Learning to adapt to life with a prosthetic leg.

Learning to adapt to life with a prosthetic leg.

Becoming an amputee was not something I seen happening in my life. To be fair I didn’t see a lot of things in my life turning out how they did, but a prosthetic leg was definitely not one of them.

Coincidentally when I was suffering severe bullying in primary school, I started writing a book. A book about a young girl who had been in a severe road accident and was paralysed from the weight down. She spent a long time recovering in hospital and even though she was told by the medical experts she would never walk again; she did. Over the next 18 months while being home schooled she built back up her strength and resilience and she eventually rode horses again. I never finished the book but when I think of how clear the vision for the book was, I can’t help but wonder maybe my life was always destined to go like this. It just seems like too much of a coincidence to one day wake up at eleven years of age and write how a future so similar to how mine would go.

To walk again or not walk.

After I got hit by the train, I had shattered one of the vertebrae in my spine. The risk of paralysis was incredibly high. They were unsure if I would ever walk again. When dad got the news to say my spinal surgery had been a success the doctor told him he was very hopeful one day I would walk again. They estimated 18 months recovery time between hospital and rehabilitation. I was very lucky to have sustained such a severe spinal break but come out of it without a life long spinal injury. I walked out of the hospital with my prosthetic leg four months later.

My amputation is a difficult one to explain.

I suffered meningitis as a little one but thankfully survived that too without limb loss. I have had sepsis several times and managed to escape limb loss, but this time was different. When I walked out in front of the train that afternoon, I lost my foot immediately. When I went under the train my foot was pretty much amputated between the track and the train. I know that when I was airlifted to hospital my foot was brought with me, but it wasn’t attached to my body anymore. The following day they preformed an amputation on what was left of the wound to clean it up.

It is called a Syme amputation

They are quite rare and honestly nobody really recognizes my prosthetic for what it is. There was the possibility they’d have to preform a below the knee amputation if the sepsis spread but it didn’t. The syme amputation is supposed to give you the benefit of being able to bear weight on your stump without the use of a prosthetic but due to the other complications of my injuries that will more than likely never be possible.

One would think I’m luckier to have only the foot gone but I have fought with the doctors left right and centre over this. I wish they had performed a below the knee amputation for my life quality would be so much better. I cannot kneel down, I can not wear most shoes, I can never wear heels again, squat or run and I face constant stigma.

Recently me and Dylan were at Salthill waiting for a coffee when a young woman turned around and commented on my prosthetic. She said, “Awl you poor thing that looks so sore.” I’m known as tactless especially when irritated so I responded that I wouldn’t know how it felt given that it’s a prosthetic leg. This is one occasion out of 100. I face this on a regular basis. I have been asked by strangers on buses what happened your leg and I’ve had to sit on trains and listen to older people talk about me and say things like “young people are so entitled just thinking they can sit in disabled seats”. My mental health has been put though hell and back with my prosthetic and even though I would be lost without it, I still have a love/hate thing going on with it.

It’s just over a year since I got my prosthetic

Trust me there are times I want to throw the bloody thing across the room and break it but I know I have to accept that this is my future now and that the past can’t be undone.

I have icons like Viktoria Modesta and Bernadette Hagans that give me inspiration and hope for the future. These two women are absolutely iconic and while my amputation varies from theirs I hope some day down the line I’ll be strong enough to go through a further amputation surgery with the hope of bettering my life.

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another mirror pic #gifted

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I didn’t ever comprehend surviving

Waking up in hospital unable to move or speak will be always the most traumatic thing I’ve ever had to go through but I am grateful for the light at the end of the tunnel. Since losing my friend to suicide on International suicide prevention day I have come to realize how tragic suicide really is. I believed at times, and still do that ending my life would be better than trying to survive it with such despondency and desperation but I don’t view it that way anymore. Dylan said to me one of the days that the kids we had planned and talked about wouldn’t ever exist if I died and he’s right. Even though times may be challenging now I know it won’t last forever.

To give up hope means to give up everything and I will always hope for a better 23 years than the last 23 have proven.

I hope one day when I can afford to go back I will take up horse-riding again. I dream of owning my own horses. competing, getting back into fashion and modelling. I know right now that’s a bit down the line but to know 18 months after getting hit by a train I’m sitting in my favorite café writing this with Dylan beside me so psyched to have Jamie back in Galway and many more memories to make. I see a bright future ahead, and I say that while in a depressive episode.

My life didn’t end the day I stepped in front of the train and while I woke up a month later feeling and looking like an Anti Christ it’s been one hell of a year but 100% worth it.

With Hope you can achieve anything in life. The possibilities of potential are endless and with perseverance you can truly achieve what ever you want.

Lots of love katie xx

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