Sarah Algat recently got married, undeterred by the fact that she was wearing a frame on her leg beneath her bridal gown. Here is her story, one of patience and perseverance, which hopefully will inspire other patients when they reach a low ebb.
"My wedding day was a wonderful day, very small and quiet, but magical. Aaron (my husband) and I had wanted to wait until I was off crutches and had the Taylor Spatial Frame (TSF) removed, but it has disrupted my (our) life so much already that we decided to defy the obstacles and go for it. The dress hid the frame perfectly. Lots of people who have seen the photos say that they had no idea that I was sporting a massive Meccano set around my right leg!
"I broke my ankle in February 2008. It was a bad fracture and made all the worse by me being in the wrong hospital and under the care of the wrong surgeon. Things got so bad that at one stage, three months after breaking my ankle, a consultant advised me that amputation may be necessary.
"Thank goodness, I was then referred to King's and have found the people who have cared for me to be a joy. Mr Groom is a wonderful, highly skilled and kind gentleman. Sister Bond is reassuring, a whirlwind of energy and a mine of information. Mr Rashid is gentle and patient and Helen (physiotherapist) is wonderful - a hugely encouraging, lovely person.
"I had a period of watchful waiting between June 2008 and June 2009. Mr Groom then decided the time was right to fit a TSF, which has been in situ ever since.
"Hygiene is of paramount importance where TSFs are concerned, so that was a new element to be undertaken, as was learning to walk with crutches and slowly but surely, starting to weight bear again. Walking is painful as obviously your body is out of kilter, so your hips and back hurt - but when you're told that there are visible signs of improvement, you try to out the pain out of your mind.
"It isn't much fun undergoing limb reconstruction, but the level of care and expertise offered by the limb reconstruction unit is outstanding. Individually, they have buoyed me up when I really felt that this was never ending and encouraged me that things are improving. It's a long process, but the team's unremitting care and personal input has made a huge difference. I am not just an NHS number. I am Sarah, and that means an awful lot.
"We live in Crystal Palace, South London. I work as a freelance financial researcher. I am pretty limited as I used to drive and then walk (sometimes for miles) to get to various appointments. My work has had to be cut down hugely, due to the limitations of my mobility. Aaron has adapted an exercise bike for me, so that one of the pedals is wider to take the size of my TSF. That helps to get dormant muscles working again and also helps to shift some of the weight that inevitably goes on when your ability to be as active as I once was is curtailed.
"I think when you are faced with a situation like this, you have to be patient. Patience is absolutely essential. There are down days...days when you really want to go for a long walk or a run or play tennis. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and if you put your mind to it, goals can be achieved. I never thought I'd get married with a TSF in place and crutches by my side, but I'm here to tell that tale and to tell many more in future too, I hope!"