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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum

Advice for amputation newbie

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After 8 years of suffering a painful complicated fused ankle and infections I have made the decision to have a right bka which will be done around the end of March. I have met lots of amputees now and chatted to people on this site over the last year or so and have decided that it is the best way to go. I have stuggled with the dilema that I have been able to cope with my current busted up leg so it was no so bad that I definately needed an amputation but it was far from being good enough to say that I would not benefit from having one.

So after weighing everything up I, the doctors and other amputees, think I would be much better of having it done. I know I am swapping one set of problems that I currently have for another lot as being an amputee, but I hope that the new problems will be a lot less restrictive that what I have now. I spent a lot of time looking at ertl, but decided not really suitable for me. I am having my operation done by in Selly Oak, Birmingham, as I chose to go there as they operate on all the soldiers who come back injured from the Gulf, so they do more amputations per year than any other hospital in the country. Mine will be a bit tricky to do, to ensure it is kept below knee as I have lots of scar tissue on my lower leg but I am confident that I have got the best medical team looking after me.

It has been very weird organising the amputation of my leg and I have surreal moments when I think it is not happening to me. But now I have made the decision and signed the forms to go on the waiting list, it is almost a relief. But I think it is going to be a long eight weeks, I think I would rather get it over and done and get on with my rehab. I am sure I am making the right decision but I do have moments of doubt that I may change my mind and bottle out of having it done. I am taking a bit of a leap of faith that it will make my life better, and if I reach the level that the other amputees I have spoken to, then my life will be much better. I think I currently live my life at 30 per cent of what I would like to do, mainly due to pain.

I just wondered if anyone had any advice on how to cope with the wait until D-day and then after waking up without half my leg. Plus the following few days and weeks getting used to being an amputee. I am worried I won't adapt physically and mentally, but everyone says that I will and in the end it just becomes a part of your life. I am just worried that I may hate it. I don't want to have the amputation but I don't want to stay as I am, and the latter is the overiding argument that has convinced me that amputation is the right way to go. I am 36 now with two young boys and I want to be able to play football and adventures with them, but I am very limited in what I can do at the moment. I really dont want to have an amputation in 10 years time and then think "I should have had this done years ago," so I am biting the bullet and getting it done now.

Fortunatly I got some money from the idiot's insurance company who knocked me off my motorbike, so I am going private for my physio therapy rehab and my prosthetics for the first year or so as I hear that NHS after care in this area can be patchy.

But I am wondering what advice you guys on here can give me on both a mental level to prepare and deal with what I have to come and also from a practical physical point of view. I will spend the rest of the afternoon looking through posts on here to get some useful info but I thought I may as well introduce myself and also ask the question directly.

Thanks for any help and advice you are able to give.

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I think the best advice I could offer is to get some physio prep done asap. Start working on your core stability NOW. That's you abdominal muscles so things like sit-ups, leg raises and planks will be what you need. The most important thing about walking is good core stability. Learning to walk with a missing leg is a lot easier if you've got good core strength. The sooner you start exercising the better shape you'll be in when you get to physio making the whole process quicker and easier.

I'd also start concentrating on my diet f I were you. Your body is going to need a lot of energy to help it heal quickly. This doesn't mean it's time to wolf down 15 chocolate bars a day but maybe increase your carb intake a little to build up your body's energy reserves then post op try and cut the carbs and concentrate on protein the good news here is that hospital wards always have a supply of protein shakes available you just have to ask a friendly nurse.

One thing I've recently discovered to help keep me fit is EA Sports Active 2 on the Playstation 3. It comes with a heart rate monitor and a couple of other motion sensors. It has a few pre-set programs for you to follow to help improve you cardio or general physical fitness. There are also several other exercise programs available for every popular game console platform. Personally I prefer these to going to a gym as I can do them when I want rather than when the gym is open plus it's easier as the nearest gym to me is over 30 mins drive away.

I Just re-read this post and realised that, to some, I could come across as some kind of fitness freak trust me I'm not. I just know how much energy recovering from surgery takes and the better physical shape you're in before the surgery the quicker your recovery will be.

Good luck

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I'm sure that I'm even less of a fitness freak than Grum, but I agree completely with the "be prepared" philosophy. I know that I had to do a fair amount of "convincing" the physical therapists that I was fully serious about doing whatever was necessary to get me back up and moving. I was older than you when I had my BK, and there was some tendency to look at me as "just another middle-aged woman." I was fortunate that I had time to work with the therapy team over the course of several previous attempts to fix my foot...by the time of the amputation, they were willing to let me do as much extra therapy as I could...and then encourage me to do more...which I did!

Get yourself into the very best condition you can, pre-amp. Work on core strength, balance, and endurance. Keep yourself in good health. And do some planning on how to get on with life once you're one-legged. The more you can do for yourself, the better you're going to feel about your recovery. Know in advance that doing simple, everyday activities is likely to take you much longer to do at first...there's a lot of "thinking about how to do it" as you're getting used to this new body of yours. Don't worry about that...with experience, everything will become faster, smoother, and much more natural-feeling.

You're probably not going to be able to tell how much improvement you're going to get for several months to come. But as someone who went through many, many months of pain and immobility myself, I can tell you that the reduction in pain and the improvement in my health once all of the shattered and infected bone was gone was enough to convince me to keep at the "recovery" business until it really paid off.

Best of luck to you!

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