Written by Lianne Forrest, amputee & volunteer for the Limbless Association.
I was born with Spina Bifida, and aged nine, developed an ulcer on the ball of my foot. Because of the lack of circulation, the ulcer wouldn’t heal and the doctors later found that the bone in my foot was also infected and I had contracted Osteomyelitis. The options were to remove my leg below the knee, or remove the bone from my foot; which would mean wearing shoes with a built-in step.
I made the decision to have my leg removed. I didn’t want the hospital visits anymore and wanted to be well again. But although I was soon walking with a prosthetic leg and coping well, over the years the infection returned.
The doctors came to the conclusion that if they amputated above my knee, to where the circulation was slightly better, I may be able to live a healthier life.
So, at 18 I became an above knee amputee.
Because of my age, it was like starting all over again, The situation was much harder for me to accept and I started to hide away from the fact I was an amputee. If there was a way to hide the way I walk, or the I way my leg looked, I would find it. Consequently, I had a hard time growing up through school. I was unable to hide the prosthetic leg much as I would have liked, and I continued this way until I received the Ottobock C-leg from the NHS only two years ago, initially on a trial basis.
With my boys starting high school, I needed to be proud of who I am so they can be proud too, and not ashamed of their ‘mum with one leg’. Now I tell people it’s as if ‘I’ve come out’. I feel free, and I am proud of who I am and how I look.
Here is my experience with the C-leg and UNYQ leg covers.
Two years ago, I was asked if I would like to trail the Ottobock C-leg, My prosthetist felt that I would benefit from the micro processing knee, as I lead quite an active lifestyle for an amputee. As a family, we enjoy walking and I like to keep fit by attending gym classes. I also have two young boys and two dogs to keep up with.
I have to admit I was sceptical at first, not because of the change in mobility but the change in how the leg looked. I never wanted a leg that looked like a metal pole; I have always had the NHS legs that are covered in foam and you could barely tell it was artificial if I covered it with my jeans. So, it was a big hurdle for me to get over was how I looked.
The trial day for the leg was absolutely fine. The clinicians were impressed with how easy I took to the knee. I felt secure, I was told that with the C-leg it knows and determines where you want to go with how much pressure you put through your foot. So, the bonus of this is that there would be no more sudden falls like there have been with past legs.
You are hooked up to a computer system by Bluetooth that balances out your weight and height, therefore they can put your leg into whichever mode suits your lifestyle. My son came with me that day and thought it was pretty cool that I was now robotic, and I would have to go on charge in an evening!
Benefits of the C-Leg with micro-processing knee
- The C-leg determines how much pressure to put through your foot
- No more sudden falls – feel safe and secure
- Bluetooth balances our your weight and height
- Choose the right mode to suit your lifestyle
I brought the C-leg home that evening and cried, because I didn’t think I could go out there and show my leg. I had no clothes in my wardrobe that fit loosely around my prosthetic so the shape of my leg was gone. I was told they could cover it in foam like my old ones, but it would take away the whole point of this leg and would constrict the use of the knee.
The next morning, I decided that was it! I could no longer hide from the world or myself, I needed to be proud of this piece of equipment. I went out in a pair of shorts and I’ve never looked back. I sat with my mum having coffee one day that same week and she said to me,
“there must be something out there, something that makes legs like this look attractive for women and appealing, you can’t be just expected to have a metal pole like that forever, someone must do something.”
So, we searched the internet and found UNYQ, which is a company that makes prosthetic leg covers. They were based in Spain, but when I looked on their website they had clinics all over the county that you could get one through. Cheadle was our nearest, so I gave them a call and within the next month I had my beautiful UNYQ cover. I did have to pay for mine, and they can be quite expensive but it’s the best money I have ever spent.
Your UNYQ cover is designed for you:
- Measured around the shape of your existing leg
- Choose your own colour and design
- Made especially for you
Since receiving my C-leg and UNYQ cover, I have completely changed my outlook on life. I have the freedom to be as active as I can. The C-leg helps me to get through my day without wanting to come home and immediately take off my leg. The UNYQ cover has made me feel unique – the comments I get daily are so uplifting. I never feel like I want to hide away again.
I have also recently been asked to model next years’ UNYQ designs, which was just an amazing email to receive. Never did I think sat in hospital trialling this leg could take me to where I am now.