A-Z

Bill and Catherine

Age at interview: 57
Brief Outline: Bill was involved in a road traffic collision 12 years ago. As a result of his injuries, his leg was amputated above the knee. Bill felt it was important to include Catherine in re-telling the story of his injury because she played a crucial part in his recovery.
Background: Bill, a retired police sergeant, and his wife Catherine, a retired staff nurse, are married and have two children, aged 19 and 22. Ethnic background' White British & White British/Irish.

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Bill was travelling to work on his motorbike when another driver misinterpreted the traffic lights and collided with him. He was flung into the air and still vividly remembers the sound of his body hitting the road. The pain that followed was “unbelievable”. 
 
When he arrived at hospital, he was given the choice of having his leg reconstructed or amputated, although he doesn’t feel he was given enough information or advice to be able to make such a decision. He chose a reconstruction, which was not successful. He became very ill with an infection and subsequently had an amputation. Bill said he thanked the surgeon who amputated his leg and told him he’d saved his life.
 
When he was in hospital, it was difficult for Catherine “trying not to be a nurse, just trying to be a wife” because she was “watching things going wrong and people perhaps not reacting as quickly as they could have”. Bill describes Catherine as his “angel” because she took such good care of him in hospital and throughout his recovery.
 
After the amputation, Bill felt physically he’d “turned a corner and moved on to the next stage” of his recovery. He began physio to regain his mobility and returned home. Both he and Catherine found life very difficult at this stage. In addition to dealing with Bill’s new problems, Catherine was looking after their two children and her parents. Even though he was depressed and “suicidal” it was difficult to get psychiatric help. Bill also struggled to be successfully fitted with a prosthetic leg that worked for him and, consequently, now only uses a wheelchair or crutches to get around. He says this is particularly problematic for him if he wants to wear his kilt or shorts. 
 
According to Catherine and Bill, his injury had both positive and negative implications for their children. They saw things other children wouldn’t expect to see, including their father’s wound bleeding profusely whilst they were attending a music recital. Catherine said the worst thing for their children was not knowing when they “were going to get an outburst” from Bill. However, both agree they have grown up to be “rounded, thoughtful and good” and said their son told them he wouldn’t be the person he is without those experiences. 
 
Following his accident, Bill was able to claim compensation. This was a long and complicated process, and included covert surveillance by the insurance company, which Bill said contributed to his stress and depression. He encourages others not to let compensation to get in the way of your relationship and Catherine advised couples to try not to “be down together”.
 

 

 

He doesn’t hate the girl who caused his injury, but Bill cannot forgive her. The experience has...

He doesn’t hate the girl who caused his injury, but Bill cannot forgive her. The experience has...

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Bill' Yes. It is bizarre. But you remember it, that’s the thing. And I remember screams as well, but it turns out actually when I spoke to the girl, she got prosecuted dangerous driving and after she pled guilty and after the case had been settled in the Magistrates Court, we were outside and she just came up to me, she ran up to me, and she flung herself in to my arms… Yeah. And she just said, “Sorry, I’m sorry.”
 
Catherine' “I’ll never drive again,” she said didn’t she?
 
Bill' And I said “That’s stupid and I was crying as well. It was stupid of course you’ve got to drive again”. I said, to her, “You’re only a young girl.” Her parents were very concerned, because apparently they’d see both sides of it. And I’m not sure of the whole story, but obviously the daughter had done this to me, but I think somewhere in their family there was a victim as well, so they, they’ve experienced both sides of it, and we think, from lots of different other things that actually we’ve been at a funeral a few years previously of this girl’s aunt. And the aunt, Catherine had nursed in hospital, and because Catherine sings or did at that point in time, she was asked to sing at the funeral, as a personal request by the person that had died. And we think this girl was actually at this funeral. So we’d met but not met. Our paths had crossed and gone again. But the mother asked whether or not, how I felt about her. And I, i.e. her daughter, and I said, “Well I don’t think I can ever forgive her, but I don’t hate her.” And I’m still of that opinion. I’ve tried to forgive, but I, you know, I’ve been through so many problems subsequent to, you know, to the accident, that I don’t, I don’t think she deserves to be forgiven. But I haven’t got it in my heart to hate her, because she didn’t mean it. No she didn’t mean it.
 

And I think they were grateful for that, so I don’t know how other people would deal with it, but that’s the way I dealt with it, you know, because if she had deliberately, you know, done a stupid move or manoeuvre or anything, you know. But it wasn’t; she thought she had a green arrow there and she just made a split decision well a decision in a moment of a time, you know, a split second decision. And got it wrong. And you know, I shouldn’t hate her for that. But she doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Maybe I will at some point in life, I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t know.  

 

Catherine, a former nurse, cared for her husband (Bill) in hospital. Although he received good...

Catherine, a former nurse, cared for her husband (Bill) in hospital. Although he received good...

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Catherine: I started caring for Bill as soon as I went into the hospital.
 
I didn’t do so much in Casualty because I was in a state of shock. But when he went up to the ward he didn’t go straight to theatre like they were originally planning, and so he was delayed, I think by about six hours weren’t you?
 
Bill: Yes.
 
Catherine: So he went up onto a ward. On one occasion, his, his sheets did need changing on that evening. And this is the case where nobody would do it because of the mess of his leg and just didn’t want to move him and also because of him being so big, but in the end…
 
Bill: Cheeky.
 
Catherine: In the end I got the sheets and we did it between us didn’t we? We managed to do it.
 
Bill: Yes.
 
Catherine: And when they came back the nurses it was like done, you know. “All on your own?” “Yes.” You know. So I was very wary of the care. The caring in ITU was good I think it usually is, although sometimes they didn’t react to things as quickly as what I would have done, they sort of let them go on a bit longer. And then the ward after ITU I was helping you dressing, washing and exercises.
 
And the care continued throughout his stay, especially at [hospital]. Especially at the next hospital where he rehabilitated. They had a lot of MRSA there and they were not segregated, these MRSA patients. They were allowed to use the same bathrooms as the patients without MRSA. And Bill with all these open wounds – he had an infection on his skin graft and the stump still hadn’t really healed – there was no way I was letting him into the general bathroom that was being used by MRSA patients. So what we used to do is that, he used to have a strip wash and he used to come for weekend leave, didn’t you, and we’d get him in the bath then, although he wasn’t supposed to go upstairs initially, but...
 

Bill: I shouldn’t have gone in the bath either, I was a very naughty patient. 

 

The medication Bill was prescribed in hospital was not working for him, so he decided to stop...

The medication Bill was prescribed in hospital was not working for him, so he decided to stop...

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Bill' When I was in hospital after the amputation there was a pain specialist and by the way, if you are in pain please as your GP to refer you to pain specialist because they’re the experts and will hopefully sort your pain out. But one of the things that happened this same guy that I was under who was brilliant by the way, a real cor blimey bloke, you know, but he was fantastic, very knowledgeable. And he was involved at the start, but I didn’t even know, it was just on the paperwork. I never met him. I met him later on. And what he said was that it was all introduced, all the drugs that he’d, he’d suggested that should be given to me were introduced in the wrong manner. They weren’t titrated in, they weren’t fed in, they were bits and bits. So I got to the point where, and this is another disconcerting thing which I think I suggested earlier on about the in, the injury when it was vacuum packed in plastic as well. If you could imagine that vacuum pack, in a stump and that stump being cold, so you go to the chill cabinet and you pick up that gammon and you feel the, the temperature of it, it’s cold and its plasticky and you put it in the basket and that’s what my stump felt like because they did it in the wrong manner.
 
So eventually it was sending me to distraction, wasn’t it? Absolute distraction, because you try to hit and try to get some feeling into it, but it wasn’t, it was dead. And I think what was happening was that it wasn’t done in here, all the drugs were up here and numbing the receptors of our brain as to what’s going on down here. 
 
And eventually I said, “Bugger this.” And I stopped taking my medication. Totally got it out of my system and all the phantom came back and that started to drive me to distraction again but I had a way out. Do I want the phantom pain or do I want the gammon, the cold gammon? And I’d rather the phantom pain because at least I felt it. I couldn’t feel anything with the gammon. 
 
But then I got a referral to the pain clinic and explained all this to them and they said it was done in the wrong way, let’s do it again. And he started introducing all this stuff again and …
 
Catherine' Very slowly.
 
Bill' Very slowly. Introducing it, and also of a sudden it was oh that’s good, oh that’s better. A new dose. That was better still, new drug, that was good. And, you know, before you knew it I’m on an awful lot of medication. But at least it was re-introduced and got me to a point where I can cope.
 
Another thing about medication of course is you’ve got to get to a point where the medication will do the work but allow you to do things in life as well. It’s pointless having the medication and getting rid of all the pain, but you’re comatose and you can’t do anything. At all. So it’s a trade-off between what’s enough but what’s doing the job, and what can you cope with painwise, to what you can do in your life. So it’s always a trade off. Always a trade off. And you know, I’ve got to that trade off position, but it has consequences. Everything has got consequences yes.

 

 

Initially, Bill felt “buoyant”, but worried about starting rehabilitation. Staff motivated him by...

Initially, Bill felt “buoyant”, but worried about starting rehabilitation. Staff motivated him by...

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Bill: Anyway but I moved to the rehabilitation unit and there was some serious mind games going on there, very serious mind games. Beneficial mind games, but I think they were beneficial.
 
My very first day at walking school, which was like a gymnasium where you go in and you learn how to walk again. They just wheeled me in and let me see things. They didn’t do anything the first day. A day in walking school lasts about two hours, doesn’t it? It’s not quite a day. But there’s other health issues that people have got so the day turns out to be two hour day in the gym. And the first day they wheeled me in. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was buoyant at the same time. I wanted to get on with it. I wanted to get my life back.
 
Catherine: You were really enthusiastic at that stage.
 

Bill: Yeah, I was, but I was also beginning to feel the disability. So the first mind game that they played on me was they sat me in a in with other amputees and the guy next to me wasn’t even English. I don’t know what nationality he was, but he couldn’t speak English and he’d flung himself in front of the train and he’d lost both his legs above the knee, very high above the knee. He’d lost an arm and he’d lost part of his – I’m not sure which hand it was, right or left hand – but he’d lost part of his hands, his fingers. And all he had left was a leg like this. I’m sure it was deliberate, because even though I was feeling buoyant, it was like trepidation to move forward. What am I going to do now? You know, but it had the beneficial effect of actually saying, well I’ve only lost, I’ve only lost my leg. This guy’s lost two legs. And an arm. And you think, how is he going to cope? And it’s like you know, thankful for small mercies, you know, I’ve only lost a leg. Bad enough isn’t it?  

 

Getting into his wheelchair for the first time after his amputation showed Bill that recovery was...

Getting into his wheelchair for the first time after his amputation showed Bill that recovery was...

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Bill: They got a wheelchair and the independence of mobility again was, was amazing.
 
Catherine: In the wheelchair.
 
Bill: In the wheelchair yeah. Just being able to control what you do again in life. You, you lose control and when you’re totally reliant. I feel very sorry for people that are quadriplegic or, you know, very badly paraplegic how, you know, if they are reliant on people to do things for them. It is so demeaning, you know. I can understand now, why disabled people will totally and utterly reject help unless it’s absolutely necessary, because you’re better [laugh] to try and do it yourself, because you’re trying to think through the problem and it’s, sometimes the problem is insurmountable. Which is fine, you know, you have to get in your own mind, past that as well. You’ve got to accept the help that is absolutely necessary and for a lot of people that means a lot of things, and for some people it means nothing. It’s all your own particular personal journey in getting to where you’re going.
 
Yes, so tell me about actually getting the wheelchair and that process.
 
Bill: Well the physio got the wheelchair.
 
Catherine: She measured you up.
 
Bill: Yes, I mean whatever the technical things. You get the wheelchair and there it is next to the bed. And first of all you, you’re wheeling around the ward because you have to comply with what they want you to do, I thought, I was so naughty, I was so naughty I’m pretty sure I said I’m just going out of the ward, just, just going down the corridor, you know, through that door, and they went, “Yeah, but don’t go very far.” I went, the hospital was enormous. I won’t mention it, but it was a very large hospital. I just wheeled and wheeled and wheeled and wheeled. I was trying to find the outside and it was really difficult to find the outside, but I found it eventually and I was still really weak from – this is like may be, I don’t know two, three days after the amputation.
 
Catherine: No it was a big longer.
 
Bill: Was it a bit longer? I can’t remember the exact time. But I was still very weak. It took time to get your strength back, but I remember being so out of breath and so, but I felt elated when I got to where the buses drew into the hospital grounds. And I thought…
 
Catherine: Bus to [place].
 

Bill: I could get on that bus. I decided against it. I may be naughty, but I’m not that naughty. I … So I went back to the ward, but it taught me something, that, you know, you can get to places and you could rehabilitate and once you got rid of the infection and you get your strength back then perhaps, you know, it wasn’t the end of my life. 

 

Bill could not get a prosthetic leg to fit comfortably and eventually gave up trying. He now uses...

Bill could not get a prosthetic leg to fit comfortably and eventually gave up trying. He now uses...

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So tell me a little bit about those problems that the prosthetic leg caused?
 
Bill': Well on, I went to the rehabilitation clinic on one occasion and one of the things that happens after an operation is you might have a huge stump. You put a prosthetic leg on and that then reduces the size of it. And as you get better and as the damage the surgeons have done lessens, then your stump will get smaller and you will also find that there will be muscle wastage in the muscles that you’re not going to be using anymore, which again was why you need to make sure that the muscles are connected properly in the operation on the amputation.
 
But once you’ve got your legs they will change. Your body weight changes. So I’ve had one leg and the prosthetist said to me, “Oh don’t wear it. Take it, take it on a wheelchair home and put it on when you’re at home.” I said, “No, I shouldn’t do that.” Go out to the car, do what I have to do, you know, with the sticks. Did that. Drove home. This is the old house. Needed the toilet when I got it. The toilet is upstairs, so I need to go up the stairs. I’ve got banisters either side to help me up. And got to the third step, leg fell off. Literally. It was a suction leg, so basically you needed to be sure that your stump was at the right size and the suction held. If the suction gave it came off. So that was on the Friday.
 
I went back on the Monday, told them the problem. They put a liner in. So what they do, they take the liner, they take the socket and they put leather inside it, that then reduces the size of the socket. But they can only do that two a prosthetic two, three times before they then have to do a new socket. And
 
I went home. Again the following day leg dropped off again. I went back second liner. Second inside. By the end of that week they had to scrap the leg, the socket, and start again because it had all reduced. Because by the time I had another socket, which takes weeks by the way, the stump’s not so big, so you’re like this all the time. So you’re always up and down and up and down. That was one leg.
 
But there’s always a problem. There’s never anything right always, there’s always a problem, always a problem with prosthetics. My particular problems surrounded the way that the socket pressed against my flesh. And they don’t tell you. And the question, how do these athletics do it? Well how they do it, they go through the pain barrier and their stumps are red raw, because you can’t do that level of exercise without affecting your skin in some way. And when you then have the problems of cysts and sores and sweat…
 
Catherine: Skin breaking down.
 
Bill: Sorry.
 
Catherine: Skin breaking down.
 
Bill: The skin breaking down it becomes very, very painful. And…
 
Catherine: It never went away for you did it?

Bill: It never went away from me, that’s why I give up eventually. 
 

Catherine said that her husband was euphoric when he came home, but he became depressed for...

Catherine said that her husband was euphoric when he came home, but he became depressed for...

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Initially he had he the euphoria of coming home and being at home, discharged, and the children were really pleased to see him as well. But it didn’t take very long for him to get depressed and he was also having angry outbursts, particularly at the children, like if they left a toy in the way of his wheelchair or something, it would be something minor and he’d just go over the top in telling them off. He was on a lot of drugs. So he wasn’t really totally compos mentis he was sleeping a lot of the day. My daughter has come out with a couple of things that have been said. She doesn’t say very much, but one of the things she said was, “When the surgeons cut my Dad’s leg off, they also took away all his happiness.” That was how she felt. Actually now cannot actually remember him before the accident, just like me taking out photographs and showing what he was like and things like that. 

 

Bill applied for benefits when he was in hospital, but didn’t get them until after his discharge....

Bill applied for benefits when he was in hospital, but didn’t get them until after his discharge....

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And so what are you eligible for and how did you go about getting them?
 
Bill: At the time of my accident I was entitled to incapacity benefit and DLA. DLA, Disability Living Allowance. It was quite easy to get whilst in the hospital. Although you’re not entitled to it in the hospital, but you can apply for it and then when you go out, you then get paid it. But the way that it works or it did then, is that they stop, they only give you it say for a year, and actually they stopped it after. Because they send out these packs again, and you have to apply for it again.
 
So you apply for it, bearing in mind this is a legal process, so be careful you’ve got evidence of everything and that means doctors letters and your medical notes and whatever. You’ve got evidence of what you are saying. They won’t just give it to you but you’ve got to prove that you’re needing it. And as long as you do it in a thoughtful manner, and open manner, then you’ll get it because they’ve got a legal obligation to give it to you as long as you’ve proven your case. And where most people fall down on, on these applications is that they don’t understand it’s a legal process, and they don’t understand that they have to provide sufficient evidence to obtain it. So if they don’t do that they’re not going to get it.
 
Catherine: You can go to the Citizens Advice Bureau and get some help for that. The Carers Centre.
 
Bill: Yes, but they’re only as good as the person that’s doing it for you. You know, just think through the process. If you have to write down something, be able to prove it, and that might just be, you know, a letter from your wife. It might be a doctor’s letter. It might be someone else that you know to confirm what you’re saying. But prove it, in written form and always keep copies of everything. Of course the DLA’s now changing to PIP Personal Independence Plans. I’m not really sure how that’s all going to work. That’s a different aspect of benefits now.
 
What I would say is, is be careful that you don’t underestimate the potential of your psychological and mental problems. Because a lot of people don’t want to mention it. And you know, to my mind, mental illness is at the same place that racism and disability discrimination was twenty or thirty years ago. Right. Mental illness is something that is real and why shouldn’t you talk about it and just be open about it.
 
Catherine: It can be more debilitating than physical.

Bill: The mental, the mental trauma is, it’s a significant part of disability. Very significant. And it doesn’t help that the side effects of the drugs as well. So just be careful how you evidence things I would say to people.  
 

It is important to get the right lawyer working on his case, so Bill sacked one and got another...

It is important to get the right lawyer working on his case, so Bill sacked one and got another...

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So you’ve got your lawyer. I like to think of him like in football, you’ve got Premier League lawyers and you’ve got division four lawyers. If you had an amputation or you’re paraplegic or you’ve got some other catastrophic injury. What do you want? Division Four or Premier League? Personally, I’d like the Premier League. I sacked one, one lawyer that was in Division Four. I realised the problem quite quickly. So I managed to get the Premier League lawyer and I would advise everyone to research who they employ.
 
How do you do about employing a lawyer?
 
You don’t.
 
How does it happen?
 
How does it happen? You, if you’re lucky then you might belong to a union or a trade organisation like I was and find yourself that the trade organisation has already sorted it out. And that they will refer you on. They will get a referral fee and you know, you become a client and all that sort of thing, but your part of the client, but they are the bigger client because they’ve got lots of members.
 
You might have an insurance policy for legal aid cover attached to a motor policy, a motor cycle policy, motor car policy, something like that. Or you might just have to go for a ‘no win no fee’, a conditional fee arrangement. You might be better going off that route, and actually trying to get a conditional fee arrangement with the Premium League lawyer, because they will know how to handle it. The fees will be greater but that’s not your problem, that’s their problem. And that will all be explained if you do it. 

 

 

Bill says you should question the experts working on your case. They need to do their best for...

Bill says you should question the experts working on your case. They need to do their best for...

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We were talking about experts and how experts think that they’re experts. And I’m telling people they shouldn’t accept what their experts are saying; they should question absolutely everything. When you’re fighting a civil case in the courts, the first task you have to do is hold your own people to account. Because if your own people aren’t actually doing the thing that they’re being paid to do, i.e. report on your needs.
 
And the thing they do, these experts, and the insurance company they will get you to a point where you are at your best and then they’ll stop. What do I mean by that? Okay let’s say that my amputation took place when I was 15, because of some accident I had then. They will get you to the point of when you’re 20, and you’re fit and healthy and you’re doing whatever and then that’s where they’ll put their compensation claim to.
 
In my case my accident happened at 45. It takes four or five years to get to the point of settlement. So I’m in middle age and the health problems of a middle aged individual starts to come about. You might start to have heart problems, you might have overweight, you might find yourself with diabetes. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you develop an illness that you might have actually have developed in any event, but then find yourself at a disadvantage in that illness because of your disability you might need care that, that you might not have necessarily have had if you hadn’t had the catastrophic injury. 
 
So you’ve got to look to the point of your life i.e. old age where you actually need nursing care that you might not necessarily because of your injury and they want to forget that bit, because that’s a very expensive bit for them, you know, it’s and if your own lawyers don’t look at that they’re not doing you a service either. And by the way there are lots of lawyers that have no idea what they’re doing, they call the barrister in and try and rely on the, on the barristers.

 

 

Bill describes how he felt when he found out he was being watched by his insurance company.

Bill describes how he felt when he found out he was being watched by his insurance company.

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I was, my intention at that point wasn’t to kill myself. It was to go into the underworld, you know, I was very au fait with how vagrants lived. I shouldn’t call them vagrants, homeless people. But I knew that their lifestyle, you know, they didn’t have any identity and that was what I was intending to do, but it was very difficult, you know, just doing it on crutches, very difficult. 
 
And so I changed my plan when this guy stopped me at a Station, it turned out that he was going past [place name]. And I just was on the platform and the train literally came in as I got on the platform and I had this thought that I could end it all. And it would have been very easy, all I had to do was go in front and then that would have been the end. And I was a coward. I know I was a coward because I know it takes huge courage to go that extra step to do the action that kills you. You know, I wasn’t thinking right. I know that. I’ve got experience of that, you know, subsequent that people don’t make good decisions when they’re depressed and suffering mental illness, and you’ve got to understand why I’d got to that point as well, because all that stress had actually been leading up to it. 
 
It wasn’t the event that actually tipped me. What tipped me was the surveillance, a surveillance video that had been disclosed to us a few weeks previous, prior to an application at the High Court to try and get money out of the insurance company. And unbeknown to us, they’d been following us, following me, in our old home before we moved here. It was disclosed after we moved to this particular house that all the surveillance had taken place in the other house. And the reason the surveillance had been put in was because they couldn’t understand how we managed to buy the kind of home that we’re in, which is wheelchair friendly. The fact is that they said that I was entitled to move, but they didn’t want me to move locally. They wanted me to move to some place where property prices were dead cheap. But of course our family life was here. So when they, when they learnt that we actually moved house or in the process of moving house, on the conveyance, they put all these, these surveillances in and in turns out six cars, possibly up to twelve people on six days. It must have cost them an absolutely fortune. I just cannot understand why an insurance company would do that, other than to put pressure on you and to find something that they can negotiate down the final compensation package.

 

 

Bill said that body image was not a priority for the NHS, but it is very important to survivors...

Bill said that body image was not a priority for the NHS, but it is very important to survivors...

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On a prosthesis there is something that you can do that that you can have silicon cover.
 
Cosmesis.
 
Cosmesis. And it can be colour matched to your skin colour. Hairs can be put on it, and you would not recognize… well you would recognize, but I mean the point is at first glance you wouldn’t recognize. Now if you’re going to put trousers over it, it’s absolutely pointless but if you want to go out in shorts or you want to wear a kilt, then it’s very important that actually you have and ability to have an appearance of normality. You might not want to have it all the time, but it’s important that you have it at least part of the time. 
 
The NHS do have a budget, or they did have a budget I should say for that. But bizarrely they will only do it for below knee amputees. Is that discrimination? It is in my book. You know, if a below knee amputee can get it, why can’t an above knee amputee get it. And the reason is cost, weight, there are medical problems associated with it. But if you as the patient are willing to put up with those problems for the benefit of what you’re trying t achieve, then why shouldn’t you. It is important because body image is very, very important to a psychological support and well being.

 

 

Bill wanted to take part in research about using titanium to re-grow bone after amputation, but...

Bill wanted to take part in research about using titanium to re-grow bone after amputation, but...

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I’m not a giver up. I don’t like to give up but it, the problems were too much. I was going to volunteer for a new process. This is very interesting. And that’s probably a way for the future and it’s called ITAP and I can’t remember what the initials stand for, but effectively what the research has done by some really clever people. This lady doctor, she wondered how a deer can grow antlers through the skin of its skull and no infection and no problems come in through the point where the antlers come through the skin on the deer’s head. Titanium will grow, not the titanium, but bone will grow onto titanium and the titanium will not react with your body.
 
Consequently you have titanium implants for teeth, for example, and they work really well. So what the idea was to put a titanium rod through the end of your bone, and attach it and cement it into your femur, and they were looking for volunteers. I was thinking of doing it, but I’d had a lot of problems mental problems and other things that were going on in my life. And the family came to the decision that they would rather not me experiment with something that might cause a problem and further amputation higher up for the future, so I decided to wait and see whether it works or not. And if it does work then I might consider it in the future. 
 
But what they do, this, this titanium rod comes out through the bottom of your stump and they hopefully seal around the skin attached to the titanium thus causing a seal so bacteria cannot get in. But I don’t know how successful it’s been. But it’s certainly a way for the future, because if you can get away from sockets and the artificial thing on the outside of your body, and actually utilise the skeleton that remains then I’m sure for the future that would be a lot better. So that’s interesting for the future, but it’s probably beyond my situation now, you know, I’m getting older. I’m not getting younger. No one does.

 

 

Bill said that inaccessible buildings created problems for him that he wished his children did...

Bill said that inaccessible buildings created problems for him that he wished his children did...

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Bill: I’d just had a revision done of my stump and the bone that had been growing had been shaved away and all the muscles had been joined up properly and you know, they’d taken about two inches off of my first stump. And it was a lot better but it was still raw injury. And trying to get into a concert and to get into this place that was not disabled friendly in a Grade I listed building, but it wasn’t disabled friendly. I had to bum shuffle up the front steps from the pavement into the building and that bum shuffle caused the pressure in my blood to go up and my wound burst open unbeknown to me whilst sitting in the main hall. I just sat there and thought to myself this is feeling a bit wet as if you’d peed yourself, you know, it was that sort of … not that you’d know of course. Not that you know but you understand what I’m trying to say.
 
I can imagine.
 
Bill: You can try but… Anyway I put my hand down and it was just covered in blood. I went to Catherine like this. Catherine said, “What have you done.”
 
Catherine: “Now what have you done?”
 
Bill: “Now what have you done.” It was like, oh something else to cope with. Oh. And you know, it was no fault of mine the wound had burst open and I was bleeding so ….

Catherine: Infection. Back into hospital. He drove home first. 
 

The first time he drove his adapted car, Bill felt liberated.

The first time he drove his adapted car, Bill felt liberated.

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But eventually I asked whether or not he could have asked the insurance company, but the accident wasn’t my fault, whether or not they’d buy me an automatic car, because I had a manual car. It was quite new the car wasn’t it that we had, it was only two years old? I think we were still paying for it I think at the time, so you know, very small mileage on it. But I couldn’t drive it. And eventually we got an automatic car. And I remember getting into this car, when we picked it up or it was delivered. I think it was delivered. And I went out and drove it for the first time and I felt so liberated because I could feel I was going somewhere at the speed that was normal, and I felt part of the world again, and after that I started, started carrying keys, started having money in my pocket, credit cards, and started doing things again. But it was the point of being able to control my life again in a manner that I was able at the speed that was normal, but turned me out of the morose that I was beginning to go under. 

 

Catherine’s daughter said, “When the surgeons cut my dad’s leg off, they took away his happiness”...

Catherine’s daughter said, “When the surgeons cut my dad’s leg off, they took away his happiness”...

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Catherine: He was on a lot of drugs. So he wasn’t really totally compos mentis he was sleeping a lot of the day. My daughter has come out with a couple of things that have been said. She doesn’t say very much, but one of the things she said was, “When the surgeons cut my Dad’s leg off, they also took away all his happiness.” That was how she felt. Actually now cannot actually remember him before the accident, just like me taking out photographs and showing what he was like and things like that.
 
The worst thing for them, for all of us really, was that you never knew when you were going to get an outburst. So you’ve living under that pressure all the time. Like you, you don’t know if he’s going to react, and generally, or it could be in public places, so the children have got to get on with all these people and there’d be Bill taking them on for something or other and the children were just like …
 
Bill: Oh God not again.
 
Catherine: Yeah.
 
Bill: Dad, don’t do it now.

 

 

Bill and Catherine described their children as thoughtful and good.

Bill and Catherine described their children as thoughtful and good.

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Bill: But my son came out with a very interesting comment, didn’t he? Because he was asked by someone outside the family how you know, how all these events and social issues had affected him and he went, “Well actually I wouldn’t be the person today that I am ….”
 
Catherine: Without them.
 
Bill: ….without them.” So you know, he, and I think my daughter is the same as well actually I mean, I mean the different ways that they deal with it, but I mean they’re, they’re very thoughtful and social issues and how it affects people outside. So it has made them very rounded and thoughtful, good children. Adults. Tweens. 

 

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