Meet the patients: Lynda

Lynda Painter and motorbikeA head-on car crash in Spain left Lynda Painter with the biggest decision she had ever faced - lose her leg or lose her life.

Following the accident her right leg was severely damaged and infected. Despite five operations in a Spanish hospital to try and save her leg, the infection was so bad it eventually it was amputated above the knee to save her life.

When she finally flew home, Lynda, 44, was admitted to Southampton General Hospital, where she stayed for a few weeks.

After her amputation Lynda felt like she had a million questions, from ‘how do I get in the shower?’ to ‘what shoes can I wear?’ but found there was no-one to talk to who had been through the same experience.

Four years later, she has joined a new support group for amputees, set up by Nikki Storer, vascular surgical care practitioner at Southampton General Hospital.

Through the group, Lynda hopes to help others, as well as helping herself and making new friends. She has already proved a vital source of information for a woman who believed she could never drive again after an amputation. Lynda explained the way her car had been specially adapted so that she could still drive. The next time they met, the lady had bought the same car and was driving again.

At home, Lynda uses a wheelchair to get about, but when she goes out she has an artificial leg. Marie Hulse, the hospital’s amputee physiotherapist, helped Lynda with her recovery and with learning how to use her artificial limb.

Lynda, of West End, near Southampton, said: “I don’t need to prove anything by climbing mountains, I just want to be Lynda again, and I think I’ve achieved that.”

In fact, Lynda doesn’t feel she is any worse off without her leg, and last summer she travelled across France with her husband Phil, on the Harley Davidson motorbike she bought him for his 40th birthday.

“I bought it as a surprise, as I figured life is worth living. I had every intention of riding on the back of it,” she said.

She also works part time in the accounts department of a plumbing and bathroom showroom, a supportive employer who allows her to work around her hospital appointments. 

Lynda admits that at first it was scary and the days were long, but she remains determined to help other people in the same situation as her.

Her next adventure is as a member of Amputees in Action, who supply extras for films and amputees for training in the armed forces. She said: “You might see me in Casualty one day!”

For more information about the amputee support group, or to get involved in any way, please contact Nikki on 023 8120 6039.

Case notes

Most amputations are in diabetic patients.

Amputations are often due to hardening of the arteries (vascular disease). This can be genetic, or caused by smoking or high cholesterol.

Other reasons include trauma, pain, cancer and palsy.

Did you know?

Podiatrists don’t just work on people’s feet, they also treat corns and hard skin on amputees’ residual limbs.

Lynda's story was featured in Connect magazine.