I did THIS with a razor
It was just a little nick. Then things really spiralled out of control…
Walking around the car showroom, I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror and adjusted my neat, blonde bob.
As a meet-and-greeter, helping to sell cars, I always liked to look my best.
Nails manicured, hair blow-dried, make-up perfect.
I always felt my most confident when I was in a smart skirt and blouse.
All that was ruining my put-together look was the plaster on my right shin.
I’d nicked it shaving that morning, as my partner Sally, 35, had been hurrying me out the house.
Still, better a plaster than fuzzy legs! I thought.
But, a week later, the little scratch had turned into an itchy scab.
The skin around it looked puckered and red.
‘You should go and get that checked out,’ Sally said to me, concerned.
‘I will, I will,’ I muttered, dismissing it.
The scab had grown to the size of a 5p piece but, for the most part, it didn’t hurt.
I was young, fit, healthy, went to the gym regularly, and walked around at work all day.
I didn’t think it was anything to worry about. I carried on covering it with a plaster and life went on as normal.
It wasn’t until six months later, in October 2014, that I felt a sharp pain in my right leg and winced. ‘What’s wrong?’ Sally asked. ‘I must have hit my leg,’ I said, rubbing a sore, red patch on my shin.
Over the weekend, the redness spread rapidly, until it looked like a hole the size of a snooker ball in my right shin.
First thing Monday morning, with the wound turning green, I hobbled to the doctors and was sent straight to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I cried in agony. ‘It looks like an ulcer,’ the doctor said to me. I was kept in hospital for five days and was given antibiotics through an IV drip, plus strong painkillers. Then I was discharged and Sally changed the dressings on my leg for me. I was in too much pain to go back to work and, in the months that followed, my leg got worse. It started weeping a foulsmelling liquid, meaning that the dressings needed changing four times a day. I went through so many bandages that I started to use sanitary towels to stop the leaking and had to put my leg in a carrierbag to stop it drenching the carpet. My smart suits stayed hanging up in the wardrobe, as I couldn’t go to work. Soon, I had no choice but to leave my job. By the time I was admitted to hospital again in April 2016, my whole lower leg was an open wound, oozing pus.
Doctors tried everything – from therapeutic maggots to help clear up the wound, to negative pressure wound therapy, usually used for burns victims – but for me it was too little, too late.
‘Your leg will heal,’ the doctor told me. ‘But it could take years and there’s not much more we can do about the pain.’
‘There must be something else you can try?’ I begged, worn out by the agony.
‘We could offer you an amputation,’ he said.
After almost two years of pain, the idea didn’t shock me. If anything, it gave me hope. The doctors insisted that
I was in constant agony, smelt like rotten flesh
I take some time to think about it.
I spent hours talking to Sally and my mum Paula.
I was only 41 and it’s not as if I wanted to lose my leg.
But, at the same time, I had no life the way things were.
In constant agony, smelling like rotting flesh, and barely able to get off the sofa, let alone work or go out with friends.
I’d been immobile for so long, I’d put on 4st in weight.
The glamorous career woman I’d once been was long gone. And I wanted her back.
So, on 20 April 2016, I went into surgery for an op to amputate my right leg above the knee.
When I woke up afterwards, Sally and my doctor were there.
‘The operation has been a success,’ my doctor said to me.
‘How do you feel?’ Sally asked me, smiling reassuringly. ‘Devastated,’ I sighed. Looking down the hospital bed to see an empty space where my leg used to be was terrifying.
I stayed in hospital for five months, adjusting to my wheelchair.
It took a while getting used to my ‘little leg’, as I called it. Even going to the toilet was tricky.
Eventually, I was discharged and moved into a bungalow.
I decided not to have a prosthetic leg, as I worried about getting pressure sores or having to spend more time in hospital.
So Sally found me a second-hand walker and jazzed it up with some silver spray paint.
‘Go on, have a go,’ she encouraged me.
‘I can’t,’ I replied, suddenly feeling apprehensive. But, with her support I pulled myself up.
Having to swing my whole body forward to take each step was really exhausting. But I stuck at it – and, gradually, I became more mobile again.
The weight that I’d put on started to drop off and my mood picked up. I felt glimmers of the old me again.
Now, I’m hoping to retrain as an emergency services dispatcher and I’m looking to the future.
I still care about my appearance, like to look my best.
But I’ll never believe that something as everyday as shaving cost me my leg.
And I’ll never use a razor again – my left leg will be waxed.
I still care about my appearance, like to look my best
More like the old me – and hoping to retrain for work
After the op – devastated
All I’d wanted were nice, smooth pins...