A dad whose arms were mangled in a work accident now has prosthetic limbs so he can play with his sons, tie their shoelaces – and hold their hands.
Wells Middleton, 33, was working as a welder when a machine trapped both of his arms inside — and he lost both hands.
It crushed them and left him requiring over a month in hospital where he underwent more than ten surgeries to salvage as much of his hands as possible.
After missing the birth of his son while in hospital, Wells spent the next three years dealing with the trauma of the accident and learning how to use his prosthetic limbs.
Now, a quick look at his social media posts show a loving father-of-two relearning how to interact with the world.
The Mississippi dad can be seen attending his children’s sports games, gardening with his sons, and even managing to tie his eldest son’s shoelaces.
For Wells, his wife Lacey, and their two young sons, life after the accident has been difficult – but Wells says his family have been everything to him during his recovery.
Since the accident, Wells has made massive progress in his adjustments – he has been learning how to grab objects, go on shopping trips, and has even been able to hold his children’s hands again.
‘My wife was nine months pregnant at the time, and she was at the baby doctor that day,’ said Wells.
‘I was working around the machine, and the next thing I knew, I felt it grab my left hand and start pulling me in.
‘Out of instinct, I immediately reached in with my right hand to try to pull it out.
‘That’s when it caught both hands and started pulling me in and crushing my hands at the same time – I just started screaming.
‘I had fingers missing – some fingers were just bones. The skin on my left hand to my elbow was ripped off and hanging down to my belt loops.
‘I could see all the muscle around my forearms in my left arm. My right hand was flatter than a pancake, with fingers missing.
‘A week after the accident, my wife had the baby, and I wasn’t there to see it – we did a FaceTime call over an iPad.
‘I did really miss home – I missed my kids and my wife.
‘I was wrapped up in bandages, so I didn’t know what the extent of my injury was so but for the most part at the hospital, I was pretty positive just because I was excited to be alive.
‘I couldn’t have known that I wouldn’t be able to hold my kids’ hands anymore or throw a ball around with them or anything like that.’
Wells’ accident happened in August of 2020, and decided to fully amputate his hands at his doctor’s recommendation in January 2021.
Initially heartbroken about the thought of never holding his children again, Wells became determined to master the use of his prosthetic arms in order to make sure he can still play with his sons.
Since learning how to use prosthetics, Wells has been able to relearn how to grab and hold objects again – and most importantly, how to hold hands with his children again.
‘The main thing I’m able to do with my prosthetics is hold my kids’ hands again,’ he said.
‘Although I can’t technically feel my prosthetic holding their hand, I feel it in my heart.
‘At first, when I got my prosthetics, I was extremely excited – I didn’t realise the work that was ahead of me to get proficient with them.
‘With my hands, I didn’t have to think twice how to grab something, or how tight to hold it – but with prosthetics, you don’t know.
‘When you go from one day having hands and fingers to not having anything the next day, it shakes your world.
You start to really realise just how precious a gift your hands really are. I’m still learning how to adapt without hands.’
Now, three years on from the accident, Wells is still dealing with the long-lasting mental effects of his ordeal.
After developing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident, Wells sought therapy, and has since come a long way in his mental health journey.
Wells now sees a therapist regularly and shares his story online with hopes of letting other people with similar experiences know that they’re not alone.
With the love and support of his wife and two sons, Wells is continuing to learn to adapt to his prosthetics and work on his mental health – and one day hopes to go back to work and provide for his family.
‘I sat there in my house for the first couple of months and felt really alone,’ he said.
‘There’s still points to this day where I feel alone, even though I’m not.
‘I want to get my story out there because I want people who are going through anxiety, PTSD or amputation to know that they’re not alone.
‘I’m looking forward to one day being able to return to work and provide for my family.
‘I’m looking forward to watching my kids grow up and experiencing new things and opportunities with them.
‘I hope that my kids learn to love themselves no matter what. I hope they learn patience, and that no matter how bad of a situation they’re in, they have what it takes to make it out.
‘Lastly, I hope they only judge people by their character and not by their differences.’
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