Time out with T.O. - An act of piracy

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | October 04, 2019

Image with caption: Zachary Wordekemper, M.D.

Zachary Wordekemper, M.D.

Zachary Wordekemper, M.D., enjoys life.

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Dr. Wordekemper wore his pirate costume to Spirit Week.

A first-year resident in family medicine, Dr. Wordekemper experienced a life-changing moment in 2016 when he crashed on his motorcycle and ultimately wound up losing his lower right leg.

As detailed in a UNMC Today story earlier this year, Dr. Wordekemper has continued to lead an active lifestyle - in spite of having a prosthetic leg.

He continues to ride his motorcycle, plays volleyball and wants to run in the Paralympics.

So, Dr. Wordekemper thought, if you have a prosthetic leg, why not make the most of it?

He went online and ordered a pirate costume. The cost -- more than $100.

During the last week of September, Dr. Wordekemper was doing a rotation at Children's Hospital & Medical Center. It happened to be Spirit Week, and health professionals were encouraged to wear costumes. You can see where this is going.

Dr. Wordekemper wore a different costume every day, but he saved the pirate costume for Thursday, which was Character Day.

He visited a variety of pediatric patients, but he's not quite sure they completely grasped his pirate routine.

"Most of them were asleep," he said. "They probably thought it was a weird dream. I'm not sure the kids understood 100% that I had a real peg leg. It probably needed a little more explanation."

Obviously, Dr. Wordekemper is not one to let a minor setback like this hold him down.

He plans to crank out the pirate costume again on Halloween. He'll be seeing patients in the Family Medicine Clinic on the second floor of the Durham Outpatient Center that day.

What would you expect? After all, he needs to get a return on his investment.


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October 07, 2019 at 9:47 AM

Great outlook on something that could have made you depressed and give up on life!

Carmen Sirizzotti
October 06, 2019 at 6:53 PM

Awesome story! Glad Dr. Wordekemper brings a smile and hope to children with his positivity.

Lisa Spellman
October 04, 2019 at 2:06 PM

Awesome costume Dr. Wordekemper!

Catherine Mello
October 04, 2019 at 9:48 AM

A great sense of humor - well done, Dr. Wordekemper!

Deb Vaca
October 04, 2019 at 9:06 AM

What a great outlook on life! He sounds like he is a great person and a fantastic Doctor!

Jennifer Bull
October 04, 2019 at 7:54 AM

That is a fantastic costume! Well done!