In 2008, I suffered an amputation to my left arm following an underground mining accident. From the accident, I have turned a negative into a positive, but it hasn’t been the smoothest ride since the day that changed my life.
I was operating a machine that cuts the coal and was installing steel mesh to the ceiling to prevent the roof from collapsing. Suddenly, the drill got caught in the mesh that I was holding onto. Instantly, I got pulled into the mesh where it ripped through my forearm, damaging all my fingers, hand and all of my arm to just below my elbow. I was rushed to hospital but there was no chance of my arm being saved due to the severity of the injuries sustained. I woke to my arm wrapped in bandages and it was hard to comprehend at the time what had actually happened. At the age of 40 it was a life-changing time.
The trauma from the accident then took me into a deep spiral which then lead me to battle with depression and drug addiction from the pain killers. Before my accident I was a qualified builder, loving life surfing, riding motorbikes and spending time with my family. In a split-second everything changed and now I was trying to understand how I was going to do all of this with only one arm.
Negative thoughts ran through my head, always questioning how I was going to support my family and do all the things that I love doing. There were several dark moments over a period of 3 – 4 years after the accident.
I received my first prosthetist about 3 months after the accident. I remember the day as it put a smile on my face. It wasn’t the same as my arm, but it was the next best thing as it would help me with everyday life. That day was the start of my journey of where I am today.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be at first. I had to get used to wearing the arm and working out what attachments would best suit my activities. I dropped a lot of things like plates and glasses, scared a lot of kids because I looked a bit different and got frustrated because I couldn’t do things as easily as before. Some days it was just too much, and I felt like giving up. But I was not going to let this set me back in my life or beat me.
After several years of depression and drug addiction, my life took a turn. With the help from APC Hunter, I designed a prosthetic arm to help me get back in the water and get back into surfing. It worked well, but weighing 100kg, I found it hard to get to my feet quickly. However, I continued to push myself as I was not going to let this stop me. I finally got back on a push bike, worked out a way to start working and building again, and live a life I previously did post-accident.
Now at 52 years old and nearly 13 years on from that day that changed my life, I have found that there are only 3 things I can’t do, and that is: wear a pair of gloves, block my ears with my fingers and row a boat.
I have accomplished so many things, things that I thought I would never accomplish being an amputee, and this has been because of my motto in life:
“He who is not courageous enough to accept challenges will accomplish nothing in life.”
Following a train accident in 2002, Rachel became a bilateral amputee, blind and experienced daily osteoarthritis. However, her physical disabilities have not stopped her from dancing, swimming, walking or working. Rachel is passionate and an advocate for the rights for people with disabilities.
Rachel shares with us, “Without legs, I couldn’t do any of the things I love. Thanks to the APC Prosthetics staff for all their compassion and never refusing my needs, from the administrative staff, technicians to clinicians. I feel very privileged as it has enhanced my quality of life despite the daily challenges. So, I thank you for all you’ve done. Your compassion and help have always made me feel I can call anytime, and besides, any excuse for a party, right?!”
In November 2020, we celebrated Rachel reaching her 18th year anniversary since becoming an amputee. We’d like to thank her for sharing her journey with us over the years, both in the Northmead and the Alexandria clinics. Her cheeky smile and jokes keep us on all our toes (or prosthetic feet) every time she calls and visits! Rachel is an amazing ray of sunshine despite her daily challenges. Though visually impaired we can never sneak up on her and her refusal to allow osteoarthritis stop her social and fitness activities are resilient and her perseverance is greatly admired.
My name is Aaron Curry and I live in North West, New South Wales with my family.
I became an amputee in 2018 following a tragic work accident in March 2017. I was working in a factory when 700kgs of steel fell on top of my leg, where I suffered unrepairable damage to my left leg, and because of this, I am now an amputee.
After 22 unsuccessful operations to try and save my left leg and foot, the medical team treating me was left with only one option, and that was to amputate my leg below the knee to save my life. It has been hard, but I’ve pushed through the bad times because life isn’t meant to be easy and short. My determination is unbelievable to the point I’m now back running and enjoying life the best way I can. Yes, my leg may slow me down, but it doesn’t stop me from achieving my goals.
Thanks to Kris at APC Hunter, I’m fitted with a transtibial prosthesis and I currently have an everyday leg and a water leg which are both awesome. Being an NDIS participant means I get looked after very well and that everything I need for my prosthesis and disability is covered with the NDIS. I’m only new to the scheme but have been happy with the outcomes that has been completed so far.
My everyday leg is fantastic, I can run, do gym work, and most of all, I can enjoy life like I was before my accident. My water leg is great as well as it enables me to go swimming and visit the beach with my family and kids. Both of my legs have an awesome design printed on them to my liking. I am grateful for the team at APC Hunter, they have done a fabulous job with my needs and have taken excellent care of my legs, including solving any issues I’ve had and the ongoing support has been awesome as well.
My life has changed a lot, I’ve now learnt to do things differently to other non-amputees. I may be slower now than when I was before, but my mindset is different from most because I still achieve my work and my day-to-day activities. Before my work accident, I was an active sports player in both soccer and cricket for my local clubs. This was a passion I’ve had since I was a little kid growing up around sports and I love just to go on the field and have some old fashion fun. I haven’t played these sports since December of 2016 and I deeply miss them, but I’m determined to play cricket next season in 2020.
I can now be prouder of myself in a way that other people wouldn’t understand, but I hold my head extremely high and I don’t care anymore what people have to say to me. My thought pattern has changed as I remind myself it’s more important to achieve my goals right to the end. My favourite saying, which I believe is so important within the amputee community, is to never give up no matter how hard life gets, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Life is not easy even for the best of people, but you just need to keep pushing through and not to just give up.
My goals in life are to just have fun with everyday life. I don’t wake up every day and think ‘how can I do what I need to do?’ but rather ‘what new task or goals can I achieve today?’ It may take me a little more time to complete but never has it stopped me from pursuing my goals each day.
I look forward to getting back into the sports that I love so much and to watch my kids grow up. My family and my personal goals are the most important things in my life. I’m currently doing a support programme that helps other amputees in the same situation I’m in, and I help them in any way I can even if it’s an ear to just listen to or a shoulder to cry on. I’m one of those people that people can rely on 100% of the time and I never, ever fail. I enjoy helping people out in times of need and for that, I expect nothing in return other than being grateful for what I have done.
“An amputee from birth, I have experienced many changes in the world of prosthetics.
Receiving my first leg as a 1 year-old I learnt to walk on a sash foot, being an active kid with a desire to keep up with my friends resulted in many trips back to the ‘leg place’ to get my leg fixed.
Over the years I developed a passion for sport which would see me compete at three Paralympics Games, four World Championships, two world cups and a Commonwealth Games. To be the best I would seek the best coaches and support staff, the same applied to my legs. I looked to use the top of the range equipment knowing it would help me achieve my goals, fortunately for me Ossur share that same passion for excellence ensuring amputees have a life without limitations.
A successful outcome is more than just having the right product, you need to know how to use it and be comfortable and confident with the fit, David Howells and the team at APC Prosthetics were the glue that brought it all together.
The team at APC Prosthetics not only helped me achieve my goals as an athlete but ensured I could function at my best day to day following my sporting career.
Having undertaken my greatest challenge to date, completing the Kokoda Track in 2016 I now look to future with excitement and an appetite for more adventure.
As an interstate client it’s very convenient for me to fly in to Sydney and be able to walk from the airport to APC Prosthetics new Alexandria clinic.”
“The guys at APC Prosthetic’s are great and always there to support me and my needs. They keep up to date on all the tech and events for an amputee out there. It’s because of them I found out about AMP Camp, learned to Snowboard, longboard and had the leg adjusted to do it. APC is is also excellent in delivering to NDIS processes.
They always service my legs before any of my big events like Tower climbing, Retro running and City to Surf. In addition to their excellent skill and service of making and adjusting my legs, I come in from time to time with crazy plans and inventions and bounce ideas off the guys. They always have feedback and also help me build my own ‘Stomper’ – slipper for double amputees and ‘Fins’ – modified sets of fins for pool and ocean swimming.”
“I was seven years old when I had my Symes amputation in 1947. At that time, I got around with a ‘peg leg’ until I was 18 years old when I was fitted with a wooden prosthesis. In 1972, I was then introduced to Trevor Jones and David Howells, who was at the time Trevor’s apprentice.
As a young woman with a Symes amputation, having a prosthetic that was cosmetically to my liking was as important as functionality and comfort. This served to be challenging for David and APC, but a challenge he was willing to accept (although at times David was probably despaired when he saw me coming through the door). APC never, ever gave up on me and would always try to find a workable solution that I would be happy with. To this day, my requirements have never changed.
In 2017, I had a below the knee amputation due to problems with my leg including thinning skin, muscle wasting away and infection. The surgery was going to make walking easier for me and David was in contact with my surgeon throughout the entire process. This presented a whole new set of challenges for David and his team as I had to go through and get used to an entirely different prosthetic and way of walking. To this day, David and his team, including the front desk who are equally important, have been wonderful and always greeting me with a smile and genuine welcoming. This is significant, especially during times when you aren’t feeling your best.
I couldn’t have asked for a better support team than what APC has given us over the many years I have been going to them.”
“I have been attending APC Northmead since 2006. David Howells and the team were referred to me, via another client, with whom my family have connections with and live in the same small town in North West NSW.
My right leg was amputated, above the knee, in 2005 after a farming accident in the Hunter Valley. After getting back to work, I began researching newer leg models and technologies, as I was unsatisfied with the prosthetic leg I was initially fitted with. My lifestyle and work commitments called for a leg with less restrictions and a prosthetist who could think “outside the box” and not accept the status quo. When I first met with David (12 months post-accident), I was buoyed by his response and approach to newer technologies. Also, his willingness to help me with my wishes to remain in the bush, without altering my career/life, which had been suggested by other ‘professionals’.
I have found and continue to find extreme expertise within the team, from the administration ladies out the front to the tech guys and prosthetists in the workshop out the back.
Their willingness to support me and my wishes have thoroughly helped me keep my life on track, by updating me and training me to use the latest in prosthetic leg technology, since losing my leg in the accident.
As a rural producer and a competitive horseman, I am required to perform regular, physically strenuous duties in day-to-day life. The team at APC are always able to help adapt or modify my legs to suit such activities. Or simply fit me with the leg, which will allow me to perform such tasks and live my life to the fullest. Without this support I would not be living and competing at the level I do.
Although I do not wear my leg while riding and competing. The training I received and the leg I have been fitted with, has allowed me to accommodate all the pressures and duties of working in the livestock industry, as well as competing at a high level.
My wife and I have 3 young children, who also share our passion for horses and the farming life. They regularly ride and as such I am required to be on hand – as any dad is. The prosthetics I have been fitted with over the years at APC have given me the confidence needed and allowed me to be the supportive dad/husband which I am required to be, without letting the amputation control my ability.
I have maintained regular visits to the Northmead office since initially visiting in 2006 despite work/family commitments which have taken me as far north to Bundaberg QLD and as far west as Condamine QLD. We still have to travel 700+km to attend the clinic but do so to maintain the high-quality treatment and advice.
Over the years I have recommended David and APC Prosthetics to several people who I can happily say have visited and are now enjoying the progressive nature of the team at APC.”
“Losing a limb is no small thing. It changes everything. In September 2006 my right leg was amputated above the knee following a high speed motorcycle accident. APC Prosthetics have been instrumental in helping me gain my confidence and adjust to life with a prosthetic leg.
I was encouraged to shop around and check out my options when it came to choosing a Prosthetist. This was very good advice as it lead me to APC Prosthetics. The best way of describing my experience with APC is that of a family. Families care for one another and create a sense of belonging. When I arrive at APC, I feel less and less like a “Client” and more like a family member.
All the staff at APC is friendly and supporting. The training offered has allowed me to walk with confidence and move back into activities I use to enjoy. The continuing care has been outstanding as life as an amputee can have its complications. As a regional NSW resident I have always appreciated the availability and willingness of APC to accommodate my needs, fit me into the schedule and go the extra mile. I recommend APC Prosthetics.”
|“I lost my right leg above the knee due to osteosarcoma of the proximal tibia back in 1973. I followed my dream of becoming a large animal veterinarian, being supported by my family, friends and love of animals, particularly horses.
I worked as a specialist equine vet for 30 years, initially at the University of Sydney and finally with my husband in the Upper Hunter Valley, where we settled and had two children.
My early prosthetic needs began in Sydney as I rapidly discovered which prosthetic components would stand up (or not) to the rigours of being an animal veterinarian. Once I was settled in the Hunter, APC Prosthetics (Ron Wright and more lately Paul Nixon) took over my prosthetic needs.
When I retired from veterinary practice, my prosthetic needs changed. I now needed a leg that would help me ambulate with minimal strain on my back and “good” leg and still allow me to be active as I love being outside, gardening, walking and going horse riding.
In the last 12 months with assistance from the NDIS and with Paul’s advice, I have acquired a new prosthesis, the RHEO KNEE® XC and Pro-Flex® Pivot foot. This has been a fantastic step forward for me. I can walk further with less effort and the natural swing motion makes my walking more efficient. The bad habits of 45 years are proving to be difficult to shift, but I am excited by the prospect of improving my technique to make the best use of the microprocessor knee. I have had an active wonderful life so far and my aim is to stay healthy and mobile into my retirement years. I am lucky to have access to such advanced prosthetics.”
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