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Sparky

My Story

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This is turning out to be harder than I thought; I have to go back to my childhood.

I was a complete failure academically, I only went to school for the sports, I boxed, did track and field, played football, cricket and swam, swimming was my first love and I was very good. My ambition was to win an Olympic gold at swimming and join the Royal Marines. Sport had taught me not to show weakness and to raise my game when my body was screaming at me to give up.

My accident happened on the 18th June 1965, I was 12yrs and 11 months old, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was trapped in a room with exploding 5 gallon drums of chemical, then the bulk of the stored chemical exploded as one, blew me clear out of the roof and I landed in the field behind, not a good landing, broke both my ankles. The ambulance and the fire brigade did not find me; it was a police officer checking the perimeter an hour later. I was taken to the local hospital, they did not have the facilities to deal with me and arrange for me to be transferred to a hospital 70 miles away, I was not expected to last the trip. My father had to be flown down from Scotland and went with me; he only visited me twice after that.

I spent 4 weeks in intensive care, had 2 nurses looking after me 24x7, died once and came back, no one could explain that to me, my surgeon, some time later said, it just wasn't my time to go. My mother moved into the hospital for that month, I couldn't speak to her or even see her, my eyes had been damaged and I had burnt the inside of my mouth, throat and lungs. Losing my legs does not come close to losing my sight. That first month is a bit vague because of all the drugs, I can remember lying in bed and touching my legs and having chunks of flesh coming away in my hands.

I was transferred into the burns unit; my wounds were dressed for the first time - what luxury. Once all the dead stuff had been removed, the actual damage could be assessed and it wasn't good. My legs from the ankle to the knee had been burnt to the bone and most of the calf muscle had gone too, my thighs had lost about a quarter of the muscle and my ankles were broken. I had to fight to keep my legs I still had my dreams and ambitions. My face had taken a beating and had to be re-built, the rest of me wasn't too bad in comparison. I also started to get my sight back. I went to the operating theatre every 7 – 10 days for months.

Went home after nearly a year in hospital, my friends came round to see me took one look at me and went. It was another 6 months before I went back to school, what a reception, I was treated like a freak. The names didn't bother me, being stabbed with sharp objects to see if I was real did, after a couple of days of this I grabbed to next boy to attack me and hit him so hard I split his nose, I didn't get any more hassle after that. Because of my age, I was too old to be classed as a child and to young to class as an adult and therefore sat in no-mans land when it came to support and rehabilitation – I just didn't get any. It was my choice to go back to school I didn't have to.

I spent every school and college holiday in hospital; it was Christmas 1970, gone in to have work done on my legs. I was in a new ward, purpose built for burns patients single or double rooms with on suite bathrooms and televisions and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the countryside. I was getting changed and caught my reflection in the window it was the first time I had seen my self naked. I had seen most of myself but only in sections this was the first time I had seen the whole picture, all I saw looking back at me was this grotesque thing if it wasn't for the timely intervention of a nurse doing her rounds I would have done myself in. I still have dark days, mainly when the infections take over and I'm laid in bed glowing bright red. My wife and kids have put meaning into my life and that's what keeps me going.

After I came out of hospital that last time, my GP arranged for a social services panel to assess me. I turned up and sat in front of seven people, a mixture of doctors and social workers. I was interviewed but I drew the line at stripping off so the could see for themselves, they proclaimed me to be severely disabled, didn't offer any sort of advice or support and in so many words told me I was good for nothing. I exploded, I hadn't gone thru 4yrs of physio hell getting my body straight and walking without a limp just to be told I wasn't good for anything. I walked out; I have never gone back to them.

I went out and proved to myself that I could do anything I wanted and I did, I have always found solutions to every obstacle. I know how short life can be, and that has changed my perspective on life.

I started to go down with continuous infections in the legs about 3 years ago followed by ulcers, last year it became unmanageable and I had to stop work. Christmas 2005 was probably the worst days of my life; I really don't remember any of it.

After a lot of test and scans, I received a letter from the hospital saying that I was booked in for surgery on February the 3rd; it didn't explain what the surgery was. I also received an invitation from the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit to meet the team – then I knew what the operation entailed.

The surgeon explained that my blood had stopped going into my legs and they were now rotting on the inside, because of all the burn damage/ previous repairs they could not be repaired again. He wasn't sure how much of my legs were damaged and they would start below the knees and work up the legs. Fortunately, it was a bilateral below knee amputation. For the first time in years I feel fit and healthy, I went back to full time work 3months later.

Because of the burn damage to my legs, my nice (very basic NHS) shiny new legs cut my stumps to ribbons. Now, after six months I am walking and planning a new future.

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Wow Sparky, I'm speechless (and that doesn't happen often), Your story just goes to prove just how strong the human spirit can be, and yours is strong.

Your story MUST be an inspiration to newbies wondering in this is where they should be

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MWAH :)

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Sparky

My experience was only one-sided (car crash and fire). I salute your courage and persistence. Mine is just over a year old, but I can clearly remember that there were no mirrors in the burn ward. I had to persuade a night nurse to bring me her little compact mirror so I could look at my face. In my case the windows were up high so no reflections and no one would allow me to sit up. GRRRR!!!

Thank you, Sir for sharing your story.

Gil Davis

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Sparky

You are right up there in my admiration of others.

I read your story with a lump in my throat, hope your life continues to improve!

Best wishes to you and yours

Neil

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This is turning out to be harder than I thought; I have to go back to my childhood.

I was a complete failure academically, I only went to school for the sports, I boxed, did track and field, played football, cricket and swam, swimming was my first love and I was very good. My ambition was to win an Olympic gold at swimming and join the Royal Marines. Sport had taught me not to show weakness and to raise my game when my body was screaming at me to give up.

My accident happened on the 18th June 1965, I was 12yrs and 11 months old, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was trapped in a room with exploding 5 gallon drums of chemical, then the bulk of the stored chemical exploded as one, blew me clear out of the roof and I landed in the field behind, not a good landing, broke both my ankles. The ambulance and the fire brigade did not find me; it was a police officer checking the perimeter an hour later. I was taken to the local hospital, they did not have the facilities to deal with me and arrange for me to be transferred to a hospital 70 miles away, I was not expected to last the trip. My father had to be flown down from Scotland and went with me; he only visited me twice after that.

I spent 4 weeks in intensive care, had 2 nurses looking after me 24x7, died once and came back, no one could explain that to me, my surgeon, some time later said, it just wasn't my time to go. My mother moved into the hospital for that month, I couldn't speak to her or even see her, my eyes had been damaged and I had burnt the inside of my mouth, throat and lungs. Losing my legs does not come close to losing my sight. That first month is a bit vague because of all the drugs, I can remember lying in bed and touching my legs and having chunks of flesh coming away in my hands.

I was transferred into the burns unit; my wounds were dressed for the first time - what luxury. Once all the dead stuff had been removed, the actual damage could be assessed and it wasn't good. My legs from the ankle to the knee had been burnt to the bone and most of the calf muscle had gone too, my thighs had lost about a quarter of the muscle and my ankles were broken. I had to fight to keep my legs I still had my dreams and ambitions. My face had taken a beating and had to be re-built, the rest of me wasn't too bad in comparison. I also started to get my sight back. I went to the operating theatre every 7 – 10 days for months.

Went home after nearly a year in hospital, my friends came round to see me took one look at me and went. It was another 6 months before I went back to school, what a reception, I was treated like a freak. The names didn't bother me, being stabbed with sharp objects to see if I was real did, after a couple of days of this I grabbed to next boy to attack me and hit him so hard I split his nose, I didn't get any more hassle after that. Because of my age, I was too old to be classed as a child and to young to class as an adult and therefore sat in no-mans land when it came to support and rehabilitation – I just didn't get any. It was my choice to go back to school I didn't have to.

I spent every school and college holiday in hospital; it was Christmas 1970, gone in to have work done on my legs. I was in a new ward, purpose built for burns patients single or double rooms with on suite bathrooms and televisions and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the countryside. I was getting changed and caught my reflection in the window it was the first time I had seen my self naked. I had seen most of myself but only in sections this was the first time I had seen the whole picture, all I saw looking back at me was this grotesque thing if it wasn't for the timely intervention of a nurse doing her rounds I would have done myself in. I still have dark days, mainly when the infections take over and I'm laid in bed glowing bright red. My wife and kids have put meaning into my life and that's what keeps me going.

After I came out of hospital that last time, my GP arranged for a social services panel to assess me. I turned up and sat in front of seven people, a mixture of doctors and social workers. I was interviewed but I drew the line at stripping off so the could see for themselves, they proclaimed me to be severely disabled, didn't offer any sort of advice or support and in so many words told me I was good for nothing. I exploded, I hadn't gone thru 4yrs of physio hell getting my body straight and walking without a limp just to be told I wasn't good for anything. I walked out; I have never gone back to them.

I went out and proved to myself that I could do anything I wanted and I did, I have always found solutions to every obstacle. I know how short life can be, and that has changed my perspective on life.

I started to go down with continuous infections in the legs about 3 years ago followed by ulcers, last year it became unmanageable and I had to stop work. Christmas 2005 was probably the worst days of my life; I really don't remember any of it.

After a lot of test and scans, I received a letter from the hospital saying that I was booked in for surgery on February the 3rd; it didn't explain what the surgery was. I also received an invitation from the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit to meet the team – then I knew what the operation entailed.

The surgeon explained that my blood had stopped going into my legs and they were now rotting on the inside, because of all the burn damage/ previous repairs they could not be repaired again. He wasn't sure how much of my legs were damaged and they would start below the knees and work up the legs. Fortunately, it was a bilateral below knee amputation. For the first time in years I feel fit and healthy, I went back to full time work 3months later.

Because of the burn damage to my legs, my nice (very basic NHS) shiny new legs cut my stumps to ribbons. Now, after six months I am walking and planning a new future.

WOW! Your strength of spirit is phenomonal.

when I am having a "down" day I will think of you and give myself a good shake. You are in my prayers.

JudyH

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wow sparky what an inspiration you are i had a left below knee last month and people on this site like you have helped so much i just want to say thanks for sharing your story and wish you well i hope you have a good xmas and even better new year.

Raven

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Update :

Christmas 2006 saw me laid up with infections in the legs (beginning to feel like 'Groundhog Day'). Had to stop work and get my legs sorted. Went to see a plastic surgeon in January of this year, he decided that the old burns scar tissue around my knees and stumps needs to be removed and replaced with new skin grafts. He will also release the tension behind my knees (the cause of all my arty leg problems last year) that is caused by tight scars on my legs. After waiting nearly 2 months I am finally being operated on next week, Thursday 22nd to be exact. Hopefully when my legs settle I'll be able to have my arty legs re-jigged so they are not as miss-shaped. Had to have my legs and sockets set to some strange angles to cope with my stumps, stumps have been pulled out to the side by the tight scars also, I cannot straighten my right knee without the socket rim doing damage.

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Update :

Christmas 2006 saw me laid up with infections in the legs (beginning to feel like 'Groundhog Day'). Had to stop work and get my legs sorted. Went to see a plastic surgeon in January of this year, he decided that the old burns scar tissue around my knees and stumps needs to be removed and replaced with new skin grafts. He will also release the tension behind my knees (the cause of all my arty leg problems last year) that is caused by tight scars on my legs. After waiting nearly 2 months I am finally being operated on next week, Thursday 22nd to be exact. Hopefully when my legs settle I'll be able to have my arty legs re-jigged so they are not as miss-shaped. Had to have my legs and sockets set to some strange angles to cope with my stumps, stumps have been pulled out to the side by the tight scars also, I cannot straighten my right knee without the socket rim doing damage.

You will be in my prayers Sparky, my surgery is the 20th I hope some one up there thinks we have had enough and gives us mercy and all goes well.

Skully Cat

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My prayers are with you, Sparky. I know all will be well.

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This is turning out to be harder than I thought; I have to go back to my childhood.

I was a complete failure academically, I only went to school for the sports, I boxed, did track and field, played football, cricket and swam, swimming was my first love and I was very good. My ambition was to win an Olympic gold at swimming and join the Royal Marines. Sport had taught me not to show weakness and to raise my game when my body was screaming at me to give up.

My accident happened on the 18th June 1965, I was 12yrs and 11 months old, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was trapped in a room with exploding 5 gallon drums of chemical, then the bulk of the stored chemical exploded as one, blew me clear out of the roof and I landed in the field behind, not a good landing, broke both my ankles. The ambulance and the fire brigade did not find me; it was a police officer checking the perimeter an hour later. I was taken to the local hospital, they did not have the facilities to deal with me and arrange for me to be transferred to a hospital 70 miles away, I was not expected to last the trip. My father had to be flown down from Scotland and went with me; he only visited me twice after that.

I spent 4 weeks in intensive care, had 2 nurses looking after me 24x7, died once and came back, no one could explain that to me, my surgeon, some time later said, it just wasn't my time to go. My mother moved into the hospital for that month, I couldn't speak to her or even see her, my eyes had been damaged and I had burnt the inside of my mouth, throat and lungs. Losing my legs does not come close to losing my sight. That first month is a bit vague because of all the drugs, I can remember lying in bed and touching my legs and having chunks of flesh coming away in my hands.

I was transferred into the burns unit; my wounds were dressed for the first time - what luxury. Once all the dead stuff had been removed, the actual damage could be assessed and it wasn't good. My legs from the ankle to the knee had been burnt to the bone and most of the calf muscle had gone too, my thighs had lost about a quarter of the muscle and my ankles were broken. I had to fight to keep my legs I still had my dreams and ambitions. My face had taken a beating and had to be re-built, the rest of me wasn't too bad in comparison. I also started to get my sight back. I went to the operating theatre every 7 – 10 days for months.

Went home after nearly a year in hospital, my friends came round to see me took one look at me and went. It was another 6 months before I went back to school, what a reception, I was treated like a freak. The names didn't bother me, being stabbed with sharp objects to see if I was real did, after a couple of days of this I grabbed to next boy to attack me and hit him so hard I split his nose, I didn't get any more hassle after that. Because of my age, I was too old to be classed as a child and to young to class as an adult and therefore sat in no-mans land when it came to support and rehabilitation – I just didn't get any. It was my choice to go back to school I didn't have to.

I spent every school and college holiday in hospital; it was Christmas 1970, gone in to have work done on my legs. I was in a new ward, purpose built for burns patients single or double rooms with on suite bathrooms and televisions and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the countryside. I was getting changed and caught my reflection in the window it was the first time I had seen my self naked. I had seen most of myself but only in sections this was the first time I had seen the whole picture, all I saw looking back at me was this grotesque thing if it wasn't for the timely intervention of a nurse doing her rounds I would have done myself in. I still have dark days, mainly when the infections take over and I'm laid in bed glowing bright red. My wife and kids have put meaning into my life and that's what keeps me going.

After I came out of hospital that last time, my GP arranged for a social services panel to assess me. I turned up and sat in front of seven people, a mixture of doctors and social workers. I was interviewed but I drew the line at stripping off so the could see for themselves, they proclaimed me to be severely disabled, didn't offer any sort of advice or support and in so many words told me I was good for nothing. I exploded, I hadn't gone thru 4yrs of physio hell getting my body straight and walking without a limp just to be told I wasn't good for anything. I walked out; I have never gone back to them.

I went out and proved to myself that I could do anything I wanted and I did, I have always found solutions to every obstacle. I know how short life can be, and that has changed my perspective on life.

I started to go down with continuous infections in the legs about 3 years ago followed by ulcers, last year it became unmanageable and I had to stop work. Christmas 2005 was probably the worst days of my life; I really don't remember any of it.

After a lot of test and scans, I received a letter from the hospital saying that I was booked in for surgery on February the 3rd; it didn't explain what the surgery was. I also received an invitation from the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit to meet the team – then I knew what the operation entailed.

The surgeon explained that my blood had stopped going into my legs and they were now rotting on the inside, because of all the burn damage/ previous repairs they could not be repaired again. He wasn't sure how much of my legs were damaged and they would start below the knees and work up the legs. Fortunately, it was a bilateral below knee amputation. For the first time in years I feel fit and healthy, I went back to full time work 3months later.

Because of the burn damage to my legs, my nice (very basic NHS) shiny new legs cut my stumps to ribbons. Now, after six months I am walking and planning a new future.

Wow sparky - Your courage and determination to take care of yourself is outstanding. I guess that is the meaning of GUTS!

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Update :

Christmas 2006 saw me laid up with infections in the legs (beginning to feel like 'Groundhog Day'). Had to stop work and get my legs sorted. Went to see a plastic surgeon in January of this year, he decided that the old burns scar tissue around my knees and stumps needs to be removed and replaced with new skin grafts. He will also release the tension behind my knees (the cause of all my arty leg problems last year) that is caused by tight scars on my legs. After waiting nearly 2 months I am finally being operated on next week, Thursday 22nd to be exact. Hopefully when my legs settle I'll be able to have my arty legs re-jigged so they are not as miss-shaped. Had to have my legs and sockets set to some strange angles to cope with my stumps, stumps have been pulled out to the side by the tight scars also, I cannot straighten my right knee without the socket rim doing damage.

You will be in my prayers Sparky, my surgery is the 20th I hope some one up there thinks we have had enough and gives us mercy and all goes well.

Skully Cat

Skully, I hope someone thinks that as well. I will be thinking of you Tueday, hope every thing goes well.

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Update :

Christmas 2006 saw me laid up with infections in the legs (beginning to feel like 'Groundhog Day'). Had to stop work and get my legs sorted. Went to see a plastic surgeon in January of this year, he decided that the old burns scar tissue around my knees and stumps needs to be removed and replaced with new skin grafts. He will also release the tension behind my knees (the cause of all my arty leg problems last year) that is caused by tight scars on my legs. After waiting nearly 2 months I am finally being operated on next week, Thursday 22nd to be exact. Hopefully when my legs settle I'll be able to have my arty legs re-jigged so they are not as miss-shaped. Had to have my legs and sockets set to some strange angles to cope with my stumps, stumps have been pulled out to the side by the tight scars also, I cannot straighten my right knee without the socket rim doing damage.

You will be in my prayers Sparky, my surgery is the 20th I hope some one up there thinks we have had enough and gives us mercy and all goes well.

Skully Cat

Sparky and Skully Cat

I hope you know that both of you will be in my thoughts and prayers over the next days. I'm sure that there are lots of others, worldwide, that feel the same way. I expect to hear from you as soon as you can get to a keyboard.

"Vaya con Dios"

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Sparky, add me to the folks who will be sending out good vibes and positive karma for you (and Skully too) next week! May the ops be total successes!

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You know Mark, I just re-read your story, and wondered if you've gotten that retaining wall finished yet? :D

I just con't possibly understand what is taking you so long. :rolleyes:

Hope you doing well, my friend.

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Hi Jim, went back to hospital today for a check up and a change of dressing, they are very pleased with the way things are going and took my staples out a week early - still have to wear the splints for the full 2 weeks though. Thanks for asking.

The wall, there has been another twist in the story, my neighbour has now said they want to do something as well. That is as far as it has gone, so far it is being built with a load of hot air if you get my drift.

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Hi Sparky

I read your story with a lump in my throat. I know we have touched the subject slightly but I know that some people don't like being asked why and how it happened. You really are an inspiration and I have the upmost respect for you. I hope you recover quickly from this last operation.

Lisa

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Hi Jim, went back to hospital today for a check up and a change of dressing, they are very pleased with the way things are going and took my staples out a week early - still have to wear the splints for the full 2 weeks though. Thanks for asking.

The wall, there has been another twist in the story, my neighbour has now said they want to do something as well. That is as far as it has gone, so far it is being built with a load of hot air if you get my drift.

Bless those all important staples. Aren't they fun? Sounds like you are progressing. Good Luck.

As for the wall - maybe your neighbor needs to get a committee together. :lol: Sure..... that always speeds things up. ;)

Good Luck.

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I have been really busy at work and at home and haven’t had the time to respond to posts on this forum although I have made time every day to read everything.

It’s now 3 months since my last operation to free up the tight scaring behind my knees. I have to say it has been a complete success and I am walking with confidence and without having to bend at the waist to keep my balance. I am going to be fitted with my new upgraded (ankle joints and sockets) legs tomorrow as a direct result of the successful operation.

I have also been involved in making a training video for the physiotherapy teaching school. It involved talking about dealing with phantom pain and in my case how I dealt with every day life without the use of my prosthetic legs. I have always maintained that having my legs cut off about 6 inches below my knees didn’t disable me - just made me shorter. The film was about how with the aid of knee pads (shoes) I could stand up right on my knees and walk and run after a fashion, climb stairs, use a step ladder, get in and out of a car in fact do most of the things I was doing before my amputation. I’ve also been on holiday messing about in boats, great fun.

I’m hoping I will meet some of the UK contingent at the Beyond Boundaries Live event next weekend.

Chris (Londonguy2000) I know you have an operation coming up soon, I’m thinking of you – good luck.

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Hello Sparky.

Real good to hear from you. I've noticed that you've been gone, butr figured that you just might have wanted some time to yourself. I get there once in awhile.

I am sure glad to hear that your operations on your scar tissue were a success. You sound about ready for the "foot race" that I've been thinking about. :rolleyes:

Your video sounds like it might be a help to a lot of people. good luck on that.

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It's real good to see you back, Sparky... but it sounds like you've been having a fine and productive time during your absence! I'm so glad the op was a success... enjoy your new mobility level!

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Hey Sparky hope ur ok, you seem such a hard nut to crack and your doing really well mate

Sorry i have not been around much lately i will do a catch up not tonite but things have gone from bad to worse in my life but hopefully turned a corner

take care sparky and love to u all

Neil

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Hi Neil, nice to hear from you, sorry to hear thing haven't been going your way and hope it's going your way now. If there is anything I can do just shout.

What has always inspired and driven me is a poem by D.H. Lawrence:

Self-pity

I never saw a wild thing

sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough

without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Many, many years ago I read the poem in a school library, those few lines have driven me ever since.

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W-O-W, WOW!!.

Sparkster, your story and that poem will remain with me from here on out. Thanks, man.

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