A Leg to Stand On

Hello, Donna here, and yes I do. Believe in miracles that is. Miracles are a co creation though and this is my part, having the courage to ask for help. The gratitude I feel right now for just the possibility that has emerged, is overwhelming. I also believe in the phrase ‘Never say never’ because here I am, excited and scared in equal measure, at the prospect of going through another operation which will be even more daunting than the one I had 26 years ago, an experience that I still consider to be one of the biggest challenges of my life… and I’m doing it voluntarily!

My story? I was knocked down by a car when I was a little girl of 10, I suffered a double compound fracture to my right leg which unfortunately did not heal properly. When I was 16, it was realized that my lower right leg had stopped growing, was misshapen and 3.5 centimeters shorter than the other. I was meant to attend a clinic at Great Ormond Street hospital in London but I never got there for various reasons, which may have been taken care of if my life situation had been different. I was still growing, always very active and full of energy and gumption, throwing myself into all kinds of physical activities with an ‘I can do it!’ attitude. At 22, I began to feel the first signs of physical imbalance and had severe bursitis in my right hip. I was, by this time, living in Norfolk and saw a specialist who suggested an external fixator operation to try to gain back some of the length in my lower leg. The surgeon had not done one of these operations before but he was an orthopedic specialist close to retirement age so naturally, I trusted him.

Medicine is ever evolving and ways of doing things are constantly being updated so I cannot allow myself to feel bitter about whether or not I received the best care but the injustice I now feel, approaching my 50th birthday, is much harder to accept. The operation consisted of having both tibia and fibular sawn in half, four titanium pins drilled into my bones and a piece of external apparatus which, with an Allen key, pulled the bones apart so that new bone growth could occur and within 6 months, 1.5 centimeters was achieved.

I once said I would go through childbirth 5 times with no drugs rather than go through that again but it takes a whole lifetime to get to know oneself. I also now have a loving family around me whose support I can rely on to help me through it.

I had knee surgery when I was 42 and have repeatedly been told I would eventually need a knee replacement. No other alternative has ever been offered to me and in addition to this information ‘No running. No jumping. No dancing. No climbing.’ And though I headed this advice, it was like being told to forget about huge parts of who I am, just like that.

I found yoga 20 years ago and I now know that the physical benefits alone, have for me been miraculous, giving me strength and flexibility which defy the levels of deformity that have occurred as a result of previously performed surgery.

I have managed remarkably well for most of my adult life but the last 18 months have bought the consequences of severe deformity to light. My joints are so misaligned that the muscles are now twisting to accommodate this and my pain levels are so great that I can only walk short distances before I’m limping. The rest of my body is straining to support the imbalance. Once the pain of arthritis began affecting my yoga practice, I decided I needed some answers. I was no longer prepared to be fobbed off with vague, ever-varying theories that suggested that I should feel lucky that I can even walk at all. Here was where the magic happened…

Conversation with a radiologist during the x-ray process at a clinic used for both NHS and private patients, brought up the name of a surgeon specializing in the reconstruction of leg, knee and ankle deformity, a world authority who has also designed and patented a type of fixator now used worldwide. This man just happens to live in Norfolk! As a gift from my husband, an appointment was arranged and for the first time I was heard, understood and respectfully treated to enlightening information that concluded with “Yes, we can fix it.” In fact, we could get up to 80% of this “full house of deformity” corrected. So the knee replacement need never occur, the arthritis and constant muscle pain would be healed and my leg would not only be straight, but the same length as the other one. I could have kissed him!

Here is where I offer up heartfelt gratitude to you for even reading my story and as that you share it so that anyone in this world who has the financial luxury of helping other people in need can gift a donation towards the £25-30K medical fee for a year of surgery and consultation with the remarkable man whose dedication and genius has given me hope.

I know there are many, many people whose cause may be considered greater than mine and hopefully if they too draw up the courage and worthiness to ask, will receive the loving generosity of those who can offer it. If this miracle occurs for me, my plan is to document and share it so that it may inspire courage and self-love to anyone that listens.

Thank you in advance for every penny or pound. You are helping a vibrant, joyful woman with so much yet to do and be, to get busy living.

Authentically, Donna.
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Donna Loades 
Kirby Bedon, East of England, United Kingdom