From tragic train accident at 17 to proud mother of 2

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Welcome to a new series here in amparo's blog we are simply calling #EmpoweredAmputee.

A platform for amputee's to share their stories. We hope for this to inspire you, or help any amputee's out there going through a similar situation. 

Introducing Lucy Ruck. This is her story. 

How did your journey as an amputee begin? 

On the 21 October 1993 I became disabled.

I was 17 and on my way to college, where I was studying hairdressing, taking my usual journey on the train. The station nearest to the college had a bit of a strange set up, where there was no bridge to cross from one side of the track to the other, so you had to cross over the track. I’d used the station for a year already, so I was quite familiar with it – maybe too familiar. 

There were 2 small gates either side of the track, so I waited here whilst our train left the station. When our train had gone, half a dozen people came past me and started to cross the track, so I just went with them. The next thing I knew what that I was half way across and suddenly, in front of my eyes was the fast train travelling at 65 mph. I had minimal time to react, but managed to throw myself backwards. As I did this, my right leg went out in front of me and was instantly amputated by the train. They found my foot about a mile up the track. 

I was then taken to a local hospital where they looked at the option of reattaching my foot, but decided it was too damaged. I then spent nearly 2 months in hospital, recovering and going through more surgery to ensure that I didn’t get any infections. I was allowed to come home just in time for Christmas, and was even able to take a leg home with me to get around on.

What was the hardest part during your rehabilitation? Did you turn to any special amputee groups for support? 

I was lucky and had a really supportive family. I was offered counselling, but found that for me, it was most helpful to talk about how I felt with my family. This was the time before the internet and social media were about, and the only other amputees that I seemed to meet were older and had a different starting point from me. Of course, I knew other young amputees were out there, I just didn’t have any way of contacting them.

For me, a sense of humour has always been critical. For example, 2 days after my accident, I was about to go into theatre for another op when my surgeon was coming out, after having plastered someone’s leg. He said to me, “Excuse me, I’m plastered”, to which I responded “Don’t worry, I’m legless!!”.

Describe the feeling you had when you put on your first prosthetic leg. How long did the process of fitting and receiving one take? 

For me, I shall never forget what it was like to first walk on a prosthetic. It was brilliant to be standing upright again and be at the same level as everyone else, but the dead weight and the strange sensation of not being able to really feel what your foot is doing was quite strange. It was really heavy and it attached with a belt over my knee, like something from World War 2! After 24 years of being an amputee the prosthetics have improved and are lighter and I don’t have a buckle over my knee anymore! 

What was the hardest moment for you as an amputee and how did you overcome that? 

I was in and out of surgery and consciousness but what I do clearly remember on the day of the accident is telling my mum and dad that I didn’t know what had happened to me and I didn’t want to know.

It was that evening, when everyone except my dad had gone home that I turned to him and said “I’ve lost my leg haven’t I?”. We had a good cry.

Through my amazing family supporting me, some really great friends and a bit of a sense of humour you gradually adjust to how your life will now be, rather than what it was.

What is the one thing you are most proud of? 

24 years later, I am now happily married with 2 amazing young boys. What I love about my kids is their openness. My boys really love that mummy has a stump and like to give it a stroke when I don’t have my leg on!! I try and make them open to asking questions about differences that people have and my amputation has given me a better understanding of how to answer the interesting questions that you get from them. I am really proud of how my boys don’t have any prejudice to disability and how they see it as a positive.

What makes you feel like an #EmpoweredAmputee? 

My accident changed the person I was. At 17 to have something this traumatic happen to you, it kind of has to. I believe that it’s made me a stronger individual and more confident. I own my disability, it doesn’t own me.

To see what Lucy is up to check out her twitter! https://twitter.com/LucyRuck

LinkedIn Article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-why-do-i-care-disability-lucy-ruck/

If you'd like to share your story, email us at hello@amparo.world :)