I did THIS with a ra­zor

It was just a lit­tle nick. Then things re­ally spi­ralled out of con­trol…

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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.

Agony.

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...

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