Aderonke was making her way into her job as an IT training manager. Whilst waiting for the lights to change on a pedestrian crossing, she was hit by an out of control car. Fortunately, she was behind a set of metal railings and they took the initial impact; however, they buckled under the force, striking her right leg as the car careered off.
A passer-by promptly dialed ‘999’. “I didn’t pass out,”, stated Ronke, “I remember screaming, I couldn’t feel the pain. When I lay down on the ground, I could hear my husband’s voice. I had been on the phone to him before the accident. It was only when I put my hand in my pocket to get my phone, that I saw the crumpled bones in my leg.”
The London Ambulance Service, supported by London’s Air Ambulance, responded to the incident. Ronke’s right leg had been partially amputated and the doctors attending quickly sedated her before placing her leg back into its anatomical position. Ronke was then anaesthetised and taken to The Royal London Hospital, which was the nearest Major Trauma Centre.
At the hospital, the trauma surgeons had no choice but to amputate Ronke’s right leg above her knee. “Even though it came as a shock, I knew from the roadside that my leg had been badly damaged”, said Ronke. “My attitude was ‘let’s look on the bright side…I am still alive’.”
In total, Ronke spent six weeks at The Royal London Hospital. During this time, she underwent a series of operations, primarily to clean the wound and allow for skin grafting.
On the ward, Ronke received a visit from the ‘Limbless Association’, a charity that matches patients to other amputees that have experienced similar amputations or accidents. “I met a man who had a below knee amputation fifteen years previously. It really didn’t bother him; he was getting on with life – this really helped to motivate me”.
From The Royal London Hospital, Ronke was transferred to the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit in Kennington for seven weeks of intensive physiotherapy. Over the next few weeks, her skin graft healed enough to measure for a prosthetic leg and by the end of rehabilitation Ronke was walking independently with only the aid of a walking stick.
Ronke returned home in April and decided to return to work in August. “During this whole time, my husband was brilliant. I think this whole process has brought us closer… People say that I’m a strong person, but I am blessed with the right support; it really makes things a lot easier.”
Ronke, like many other individuals with an amputation, suffers from phantom limb sensations. “After 3 years, the severity has reduced slightly. What I experience are uncomfortable sensations, which feel like my foot is heavy and being squashed. I have now reduced the pain medications I was taking and although it didn’t work for me, I tried mirror box therapy. I am hoping to go for some pain therapy at the end of this year, to see if it helps.”
“Although everyone says that I have come a long way, I still have a long way to go – I don’t feel like I have arrived at where I will be yet. My advice to patients would be – don’t be too hard on yourself. Live in the moment, thinking 20 years down the line won’t help you in the short term. I’m not saying the process isn’t hard, it really is, but there will be people to help you along the way.”