If you would like to start my amputee journey from the beginning click here
It has been a while since my last post, I do apologise, I’ve been a bad blogger! Recovery life has kind of got in the way due to constant rehabilitation, doctors’ consultations, psychological recovery and more surgery looming, but more on that later.
So, I had a day or so to think about the situation I was in, and I was well aware of what needed to be done but now I actually needed to say it.
I had frequent visits from the psychologist to try and help me come to terms with the decision I had to make. It mainly involved asking questions about my life and “how does that make you feel?” Under the circumstances, it was obviously good to talk to someone not directly linked to the accident but didn’t give me much direct help to what was currently happening.
Day One trauma support
Much more helpful though, was a charity running out of LGI called Day One, part of Leeds Cares. Day One offers a support service for patients and families impacted by major trauma. Day One is delivered by Leeds Cares but was established by patients for patients to address complex non-medical needs and challenges that may arise following major trauma.
I was visited by a guy from Day One called Bob, he was an older gentleman with a below-knee amputation. He actually chose to keep his leg and go for reconstruction, he fought to keep his leg for seven years and eventually got an infection in the bone and had to have it amputated. Bob showed me his prosthetic and how he puts it on and takes it off and explained some of the difficulties. It was a good opportunity to ask any questions that I had about generally being an amputee. Due to being stuck in hospital beds for most of the seven years he suffered very bad muscular dystrophy which meant he couldn’t walk properly as the muscles were just not there anymore.
Bob’s visit really helped me to solidify my decision and actually say out loud that I wanted the amputation rather than the reconstruction. I didn’t want to spend the next god knows how long in hospital beds waiting to see if I got an infection or not. I also spoke to 16 times Isle of Man TT winner Ian Hutchinson on Twitter, he told me that he didn’t know the extent of my injuries, but he would always try to save it and gave me the contact details of his surgeon. If my injuries were not as severe, I definitely would have considered it.
It had been a couple of days of lying in my hospital bed uncomfortable and making the most of the daily hospital routines, while doing nothing but think about what was going to happen to me. Mr Harwood, my consultant, had come back to pay me a visit due to the timescale and brought a fellow surgeon with him who happened to be from the armed forces and had dealt with many military personnel’s amputations and recovery. They informed me that time was running out due to the risk of infection. They usually say you have 5 days before the risk of infection starts to rise dramatically. After constant 24-hour thought, the visits from the Day One staff and all the conversations with absolutely anyone who would listen. I finally managed to tell Mr Harwood that I wanted to have the amputation.
Mr Harwood was very relieved that I had come to this decision and told me that, in all honesty, it was the only one to make. He then went on to explain how they would undertake the amputation, the risks and what I could expect in immediate recovery. He also explained that they don’t usually do many amputations from a part of the leg that isn’t damaged and would like to do a medical paper on the surgery.
I agreed to let them document it as long as I got a copy of everything when it was finished, which also included very graphic pictures. I signed the pre-op medical forms and also the waiver for the medical journal and was told it would be a day or so to prepare for the amputation. In the meantime, I needed to go back into surgery to have my vacuum pack changed and scaffolding in my leg cleaned. So back under anaesthetic and to theatre I went.
I had two days to mull over what was about to happen to me and how it might affect my life. In this time, I still asked absolutely everyone who would listen whether it was the right decision or not; which was a massive help to just get it out of my brain and aloud. The hospital staff on the major trauma unit were fantastic, every one of them would try to come and have a chat with me and see how I was doing.
With such a massive decision that impacts your entire life so much, you just have to talk to people as much as possible. This definitely also applies to everyday life and any problems you may face, just talk it out, whether people want to hear it or not. Just verbally get it out of your brain and you will be amazed at how much it helps. You will also be very surprised at how many people want to go out of their way to help you.
If you find you need some support, don’t be afraid to speak to friends and family. If this isn’t possible please consider giving the Amputation foundation a shout at amputationfoundation.org or even get in touch with me via my contact page
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