My name is Ben Lovell and I am a below the knee amputee. I am the Head Volunteer for ATSGUK for the North of England. This is my story and I joined ATSGUK as a volunteer to help inspire and motivate other amputees to live life to the full.
The dilema I was faced with was if you were given a choice to amputate your leg to free yourself from severe pain, but also debilitate your life permanently, what would you do?
This was the nightmare decision I was faced with in September 2017 after months of missed diagnosis by my General Practitioner, a failed artery bypass and removal of a blood clot. This was precisely the unbelievable predicament that I was faced with. Although, I didn’t want to loose my right leg below the knee, I also didn’t want to be in constant pain for the rest of my life. As a father of two and with my upcoming wedding, I made one of the hardest choices of my life! Despite the physical effects of limb loss being bad enough, the mental struggles for me by far outweighed anything else. I was diagnosed with depression, severe anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the severe pain in my right lower leg.
However, after making the decision of my life and having the below the knee right leg amputation operation, I exceeded all medical expectations in terms of my recovery. I was walking again on my prosthetic leg within weeks of the operation. I was on my way to some kind of normality. I found the prosthetic hard to fit and I battled to keep myself active.
In September 2018, having made meaningful progress followiing my amputation came the second blow. I was advised that I unfortunately had two more blood clots which compromised my right stump massively. I therefore, underwent a second by pass proedure on my right stump due to a new clot blocking the main artery which also worringly affected my good left leg. Thankfully, for me this cleared in my good left leg, but as a result my right stump is completely blocked and restricts how long I wear my prosthetic.
I was told that my right stump would last some 6 months due to the poor blood flow as a consequence of the blood clots. However, I was determined to over come any adversity, so I started exercising to help push blood into my right stump and I have kept it alive for over 18 months now. Although now I’m looking at more surgery and a further amputation to my right leg in the coming months, getting through what I already have has given me the inner strength to get through anything else that I will face in the future.
Life throws all kinds of situations our way and we sometimes think why me? Why this? Why now? The answer we will never know, but with strength, bravery and positive thinking we can get through anything!
Fast forward to 2020 and I started AmpCamp Tenerife, a project to help amputee children and their parents look forward postively to life after an amputation. My first AmpCamp event was was meant to be in January 2021, but unfortunately this was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. The health, fitness and well-being retreat provided by the AmpCamp event is about helping lives of many amputees and off the back of that I started AmpCamp fitness uk. This is a free workout for amputees to get them back doing exercise.
We all face struggles in life, but it’s how we respond to these that makes us who we are. I have joined hands with ATSGUK as a volunteer to help mentor amputees in the North of England to come to terms with their amputation and to inspire them to look at life as offering many opportunities rather an amputation being the closing of doors.
I am a keen hill walker, recently I raised money for the AmpCamp project by walking 10 laps of Ogden Water Country Park on my prosthetic leg and completed The Yorshire 3 Peaks Challenge walking some 40 km at heights of 5,200 feet and I also did a sky dive.
I offer via ATSGUK, as part of the mentoring services, Hospital and Home Visits to help recent amputees and their families to get an insight into life after an amputation and to be a sounding board for amputees, as well as showing them that life is worth living and enjoying not withstanding their amputation.
Please feel free to contact me directly for any advice and assistance by sending an email to email@example.com and I will be more than happy to assist you.