SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — At just ten months sober, Michael Quinones suffered a horrible injury that would almost certainly send him back into the harrowing grips of addiction, if he decided to keep his foot.
Quinones was working a landscaping job in 2017 when a mower slid down some wet grass, slicing open the back of his heel and destroying his foot and ankle bone structure.
“They were amazed that I was still alive when I got to the hospital because I guess I should have bled out,” Quinones recalled.
The freak accident came at a time when things were finally looking up for the recovering addict, who had been through countless rehab programs and recent incarceration. Doctors told him if he kept his foot it’d most likely mean undergoing multiple surgeries and a lifetime of pain medication prescriptions.
Three days later, he went through with the amputation.
Monica: Do you think you would have fallen back into addiction if you were on pain meds?
“Ugh, yeah…pretty much,” Quinones admitted. “It’s mental for me. It’s like one of those things where I just don’t think it’s a problem, and then it becomes a problem–especially if you give me like the ‘ok’ like a prescription or something. I left the hospital with no prescription.”
Now nearly three years sober, he is confident he made the right decision.
“I woke up in the hospital after surgery, and my room was filled with friends and family,” Quinones said. “I feel like if I was still in active addiction, I wouldn’t have had that support, you know what I mean? No one wanted to be around me. And I don’t blame them.”
He even works as a recovery specialist to help others struggling with addiction.
“I know it’s hard to love someone who has a past like that, but I feel like that’s what we need is just love. It helps a lot. It shows you’re not alone.”
This month marks two years since the accident. His perseverance, positive attitude, and ability to find humor in life’s darkest moments constantly makes his family proud. Michael’s brother Julian recently shared a video of Michael walking in the hospital just days after his amputation.
“No matter what you’re going through, just keep moving forward,” Julian wrote. “And when life gets real hard, think of Mike and what was going through his mind in this moment, “One step at a time.”
“When the accident happened, it was his choice to amputate and we supported his choice,” Michael’s mother Lizet said. “He didn’t get clean to go back to a life of taking meds for the pain. Today he gets up every day and gives back. I couldn’t be prouder of the young man God has blessed me with.”
Two years later and Michael is walking, running, driving, and playing sports without a problem.
“Just because I got my foot amputated, doesn’t mean I can’t do this or can’t do that, so I wasn’t going to let that define me or limit me to doing certain things.”
His story is something people in recovery from addiction or a major injury can learn from.
“I just got engaged, we were in Jamaica I proposed, she said yes! I work in treatment, I’m about three years sober, life is good, you know? I can’t complain. It has its normal problems, but it happens for everybody. Today, I don’t’ have to pick up a drink or a drug because of that.”