“I got a septic infection in my feet and I didn’t know I was in trouble,” Stene said.
“Doctors said ‘your best chance for a normal life is to have bilateral below-the-knee amputations.'”
The 55-year-old woke up after surgery as a double amputee, but instead of sitting in despair, he found hope.
“I woke up from that feeling exhilarated. I was reminded ‘you’re alive’ and I wanted to keep doing positive things for my kids, my family and my friends,” Stene said. “I want them to look and say ‘he did it with positive attitude and didn’t become a jerk and he didn’t let it ruin his life he kept moving forward.'”
Even so, the life he knew was going to be very different. Soon after his surgery he was fitted with prosthetics.
“It dawned on me that I’m never going to get that feeling of running off that dock and jumping into the water and feeling the sand.”
Still, he shifted to optimism — it was his former career as a Calgary police officer that helped him find a way to adapt to this new reality.
“As a police officer, you have to go into difficult situations all the time and fix a problem,” Stene said. “It’s just the way I have chosen to live. I don’t see it as being extraordinary.”
His outlook is contagious. Other patients at his physiotherapist appointments and clients at Colman Prosthetics and Orthotics are encouraged by Stene’s attitude.
His prosthetist, Candice Jay, said it’s been pivotal to his quick recovery and adjustment to his ‘new legs’.
“That’s what I used to tell my rookies, you never know the impact you’re going to have on a life, so live it like you’re going to have that impact,” Stene said.