Experience: Why I chose an elective amputation
For more than 16 years, Blesma Member Andy suffered from terrible pain in his right ankle which grew worse the more he tried to lead an active life. The pain was so severe that Andy required a walking stick and sometimes even a scooter to get around. In 2014, after five failed operations, Andy decided to have an elective amputation. The pain first started as a result of a training accident in 2000 while serving in the Royal Navy. The injury, which was never x-rayed, resulted in Andy suffering heavy damage to his right ankle and, as time went on, it became worse to walk on.
Eighteen months after the initial injury, Andy’s ankle was finally x-rayed and it showed that he had sheared off a section of the top of his talus under the cartilage. Over the next decade, Andy underwent five rounds of surgery to try to correct the injury to his ankle, but after the fifth operation failed, in 2012, Andy felt he came out worse off than when he went in. His doctor suggested another operation but enough was enough and Andy began to do his own research into elective amputations.
“As time went on I saw more stories about double leg amputees and how well they were getting along. I began to compare how well they were walking to how I was walking,” said Andy. By 2014, he had made up his mind to have his leg amputated. Nearly two years later, Andy had found the right surgeon to complete the operation and was given a date in October 2016 for the procedure.
“I have my up and down days but I’m glad I did it,” said Andy. “I already walk better with a prosthetic leg than I could on my old foot. I haven’t had my prosthetic leg long enough to see the full benefits yet, but for the first time since I met my wife, and in the entire eight years of our marriage, I am now able to hold her hand whilst we walk along the shore instead of using a scooter or having to hold my stick! “It’s funny, because people refer to me as having ‘lost a leg’ but I don’t see it that way. I’ve swapped it for one that works!” Within just eight weeks of his operation, Andy received his prosthetic leg and was able to take it home.
He puts his fast progress down to pre-surgery preparation and his own determination to get going (with a good pinch of stubbornness), and accepting that, sometimes, you have to take time to recover in order to move on.