Rickey Williams, Sergeant First Class (Ret)
Rickey Williams
Sergeant First Class (USA Retired)

I served as a United States Army Fire Chief. My medical odyssey began in January 2009, when I was helping pressure-wash some military vehicles. While coming off the back of a vehicle, I accidentally grazed my left thigh, leaving not much more than a surface scratch. I did not think much about it and continued working. The next day I started to feel a bit bad, but assumed that I was just really tired and needed to rest. Forty-eight more hours went by. Then it became clear to me that I was not tired; I was sick. I was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where it was discovered that the scratch on my thigh from 3 days ago was inflamed, and the inflammation was growing and killing all of the surrounding tissue as it expanded. It was determined that I had necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating bacterial infection. After a lot of drugs, debridements, and a skin graft, I was sent home to continue healing; however, I never fully healed and began to suffer other medical abnormalities, such as blood clots. This went on for about 18 months before the blood clots fully took over and choked off blood flow to my limbs, which required amputation of both legs below the knee and my left arm above the elbow.

I’m active in my local community and in my church. I also volunteer with my prosthetic provider, where I give talks to medical professionals at local hospitals about equipment and how amputation impacts a person’s life, as well as participate in peer-to-peer visitation. I thank God for surrounding me with great doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and many other medical professionals. It was with His grace and their help that I’m alive and have a successful story to share. This year, as a new hobby, I am applying to the Veterans Affairs Winter Sports Clinic with the goal of learning to adaptive ski!

I learned about the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program through the Amputee Coalition of America. I am humbled to serve as a consumer reviewer on the prosthetic and orthotic panels and give firsthand commentary regarding how future devices will impact the lives of Soldiers and civilians alike. With each meeting that I attend, my admiration grows for the dedicated and professional scientists that are committed to trying to understand what it’s like to be the end user of the science. They are receptive to what the consumers say regarding their experiences and value those shared expressions.

Last updated Thursday, May 26, 2022