I have a van that has ankles in it, which is awesome. And that that really helps out a lot too. So it's just a lot of fun that I get to do that and be able to drive again and stuff so I i guess i have a ranger in a golf cart. But there's no adaptions on those. I just kind of drive those.

 

Jean  26:48

If you're going to be running that day. Is there do you switch out your prosthetics to make running

 

Travis  26:54

 You know what? Yeah, yeah, so I did I forgot to cover that. I went back and training was walking to look at my profit. But in truth, I have bicycle legs I've never used I'm going to set them up one day very excited about this. I'm running late. I have both. I have worked out a little short workout legs. And then I have different hands and attachment. I mean, it's I have a bowling arm. I think I'm going to use this weekend. My daughter's birthday party thing she's doing with all their friends and their, you know, whatever. And I have a pool table arms. I can't wait to get a pool table. I'm telling you what,

 

Ron  27:26

(laughter) 

 

Travis  27:27

kind of exciting but yeah, there's definitely different adaption,

 

Lita T  27:30

okay,

 

Travis  27:31

there are adaptations that they have. And it's kind of like it's weird, but like, just like on Amazon, you go and set the book. You're like, oh, that activity looks fun. And see if I get one of those. I have I have a like a 10 inch butcher knife. So I can carve a turkey to be honest. I haven't covered a lot of turkeys. But it's very sharp. And you got to be very careful on the walking thing because it's like running with scissors.

 

Lita T  27:52

Oh, yeah.

 

Travis  27:54

But yeah, we have all that stuff. And I'm so grateful that there's some geniuses and bright minds out there. That put this together to make it possible for

 

Lita T  28:01

 for sure.

 

Ron  28:02

 Well, Travis, if you don't already, if you don't do scuba diving or you haven't done archery and you are interested, let's talk later because I'm involved in both of those activities for people with disabilities.

 

Travis  28:17

 I appreciate that. Yeah,

 

Ron  28:19

for what I've seen you do a lot, but I wanted to throw that out. There is another. I don't know something else you could add to the resume.

 

Lita T  28:26

Right, right.

 

Travis  28:27

Yeah, so I've done archery, and I'm okay with that. You know, it's not something again, knock knock on the arrow part gets me kinda. So like, my biggest stubbornness I have. If I can't do it by myself, then it's like, I don't really want to do it. So I'm getting some, some rifle setup so I can go, I like to skeet shoot you right. It's target shoot. But also, my next goal is already been skydiving a few times I show my airplanes but since I've been injured I've been skydiving twice, my next goal and here's where being you can can collaborate. I'm gonna go you know, cage diving with a great white sharks. I just I'm so afraid of sharks. I face my fears and I cannot wait to jump in that cage with those with sharks all around the but I want the big ones off this, you know the Cape of you know, of South Africa I want

 

Ron  29:14

certainly that. That's one of my bucket list items. I just say I don't want that to be the last item on my bucket list if you know what I mean

 

Lita T  29:20

(laughter) okay.

 

Jean  29:22

Yeah, you two have fun

 

Travis  29:23

 You've got to live a little bit

 

Lita T  29:25

I'll be up on the boat with the spear gun and I'll be keeping an eye out for you.

 

Jean  29:30

Wow.

 

Travis  29:31

Yeah, drinking the rum punch. I love it

 

Lita T  29:35

Somebody getting on shotgun.

 

Jean  29:36

Yep.

 

Travis  29:37

Oh, I get it.

 

Jean  29:39

That's you guys are hilarious. But yeah, you guys don't have to work that out with Dive. Heart. Travis, what is the future of prosthetics look like and what do you hope to see with future prosthetic devices?

 

Travis  29:53

You know, the prosthetics are quite amazing. They have prosthetics that your hands that each finger moves instead of just Like the two fingers, like, you know, like he can add a little motor I'm looking for those get more durable, which is exciting, but also then hooking to like, your nerves and all that so that they can, you know, sense what your muscles would would actually be flexing to open your hand and close it. But I think also what I'm excited about a step further than prosthetics is they're doing stuff called osteo integration where they they're hollowing out your humor bone and hooking a rod to it and a rod inside your skin like your feet do. And then you connect your feet on it, and you can take them off. And then kind of lastly is the stem cell stuff, which is so intriguing to me because they're regrowing people's like one guy like regrew his thumb, so that they're saying they're probably able to regrow people's arms and legs in the near future. Like we're talking 5/10 years.

 

Lita T  30:47

Wow.

 

Travis  30:48

We're just I mean mind blowing, right?

 

Lita T  30:50

oh yeah wow,

 

Travis  30:51

yeah, I'm gonna be the first one to do it. But I'm saying it's just it's just amazing that the progression right when the first guy made a prosthetic Civil War thing or got started, because he lost his leg to a cannon, or infection or a gunshot, something to do with civil war. But now, I mean, bionic stuff is just impressive. So sky's the limit. If I was a Vietnam era veteran on the battlefield medicine or technology that we had have today, very rarely where a guy like me ever make it, very low percentage. And now, because of the wars and because of technology and the time that we live in, I live a pretty normal life. Like, I mean, you know, I, I went down and did a federal meeting today at a building that was like a day to day and I had I went to the gym and ran to the outdoors, the laces running at the gym. Pretty cool, right?

 

Lita T  31:41

Absolutely.

 

Jean  31:42

And very inspiring

 

Travis  31:44

And I think i think i think the big thing is, you know, to stay to stay humble, because I don't want to ask for too much. It's just so fortunate and lucky to have what's out there on the market right now.

 

Jean  31:55

Sure, sure. But I guess you know, as far as the future of prosthetics, the designer Definitely want to hear from the individuals who will be using them to see what is it that you guys need?

 

Travis  32:05

Oh, absolutely there for dreams for sure.

 

Ron  32:09

Travis older veterans day name require amputations due to medical complications, like diabetes, or something like that. Have you interacted with any of these older vets to talk with them and give them an idea of what to expect after amputation?

 

Travis  32:27

Well, I mean, I get it. I get some conversations, right? A lot of like, one on one counseling like that. But if I go to the VA to do a checkup or something, when I see somebody and ask the questions I answer or someone at the grocery store that, you know, I, you know, have the conversation. So a big thing is people emailing my website, and they'll ask me like, Hey, you know, I got this going on. I was thinking, maybe I should just cut my leg off. What do you think I'm like, I'm not the guy. Like, that's not my Yeah, my expertise, but I'll tell you, that, you know, there's different prothestics out there make your life better if that ends up being the diagnosis or what happened. So, I'll try to get as much information but I want to make it sound like oh, it's Rick, hack that thing off. Let's call it a day. Right? But um, as far as people that are suffering you know, I know people use my use my website TravisMills.org for a lot of inspiration. And they go on my Facebook, which is all like tagged SSG Travis, because when they go to my Facebook page or my Instagram they'll see fun videos of me and my wife children or or meet my buddy or things like that and then they can you know, they can find out Hey, life goes on. That's what this whole podcast about some happen. Keep pushing forward. And that's kind of the message that we always we always project I'm always speak about resiliency and about, you know, overcoming life's obstacles. And it's just, it's a lot of fun for me, so I'll have the conversation, but it's not something I do what I want to accomplish.

 

Lita T  33:54

Well, speaking of resiliency, you were obviously able to draw on an incredible Internal Strength just to survive that incident. Could you tell us more about your mantra of never give up? never quit? How did you come up with that? And can that work for everyone?

 

Travis  34:11

Absolutely. It can work for everybody in the way that I kind of started in the hole. Never go never quit was I was working out. I looked all skinny and sickly and their staff say Do you wanna take a break? And I said, I'm never gonna give up I'm never gonna quit. And you know when I say my wife on my side, my daughter being there helped me walk again. In my driving force. My parents my in laws. My father in law, I didn't really know him that well really, right. Like, we talked about the weather, a lot sports but lived near him or was nowhere near him. When I grew up. He moved in the hospital with me, we became really close friends now. I mean, we're best friends. We travel all over the nation together. But it's just it's ingrained in my head that you just keep pushing forward. You can't just let your situation that you're living in now the outcome of your life and let me just Like the military, I always strive for more promotions and higher rank and do better and things like that and the best time of my life. So, you know, I don't want to sit stagnant. You got to keep moving. And that's kind of how I got the slogan. And now I live by it because I know that there's no not one but two children that look up to me every day. And I need to make sure they know like, hey, look, if you fall down, you got to get back up and keep going forward.

 

Jean  35:24

It's once again, amazing,

 

Lita T  35:27

Hooah!

 

Ron  35:30

Could you tell us a little bit more about the movie a soldier's story?

 

Travis  35:34

Yeah. So this documentary was created because people in Texas saw my story on I think Fox News, one of the new stations, and they thought was pretty cool. And they realized quite early in our conversations to have go room to room and meet people like me and the people that came into the hospital, and they wanted to film and we decided, you know what, let's just go ahead and do a short documentary half hour long and then it turned into an hour long documentary and became a film that that was actually that was done and about seven days, maybe nine days of filming. Yeah, there's a lot of iPhone footage of that cotton edit from Kelsey phone, which was great. But they did reenact with some of the interviews and all that just like in nine days, so.

 

Lita T  36:16

Oh, yeah, I was, that was a heart wrenching. A heart wrenching movie. We watched it just before we started the interview. We wanted to make sure that we were in the right frame of mind, and I don't know if that helped. Oh,

 

Jean  36:29

yeah, it was all it was us in a box of tissue. Yeah, but there were a lot of smiles.

 

Lita T  36:34

Yeah, yeah, I knew how it ended so that was the only reason I said it's got a good ending.

 

Jean  36:38

Yeah,

 

Lita T  36:39

it's gonna be a good movie.

 

Jean  36:40

It's gonna work out it's gonna be okay.

 

Lita T  36:42

Yeah,

 

Travis  36:43

I know it kind of sad for the first half hour.

 

Lita T  36:45

 Yeah, it was a it was a it was a rough beginning.

 

Travis  36:49

And then now I actually unfortunate where we have, or I guess I have a book "AS Tough As They Come" It's a New York Times bestseller. I have a book out, and it might be made into an actual motion. picture, which is exciting, but can't count your chickens before they hatch. So we're playing it day by day and see how it goes.

 

Lita T  37:07

Sure, sure. Can you tell our listeners about your family now? So you've got two children and how have you adapted to life together as and does this amputee getting away? I mean, are you just a husband and a dad?

 

Travis  37:26

I mean there's two answers to that I guess it didn't patient or my disability or you want to call it it does give away something like my daughter's in soccer. I'd love to be in the backyard keep the ball around and running. But I did that for the first year when she was like five cheaper soccer but now I can't keep up so I kind of watch her you know, from the side but doesn't really get in my way. I get on the trampoline with my kid but I still do a backflip we get into the floor the lake and swim around so don't really hold me up and I still do daddy daughter dances and things like that 

 

Lita T  37:59

oh that's sweet

 

Travis  38:00

 My wife, you know, she's unsung hero of everything. She doesn't like the limelight as much. But, you know, she's one keeps us all together the glue that holds it and she's been phenomenal. You know, she's taking my side and helped me out like today before we left, I still need help put my legs on. So she had to put my legs on, she doesn't complain about that she just, It's just normal now. So like, when I wake up, you know, my legs go on in my pants or whatever. But it doesn't hold me back from being a father or a parent. You know, I'm the one that takes your gymnastics, and my son and I wrestle around. This is a lot of fun. So I guess we have the same family dynamic that we were always going to have. You know, I'm, you know, active with the kids and my wife and I still do things as a family. It's just different because I'm not able to do as much sports stuff as I'd like to because I used to be very athletic.

 

Lita T  38:55

But at least you've been there. You know the tips. You know, you know what to tell you kids how to do it. You can train them, you can coach them, you can guide them, because you've already done it. And

 

Travis  39:08

absolutely, give me excuses. I'm not sure that excuses will work with me, like, really, really fully

 

Ron  39:19

add here and kind of in the same boat with you a little bit too old, so I can't keep up with my kid. But I've done it before I can talk with them. I can explain to them, but I certainly can't keep up with them. They're young. You know?

 

Travis  39:33

You're doing better than me, Ron I mean, I fell apart at 25 you know, I got two feet in the grave now. 32 years old. There you go. 

 

Jean  39:40

I don't know if that's quite true

 

Ron  39:42

I finally heard that, finally caught it. Again, I know the humor in the community can be pretty pretty intense, huh?

 

Jean  39:50

Yeah, you guys. Yeah. quite quite the comedian there.

 

Lita T  39:53

I gotta close my mouth now,

 

Jean  39:55

yeah. Okay.

 

Ron  39:56

Yeah, hopefully we'll talk afterwards. There. You

 

Jean  40:01

Do you have any tips hints and helpful advice for our listeners, or someone who's recently had an amputation or waiting to have one or their family members?

 

Travis  40:10

For you, I don't just sit here with amputations. I'll tell you what I tell all the audiences I speak to. I travel with you know, all over the nation. The two things I leave won't get off stage since the two left crap where because, you know, I went from this athletic six foot three lift weights every day, big, stocky, strong guy to, you know, have no arms and legs, and everything. So the first thing I tell people is don't dwell in the past. I sit in hospital bed and close my eyes and hope we pray that this never happened. And think how I go back in time, how do I change this? And you know, it took what two three weeks then when I finally realized that it does me no good living in the past is never going to change anything. So instead of dwelling on it, I remember this 25 years I have arms and like they're phenomenal and I've had seven amazing times and then I also take it step further and tell people that you can't control your situation. But you can always control your attitude. So for me, my situation is I wake up every morning with no arms, no legs, right then that's how I am. But my attitude, I'm fortunate, my daughter, Chloe to run down with no, if I'm not already awake, I jumped my wheelchair, I throw my arm on, right, we go downstairs, and we have our breakfast. And then I'm able to go ahead and go about my day. So instead of letting my situation dictate how I feel, I just realized that hey, I'm so lucky to be here and so fortunate because I have a lot of guys that make it back home to their families, that I might as well have a great attitude about every day I get to be here because you know, they're no longer with us and their sacrifices so much bear in mind. And I think if you get by those two life life lessons that I've been, you know, that I've learned and I live by pretty, pretty positive, upbeat, average, you know, great day. Hi, everybody. Sorry about the great day

 

Jean  41:59

Yeah.

 

Lita T  42:00

 good attitude

 

Jean  42:01

 is wonderful.

 

Ron  42:03

Yeah, attitude is definitely a big factor. Travis, you do have quite the following of people. You want to give a plug for your book or your podcast?

 

Jean  42:13

I can't believe you also have a podcast Wow.

 

Travis  42:16

You know, I do but we're just getting it off the ground. We did a little a couple, you know, test episodes and pilots, but now we're going to go ahead and and change out the format to be great. And, you know, I'm really excited about that. So, yeah, if anybody gets bored and want to check it out, check out Travis mills.org. For otter Travis Mills needs and we'll just kind of go from there. Okay, there you go. That's, that's great. That's, that's that's wonderful. And we hope our listeners do check that out. We cannot thank you enough for joining our show today. It's been a pleasure having you on Yes, definitely. Yeah, absolutely appreciate you guys having me. I hope you guys have won frustrated day and excited to be a part of this. You know, this episode. Your phenomenal podcast here.

 

Lita T  43:01

Thank you Travis for joining our show. And I hope others can find strength by listening to your story because that's the goal of our podcast.

 

Jean  43:10

Yeah. And it's extremely inspiring,

 

Lita T  43:12

 very

 

Travis  43:14

Thanks so much, much appreciated.

 

Lita T  43:15

You're welcome. If our listeners have any questions or comments related to today's show, they can contact us at podcast dx@yahoo.com do our website podcast dx calm and Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

 

Jean  43:28

And if you have a moment to spare, please give us a review wherever you get your podcast. As always, keep in mind that this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with a any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment in before undertaking a new health care regime and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you've heard on this podcast

 

Lita T  43:49

till next week.