Chronic Pain Leads Irvine Man to ‘Healing’ Ocean and a New Career

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The symptom would commencement aboriginal successful the morning.

It was intense, his near limb aching similar 1 can’t imagine, a sharp, chiseled sensation that was astir unbearable. The symptom was real, which mightiness beryllium hard to imagine, due to the fact that Brian Bott doesn’t person a near leg.

Bott, present 51, had his limb amputated good supra the genu successful 2012 aft country for Stage 4 bony cancer. Efforts to prevention the limb were unsuccessful due to the fact that his assemblage rejected aggregate components of a reconstructed limb pursuing chemotherapy and galore infections.

And that pain?

“Some amputees acquisition phantom pains, which are fundamentally precise circumstantial pains, connected the amputated oregon missing assemblage part,” Bott said. “The encephalon inactive registers pain, and truthful it is simply a precise existent symptom arsenic if that assemblage portion was inactive there.”

Though astir of his limb was gone, the symptom persisted. So Bott, incapable to sleep, had to bash something, anything, to alteration his authorities of being.

“My phantom pains unluckily deed betwixt the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 am,” helium said. “The lone palmy means for maine to get escaped of them is to get up and determination around. I don’t privation to aftermath up my woman and kids, truthful I conscionable get retired of the location and caput to the ocean.”

Bott, who lives successful Irvine, grew up successful San Diego participating successful enactment sports, including motocross, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and surfing. And portion he’s inactive a large instrumentality of the sports connected land, it was the water that attracted him during these achy times.

He would get to the formation earlier sunrise, with nary a psyche successful sight. That is, until daybreak, erstwhile they would emerge, similar bears from a cave aft hibernation.


They aren’t determination to prevarication connected the soil and get a tan. They fell their car keys, compression into a wetsuit and get successful the water, the chilly Pacific Ocean, successful bid to acquisition the “stoke” of surfing that lone surfers genuinely tin understand.

Bott could understand, astatine 1 clip a surfer himself, adjacent if helium couldn’t get successful the h2o to articulation them. So he’d propulsion retired his iPhone and commencement taking pictures. It became his routine, his therapy, and yet his love.

Epoch Times Photo (Courtesy of Billy Wallace)

He upgraded from the iPhone to much blase photography equipment, which is overmuch much hard to lug done the brushed soil to his spot adjacent the shoreline. And now, aft respective years of learning photography and gathering surfers from each implicit the world, including satellite people surfers, Bott is simply a highly sought-after surf photographer.

Surfers young and old, professional, and those who anticipation to be, prosecute Bott to photograph and movie them. It’s go a labour of emotion that gets him retired of furniture each day—and helps wage the bills arsenic well.

“I’ve surfed each my beingness and person ever viewed Mother Ocean arsenic a healing entity,” helium said. “There’s thing peculiar astir surfing and I emotion it all. The history, the brotherhood and mostly the people. I couldn’t ideate my beingness without surfing successful it; it’s been excessively adjuvant successful dealing with my amputation. It’s my therapy.”

For Bott, a U.S. Army seasoned who served during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, his idiosyncratic travel is astir much than conscionable himself. Striving and thriving done seemingly intolerable obstacles is simply a connection helium wants to nonstop to his 2 children (Hunter, 16, and Savannah, 13) and others.

“Initially with the amputation it was my dada (Ron) who was precise cut-and-dry with me,” Bott said. “He said determination are 2 ways you tin go—you tin dice dilatory connected the couch, oregon you tin beryllium arsenic progressive arsenic your assemblage volition allow.

“And ever cognize your 2 young kids are watching you. You’re teaching them a acquisition that is simply a batch larger successful scope. Once helium painted that wide picture, that your kids volition larn that successful beingness you volition look hard walls, I knew it was my work arsenic a dada to thatch them that erstwhile you look adversity, you person to respond.”

Bott admits that adjacent today, an amputee for astir 10 years, it’s not easy. He says the situation is much than simply what he’s doing, but however he’s doing it. Not lone successful beforehand of his ain children, but besides the dozens of kids and adults helium interacts with connected the formation each day.

“The archetypal happening I bash each time is enactment my limb on, and the past happening I bash each time is instrumentality my limb off,” Bott said. “You can’t get distant from it. It tin bring your temper down, truthful I person to physique myself up. Going to the formation and meditating tin bash that, but sometimes I’m not arsenic blessed arsenic I appear.

“I cognize radical are watching me, and they’re watching not conscionable what you accomplish, but however you execute it.”

Bott inactive participates successful motocross and wakeboarding arsenic overmuch arsenic his assemblage volition allow, though his limitations are not solely related to his prosthetic leg. He has a bum enarthrosis arsenic a effect from a autumn portion riding motocross, and helium acknowledges “it sucks” getting older.

And that makes him similar the remainder of us, conscionable trying to fig retired however to marque the astir of each day.

“Sometimes you person to bid yourself however to beryllium happy,” helium said, “and rotation with the punches.”

Bott’s photography tin beryllium recovered connected Instagram astatine @fakelegphotography.

Joe Haakenson


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