Sharlon Bulo speaks four languages but had few words when complications from diabetes led to the amputation of his left leg.
The 47-year-old native of Curacao developed a cut on his foot that became infected. When treatment failed and the situation became life-threatening, Sharlon had no choice but to undergo have a below-knee amputation.
“I was active and independent and suddenly I was unable to walk. As hard as that was, I was hopeful that with the right rehab I would be able to walk and go about all my usual activities again,” said Sharlon. He chose Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – West Orange for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that “my “favorite childhood hero Superman – Christopher Reeve – had done his rehab there.”
Kessler’s team of limb loss specialists were ready to help Sharon “fly.” Doctors monitored his medical needs while his rehabilitation nurses helped managed his medications and worked with him on inspecting, dressing and wrapping his residual limb to improve healing.
Sharlon’s physical therapists taught him to transfer safely to and from a wheelchair. They also focused on building his strength and balance, eventually leading to gait training and the ability to negotiate stairs. He also learned how to inspect his limb and wrap it properly – skills he would need when he returned home. Similarly, in occupational therapy, Sharlon focused on learning to perform daily tasks safely and efficiently, including bathing, dressing, grooming and preparing meals.
“The knowledge and dedication of the staff were amazing. You could sense their passion for what they do,” said Sharlon. “They gave me the confidence and understanding to work toward my goals. Most of all, they made me feel at home ... like I was family to them.”
Sharlon also had the support of his own family who participated in special training sessions to help ease his transition to life ahead. “I’m looking forward to continuing my rehab [after discharge] and being fitted for a prosthesis,” he added.
Sharlon is also looking forward to returning to work in the real estate investment field and coaching youth baseball. He noted that he saw many parallels between his work and his recovery, saying, “You often have to be patient to see the results. Progress takes time. Life has its ups and downs, but with the right people supporting you ... guiding you, you can reach your goals.”