Joshua Nowlan, one of the heroes of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., will have his leg amputated as a result of his injuries and is asking for help to pay his medical expenses.
Nowlan, who had been an avid outdoorsman, before selflessly throwing himself in front of gunfire in 2012, has found himself in a completely new reality. He has endured seven surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy since the shooting, but still lives with chronic pain and needs a cane to walk.
This is what ultimately led him to the decision to have his leg amputated. The gunshot destroyed most of the muscle, tendon, and soft tissue in Nowlan’s leg. After years of limited mobility and chronic pain, he and his doctors have decided that the best course of action is to amputate below the knee.
Five years ago, the Navy veteran and single father of two attended the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the third film in the Batman series directed by Christopher Nolan.
What should have been a night at the movies with friends ended in tragedy, after James Holmes entered the theater dressed head to toe in tactical gear, and began firing into the crowd. Twelve people lost their lives that night, including a 6-year-old girl.
Nowlan was there with two friends who had recently married. He used his body as a shield to protect his friend’s wife from the gunfire, and was shot in the arm and in the leg.
Nowlan would later testify at the shooter’s trial, describing the pain of his injuries as comparable to “lying on a bed of needles while someone with a sledgehammer hammered on my leg and my arm.”
Today he is looking for relief, in more ways than one. “The medical costs of this procedure, even after insurance, are a staggering $50,000. Recovery will be physical and mental: wound healing, muscle strengthening, preventing falls, phantom limb pains, and finally learning to walk again using a prosthesis,” writes Kristen Nicholson, a friend organizing the fundraising drive on Nowlan’s behalf, on the crowdfunding page for his surgery.
The mental scars from the shooting linger as well, and have proved to be just as challenging as his physical injuries. In a piece for the Huffington Post, Nowlan recalls his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I stayed away from most of my friends and faked a smile so people wouldn’t worry. I ignored Facebook posts and text messages or made excuses to friends and family and said I had other plans. There were a few times I agreed to go out with people and then canceled at the very last second,” he writes, “That’s when I decided to go see a therapist who specializes in PTSD and traumatic events.”
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