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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum

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  1. 5 points
    Hi desperatewalker! OK well let me start off by saying your not alone. With that you may draw the inference this means there is very very limited funds that centers draw upon for prosthetics and their ultimate provision. To be able to grasp what your issue is could you tell us your amputation type, how long have you been an amputee, what is your current provision, your level of mobility or capability and finally which DSC you attend . Off the bat I can tell you from personal experience that if you can demonstrate levels of capability, need and beneficial results from provision , the there are numerous limbs the NHS can provide to assist in helping you fulfill your potential. If you are ultimately looking for that shiny plug in kit lime the ex military lads get via the NHS then your likely to be wasting your time. Unfortunately there is a real two tier prosthetics provision system in our NHS where ex military ( using redirected public funds from the NHS - into a special funding scheme for ex military only) not only get fastracked access to NHS specialist center treatment but are also given exclusive access to prosthetic componentry that civilian users are not considered for and unable to be provided with. Disgusting and unfair YES of course it is- limb loss is traumatic and devastating regardless of how we end up with it. Many of us do not get the chance to choose a scenario where that risk is increased or demolished - ex military to some extent had the opportunity not to sign up and thus reduce their exposure to such risks - I'm sure most of us civies would love to of had a chance to do something to help avoid our limbloss. Anyway that's a whole nest of hornets for another post and day!!! So let me know about the things I mentioned and we'll take it from there- I'm sure I can help you see it from a rational perspective and realistic viewpoint. One last thing - being the NHS be prepared for the long haul and to jump through the proverbial hoops to get the stuff you need. Do you also have any underlying conditions that caused or contributed to your amputation or are you otherwise fit and well? Hope I've helped a bit and I'll do what I can to steer you in the right direction .
  2. 2 points
    Hi Everyone, I hope you're all doing well. I truly appreciate the well wishes. It means so much. Things are slowly but surely getting back to normal around here, which is good - Being busy makes it easier. Lauren is now back at school. It's amazing that just a year ago, we were so unsure of how she'd do, but now, one year later, she's excelling. She was very excited to get back to her friends and her routine, and since she took summer classes, she's back up to pace with her peers. She continues to have 24/7 help at school, which is so helpful for her, even as she has become more independent. After my mother's passing, Lauren spent a lot of time with us and her sister, and just spent time relaxing. I think she needed it, and she seemed energized as we left her back at school. I know that she's going to have a great year! She continues to make strides physically, as her phantom pain has gotten a lot better, and as her feet and legs have gotten stronger. I know that Lauren still misses the way things were, but she's so good at just continuing to adapt. The hot, humid weather in NY (and now back at school) has made it tough for her to wear her cosmetic arms, so she has been going without them, which I think has made her a bit more comfortable in her own skin. Every day, it gets easier it seems. I hope everyone has a great long weekend... And thanks again for all of the support. Best, Marion
  3. 2 points
    Hey cobber.............. Just updating as well...........
  4. 2 points
    Hi Please tell everyone you know about the new beginner's cycling book for amputees coming out soon. Visit www.stumpsandcranks.co.uk to register your interest. It really is the best fun on less than four wheels that you could ever have! Thanks...
  5. 1 point
    Hi everyone, I just joined the group and am really impressed with how supportive and informative everyone is. I'm hoping that you can provide some insight into your experiences and help me make this crappy decision about what to do with my pesky ankle. Just as background, I was involved in a motorbike versus mini bus incident.....unfortunately the motorbike didn't win and neither did I. I broke my pelvis, femur, fingers and my right ankle was partially ripped off. There was an open dislocation of the ankle joint and my gracilis muscle and a skin graft was used as a muscle flap to try and reconstruct my foot. That was 3.5 years ago and obviously in that time I have undergone many surgeries, tried every type of pain killer, been through endless hours of physio and rehab and experienced the complete rainbow of emotions that comes with a major trauma injury and the eventual realization that its not going to get better (I'm sure you all understand what I mean). I could talk a lot about what I have been through, but it is all history and what I really need advice on is where I am physically at now, and how to make sure that I can get the best out of my future. I have been left with a not-so-gorgeous foot that I jokingly call my lawnmower foot (because it looks like it got stuck in a lawnmower), and while I couldn't care less about how it looks, I am bothered by pain and limited functionality. I have a limited range of movement in my ankle, but it is finally stable after my most recent surgery. I have been told by my surgeon that there are no other surgical options available to me - there is no point fusing my ankle because it is already stable and it probably wouldn't help my pain because there is clearly a lot of nerve damage. He said that because my ankle is stable, theoretically we just need to get my pain under control and has referred me to a pain specialist. He acknowledges that amputation is an option, but he is an orthopedic surgeon and is very much against the idea. So for the last few months I have been trialing different sorts of pain medication and been seeing a pain psychologist with very limited success. In my mind, I have been preparing to lose my foot for quite a long time and I am just making sure I go through all of the necessary steps to ensure that I have tried EVERYTHING and I wont have any regrets if I make the decision to have an elective BKA. MY PAIN LEVELS AND WHAT I CAN DO (with painkillers and with intermittent rest and elevation) I can walk on it for up to approximately a maximum of 3km per day before I turn into a weeping angry hot mess - that is a max of 3km TOTAL, including showers, bathroom, getting around the house and trying to go to work. And I sort of walk like Phoebe from that episode of Friends where she runs through Central Park with her arms waving about like a crazy woman. Realistically, I walked a total of 3km on Wednesday last week, and I was pretty limited in what I could do on Thursday because my ankle was so sore - but I can do it if I have to. When my foot is elevated I am really not in any pain at all. I could easily get away with no painkillers if I just stayed home and lay around all day. When I hobble short distances to the bathroom the pain is pretty minimal, but walking with no shoes is quite difficult because of the range of motion in my ankle and my clawed toes. I can wear sneakers and walk for a while with a pretty minimal limp. When my friends see me they scream with excitement because I can now walk into a room (slowly) without my crutches, its hard to explain why I would consider something like this. I have met a few people recently who had no idea that I have this injury because I was normally standing and sitting at a bar and I walked normally to the bathroom and to get a drink. At the end of the night they noticed I started limping and asked what was wrong with my leg. I can ride a bike with minimal pain for about 1 hour - most of the pain is associated with weight-bearing when I walk. After an hour of cycling the joint is getting pretty angry and my partner will probably have to help me walk back inside or carry me. I go to a weights/boxing circuit class several times a week and keep fit in the gym. I cant do many of the exercises in the circuit class, but I modify the exercises and do what I can to keep fit. I think regardless of whether I keep or lose the lawnmower foot, I need to be as physically and mentally as strong as possible. I am on this crazy rollercoaster where I wake up every morning and think "WOW, the pain isn't that bad, I could probably live with this, its finally turned a corner and I'm improving" and I feel hopeful, but then as the day progresses I just cant imagine living like this forever. Every morning I think WOW.......and every afternoon I feel crushed again - I feel this rollercoaster even though I know my foot isn't going to get better, and my best time in the morning will probably only get worse over time. I have been in immense pain and in a wheelchair and on crutches for 3.5 years - getting my body to a point where I can go for a walk every night is INCREDIBLE, it has been a long road and a lot of hard work to get here. I still want to cry with gratefulness every time I hold my partners hand and we walk along like a normal couple (because I don't have crutches anymore), and I cant explain how amazing it feels to go for a walk by myself, unassisted, independent - its just incredible. And although my foot hurts, its NOTHING compared to the agony of the combination of my injuries after my accident. I think the novelty of being in so much less pain and being so mobile after so long is making this decision so much harder. I just learnt how to walk again and now I want to chop my leg off?? Whaaaaaat????? I have read a lot of blogs, books, articles, seen a surgeon, spoken to amputees and tried to get as much information as I possibly can in order to ensure I make the best decision for me. have read lots of other FAQs that amputees have answered that talk about the actual operation and day to day living. Although I don't know what being amputee is like of course - I think I understand the general concerns and the risk that amputation wont give me a pain free life. Of course I worry about the usual things like getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night, swimming, sweating, surgery complications etc. But I think those issues are part of getting on with life and you just deal with them because you are an amputee and that is part of it. I'm worried that the combination of all of those issues will out-weigh the benefit of chopping off the stupid lawnmower foot. Funnily enough, I don't have any questions in my head about if I will still be able to do various activities. I am very clear that I have already lost my old foot. I know I wont run or snowboard again if I keep lawnmower foot. If I ever do that stuff again it will be through a lot of hard work and determination and probably with a prosthetic. But is living with a prosthetic worth being able to do that? Most other amputees that I have spoken to cant walk at all, or they have some sort of severe trauma/disease/deformity that really takes the decision out of their hands - but I can actually walk!! I think if I was 70 years old I would keep this foot and just take heaps of drugs to get through my day. But I am not, I am a healthy 34 year old female who loved the outdoors, running, snowboarding, dancing and LIVING. I hate taking painkillers. I hate that my partner does so much for me. Right now, if I could make the decision now it would be to amputate TOMORROW because I feel grateful that my injury was to my foot and not a spinal or brain injury - I have a second chance to remove my foot and get on with my life. My accident really taught me to be grateful for every day. At the moment I watch an ad on TV that shows an amputee running and I am so intensely ..... jealous?? I never thought I would be jealous of someone who has been through a horrible experience, but I really am. Just gut wrenchingly jealous every time I see the ad. I want that chance so badly. But maybe I should just be grateful I can walk with my own foot!!!! I guess I just wanted to know if there are any elective amputees out there who had to make this decision even though they could walk before the operation. I just have never spoken to anyone that had to make the decision to amputate even though they could walk with their own foot before the operation, and if they regretted it. How mobile were you?? Or any other considerations I should be aware of that they only now know because they have been through the operation? QUESTIONS: 1. If you could walk 3km in a day on a lot of painkillers, would you choose to keep your leg??? 2. With the benefit of hindsight based on what you know now about being an amputee, what level of pain and mobility would you put up with to keep your leg? 3. What would your pain score out of 10 be for you to keep your old leg? 4. What would you do??? Please feel free to be honest and say what you would do if you were in my position. I would never base my decision on what anyone else says they would do and I have been speaking to support groups, surgeons, amputees and anyone I can find who will talk to me for months....I'm gathering all the information that I can and will not base my decision on anyone's personal experiences or opinions. I am just curious what other people would do or have done. Sorry this is a long post - I just wanted to be clear about where I am at physically and why I am struggling with this decision mentally. Thanks for your responses. Aimz
  6. 1 point
    I was looking through on your website and came across your contact info. I read that because of so many letter's and short staff that not all letter's would be read. But I decided to go a head and write a letter to you anyways, and it would be self healing for myself since my amputation was so tramatic. I was so surprised when I received an email and a phone call from one of your people. I never thought this would happen. It was very heart warming to know that someone does care about the pain I am living everyday. For the first time in almost 3 years I feel that there is hope for me and that I might be able to get my life back again!! It's been a very difficult few years for me, but I now have hope!! Thank you so much for everything you do for people, and for your website because without it I wouldn't have learned the things I have or to have been able to talk to people, even becoming friends with some. It is very much appreciated! Mary Farquhar
  7. 1 point
    thanks for your encouragement. yes, I feel I have the right to at least try and mobilise with a prothesis. However, I do appreciate that having CP will complicate things, if I am going down, I want to go down fighting. Our national health service here in Scotland is free but if you don't meet the list of criteria, you won't be considered for a prothesis. To go private is too costly for us, we can't afford it, unless I was to set up a trust fund and start fundraising. But I am very lucky in a sense as after the op, my pain was down by at least 85%, my meds were reduced by two thirds and I rarely am bothered with phantom pains. I have a strong faith basis, which helped me and my husband thru the worst. Basically we were told in the spring of last year that if I didn't have the op sooner rather than later, the ongoing infection could get into my body and prove fatal. 6 weeks later I had the op. It ended up with me being an AKA left leg but the would healed perfectly and no signs of any further infection. Sorry for going on like this but it's the first website I've found where others understand what I'm going thru. Take care and God bless, Lillian Ann
  8. 1 point
    Hi Julie, I can relate oh so well to your story although mine only went on for three years before I opted for a BKA. I was in a bad car accident--the woman was not looking where she was going. I was in hospital for two week, but the swelling had to g0 down. The orthopaedic surgeon I drew (was flown back to Canada by air ambulance and he was the surgeon on call--bad choice) He was a really bad doctor as even though the doctors in Boston, where I was injured, said I would need surgeon. This guy's pronouncement was, "well, I dunno what I would operate on." I finally became such a headache for him he transferred me to the ankle specialist. It was like night and day--this fellow was GREAT and as soon as I was transferred I had surgery within in the week. It was plated and screwed, but it never really healed and I was in pain and in a wheelchair. About 4 months later he decised an ankle replacement was the key--no such luck. Finally he decided to fuse it--the cure all he told me--no such luck. He was a great surgeon and a great doctor, so I couldn't blame the surgeries. Once again the surgery failed. I was fed up with being in a wheelchair--my boss refused to do any kind of accomodation to allow me to get into work except by crawling--that is another whole story. I decided my best bet was an amputation, but my doctor thought that was too radical--he questioned whether I realized it was forever--ugh yes! He scheduled an appointment with the amputation doctor who evaluates for amputation and by good fortune I never got to see him before my surgery as I know he would have said NO from a later encounter. I did lots of research, talked to the Prosthetic department (prosthetics were under a provincial plan) . They were great and encouraging. So, I had the RBK amp and have never looked back. In fact I went to see the doctor 18 months later doing very well and he said to me, "We probably should have done this 2 years ago!" Like you I was very active and was more than fed up being in a wheelchair. Even though the first year was tough, I have regained my life. I have totally renovated my house (95% myself), I care for my yard and I got back to leading tours to Viet Nam (I was a nurse in the American War and fell in love with the country and people) So, there are some things I am working on like getting back to Rock Climbing--but it is coming. And I am no spring chicken at 69. I found the trick is don't let others tell you what you can/are able do as my friends have not been correct. If I think reasonable I can do it--I do it. OIn your research be sure you at the Amputation Coalition http://www.amputee-coalition.org/and https://www.facebook.com/AmputeeUSAThey hold a conterence each year and the first one I went to gave me my life back. Next year June in Greenville, NC Yesterday I got a new foot which is more technology advanced and although each new foot takes getting use to, I already love it and feel more secure. If you have more questions please ask. Peace, Beth Marie Murphy, Kamloops British Columbia
  9. 1 point
    Hi Everyone, I hope everyone is having a great Fall! Here in NY, the weather is finally getting a bit cooler, which is a nice change. Some exciting news -- Lauren is officially dating!! She met a wonderful young gentleman named James in one of her classes at school, and they seem to have hit it off. Lauren was surprised that he took such an interest in her, but he seems to be genuinely interested in her for who she is, arms or no arms. They went on a few dates, and Lauren just seems so happy. She called me up so excited the other day to tell us all about it. They went to a movie the other night, and he even held her foot like one might hold hands. Lauren's exact words were that he makes her feel so normal. I think that the fact that she see that she can still be attractive (even physically) is going to be a major, major step forward for Lauren. It was so exciting to here how excited she was on the phone that I just had to share the update. Everything else is going well -- She's doing well at school, and continuing to adapt and grow. All the best, Marion
  10. 1 point
    Finally, a tiny bit of publicity....such a shame it wasn't picked up by the other media and given more prominence.
  11. 1 point
    Well heelllooo stranger! It's great to hear from you, Cat...I was literally just wondering about what you and Ruth were up to last week! It sounds like you're definitely keeping busy, but do try and poke your head in here once in awhile, as we're certainly in need of some "livening up" around this place! It was probably the upcoming conference that got me thinking about you...I managed to miss the one year you were able to attend, but I am going this year and it sounds like it's going to be a fine time. Of course, like me attending whenever the ACA conference comes to the western U.S., I'm sure that an Aussie event is much easier for you! Take care!
  12. 1 point
    Hi All, I hope you're all doing great! We are in the process of trying to make the schedule work to attend the conference in Tucson. Lauren is doing a a summer program at NYU here in New York for a few weeks to get her back on track in terms of credits for college from when she had the accident, so we are just trying to work it out so that she doesn't miss any necessary days. We expect to hear back within the next day or two. Lauren officially finished the semester! Words simply can't express how proud of her we truly are. This has been the most trying year of our lives by far, but she's persevered and has made an enormous amount of progress. It's really hard to believe that one year ago, she was 100% completely dependent on others for even the simplest of tasks, and now she's able to write, eat, and excel in college, with just minimal assistance. I thank this whole group as well for all of the support and words of encouragement. Lauren has been relaxing a bit since she got home from school, and has really enjoyed being back with her closest friends, and of course, her sister. While she of course sill has her difficult days, they're getting less frequent, and I think she's moved past the "grief" stage and has accepted that this is the new normal. I really credit her going back to school and trying to get back into a normal routine for that progress. I also think that having a really good set of cosmetic arms has helped her self confidence in those sticky social situations as well. We had a visit with the Dr. and the prosthetist last week, and thankfully, everything is good on the health side, and her stumps have really healed very nicely. Certainly most, if not all of the scarring is gone, and the medication has really helped her phantom pains and sensations. While she's still not a good candidate for prosthetics, that day is getting closer thanks to all of the technological advances. It's amazing. I will keep you all updated as we make our plan for AZ - We are really, really trying to get there. All the best, Marion
  13. 1 point
    Hi Everyone! It's been a crazy few weeks here, with some travel and family commitments. Lauren is doing well, and is getting ready to wrap up the semester at school. It's hard to believe that the year is basically done for her - and that it's been a year since she lost her arms. The amount of progress that she has made is remarkable - A year ago, we would have never imagined that she'd be back at school and doing even the simplest things for herself, and yet, thanks to hard work and an amazing attitude, Lauren has excelled. She still needs plenty of assistance, of course, but the progress has been amazing as she's really learned to use her feet and even her mouth. I have told Lauren about the event and about Tisha. I'm sure that once the semester is over, she will reach out. I agree - Meeting others who are in a similar situation (which for Lauren and Tisha, is very rare) is such a valuable thing. All the best, Marion
  14. 1 point
    Am enquiring what peoples experiences are nine months post amp surgery. I had a revision amp approximately nine months ago. My leg is healed and no problems post op from the surgery, but the prosthetic side has been difficult and I have actually gone backwards in terms of what I can do, pain levels etc with subsequent sockets I have been given in the last four months since my walking on my first prosthesis at the end of last year (different prosthetist) and am currently walking very little and experiencing quite a lot of pain from sinking down into even new sockets which seem to need 'lining' within a day or so. My set up is a pretty basic below knee prosthesis, which is the norm for me to use. I was using a silipos sock and numerous amounts of regular socks on my previous socket, this one though I have an Alpha Liner and two thick socks, I have only had it about a week but am very deep in it. My stump doesn't look particularly swollen, is, I think a good shape, it did shrink somewhat after revision surgery, but hasn't changed much now for a few months, but I am being told the opposite and that it is the reason I am unable to get comfortable fitting sockets. I am being told this is normal for my stage post surgery, I dont think it is, but perhaps I am wrong so that is why I am trying to find out from others whether or not my expectations of walking/wearing a prosthesis without pain, walking around medium sized supermarkets etc., being to wear it most of the day etc is beyond what would be expected at this stage. Would add that am very used to walking on prosthetics, have been an amp for many years and had previous revision but never had so many difficulties as what I am encountering at the moment. Thanks, any input on peoples experiences at this stage post op, would be helpful.
  15. 1 point
    I have not been on here for quite a long time but have some good news on new technology that I am now using If you haven't heard of the EMS socket system, you will soon. I was the 2nd to receive this new inner socketry. First being a 40 year amputee BK and me being a 5 year amputee AK. Think of a golf ball and envision what the cover of a golf ball would look like inside out. Think dimple out or raised dimples. Your cast the same but the end result is a pliable socket thousands of "raised" dimples (oxymoron I know). Once my leg doc receives this piece from the manufacturer I am cast again while wearing it. When I came back the next time the socket is complete and in one piece. The inner socket is epoxied inside the carbon socket. I also use a proprietary pump system. Here is what is so cool about this new socket: The thousand of raised areas create a larger surface mass, 60% larger mass to be exact. Now I have a much larger area holding vacuum on my stump liner. The raised area also acts in a gripping fashion and the combination creates hold that I have never felt before. There are now about 15 of us on the globe with this new tech. They are designed by an amputee business associate of my leg doc and are now being made by Otto Bock I'm about 5 months in and the socket feels more part of me and the vacuum hold is amazing
  16. 1 point
    It's much, much better on the foot front, Tammie...and very strange on the prosthesis side of things! My foot wound has totally healed and I was back up and walking again. Then........I was asked to be the BK "fit model" for a seminar by Otto Bock demonstrating how to cast and fit for the Harmony elevated-vacuum system. It was a fascinating experience, and I wound up with a test socket by the end of the day. I was thrilled! Then....well....we took the test socket from the seminar and set me up with a full trial leg. It's been a love/hate relationship ever since! I love, love, love the stability of the leg and the feeling of having a fully natural stride again. I HATE the fact that I'm getting a LOT of skin breakdown! The Otto Bock guys have been called in to advise on revisions, and they think the problem is in the liner, since I'm not a "clear" standard size. Next step is to try a custom liner and see if that will stop the leg from trying to eat me alive. In the meantime, I'm currently out of all prosthetic devices and back in the wheelchair until things heal up on the stump. I really and truly hope and pray that they'll be able to adjust things so that I can go on using this leg...even with it trying to eat me alive, there's a lot to love about this leg. Sooooo....wish me luck, gang!
  17. 1 point
    You all deserve one as well for all the work you do in the background to make this forum work for all of us...We do appreciate it!
  18. 1 point
    What Ann says makes sense. Tell your legman you want to try different systems. If he is unwilling to do this, try another legman. It is your longterm comfort and health that is important here. He can make suggestions, but only you know what works best. I don't have a skin graft, but cannot wear the pin system because of the pulling on the end of the stump. I've never used the Harmony system, but have used a vacuum system. I liked the way it made the leg feel like it was really part of me, but I didn't like the way it kept it's tight fit while sitting. It all boils down to the fact that no one system is good for all of us. I've been using Ossur's Seal-in X5 liner for the past 4 years and love it. It has the convenience of a pin system without the pulling and yet the snug fit I like as in the vacuum without that tight fit of a vacuum. It works quite well for me.
  19. 1 point
    I have a Comfort Flex socket as a LAK. I use a more firmer plastic that still is flexable but not flimsey. Also, I pull my stump into the socket using the parachute material. There is no liner as my skin is tight against the plastic socket which fits inside the frame. No problems at this time.
  20. 1 point
    Hi there, I am myself a hip disartic and live in Australia. I have done quite a lot of searching for information in relation to legs. I have a young prosthetist who is willing to try different things. I have had one leg which did not work so well for me as it did not have padding in places where I needed it. I visited a prothetist in the US who works with Iraqi vet who have lost limbs and he uses body armor pants with gel bonded inside to give greater comfort. I know a couple of other disartic men who don't have those kinds of issues but they have been amp for many many years! I need comfort. I will get the leg on 5th Nov and am happy to send photos. My prothetist will be happy to share what he is doing. It has been a learning eperience for him! We use a socket that hugs your buttock and hooks over your hip bone. It does not go over to the other side as the old ones used to. He either used a velcor belt system or a ratchet (like the kind you get on a skate boot). I like the ratchet as once tight it does not move. Ask me questions and I will see if I can help. Good luck Linda .
  21. 1 point
    Susan, when I get a rash like you are describing, I have used a Benedryle (?) cream, or the aloe gel version on it. Either one.. The cream is going to give you some "slip" if it's a new liner, and the gel won't.. Also, the local CVS pharmacy carries the same things in the generic brand too, and they work just as well. I get a rash at the top of a new liner, every time, and have found that the aloe version works really well for the itching and the rash will heal in no time. You might try something like that.....I hope it heals soon, those things can drive you crazy.
  22. 1 point
    HI I dont think I am even wanting to write on this post, because I picked something along the lines of dating still exists, it was the other one that tied with this one, but I have heard so many times that theres a guy out there for you and I am like ok...but my leg doesnt bother me, and I wear shorts all the time to school and I think every guy knows there is something wrong, but I havent been on a date and I think I am too young to actually know what love is, because all I hear and see at school is PDA and breakups, so I dont see where in my case, and age that I could know what love is, I know I am pretty, because GOD made me special. So if a guy likes me, someday he will sweep me off my feet, sometimes I get so overwhelmed and forget to think about whats really important to me, believing and trusting in yourself and knowing who you are and how much you have to offer this world is everything, for all people who havent dated and dont want to, I dont blame you, but if you get the chance, then have a great time. At my age that is what every girl is doing, going out on dates and ending up saying things they dont mean. I am not sure I guess I have mixed emotions on what is love really? Lesley
  23. 1 point
    Here's mine again! My Own Story I had been joking with other patients on the orthopaedic ward that the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and despite flu-like symptoms for the ten days previously, I wasn’t unduly concerned about my health. The aches in my leg as well as a couple of scabs on my knee that were taking longer than usual to heal were causing slight concern, but I had no reason to expect the sudden flurry of activity around my bed. A group of doctors, consultants and other medical staff all turned up to see me and seconds later the curtains remained closed, and the top surgeon Mr Ashley Brown & his Team at Southend General Hospital broke the news to me in no uncertain terms. He told me he had to operate immediately and even then he could not be certain he could save my life. He said he had no choice but to continue cutting until he was certain he had removed all the infected tissue. I was suffering from Necrotising Fasciitsis,a Tissue -eating bacteria which cuts off the blood supply and attacks organs, muscle and body tissue at a rate of 2cm an hour! Antibiotics can’t treat it, and if not dealt with swiftly it can kill and often does. When the bacteria is removed from the body, it leaves toxins into the bloodstream causing the body to go into toxic shock, and sufferers often die from this rather than the NF. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and there was barely time for the news to sink in. I had just two hours to prepare myself for an operation that at best I would survive, with a leg missing, but at worst I would not survive at all. There was just enough time to see my German girlfriend Silke and my two daughters, Amy 12 and Louise 15. ( I am divorced) It was an emotional time for everyone, but at least I didn’t have long to dwell on what was about to happen. It was hard to believe that just a couple of weeks earlier life had been perfectly normal, and now I was being told I could die. I worked as a roofer, and only twelve days previously had been working on a flat roof, where there had been some stagnant water in a blocked outlet. It was nothing unusual and I am quite used to have clear leaves and other debris from such ducts. This time, the foul-smelling water obviously harboured this deadly germ and a couple of scabs on my knee provided the point of entry for the infection. Sore knees are just one of the hazards of working as a roofer, and as one of my hobbies is scuba-diving, they sometimes don’t get a chance to heal very quickly. Just a day after working on the roof I began to feel unwell, with flu-like symptoms, and aches and pains in my leg, which I put down to a pulled muscle while I had been working. This continued for almost a week, before a friend took one look at me and said I really ought to go into hospital. Even then staff didn’t know what the problem was, apart from the Dermatologist a Mrs Henderson who’s quick thinking in sending away cultures for analysis confirmed the diagnosis of NF. Following the operation, I was put in a sedated coma for ten days, as the toxic shock took over my body, and I was left to fight for my life. It’s a little like having sunburn on the inside as the body heats itself to such a high temperature to fight the bacteria, and all this overheating causes the body to burn up many calories. It as very fortunate I weighed a hefty sixteen stone because those who don’t have any excess weight, literally waste away. Afterwards I weighed just 11 1/2 stone, and soon after I came out of the coma, I remember my mother trying to force me to eat chocolate as nursing staff had told her how important it was that I should eat. My leg had been cut eight inches above the knee, and because it wasn’t a planned amputation, and surrounding muscles were infected, it wasn’t finished in quite the same way. Fortunately an eminent plastic surgeon happened to be at the hospital that day. Mr Lotion Kengesu He, along with many other doctors were present during the operation, as it is something very rare. His expertise ensured I was left with a stump that could accept a prosthesis ( walking aid) without the need for further surgery. During the ten days I was in the coma, Silke, an osteopath, talked me through what had happened, and I did take in things she had been saying. The first time I was fully conscious I didn’t want to look at what was left of my leg, but it is vital to do so as part of the recovery process. You have to accept what has happened, andI was given counselling by some wonderful nurses, (by this time I had been moved to a specialist Plastic sugery unit St Andrews in Chelmsford ) who helped to look at my leg, touch the wound and see what had been done. It is hard to describe my feelings afterwards, as it is something none of can ever imagine happening. The first time I tried to sit up was awful. I had been lying down for two weeks, and as I raised my head the room began to spin, I felt nauseous and it was very emotional. It took a while to come to terms with what had happened. I spent a couple of months in rehabilitation , before finally coming home, and learning to adapt to a totally new way of life. I now wear a prosthesis and prefer not to wear a cover on it to make it look like a real leg. The phantom pains that amputees can suffer from are very painful, as the nerve endings look for a path, and if you start kidding yourself the false leg is a real one, the pains can be far worse. My family has coped well with what has happened to me and my girlfriend has been very supportive. Obviously I had to give up my job as a roofer, and am now still keeping busy. Studying for a diploma in I.T. Scuba diving & playing chess! I plan to go to University in January for a short course to train as an Access Auditor, helping to ensure public buildings come into line with various disability requirements. I also Work as a voluntary visitor for amputees and the disabled. Disablement has opened my eyes and made me reflect on how fragile our lives can be. Until this happened I was just like every other able bodied person, not really caring much about the disabled. But I now know just how much discrimination there is amongst the British whose ,traditional stereotypical stiff upper lip, and dislike of anything not quite normal prevents them from really looking at what’s going on and seeing how they can help. I am very different to the man I was a year ago and despite the trauma I have been through, I have emerged a much better person. As long as I get up one more time than I fall down! (sic Chris Moon) 1 leg still standing! :D Ps Since writing this piece 4 years ago, I now work as a Access Officer at Chelmsford Borough Council, I work as a model part time also. I have married my beloved Silke and I have continued working within the disabled movement: I play amputee football for Southend United, Scuba dive, play chess for Essex.
  24. 1 point
    My story I was a paratrooper in the army and I was deployed in northern Iraq. I was sleeping in one of Chemical Alis palaces. At about 3am I woke up and had a bad feeling didnt know what it was when all of a sudden BOOM an RPG came in through the window bounced off a wall and blew up at my feet. I crawled for my weapon when one of my sergeants saw that i was hurt and called a medic. I didnt really know how bad they were until i got back to the states about 10 days later. They originally told me I would only lose my left leg but when I finally saw my right foot I knew it was gone to.
  25. 1 point
    I've found dating to be actually a little easier now that I'm an amputee. I'm more comfortable with my body....as if the things I was worried about before have become so unimportant. I'm relaxed in my own skin, and I think that helps project a sense of confidence & ease. My only advice (& I learned this the hard way) is be up front about your disability. Honesty is a good starting point, and if the person decides they can't handle it, then you are better off without them.
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