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After trying everything to relieve pain, Aurora theater shooting victim to have leg amputated

Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 00:16:54-05

AURORA -- Joshua Nowlan doesn't expect life to be fair. But he wants his life back.

"My day, from when I first wake up to when I go to bed, is a constant reminder of what happened to me," said Nowlan, who was shot in the arm and the leg during the Aurora theater shooting five years ago. "And the pain, mentally and physically, is always there."

From pain medication to physical therapy to acupuncture, Nowlan has tried everything to address the unrelenting pain. On the surface, it has worked. He rides his bike, ran a marathon and does CrossFit.  But the pain is always there.

So he decided it is time to make a drastic choice.

"For me, I feel that amputating my leg is my final step, and I want to go the final step," said Nowlan.

Dr. John Schwappach is the orthopedic traumatologist who saved Josh's leg the night of the shooting, but next week, he will take it off just below the knee.

"I think for the last four years, we’ve hoped that the pain would go away and it simply hasn't," said Schwappach. "I see a person who has tried to deal with unrelenting pain, and despite the best possible psychological makeup he can’t deal with it anymore. It seems reasonable to look at extreme alternatives in that situation."

Nowlan said even with the risks of surgery, amputation is the best option he has.

"I'm really thinking about my quality of life now and amputation seem like the best [way] to improve my quality of life," said Nowlan. "If I can amputate the leg and the pain is then finally gone then there is one more piece of me that I can finally let go of the tragedy that has been. And it's another hurdle in my life that I can finally get over."

If you are interested in donating to help Josh with medical expenses, click here.