Hubby had his leg amputated after charity mountain climb

Hubby had his leg amputated

by take-a-break |
Updated on

I thought my hubby’s broken ankle would soon mend. But his agony led him to make a drastic decision. By Michelle Ward, 38

Hubby leg amputated

Breathing in deeply, I stopped to stand up straight.

Overawed, I drank in the towering mountains and dipping valleys.

‘It’s amazing,’ I said to my husband Dan.

He too was staring in wonder.

‘Yes,’ he replied.

We were battling high altitude on the Inca Trail.

We both loved hiking and walking on holidays, and had tramped for miles in Costa Rica, the Caribbean and Europe.

Now we were adding the trek in Peru to our list.

Back home in Swindon, Wiltshire, we were ready to plan our next trip.

But one morning when I was at work, Dan sent me a photo of his ankle. It looked swollen.

I’m in hospital, he texted.

‘What have you done?’ I asked, after I burst through the hospital doors.

'It's taking a long time to heal'

‘Fell off the ladder,’ he said.

Dan worked as a welder. His left ankle had taken the brunt when he’d crashed to the floor.

‘It’s broken,’ confirmed the doctor.

And it was a nasty break. He needed an operation to have screws inserted.

Back home, he hobbled around on crutches, grimacing in pain.

Two months later, he was still in difficulty.

‘It’s taking a long time to heal,’ I said.

Then one day, he gestured to his ankle and said: ‘Look at this.’

The scars were oozing with fluid.

Antibiotics were prescribed for an infection, but it failed to clear up. Medics thought his body had rejected the metal screws.

Seven months on from his fall, Dan had the screws removed.

But afterwards, he said: ‘The surgery hasn’t worked.’

Hubby had leg amputated

He had developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) — permanent severe and debilitating pain in his leg.

And he still couldn’t put any weight on his foot, so relied on crutches.

We began to research CRPS and Dan said: ‘There could be one solution.’

He was talking about amputation.

‘But it could get better,’ I said, upset.

‘You’re not the one in pain,’ replied Dan.

In the meantime, he wanted to raise awareness for Burning Nights CRPS Support.

‘I’m going to do the Three Peaks Challenge,’ he announced, and I gaped at him.

‘How?’ I asked, astonished.

He was still on crutches and in unbearable pain. But he was determined.

Two months later, we began our slow ascent up Ben Nevis.

Rain battered our faces, cold nipped at our hands, but Dan kept going.

Hubby had leg amputated

Eventually he began to tire, and I could see the pain in his foot was taking its toll.

‘Let’s just sit down for a minute,’ he said.

I passed him a sandwich and we sat for a while. Then he hauled himself up again.

‘Right, come on then,’ he said firmly.

Through the pelting rain, my heart swelled in pride for him.

We reached the top and cheered.

But I couldn’t put the pain etched on Dan’s face as he’d struggled up the mountain out of my mind.

It had taken us nine hours to get up and down again.

Next, we drove to the lakes ready to climb Scafell Pike.

But at 6.30am, sitting in the car in torrential rain, Dan reluctantly said: ‘I don’t think we can do this, it’s not safe.’

He was right, so we drove to another spot in Cumbria and went up two smaller climbs instead.

The final peak was Snowdon.

This time, Dan’s crutches skidded on the loose rubble. Suddenly, he stumbled and was forced to put his foot down to stop himself from falling.

Agony flooded his features. But he composed himself and carried on determinedly to the top, raising £2900 for the charity.

Back home, he said: ‘I’m not going to get better. I’m going to see if I can have it done.’

My heart sank.

‘Maybe it will get better,’ I said, pleading.

But Dan shook his head.

As the amputation operation approached, doctors said there was a 50 per cent chance that nerve damage could still be present afterwards.

‘I’ll take the risk,’ said Dan.

Two-and-a-half years after he’d fallen from the ladder, Dan had his leg removed from below the knee.

Would the pain disappear this time?

I searched his face anxiously when he woke up.

‘It’s worked,’ he said, relief shining from his eyes.

Two months later he was fitted with a prosthetic.

He’s planning to hike up Scafell later this year after the dreadful weather conditions prevented him earlier.

And he won’t stop there.

‘I’ve got an idea,’ he said one day.

I listened to him and replied: ‘I’m up for it.’

We’ve booked to climb Kilimanjaro next year to raise money for the Limbless Association and Mind to celebrate Dan’s 40th birthday.

My man-mountain will never stop scaling the heights.

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