Valued Douglas Bader Foundation Ambassador, Wyn Jenkins, has hit the news with his plea for fair treatment for civilian amputees, the “unsung heroes”, a subject close to our hearts.
You can see the article from Wales Online reproduced below but please also click on the link below to visit the page where you’ll be able to see a video of the inspirational Wyn in action. I’m just impressed that the photographer managed to catch him as he whizzed past!
HOW CYCLING HAS GIVEN AMPUTEE WYN JENKINS HIS LIFE BACK
From: Wales Online (May 18, 2014)
By: Rachael Misstear
The former PE teacher, who regularly cycles hundreds of miles, is now campaigning for more investment to help ‘civilian amputees’ take part in sport.
It was meant to be a simple operation to remove a fragment of bone from his knee.
But keen sportsman Wyn Jenkins’ life fell apart when he contracted an infection and was later forced to have his leg amputated.
The former PE teacher from Llandeilo said his life was turned upside down following the surgery at the Neville Hall Hospital in Abergavenny in 2007.
The surgery left the 63-year-old in extreme pain and discomfort and he endured three further operations.
However, by February 2008 the infection returned and his leg was eventually amputated above the knee.
He has recently won a settlement from the health board.
Now, after overcoming a series of physical and psychological hurdles – including a battle with depression – Wyn has become an accomplished cyclist.
He chairs an able-bodied cycling club and regularly rides distances of up to 100 miles. He has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Walking for an amputee is always hard work as you use anything up to 100% more energy than an able-bodied person,” said Wyn.
“Cycling, on the other hand, is incredibly liberating and I spend a lot of time helping new amputees get into the activity.
“It’s very rewarding to see someone cycle for the first time post-amputation and the joy it brings them”.
But the determined a dad-of-two and a grandad-of-eight said the battle is not yet over and is he is now campaigning for better services for “civilian amputees”.
He said there is insufficient investment by the Welsh Government to help people post-amputation adapt to their new circumstances and to help them adopt a healthy and rewarding lifestyle.
“Cycling has given me much my active life back, which for me was vital – a lifeline,” said former rugby player Wyn.
“The problem is that recently all funding for ‘leisure limbs’, which include my cycling prosthesis and liners have been withdrawn to help meet a general overspend of budgets by some health trusts – I think this is incredibly short-sighted and has resulted in me having to pay for these.”
Wyn, whose own battle for help left him in severe pain and at times without any usable prosthetic leg at all, said: “They should be encouraging people into some form of activity.
“If you’ve had an amputation and you lead a sedentary life, that can lead to long-term health problems, therefore becoming an extra burden on the NHS.
“If there were programmes put in place by the Welsh Government, to actively get people back into some sort of people physical recreation, it would stave off huge costs in the future.”
He said there is a shocking imbalance between the support offered to military amputees and the 5,000 civilians who lose a limb each year in the UK.
“In England there have been six centres of excellence set up for prosthetic care of hundreds of amputee soldiers,” he said.
“This is off set against civilian services which are being severely cut.
“No one begrudges any funding for soldiers, they are rightly being supported, but we need to see help for others too.”
Following his amputation, Wyn struggled to access the rehabilitation he needed, including the specialist prosthetic ‘sockets’ to ensure his leg fit properly.
He spent months without a usable prosthetic leg, which led to a period of depression.
In desperation he turned to the Douglas Bader Foundation, a charity which helps people who have lost limbs.
He also credits Ian Massey, the head prosthetist at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, with changing his life.
Wyn, who is now an ambassador for the charity, added: “Having worked hard all my life, suddenly having nothing to focus on made every day seem empty, especially during the first year when my sockets were so badly made and I was left without a prosthetic leg. Life was at a standstill and I felt disabled and useless.
“I began looking on the internet to find out more about living with limb loss and was relieved when I came across the Douglas Bader Foundation.
“I learnt that the best people to help you through the first difficult years after amputation were amputees.
“I was also fortunate that Ian Massey agreed to take on my care – he literally transformed my life.
“I went from having sockets that were painful and unusable to ones that enabled me to make my prosthesis work effectively.
“He upgraded me to a better knee and foot combination and adapted my original walking leg so I could use it for cycling.”
Wyn has recently won a settlement from Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board, who accepted he would not have suffered the infection, which ultimately led to the amputation, if he had been given antibiotics before the operation in 2007.
The settlement will help him to buy specialist prosthetic legs to improve his quality of life, as well as move into a specially adapted bungalow with his wife Margaret.
A spokeswoman for the health board said: “The health board can confirm that it has reached an agreement with Mr Jenkins in relation to his case with regard to the treatment he received from the former Gwent Health Care NHS Trust and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further.
“The health board wishes Mr Jenkins well for the future and can confirm that any lessons learned from this case have been communicated within the organisation.”
The Welsh Government said that health boards are “responsible for meeting the needs of people who have had an amputation, including motivating them to manage the implications for their general health and wellbeing”.
“Health boards, through their joint work on the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, are currently looking at how specialist prosthetic services in Wales can be improved,” a spokesman said.
“We expect the result of this work to be made available to the Health Minister in December.”
* Please click HERE to visit the original page where you can see the video *Tags: amputee soldiers, civilian amputees, Douglas Bader, military amputees, Mount Kilimanjaro, post-amputation, prosthetic leg, prosthetic socket, Rookwood Hospital, unsung heroes, Wyn Jenkins