Virginia Man Takes Foot on “Adventures” Before Amputation

Joe Pleban prepared for the amputation of his foot with a photo series called "The Last Adventures of Joe's Left Foot"

Kaley Pleban

Joe Pleban knew losing his foot would change his life forever, but he decided humor, not self-pity, was the best approach to the tough situation.

So he prepared for the amputation with a photo series called "The Last Adventures of Joe's Left Foot."

"Paintball it off?" one photo suggests, or perhaps "Saw it off?" Pleban even got a dotted-line tattoo to help "all those med students" to know where to cut.

Pleban, 23; his girlfriend, and his sister Kaley created the series to face Pleban's impending amputation with humor, suggesting of the decidely non-medical methods for amputating his left foot, reported The photos were posted to Reddit and Imgur.

"We didn't want to come across as 'pity us, we have this really terrible situation'," Kaley Pleban told NBC Washington. "We wanted to keep things on the positive side."

That attitude is typical for the Plebans.

"Our family is extremely adventurous, we always have been, and when tragedies happen to our family, we always take a lighthearted approach," said Kaley Pleban. "It's scary, but we came to a point where we realized we had to be lighthearted about it eventually."

For Joe Pleban, of Fredericksburg, the choice to amputate his left foot was "almost a no-brainer," he wrote on Reddit.

Pleban was living with pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), a condition of the joint lining that causes pain, swelling and iron buildup inside the joint.

"I found out I had PVNS six years ago after a wake-boarding accident," Pleban wrote on a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" forum. "They went in to clear out scar tissue and found the tumors."

Pleban initially tried to live with the pain, but feared it would eventually stop him from leading an active lifestyle.

"After six years of watching every sport I loved being taken away from me because of my ankle, the idea of taking my ankle away and getting the ability to play all those sports again was almost a no-brainer. On paper it was the logical thing to do, it just took me a little bit to get past the emotional piece," he wrote on the forum.

Pleban looked to the future to finalize his decision.

He wrote on Reddit that It came down to having multiple operations throughout his life to repair his ankle, "or have one surgery to end them all and be as active as I want on a prosthetic."

Pleban's foot was amputated June 25 at Georgetown University Hospital in D.C. He is currently home recovering and working with a physical therapist and hopes to be fitted with his first custom prosthesis in the next few weeks.

For Pleban, staying positive isn't hard.

"I have an AMAZING support system," Pleban wrote to another Reddit user. "Between friends and family, it is easy staying positive. I also keep looking to the future when I will be able to run and play sports again."

An especially exciting part of his future? Halloween.

"[I'm going to be] a surfer, my girlfriend [will be a] shark," he said on Reddit. "Complete with a surfboard and the bite cut out of it."

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