I Will Survive

How I coped with losing my leg due to a car accident



Obviously unless a person does actually lose a limb they will never fully understand what it is like; however, this is my experience put into words. On November 20th, 1986 on a cold and wet evening, I was walking with a friend to a meeting. While walking down St. Augustine Street, Taunton, Somerset, we were discussing Citizens Band Radio when two cars travelling in opposite directions hit each other - one of the cars careered across the road and mounted the pavement, hitting me. I fell to the ground in pain and shock. My right leg was numb, I tried to get up but I couldn't. My friend ran to get an ambulance, then he came back to see if I was all right; by then I had a first aid woman looking after me. I was bleeding very badly and the pain was getting worse. I could feel myself getting hot and I kept saying to myself "Where's the ambulance?" Then the ambulance came and rushed me to East Reach Hospital. When I got to the Hospital they put me on the couch and gave me anaesthetic which made me sleep. I can vaguely remember having an X-ray on my right leg, and then I dropped off to sleep again. The consultant woke me up and told me the bad news that I had got to have my right leg amputated below the knee, and asked if I could sign the consent forms. I looked at his sad face and then I gave him the go ahead as I signed the forms for the operation. The operation took two hours and I had four pints of blood and a drip feed in my arm for two days. I wasn't aware what was going on for those two days because I was very dopey from the anaesthetic. I was bed-bound for two weeks lying on my back with a syringe imbedded in my leg so that it drained all the fluid from my stump. After a time it got very uncomfortable and sore. After the third week they took the drainage away from my leg, then the therapist got some arm crutches for me so that I could be more mobile. I was helped out of bed and started to hop. I was in a lot of discomfort; when I hopped I felt as though there was a gush of hot water going through my nerves and I was relieved to sit down. After a few days the sensation started to go, but by this time things weren't going very well. I had been told I needed to have another operation to take away the dead skin from my stump. The operation took place after the fourth week; it took half an hour and I was bed-bound for a further week. In that week I felt terrible - my nerve endings were very bad and for a week it felt as if somebody had got hold of my toes and kept pressing hard. I must have only had twenty hours sleep in that week because of the pain, and no doubt if I was at home I would have jumped over a bridge. I must say after a week it started to fade and I was so relieved. My stump was getting a lot better and after a week I underwent the third operation - this one was not so bad because they were giving me a skin graft to go on my stump; they took the skin for the graft from my left leg. My left leg was sore for a week from taking the skin graft and when they took the padding away it was painful, but this went after a few days. Things were going very well and I came out of hospital on Jan 17, 1987. I was in Hospital for two months. 

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