I was born with PFFD in 1985 and although I can’t remember much about the ‘early days’ I know they were a time of mixed emotions especially for my mum. I’m told no one had any inclination prior to my birth, technology just wasn’t what it is nowadays, and the shock must have been awful.
I probably didn’t know what all the fuss was about, and I certainly didn’t realise the fuss surrounding an NHS strike a few years later that threatened my development. Just as I was learning to walk the strike was taking place and my need for a new leg put on hold. Thankfully after some media attention brought on by my parent’s determination and a mention in the House of Commons I received one of my first leg; by the way I should probably mention that I never elected to have my smaller leg amputated. Yes, I could have had a bendy prosthetic and walk more naturally but I didn’t fancy the phantom pains and I guess it’s part of me.
Since then I’ve never let my PFFD hold me back. Although at times I was bullied, suffered from spells of depression and still on occasion question, ‘Why me’. Anyone reading this should find comfort in the fact that it doesn’t need to hold you back or limit what you can do. There will be tough times, but you are stronger then you think, and support is always there.
I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed of my ‘leg’ and probably enjoy wearing shorts more than most. Recently I was pulled on stage at a comedy gig and asked to dance! Little did the well-known comedian know that I only had one leg! It all worked out fine and I ended up on his back being carried around the stage! You have to embrace these mad moments that life throws at you!
I’ve been lucky enough to play amputee football for my country and through this travel the world including Russia, Brazil, America and Poland to name a few. There’s nothing better than representing your country at your chosen sport and I’d urge anyone with PFFD to check it out. I doubt anyone would have thought I’d be taking part in such a physical sport at a high level when I was first diagnosed.
I’ve always been very active and have worked for three football clubs since I was 18, as well as going to university and recently starting a family with my amazing wife. I regularly organise the pre-match entertainment in front of 30,000 fans and don’t give one thought about my artificial leg or how it may look.
All in all, I’m very proud of my accomplishments. PFFD has never held me back and if anything, it has forced me to be stronger and more determined than most.