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Contact the Amputee Coalition at 888/267-5669 or amputee-coalition.org 27

The Defnition of Persistence

JiM ThOMPSON

• Lives in Joplin, Missouri

• Married to wife Shirley for 52 years

• Father of four and has 10 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren

• Author of Going to the Hospital Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

• Creator of the Shower Protector

Life has been one challenge after another for Jim Thompson. But the idea of giving up never crosses his mind. In 1987, at age 51 he was mowing his lawn and noticed both legs were hurting and very swollen. A trip to the hospital resulted in aortobifemoral bypass surgery. That was the frst of 23 surgeries that led to a right below-knee amputation on June 22, 1988.

Complications necessitated surgery to remove the bypass, and he was given a 5 percent chance to survive. He did, but a kidney was damaged and ultimately lost, and he’s been on dialysis since 2009, three times a week. He has survived a staph infection, col-lapsed lungs, bankruptcy and losing their home. All of this led to his new book, Going to the Hospital Can Be Hazardous to Your Health . After 62 surgeries in 23 years, he felt the need to share his story. You can fnd his book at goingtothehospital.com. Jim and Shirley moved into a small 1920s farmhouse in Joplin in 1992 to be close to their kids. He added a guest house, putting his building contractor skills to work again. “I did everything – the wiring, the plumbing, all of the work with just one leg.” He mows his lawn using his power wheelchair. He also builds Web sites, like the one for his Army artillery unit at

redscarfclub.com. They were together for 6 years in the 1950s and Jim’s Web site keeps them together.

In 2005 he and Shirley began Thompson’s LLC to market a product he developed: the Thompson’s Shower Protector, designed for fellow amputees and those with a medical need for leg protection while showering. Today, it is sold in 49 states and eight countries. You can learn more about “The Protector” at thompsonsllc.com.

What is your outlook on life? “I’ve been dead three or four times now, but I’m too busy to die. A lot of things went wrong with me, but the doctors did a lot of things right or I wouldn’t be here. I don’t look like I’m almost 75 and I don’t feel it.”

What has been your biggest challenge? “Life itself has been my biggest challenge, but I attack it with my own personal philosophy: Go to the ocean and swim out as far as you can pos-sibly swim; then, when you’re so tired that you just can’t swim another stroke – turn around and swim back.”

is there something you still want to do that you haven’t done? “Grow old with my wife – my best friend. I’ve been 21, then 35 and 40 and 50, but I’ve never been 80 or 85 or 90. I’m looking forward to it.”

n. 1. the quality or state of being persistent; staying or continuing quality. n. 2. determination.

Photo provided by JimThompson

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