For those unfamiliar with the iconic physician Patch Adams, he has for the last 50 years devoted his life to giving free medical care to thousands of patients.
Robin Williams was chosen to play him in the movie Patch Adams, which was perfect for a doctor who often wears a clown nose and jokes relentlessly when he meets with patients, because he knows the healing power of laughter.
This week, the doctor himself was wearing a hospital gown when he made a video announcing that he had his lower leg amputated—and was thrilled with the idea that he could have a new nickname, ‘Stumpy.’
The founder of a healthcare center, Gesundheit! Institute in West Virginia, he was stricken six months ago with a nasty recurring case of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). After three operations on his foot, he realized “it was time to amputate.”
“With the MRSA in there, I would not have a foot healthy enough to dance or to clown, which are two of my favorite things.”
The 75-year-old cheerfully described the miracle of today’s prosthetics, which allow people to run and do anything that anyone else does. Plus, he now has a new prop in his comedy toolkit.
“What’s beautiful is, it looks like a little TV screen on the end,” he said, describing his new shorter leg. “And, I’ve been thinking of all kinds of opportunities for clowning.”
“I can have hiding little characters that sit on that screen… like a nice ‘mooning’ picture.”
He realized, “there’s all this “negativity” around amputation,” so he has already begun joking with the hospital staff, calling his new schtick ‘Fun With Amputation’.
In a way, this has been his message for health care providers all along: lighten the mood and you will lighten the struggle.