Barbara grabs life by the heels after serious car accident
Barbara Catterson was driving to work down a narrow country lane in Scotland when she turned a corner and met a speeding white van.
The 55-year-old bookkeeper hit the brakes, but it was too late – the vehicles collided head on.
She said, “The van was going too fast. The world shuddered – then I took a deep breath and realised I was alive. I thought I just had a bit of cramp in my legs.”
Emergency workers sliced the top of Barbara’s car off to free her and she was airlifted to a hospital in Dundee. A scan revealed her knee and heel were broken and surgeons used 4 plates and 9 pins to fix her shattered hip.
She was discharged from hospital 6 weeks later. But despite regular visits to a physio her foot refused to heal. Three years after the accident an orthopaedic surgeon told her she had two choices: he could break her heel and fix it, or amputate her leg below the shin. But breaking the heel, he said, would simply delay the amputation.
Barbara, who lives in Barrhead near Glasgow, said, “I was horrified. When I asked the surgeon if I could wear heels with an artificial leg he burst out laughing. He said I could because the prosthetic would be moulded to the shape of my left leg with a flexible, moving foot.”
Having her foot and part of her leg amputated was the start of a challenging journey. She said, “I was running on nerves. But when I retired and split with my partner, the tears came and didn’t stop.
“The hardest thing is not accepting it. It took me a few years after the amputation to accept I had a prosthetic. The mental side is difficult and for a while I stayed in the house for 3 months at a time.”
Things took a turn for the better when Barbara was introduced to Finding Your Feet, a project supported by The National Lottery. The charity supports amputees and their families by offering counselling as well as social and sporting activities.
Barbara was reluctant to be helped at first; she went to her first counselling session determined not to share anything. But by the end she had recounted her entire life story. In 2018 she became a Finding Your Feet volunteer, visiting people in hospital who have had amputations and talking to others on the phone.
She said, “I don’t tell people losing a limb is a bed of roses. But I promise that it will get better.”
Life for Barbara, now 66, is definitely better. In the summer, she enjoys wearing knee-length skirts and her favourite pair of heeled sandals.
She said, “I love my heels. They’re a symbol that there’s life after amputation.”
Projects like Finding Your Feet get the support they need thanks to National Lottery players like you. This September, The National Lottery is delighted to be supporting The Sun's Who Cares Wins Awards, which shine a light on other brilliant health projects up and down the country.
22nd September 2023
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