Meet Our Patient Josephine Bridges
Hi! My name is Josephine, I'm 29 and I had my left leg amputated above knee in October last year. At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer in my left tibia and had major surgery to save the leg and my life. After a remarkably successful trial treatment I defied my diagnosis and walked out of the hospital nine months later; however after 11 years and five failed surgeries to salvage my leg, I chose to have my leg amputated above the knee.
Even prior to my amputation I was in communication with Dorset Orthopaedic, arranging a visit to the Midlands clinic in Burton-upon-Trent to discuss prosthetic options, get advice on life after an amputation and in all truth, decide if I really felt ready to do this. They were lovely, showing me what's on the market, answering my myriad of questions and letting me know about possible physio options going forward. However, more importantly than all of this, they were honest. They told me openly how hard it might be, the difficulties I might face and what problems may occur. It was this information that was most valuable to me and in truth helped me make my final decision to amputate.
It was both a tough decision and a logical one. In the 11 years that passed after cancer, I was in pain and I experienced a number of problems with my leg alongside the various health complications left behind by my treatment. Despite this I still lived my life to its fullest, enjoying a wide range of sports, completing university, finding a job I love and renovating a beautiful terrace with my husband. As such, at 29 years of age I am very active. I like to handi-ski, para-climb, hike and kayak and have future plans of becoming a para-canoeist in the Paralympics. While the NHS offer a range of legs that will get me walking, they don’t supply anything that will enable me to continue to live my life in the same way I once did and that was truly what I was after.
After watching many videos of various prosthetics online I knew there was a chance to do more, to not have to stop along the adventure when everyone else is carrying on. So I set up Positive Bones online, firstly to help guide other people possibly making the same decision or just going through a tough period in their life and secondly as a platform for fundraising. In the first month I had raised enough to start the prosthetics journey with the wonderful Dawn Crofts at Dorset Orthopaedic and after casting, an emotional fitting and an affirmation that I had made the right decision, I began my week long Resi Rehab session.
I would like to highlight at this point that this isn’t just about me. Once we have fundraised for my leg, we have plans to start a charity for others in a similar situation and motivate people who just want the opportunity to continue their hobbies. When we get to the point of making it a charity, the first gift I would like to give an amputee is the same gift I was given in the start of my prosthetics journey at Dorset Orthopaedic.
Before the NHS were considering a leg for me, before they were getting me upright, I was already walking through the park at the end of my physio week with the amazing Beth Langley. At six weeks post-op, the incredible staff at Dorset got me up and not just moving but walking, going up ramps and climbing stairs. That's the gift I would give because it gave me hope, it showed me a future of possibility, a future of saying yes.
It's tough when trying to raise such a lot of money and people have dug so deep but if I could say anything it would be to say it is worth it. Since my first physio session Dorset have managed to secure a six-month loan of the Ottobock Genium X3 and with it I have truly been able to do things I didn't think I would ever would. I have kayaked, rock climbed, hiked the Devil's Staircase, done yoga, segwayed through the forest, wild camped, skied, danced and so much more. The kindness that Dorset has shown is insurmountable — the staff have been caring, honest and open. They've understood my needs and my dreams trying to find the best solution for every obstacle.