Man who lost leg after spider bite finds hope, healing

Lamar Hepinstall is still trying to come back from a spider bite 7 years ago.

"I put on a pair of boots to go to a friend's wedding and got up the next morning and my foot was all swelled up," Hepinstall remembers.

At the time, he thought he had twisted his ankle. But, within days Hepinstall was in the emergency room, critically-ill. His doctors told him he'd been bitten by a brown recluse spider.

They're rare in Georgia, but their venom can severe skin damage.

"It causes the flesh around it, anything it touches, that poison it kills," Hepinstall says. "That's why it's so effective and damaging because it spreads so fast."

Things got so bad, surgeons had to amputate part of his leg, and he spent 3 months in a medically-induced coma. Hepinstall also has diabetes, and kidney disease, which complicated his healing.

For a while, his prognosis was so bleak, he was placed in hospice. He says his faith pulled him through.

"I decided then, 'God, I'm going to have to depend on you your more,'" he says.

But learning to depend on a prosthetic leg has been tough. Hepinstall has fallen several times, breaking bones. In December of 2017, he had a major setback, breaking his femur, or thigh bone.

"And then I thought to myself here we go again," he says.

He landed in HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Newnan, working with physical therapist Gregory Brackett and his team to build his balance and strength.

"That was a big thing, and it still is," he says. If I have to go anywhere I have to use the wheelchair.

Brackett is trying to help Hepinstall walk more smoothly on his prosthetic.

"The main thing is the sensation issue," he says. "You're looking at walking on something you can't physically feel."

These days, he is no longer an in-patient at HealthSouth, he's a peer volunteer.

"Every day instead of getting dreading to get up, or depressed about it, I say, 'God, here I am. Hear me. Use me. Send me where you need me to go and I'll go," Hepinstall says.