Interview with Manfred M.
17 years ago, Manfred M. was involved in a car accident in which his left lower leg was severely hurt and had to be amputated. Manfred is an avid athlete, loves climbing and mountain biking. He even used to participate with his prosthesis in motorcycle races, but he quitted when his children were born.
MyHandicap (MyH): Your amputation was 17 years ago. How do you feel about it today?
Manfred M. (MM): I think, very good. I work full time and do six to fifteen hours of sport per week.
MyH: How long did it take to accept that you have lost your leg?
MM: Hard to say. When I woke up in hospital, it was more important to combat the pain. Then I asked myself if I wanted to live like that or not. I said "yes" and so I accepted it. I was always someone who wanted to reach far and was never easily satisfied. The best was only good enough for me.
MyH: How did your family react when they have learned of your amputation?
MM: To my wife, it was important that I can accept the amputation, that life goes on. She supported me 200%.
MyH: What were your job prospects after the amputation?
MM: Fortunately, I didn’t have to make any changes. I had learned a mechanic and was Head of Department. Today, I still do the same job. My boss kept my position free for me while I was recovering. I could just go on as before. Fortunately, I had very good conditions and a great boss. I didn’t have to worry.
MyH: Did you have psychological support?
MM: No, I was not in a rehabilitation centre either. I've worked everything out for myself. This is probably my nature. If I say yes to something, I make the most of it and do not complain.
My wife gave me the feeling that it was no problem for her
MyH: What has helped you personally to deal with the situation?
MM: My wife has helped me. She gave me the feeling that it was no problem for her. For her, the main thing was that I have survived. It was helping that I had a secured job. Great help I got from my friends and from sports. For me, it was important that I can go on exactly from where I previously was. My colleagues supported me in this.
MyH: What advise do you give other affected people?
MM: You need to decide what you want to achieve in your life. Maintaining a hobby is very important. For me it was sport. It is also important to learn to grit on your teeth from time to time and to try to put away the pain.
MyH: Did you have stump or phantom pains?
MM: In the first four months, I had really strong phantom pains. It almost felt as cut off with scissors. But I was told that this is normal. Either you have very strong pains at the beginning and then not anymore. Or little pain for the rest of your life. But you can’t control that. Now I don’t have any phantom pains anymore. A doctor advised me to ensure a good blood circulation and to move a lot.
People are surprised by what I can do
MyH: How do not so close people react when they learn about your amputation?
MM: Very rarely little children ask: "What have you done?", or: "How did that happen?" Then I explain it. I think it's nice when they directly address me. Adult people hardly look. And if they notice it, especially in sports, they are hugely surprised. They are surprised by what I can do even with my amputation.
MyH: What has changed since the day you have lost your leg?
MM: The most important point is that I live more consciously since the accident. It could have been worse. You enjoy a day without pain more intensively. Nice weather, for example, these are things that you should enjoy; and this, I am now aware of. A negative point is that I have become harder. I could deal with my fate and was hard on myself. When I started working again, I was never absent at work because of my amputation. Therefore, I felt that other people should not be absent either because of their small ailments. But people feel pain differently. For me, the missing leg is and remains a blemish. I must stand to this. But for me, this is not a big problem. Almost everyone has a blemish. One is fine.
Translation: MPL 05-2010