31st March 2022

I nearly lost my leg

Just over two years ago, I went through surgery and had popliteal artery bypass surgery behind my left knee. As I lay in the hospital bed the night before the operation, I knew there was a risk of an amputation. I have always loved the outdoors, skiing, walking, cycling, sailing and the thought of not being able to do any of the activities that I loved was daunting. Thankfully the operation was a success and they managed to bypass the aneurysm and save my leg.

My recovery

Whilst I was recovering at home, I knew that I needed to get my leg mobile. With the promise of physio, I thought that they would help me to mobilise and get back to as normal as possible. Unfortunately, the physio help did not arrive so I contacted various private physios but unfortunately no one would take me on!

I had started walking and increased the distance each day until I could walk to the local supermarket. I was on the way to recovery, but my leg was still very swollen, despite me elevating it every evening.

My partner and I went on a sailing holiday in the summer of 2020. I found myself lifting my leg with my hand to get up the steps. I hadn’t realised that I had lost so much muscle and I would have to work out how I could build the muscle to enable me to sail and ski again.

The importance of exercise

I engaged in the local gym which is where I met Greg Smith who is a personal trainer. His motto is “Become Unstoppable” I explained to Greg the operation I had gone through and that I wanted to gain the muscles back in my leg. He was willing to take me on… success at last!

We started with 2 sessions a week and then in lock down when the gyms closed, he carried on training me in a car park! Even in the wind, rain, cold I was determined to keep going, I didn’t want to undo the work he and I had put in.

We had booked to go skiing in December 2020 but alas we could not go due to COVID restrictions. We booked again to go in December 2021………guess what, the French Government would not accept UK citizens.

I carried on training and in March 2022 I finally got to ski! What a fantastic result.

I cannot describe the feeling when I was on the top of a mountain looking at Mont Blanc.

My legs felt strong and although I was a bit nervous of falling it felt absolutely fantastic to be in the mountains and on a pair of skis. I am so grateful to the clinicians; Legs Matter and Greg Smith who all played a part in my journey!

Why Legs Matter?

I was introduced to “Legs Matter” by the sister on the hospital ward. It was a happy coincidence as my partner and I wanted to do something to help make people aware that if you have a problem with your legs or feet then it is so important to get help ASAP and not give up!

When I first realised, I had a problem I thought “It’s only my leg”. If I had known that there was a possibility that I may have an amputation I would have gone to A&E straight away.

I cannot thank all the team at “Legs Matter” enough for the wonderful work they do in increasing people’s awareness of the importance of looking after your legs and for all the support they have given to me, if only I had known how important it was to look after your legs before I experienced my issue.

Learn more about popliteal artery aneurysms