The Long Road Ahead

Leading on from where I left off in the last blog, I was discharged from Broadgreen hospital on the 1st June 2017, after spending five weeks in hospital split between three hospitals, I was more than ready to come home. It had been comfortably the longest and toughest five weeks of my life, to be taken into hospital with what was a serious injury but seemed on the face of it a simple enough fix. To then being told a week later that your best option is to have your leg amputated, it is like being stuck in a nightmare were you see no way out. But that feeling does pass and it passed faster then I thought it would. The first three weeks dragged, and it seemed like those three weeks would never end. But after being transferred to Broadgreen hospital those two weeks flew by and I was being discharged before I knew it.

After spending five weeks in hospital you fall into a sort of safe bubble where you know your surroundings completely, you get brought three meals a day which I most certainly enjoyed and all your medical needs can be sorted by just a touch of a buzzer. You almost forget there is a world outside of the hospital. Which is odd because all you think about while your in the hospital is when can I get out of here. Once that day came though it does feel good to be able to leave knowing you would get to stay in your own home and bed and to not have people coming and checking up on you through the night. And this is all great but after a couple of days you realise that the safe bubble you were in has burst. This is when the realisation sets in that this is it, there is no going back, you’re back in the real world. But its entirely down to you what happens after this point you either sit and dwell on all the bad things that have happened or you get back up dust yourself off and move forward with your new life. For me this did not happen overnight, once the realisation set in I moped about for a few days feeling very sorry for myself and I still have the odd day here and there when I don’t feel positive and the weight of life drags me down. But once I got over these initial feelings of anger and sadness I turned my attention to what I can do instead of getting upset and angry about the things I couldn’t do anymore.

So since coming home I have started physio twice a week at the Clatterbridge limb centre. This is to get my body fully ready and prepared for my prosthetic leg. In regards to the prosthetic leg everything is looking good and I’m feeling stronger and stronger each day, once all my scarring on the leg is healed I should be casted for my leg which is really exciting as there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel now. To supplement this, I have started going back to the gym twice a week trying to build back some upper body muscle. Obviously I would struggle going by myself just at the minute and that is where Stu Vance comes in, he has been training me over the past few weeks using all his knowledge and expertise to create safe exercises that will push and improve me. Getting back in the gym on a regular basis has been amazing for me as it gives me some structure to my days and has helped to break my weeks up. I must also say thank you to the underground training station where we have been doing the training everyone there has been amazing and really accommodating to me which has really helped, it really is true the atmosphere at that gym is completely different to any gym I have ever been to, it is super friendly and welcoming while also being a place to be inspired and wanting to push your limits.

Might not be as strong as I once was yet but at least I’m back to what I do best at the gym; beach weights, if only thats what the whole session involved.

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Amputation Time

First off before we get back into where we left off in the last blog I must take time to say thank you to everyone that has read and said such nice things about the first blog post. I just hope you continue to enjoy my blogs. With that being said lets get back to where I left off.

So after a week and three operations I arrived at the Royal hospital in Liverpool. Up until this point I was still in the mindset that my leg had been saved and I was going to the royal to start to fix my knee and leg. I arrived late on Saturday night and this is where I would meet one of the most kind hearted and knowledgeable nurses I have ever meet in a man called Eyzra. He had this amazing aurora around him that just made you feel instantly calm. You knew you were in good hands when Eyzra was about and this really helped me psychologically and really put me at ease. On the Monday then I was introduced to a team of surgeons who were going to start to fix my knee and start reattaching ligaments. Well that was the plan anyway, but once the surgeons opened back up the wounds to start the procedure they found a lot of the muscles in my calf area had died and some had even turned black. This meant the surgeons then had to take the muscle that was dead out to make sure it could not make me ill. I woke up from that surgery not knowing the full extent of the damage that was found in my leg, I was still under the impression I was on the path to recovery. That was until my dad walked into my hospital room up until this point my dad had always stayed level and I could never read from his face what was going on. He walked in after just speaking to the surgeon and I could just tell from his face that something was wrong. He went on to explain to me that the surgeon had to take a percentage of muscle out of my lower leg. However if the rest of the muscle survived I would still be able to have my leg and have some sort of mobility in my leg. But I was told because some of the muscle had died the likely hood would be that the other muscles were going to die. After one more surgery on the Wednesday it was explained to me that I only had 25 percent of my muscles left in my lower leg. This left me with limited options. This was the first moment that the surgeon explained to me the best option he could see was to amputate my leg. This decision was completely up to me, the surgeon explained the options very clearly and explained my quality of life would be better with a prosthetic leg.

I know its easy looking back now and saying I knew that after the surgery at the Royal I would have my leg amputated. But I must say in my heart of hearts I knew from the look on my dads face after that first surgery at the Royal that something was very seriously wrong. So when the surgeon said amputation was the best option it did not come as a a shock to me. I know that it did come as a shock to some of my family who were there, but once that shock disappeared my mum, dad, brother, sister and girlfriend who had been there every step of the way all gathered around my bedside and they each gave me there full support and backing. This unwavering support from those closet to me helped me through that dark day I had between deciding to have the amputation and actually having the operation. To all five of you thank you I could not have done it without you. So on the 12th of May 2017 I had my leg amputated through the knee. After that I spent one more week in the royal then was transferred to broadgreen hospital where I was eventually discharged on the 1st of June 2017. Since then I have been at home recovering I will fill you in the next blog what I have been up to in more detail in the next blog.

But before I sign out I must say thank you too everyone who has donated to my just giving page so far it means the world to me. Also thank you all for the outpouring of support I have received especially from the rugby community it has been crazy how many people have reached out and offered their support. Also thank you to three of my old rugby clubs Caldy, Preston Grasshoppers and Birkenhead Park for all the fundraising events they have done so far it really does mean a lot. Finally I will leave you with a quote from a man called Andy Grant who I meet over the past weekend, Andy holds the current record of the fast one legged amputee over 10km if you want to learn more about Andy I recommend going and watching his documentary its called paragon. He is one of the most inspiring people I have ever had the chance too meet. He said to me a quote that really resonated with me and it was “if you are the smartest person in the room you need to find a different room.” Life is all about challenges and how you adapt and concur them so if you feel your self in a comfort zone then as this quote says go out and challenge yourself that is how we grow.

 

 

 

How Rugby Changed My Life

Hello and welcome to my first blog post. I suppose I should start with who I am and why I am writing a blog. I am Billy Woof I am 24 years old and I have a through knee amputation and I am 6 weeks post op. This was forced upon me because of an on field rugby injury, in this blog I will be describing my journey as I transition into my life of being an amputee. I hope you enjoy reading my journey so far and continue to enjoy it in the future.

So I suppose I should start at the beginning and tell you how I ended up with a through knee amputation. On the 29th of April I was playing for Birkenhead park rugby club in promotion play off match against Penrith rugby club. This was supposed to be the last game of the season which could quite possibly have been my last game of rugby, as I was thinking about stepping away from rugby for a while whilst I completed my university degree. But as cruel fate would have it this would be my last game of rugby ever anyway, as in the last two minutes of the game i went to step over the top of the ruck with the ball to try cheekily dart over and into space. However I stumbled giving the defence chance to catch me but as they have desperately scrambled to tackle me my standing foot had become stuck in the floor. The force of the collision dislocated my knee, severed my ligaments and managed to trap and sever an artery in my lower leg. At this point I have to say thank you to everyone who was there from the Penrith player that initially knelt down beside me grabbing my hand and reassuring me. This one act of kindness just shows the amazing nature of rugby how it really is one big family and everyone respects each other maybe not always on the field but off the field it is defiantly true. Also thank you to everyone else around me who helped on that day there are probably too many to name but if you are reading this you will know who you are so thank you.

Once the ambulance crew arrived they took me off to arrow park hospital this would be the first of three hospitals I stayed at but more on that in future blogs. After what felt like eternity but was probably about half an hour I was whisked off to surgery. This would be the first of six surgeries and it would be the longest lasting around seven hours. The next thing I knew personally was waking up at seven thirty the next morning in intensive care with my mum, dad and girlfriend around me with a massive cage on my leg keeping it rigid. At this point I did not grasp or realise the seriousness of my injury or repercussions of it and I most certainly did not think it would lead to an amputation. I was kept in intensive care for three days when I was moved off to a high dependency unit, where I was prepared for my next surgery to check how the leg was healing and that everything was in order. After this surgery I was cleared to go onto ward 11 this is where I would stay for the rest of my time at arrow park hospital. In this time I would have another check up surgery on the Friday to make sure everything was fine for my transfer to the royal hospital in Liverpool. Up to this point my leg for all I knew and from what the surgeons were telling us was getting better and I was getting moved to the royal  to start the surgeries to start reconstructing my knee. So off I went to the royal a week after my accident.

I will pick up what happened after this point in the next blog as it was a fairly long winded first instalment. If your still reading this and have not fallen asleep yet thank you hopefully see you in the next one.