Man takes foot on 'last adventures' before amputation
Joe with his girlfriend Johnna Hetrick, 27, giving him moral support on his left foot's last adventures. (Source: Joseph Pleban/Kaley Pleban/Imgur)
Kaley's caption on Imgur reads, 'We could BUZZ-saw it off...' (Source: Joseph Pleban/Kaley Pleban/Imgur)
Joe's tattoo before his surgery at a Fredericksburg, VA tattoo shop features perforated lines and directions to 'please cut here.' (Source: Joseph Pleban/Kaley Pleban/Imgur)
Joe post-surgery, where Kaley says "post-amputation and still supporting USMNT..." the men's team in the World Cup. (Source: Joseph Pleban/Kaley Pleban/Imgur)
A friendly pose with Joe, a fake beard and his surgeon. (Source: Joseph Pleban/Kaley Pleban/Imgur)
FREDERICKSBURG, VA (RNN) - For Joe Pleban and his family, accepting that his quality of life meant more than keeping his ailing left foot was a no-brainer.
Pleban, 23, was living with pigmented villondocular synovitis, or PVNS, which is defined as a disorder that causes swelling and joint pain. He was also dealing with no cartilage in his ankle and degenerative arthritis. Living with the pain for six years became unbearable.
His sister, Kaley Pleban, said he decided to have a below-the-knee amputation on his left foot, the only place where the disease was hindering him.
"He opted to have the amputation because he had been fighting a very rare bone/joint disease called PVNS, which is essentially recurring benign tumors in his ankle. He got his first radiation treatment at 21 years old," Kaley Pleban wrote on Reddit on July 7.
Once he made his decision, Kaley Pleban, 21, said the family knew they were going to have to tell their family and friends about his amputation. So, he decided to take a fun, admirable and lighthearted approach to his impending operation, entitled "The Last Adventures of Joe's Left Foot."
"We didn't want this to be a 'pity us' moment," she said. "We wanted it come across as hopeful."
Kaley Pleban's photo album, first uploaded on Imgur, shows Joe before and after his amputation. The photos include several non-medical ways his left foot could not cause him any more trouble, including having his girlfriend saw it off and having a construction worker take care of it.
He even went to Sorry Mom Tattoo in Fredericksburg, VA and got a tattoo right above his foot that reads, "Please cut here."
Kaley Pleban said it really helped her brother, who she says is her best friend and an inspiration, and showed that he could have fun with a tough situation that would improve his way of life.
Joe had the surgery two weeks ago at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.
That's not to say he hasn't struggled with his decision. During the AMA, short for ask me anything, he said it was a tough choice but something that had to be done.
"Right before the surgery, I was definitely freaking out a bit. It was such a 'no turning back' decision. But as soon as I woke up from the surgery and looked down, I knew I had done the right thing," Joe Pleban said. ?
One Redditor asked him what his Halloween plans were.
"Me as a surfer, my girlfriend as a shark," he joked. "Complete with the surfboard and the bite cut out of it."
Joe also told redditors that he hopes to get back to snowboarding and wants to look into the Paralympics.
"We have been both moved and very entertained by Reddit user rightfooted's AMA," said campaign organizer Daniel Seeff of UNYQ, a company that creates 3-D embellishments for prosthesis. "We will match whatever contribution is made by Reddit users. If Reddit users donate enough to pay for one cover, we will give him another one for free."