Clearwater barber loses legs, fingertips

Posted at 2:18 PM, Feb 24, 2016

Roger Polk is standing tall and trying to do what he loves, cut hair, despite losing his legs and some fingertips following a heart attack.

Following a routine golf game back in November 2014, Polk went and cut some client's hair at his Clearwater barbershop and then when home to watch football.  That is when he suffered a heart attack.

Polk slipped into a coma for three weeks.

"I came out of the coma and both my feet were black as coal and my fingertips," recalled Polk.

While in a coma, doctors gave Polk Heparin, an injectable blood thinner. 

It is used to treat and prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism and is also used as a part of the treatment of myocardial infarction and unstable angina.

A rare side effect is necrosis.

Polk is unable to sue the doctors because they used the medication to save his life.

"Just glad to be around," Polk said.

Polk first received prosthetic legs and underwent intensive rehab to learn how to walk again.  He can no longer drive a car.

"It's like walking on stilts," he explained.

He has two canes nearby and a walker inside of his barber shop of South Highland Avenue.

He's worked as a barber for 40 years.

Working is not so easy now that he is missing all the fingertips on his right hand.  He can no longer hold scissors or comb.  He has tried learning to cut with his left hand but has not succeeded.

He mainly uses and electric hair clipper now which has cost him clients.

Polk used to have 30-40 clients per day.

However, his longtime clients have stayed with him.

"I had kids that came in and sat on the little bench, they're bringing their kids in to sit on the little bench," he explained.

Polk has been speaking with a hand surgeon but Medicaid told him the procedure to get fingertip prosthetics is cosmetic and not a necessity.

Polk must now wrap his hand up every day to keep his fingers formed.

"If you don't keep them wrapped they'll spread out," Polk explained.

Polk is now saving money to pay for prosthetic fingertips.  They cost about $4,000.