Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries

Nick Y

Male
Age at interview: 68

Brief outline: Nick was cycling home from a shopping centre one evening when he had his injury. A bus ran over his ankle and foot. The damage was extensive, so he had to have the lower part of his leg amputated below the knee. This was not Nick's first experience of a life-changing injury; his son, Jamie (Interview 34) sustained a traumatic brain injury in a road traffic collision.

Background: Nick is a retired chartered surveyor. He is divorced, lives alone and has two children, age 37 and 35. Ethnic background' White English.

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Over two years ago (in 2010), Nick was riding his bike home from a shopping centre and decided to take a different route than normal. He was injured when a bus ran over his foot. Although he did not believe it was his fault, Nick apologised and claimed responsibility for what happened at the scene of the accident. This was later used in court to prevent Nick’s compensation claim being successful. 
 
In hospital when Nick was “drugged up and still in a lot of pain”, the staff told him he needed to decide whether to have reconstructive surgery or have his lower leg amputated. Initially he thought, “Of course I want a reconstruction”, but with his friend’s help he decided to have an amputation. 
 
Nick describes feeling incredibly depressed in the early days after his injury and amputation and owes a lot to his friends and his son, Jamie, for their support. Jamie (TI34, who was also interviewed for this research) sustained a traumatic brain injury in a road traffic collision about 12 years ago in 2009. He sent Nick encouraging text messages, which Nick said inspired his recovery.
 
Nick would have liked more information about life after amputation and how to take care of his stump (also called residual limb). When he was discharged he treated his stump the same way as the staff in hospital and covered it when he showered. As a result he developed pain, which he “assumed was part of the healing process”. His physio, with whom he had daily appointments at the rehabilitation centre, pointed out that he had an infection. 
 
Following amputation, Nick’s stump gradually began to shrink and he has had his prosthetic leg re-fitted several times. He now uses a pin and sleeve prosthetic, which he finds very cumbersome. He says' “It’s not the same as when you’re fit, but I can get around. I can walk. I still ride my bike and I can do most things around the house. I just can’t do them as quickly as I did before”. He wears a cosmesis (a skin-coloured foam covering) over his prosthetic leg which disguises it and stops people “staring at it”. 
 
Nick says there are a lot of things he can still do despite having lost a limb. He can ride his bike and swim, and is doing up his house. His very grateful to the hospital staff as he “could be dead, but for their skill”. However, he felt he would have been reassured by meeting someone who had been an amputee for a long time and could tell him what he would be able to do and what the future would be like. 

 

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