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Jack

Brief Outline: Jack's leg was amputated and he now uses a prosthetic leg.
Background: At the time of publishing this website, this person was in the process of filing a compensation claim. We cannot display further information until the case has been resolved.

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His parents have been more upset about his limb loss than Jack was. He feels it has changed his...

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And the person who caused your injury was prosecuted?
 
Yes he was prosecuted. Got a two year sentence, served one year and then he was deported – he was an illegal immigrant. I wasn't too bothered that he got a short sentence, it didn't really bother me. What sentence could have made up for a lost limb? There wasn't a sentence so that didn't bother me at all. He was deported so he shouldn’t have been in here. That was a bit annoying. I was quite angry at the government really that they allowed him to be in the country and it was their fault, it was border control’s fault for allowing him to get in. Again that subsided, that sort of anger. It was more my parents actually – they were more angry about the whole situation. I've not been. I've been OK with it. He was insured, the guy – don't know how that happened – but he had car insurance, which again has benefitted me. I've not got a lot to be angry about really in terms of what's happened. He was caught, he was jailed, he was deported and I've got someone to sue so, it could have been worse. Could have died as well, there's that. I don't know what he looks like or anything. My policeman brought photos, but I didn't want to look at him, I didn't want to know what he looked like, it was something I was quite keen on – not seeing his face.
 
Why is that? 
 
I did not want to have the guy who'd done this to me etched in my head for the rest of my life, I didn't want that. But I was thinking about it the other day – if I was to meet him I don't think I'd get angry at him because I think it's had such a positive effect on my life this accident, I don't think I could get angry at him, I really couldn't. I'd be tempted to thank him if I'm honest with you. I'm not just saying that; I genuinely mean that. It's had such a good impact on my life. I'm not angry. Mum and Dad are angry at him more because of what it's put the whole family through and them as well. Just seeing their son, their eldest son go through all that, it can't be nice. I almost feel that I got away with all that you know the whole emotional scarring. I don't have any of that; they have more of that than me so. 

 

 
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Jack's parents were upset about it, but were assured that it was necessary for him to have an...

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I don't feel hate or anger towards the people that made that decision on my behalf. I'm quite happy they did because from what I've been told, I've spoken to all the plastic surgeons and orthopod staff that dealt with it. Because I've obviously asked them like, "Did you have to do it? Was it necessary?" Not in the like 'Why did you do it kind of way?' But genuinely curious as to what state I was in, what state my leg was in. And they said, "Yeah we had to, it was beyond repair". And apparently there was muscle hanging off the bone, the knee was damaged beyond repair so I'm happy that they done that and saved my life. And my parents were told at the time – because my Dad obviously didn't want it to happen, nor did my Mum, but more so Dad. And they said, "Look it's a question of amputating his leg or he dies." So it was one or the other. So obviously they had to do it and I'm at peace with that, I've got no issues with that whatsoever. 

 
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His prosthesis has allowed Jack to be able to do nearly everything he did before his injury,...

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Do you want to tell me about the prosthetic you have?
 
Yeah so I've got an above the, I've an above knee prosthesis. I have a knee which is a, it's made of titanium and it has a hydraulic cylinder in there to, and the cylinder provides resistance for when you're going down stairs and slopes and things. Then it's attached to a foot which is made of carbon fibre. And on this particular prosthesis I've got an adjustable ankle, so this prosthesis is designed for my flatter shoes whereas the one upstairs, it's the same knee but it's attached to a foot called the echelon which is a self-adjusting ankle, it's like a, it’s a new bit of technology – the first ankle of its kind – and I wear that for when I wear trainers and things. But yeah in terms of technology and where we're at the moment it's phenomenal and I think what I can do with this knee, I'm not that short of what I did before. I think not being a fit and athletic and active person before has helped that feeling that I'm doing more now than I was before, but I still think that this is, I don't think, I think you can do everything that you want to do with one of these and that's a credit to the people that design them and make them I think, yeah they're good.

 

 
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Jack likes to show off his prosthetic leg, but understands why some people would choose to wear a...

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You can have a full leg cosmesis that remains on your leg at all times. It starts here and it ends at the bottom and it's, it covers everything and it just makes your leg look like a leg. I don't think it looks like a leg. I think if I was in a pair of shorts you could tell from a mile away that's not a real leg because it's a bit of foam that's manufactured to look like a leg. My personal feeling of the full cosmesis is horrendous and it just…you're trying to make something that's never ever going to look like a real leg look like a real leg so why bother? That's my personal opinion of it. However I've spoken to a lady in particular which I remember and she, that was, well she's an older lady, she's like in mid-forties I think and [physio’s name] asked me to speak to her just to – she had just come in and the whole massive thing of losing her leg had just finally hit her and I was just there to speak to her to you know give her a bit of a, cheer her up and tell her it's going to be alright, that whole false thing. I didn't use any of those words though. And her, one of her biggest concerns was being able to wear a dress and look normal and I said, "Yeah you can." I didn't tell her my opinion of it because that would have put her off and that would have made her feel even worse but I'd; and I said to her, "Yeah you can get a full, full leg cosmesis and they look the part as it were. But for me personally I think they look horrible, I think. They're trying to make, they're trying to make your leg look real when it's never going to look real and for me also I think that [prosthetic leg] is a work of art in terms of metal work and technology and I think it's brilliant and I want everyone to see it . I think it would be a crime to not let everyone see that because I think they're brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The technical and the amount the technology in there is just phenomenal so. 

 
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Jack does not feel disabled so he does not want his house to look like a 'disabled-friendly house...

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When you were discharged you came home here to your family home, did somebody have to sort of help you out with things?
 
Occupational therapist – so she came once; wasn't a particularly good experience. She got some measurements wrong for my wheelchair. That I would say is pretty bad. That was a pretty bad experience actually because we got home – and we live in a house that had no adaptations whatsoever for somebody with an above knee amputation. So we literally had to improvise. So it was stuff like buying a step-ladder to help me on the way up to the bed. Because the wheelchair didn't fit upstairs, using an office chair upstairs to get from bed to toilet to bathroom, etc. I couldn't have a shower for the first month because we had to order a bath board so I could sit on the bath, which I still use to this day. Stuff like that. There's a lot of improvisation. So I would say, don't rely on your occupational therapist or anyone. Don't rely on anyone to help you just, a bit of thought. As long as you feel safe; obviously you've got to think about safety. That was the biggest issue doing everything, getting everything done safely and minimising the risk of further injury. So long as you're making the correct risk assessments as to whatever you're doing in your house, just improvise.
 
And did you have to put any rails in or anything?
 
No, there is nothing in our house except a bath board. Everything else is as it was.
 
Is that significant for you? Is that important for you that there wasn't anything permanently put in?
 

Yeah definitely I didn't want to live in a house that was for a disabled person because I'm not disabled. I don't have that feeling and I still don't want that. Like we're going to get our shower and stuff done and I've made it quite clear to everyone, like Mum and Dad and everyone that I don't want something that resembles like a disabled friendly bathroom. I want it to look as normal as possible. So it'll have a shower cubicle and then like a classy seat that's kind of built into the wall as opposed to a fold out chair with a rail kind of thing. I don't want that. As long as for me personally, as long as I can have the option to sit down when I'm showering I'm fine. I don't want a blatantly obviously disabled friendly house. I just don’t want it yeah. You want it to be your home. For me it's more like a, it's a pride thing. Just because I have that whole ‘I'm not disabled mentality or grey area’, I think, I don't want that in the house either or any home that I move out of into, I don't want any of that. I'll just get a bungalow – no stairs then, that's what I'll do. 

 
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Jack has had two applications for DLA rejected but is determined to fight for it this time.

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I feel cheated because I'm not getting the benefits I think I deserve, but reluctant to class myself as disabled. I don't know. It's weird. It's in my grey area at the moment I feel. I've applied twice and rejected twice. I'm going to apply a third time, but I'm going to appeal it and fight for it this time. I didn't really fight for it. It's such an ordeal applying for that. It's quite traumatic listing everything you can't do. It's not something I want to do. I don't like doing it, so I didn't – well I did twice and I got rejected twice. In the first year after the accident I got given a blue badge by my council. I didn't get the Disability Living Allowance, but my council gave me a blue badge because you can apply for one with the council as well. Otherwise you get one automatically being on higher rate. So I got one then in September 2011 I had to reapply for that. I'd applied for DLA – didn't get it. Then my blue badge came up for expiration, so I had to reapply again and didn't get that either. So as it stands the only thing I have is the disabled freedom pass – a bus pass and train pass, that's it. So I'm going to fight for that like as of 1st September I won't be working full-time so I'll have more time to deal with that. I didn't really have the time. Then I didn't go through the ordeal of doing that so I'll have more mental strength to do it now and the time to do it, so I'll deal with that starting next week.  

 
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Jack prefers to wear shorts and let other people see his prosthetic leg. In trousers he feels...

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I was asked, "Do you only wear shorts so you can get a seat on the train?" I was like, "No, I wear it because it's the psychological thing". I feel more obvious if I'm trying to hide it. That sounds really paradoxical, but when I'm in trousers I feel like I'm just a guy who walks with a limp. That's how I feel. But if I'm in shorts I feel that I'm not that guy who walks with a limp, I'm this above-knee amputee who's got one of these flash legs and people, rather than say, "Oh why he's walking a bit funny?", they're going to say, "Wow look how he's walking with one of those." So that's the mind-set I've got there, I hate wearing trousers, I actually hate wearing trousers. 
 
And why is it a big thing for you to wear them?
 
Because people can't see my knee. I want people to see it. When I'm in trousers or jeans I'm just someone who walks a bit slower and walks with a limp so people see me as disabled almost. I don't feel disabled when I'm in shorts. I don't feel that way. I feel that people are looking at me and I get glances when I'm in the High Street with my girlfriend or whatever. Every single person that walks past they have a look and I think maybe I thrive on that on some level. My girlfriend thinks I do. She thinks I'm a bit of an attention seeker, but I disagree. I feel that when I'm in shorts and people see this [prosthetic leg] they're not thinking, 'He's disabled,' or, 'Why's he walking funny?' They're thinking, 'Wow, look how he's walking with one of those'. That's how I see it. I don't see it any other way and that's why I wear shorts.

 

 
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Jack had to think about learning to walk again, but his friends were only interested in 'getting...

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Yes they visited hospital and I went out with them on few occasions. But I think as I realised that I had to grow up pretty quickly and when speaking to my friends, my old friends, my ex-friends, it seemed like they were still like kids, almost. Honestly that's how I felt. I felt like, although we were the same age they were, they were like kids and I saw everything differently now. My priorities had all changed. Like for them it was all about getting smashed at the weekend. For me it was about learning how to walk again, which was quite a big deal. It's not a laughing matter; it's quite a serious thing. So I was so focused on that I just kind of didn't want anything to do with them really. I met up with them on a few occasions and quickly realised that I'm not going to enjoy my time. It wasn't that I just said, "Right I don't want to see you guys anymore," it was just that I was sitting there with them, I wasn't enjoying their company because they were talking about stuff that wasn't going through my head at the time, so it naturally just fizzled out, all the friendships so that was it. 

 
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Jack was given sick leave and sick pay during the period of his recovery.

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If you are working at the time of the accident or the time of your limb loss your employer will give you time off work so that's sorted. You've got enough time to learn how to walk and then get back into work slowly. Because I don't know of any employer's that wouldn't be willing to help in that respect. In terms of money, in the short term your employer may or may not pay you but then you've got statutory sick pay, which is not a lot but it's something. There will be ways to earn money. Hopefully you have a great family support network, which is obviously going to help you so use everything you've got – be it family, your work, the government – use them as much as possible to help you get that mobility and get that fitness and then see where it takes you, see what happens. I've not set out to do anything, this has all happened, it’s all just to kind of fallen into place like this. Like getting and being with my girlfriend that's again it just happened, the whole education thing it just happened. I was working at the time, my employer was brilliant to me' they paid me full pay for six months; they helped me get back to work slowly. Even being at work the guys who I worked with you know they didn't mollycoddle me and all that kind of stuff. They just were quite brutal with me actually if I'm perfectly honest. That helped me personally. 

 
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Jack said he would almost thank his assailant for causing his injury because life is so much...

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And the person who caused your injury was prosecuted?
 
Yes he was prosecuted, got a two year sentence, served one year and then he was deported. He was an illegal immigrant. I wasn't too bothered that he got a short sentence; it didn't really bother me. What sentence could have made up for a lost limb? There wasn't a sentence, so that didn't bother me at all. My policeman brought photos and stuff, but I didn't want to look at him, I didn't want to know what he looked like, it was something I was quite keen on not seeing his face.
 
Why is that? 
 
I did not want to have the guy who'd done this to me etched in my head for the rest of my life, I didn't want that. But I was thinking about it the other day, if I was to meet him I don't think I'd get angry at him because I think it's had such a positive effect on my life this accident, I don't think I could get angry at him, I really couldn't. I'd be tempted to thank him if I'm honest with you. I'm not saying that; I genuinely mean that. It's had such a good impact on my life.

 

 
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Initially Jack put on a lot of weight and was reluctant to go out. He got his confidence back by...

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Why do you think you gained weight?
 
Well I was fairly big before the accident and I'd lost a tremendous amount of weight in hospital from not eating and everything. So I think the weight gain was my body getting back to its last recollection of a healthy weight, and also the fact that I wasn't moving around. So I'd put on the weight that I'd lost and then a bit more so I think that's the reason, just lack of moving around and eating rubbish all day didn't help so.
 
And how did that make you feel?
 
Not very good. Having lost a leg is one thing and then to be overweight the way you were, my confidence was quite low at the time. So I was kind of reluctant to go out and about, and going to the gym and starting in there has helped me I think definitely. That's been the main thing that's helped me get out of that routine.
 
Has it helped you sort of psychologically as well you mean? 
 
I think it's helped me more psychologically than it has physically. Obviously there's physical benefits of going to the gym and swimming every week, but in terms of my confidence, it's shot up since, even in the first few months just losing like the five kilos that I lost, it makes you feel so much better about yourself. So it was August when I started and I got back to work in about October. I got back to work only two days a week, but I got back to work. I mean that was one thing that I did as a result of starting the gym. It was obviously not just the gym, but I'd got to a level where I thought I could go back to work, but confidence definitely it helped. Getting fit again or even on being on the road to getting fit again definitely helped me hundred percent.

 

 
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To minimise the long-term damage to his good leg, Jack tries to use his crutches as little as...

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Are there any complications for your good leg?
 
Yes. As a result of the amputation and using the prosthesis you’ll find that you're putting more weight on your good leg just because it's difficult because of socket comfort to be fifty-fifty the whole time. So for me personally that means I can't stand for very long because I find that I can't do fifty-fifty weight distribution so I then tend to go onto this leg, which then starts affecting my ankle and my knee and my calf sometimes as well so it just fatigues quicker. Your good leg will fatigue quicker and as long as you expect that and you're sort of anticipating that then it's fine. And as long as you make arrangements for that so that you're not standing for too long again it's something you can't avoid. You can't run away from that. It's always going to be there. It's one of the limitations, one of the restrictions I have of my condition, is that your good leg's going to take a bit of punishment. But as long as you minimise that, you're minimising the long-term damage. 
 
So initially what I used to do in the house was use crutches a lot without the prosthesis. I don't do that anymore because I find that you're putting your whole body weight on one leg more of the time and that's going to do long-term damage to your ankle and your joints in your good leg. So I don't do that anymore. I rarely, I don't use crutches anymore. I used to use them quite a lot, but I don't use them anymore. If I have to I'll use them.
 
Why would you have to use them?
 
It's not happened yet, but on a day where both prostheses that I've got – primary, secondary and water – and the socket doesn't fit me. On a day like that, when my residual limb's in so much pain where I can't put a prosthesis on, that's the day I'd have to use a crutch definitely, I'd have used a crutch on that day, but OK it's not happened yet, but it probably will happen. Given that it's part and parcel, I think it's part and parcel of being an above knee amputee, it's always going to happen, stuff like that.

 

 
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Following his amputation, Jack had to use the tube to get to work. He is proud that he mastered it.

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So I went back two days a week only doing like three hours a day and gradually – that was in October 2010 – and gradually up until the end of the financial year, so up until the end of March, I built it up back to full-time and then went to full-time. Then a couple of months later when I was essentially almost integrated back into society as it were, I changed my job. I moved to [place name]. I think that was really helpful for me because I got used to wearing trousers and I mastered the tube system, which I was very reluctant to use before. But now I really have no issues using the tube, which is quite a big thing for an above knee amputee. 
 
Why's that?
 
Just the number of stairs you have to use and the fact that you have to stand sometimes. It's a really inhospitable place for an above-knee amputee. But I don't feel that; I don't have any issues with it now so it's really good, quite happy with that. I'm happy I changed job just for that reason alone, that I’ve negotiated London Underground , that's good. It's just a really horrible place to be for an able-bodied person never mind an above-knee amputee so I think it's, it's marvellous that I know how to use it.

 

 
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In his extended family, Jack's family is seen as the strongest after all they have been through.

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The support network of the family has helped. But now that we look back on it, we're stronger all of us for having gone through what we've been through. And now whenever our family are going through something, like an event or whatever, they turn to us or for that strength. We have become the strongest family in our circle of people as it were. We are the strongest family. We are viewed as the strongest family, which is a credit to us, I think. So yeah it was minimal, minimal support. We've kind of dealt with it on our own, but we’ve dealt with it. And I also think that, without sounding arrogant, the fact that I've dealt with it and achieved quite a lot has helped my parents as well so and my sister so. 

 
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Jack said his sister was relieved when she saw him laughing soon after his amputation. The only...

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What was your sister’s experience of it?
 
At the time, I think she was quite shocked by it, but she toughened up. She's a very tough character anyway and when she saw me laughing and joking – she's told me that – “As soon as I saw you laughing and joking”, she was OK with it. At that point when she saw me having a laugh she was like, "I'm OK with it". And she treats me accordingly now. We have a laugh and a joke. We're closer as a brother and sister than we were before. The only impact, the only negative impact it had meant she missed an exam at university, which she didn't pass in the summer, so had to re-do that unit, so delayed her course by a year. But she's on the third year now so it's fine. That was the only negative impact I would say. But apart from that she's been fine with it.

 

 
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Counselling helped Jack's parents to deal with his car accident which led to his leg being...

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Has there been any support for them or for you in terms of coming to terms with this?
 
My plastic surgeon referred our family, well me first, to a neuropsychologist or a neuro... I can't remember the technical term he had. So I had a meeting with him, and he deemed that I didn't require any counselling or anything like that, which I totally agreed with. I kind of said I don't want it, so don't bother, don't waste your time. And then I said to him, "My Mum and Dad though are having trouble" – this was earlier on, I think this was within the first year – they were having trouble dealing with it. And so I mentioned that and he said, "OK I can invite them, we'll have a meeting with them, all three of you. First separately, then your Mum and Dad together, and then all three of you together". And they then had further counselling, which I think has helped them. The support network of the family has helped. But now that we look back on it we are actually stronger all of us for having gone through what we've been through. And now whenever our family are going through something like an event or whatever they turn to us or for that strength. We have become the strongest family in our circle of people as it were. We are the strongest family. We are viewed as the strongest family, which is a credit to us, I think. So yeah it was minimal support. Yeah I would argue minimal support. We've kind of dealt with it on our own but we’ve dealt with it. And I also think that without sounding arrogant the fact that I've dealt with it and achieved quite a lot has helped my parents as well so and my sister so. Yeah I think it's really good.

 

 
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Being in London has helped Jack's experience of limb loss. He feels lucky the police were passing...

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I don't think that anything being in London has made it difficult. I think it's made it better for me. If I was out in the countryside, for example, getting to the hospital to do my physio would have been a nightmare because it would be so far away. The range of activities I have in the City to help rehabilitate – swimming, gym, football matches, London town, you know – I wouldn't have had that if I was in the countryside. So I think being in London has completely made it better. And not only that, I think funding for London limb centres are slightly higher because I've spoken to a few people in the countryside or just in different parts of the country who don't get as much funding as we do. And when I say, “I've got this and I've got that” they're like, "Really?" They say, "Really you've got that as well?" I say, "Yeah." So I think I'm very lucky and just from the accident itself that night being in a city, if I was in the countryside the chances of a police car driving past that day would have been slimmer. I don't know who was looking down on me that day, but there was a police car coming in the opposite direction and this car was stopped so. I was in the city that wouldn't have happened definitely so I think yeah it's enhanced everything just being here. 

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