I am an adaptive athlete from Basingstoke, Hampshire, England and I am currently working toward the Paralympics for discus, javelin and shot put. I also compete internationally in judo and I am very active within the Tough Mudder community, as I have completed 17 courses this year. Please find below some information on my history and how I became an adaptive athlete.
In September 2016, I had a single below-knee amputation following a chronic pain condition that I developed at the age of 9. I was simply walking around Disney World Florida when my feet collapsed under me. Originally, it started in both of my feet and I was able to walk but then once I stopped walking, my feet would turn purple and were extremely painful. I had many operations to try and resolve my issues and luckily, it worked on my left side; however, my right foot continued to get worse. I mostly used a wheelchair from about the age of 15 or 16, when a doctor first suggested amputation. Although he mentioned it as a potential for years down the line, I was adamant that I wanted to remove a limb that was causing me so much trouble. I was completely unable to bear weight on my foot, and wearing shoes and socks was impossible. My foot was a purple/red color and I was unable to even bear the pain of the wind or water touching my foot.
I spent the next six years trying to find a surgeon who would be willing to amputate. I spent thousands of pounds visiting surgeons, and spent hours researching amputation. I found many doctors that agreed that amputation was a viable option; however, they were unwilling to perform the operation themselves. Eventually, my perseverance paid off and I found a surgeon in Blackpool, a Mr. Mannion, who was willing to operate (an eight-hour drive from where I live).
As I was in my final year of university and had gained a graduate position to start in the following September, it was necessary for me to have my amputation over the summer period. My referral to Mr. Mannion was taking a long time and I wasn’t sure if it would fit in with my time schedule. Mr. Mannion wanted to perform another operation before the amputation and he also told me that I needed at least a year of counseling and to meet other amputees and the rehabilitation center. I had also found another surgeon in India who would amputate for me, without the need for another operation. It was this option that looked as though it would fit in with my timetable. With that in mind, I contacted Mr. Mannion and informed him that I had found another surgeon in India, as my referral had still not gone through. Funnily enough, my referral came through shortly afterward, but Mr. Mannion agreed to perform the surgery over the summer period without the need for the other operation — RESULT!
Surgery was scheduled for July 5, 2016 and I traveled up with two friends and my mum the night before. The anesthetist came to visit me in the morning and did the normal checks. The surgeon also came in and checked the consent form and told me to get ready for surgery (e.g., gown, remove watch, etc.). Despite this, just 10 minutes before the operation was due, the team decided that they were not going to perform the surgery as the anesthetist did not believe it was the right thing to do. The risk with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is that if you remove the foot, the pain would then transfer up to the stump. The team was not convinced that I had undergone enough tests and procedures to “save” the foot, despite having just over 30 operations. There was no sign of when I would be having surgery but I then had to go privately to have another pain specialist as well as another psychiatric evaluation. Once they had given me the all-clear, I contacted my surgeon and a date was eventually scheduled for the end of September.
Once the operation was performed, I spent three days in the hospital before coming back home. I then spent approximately 10 days at home and then moved on to the rehabilitation center in Roehampton hospital. Unfortunately, my recovery did not go as planned; I contracted an infection and had a persistent hole in my stump that would not heal. I spent two months in hospital and unfortunately left without a usable prosthetic leg. I needed to have revision surgery on my stump but the NHS was unwilling to give me another leg until I had undergone the other operation. With surgery not looking likely until nine months later, I was extremely upset and found a private prosthetic clinic in Basingstoke that was able to give me a prosthesis.
I received my first usable prosthesis just under four months ago and in May, I visited Spain for three weeks to complete 322 km of the Camino de Santiago, which is an old pilgrimage through the north of Spain. I completed this in my wheelchair as I was unable to use my prosthesis. I recently completed my 17th Tough Mudder, and I completed my 11th while pushing a chap around the course in my special all-terrain wheelchair. In June I traveled to Scotland and the Tough Mudder HQ team captured footage of me completing Everest. In two days, the footage gained 200,000 views and now stands at just under 300,000 views: facebook.com/pg/toughmudderuk/videos.
My sleep and concentration levels have never been better and I am now able to do things that would never have been possible before. Earlier this year, I started judo again, after years away, and I am now working toward my black belt. I have to compete against able-bodied individuals, as I am currently the only amputee judoka in the country. I have just recently been selected to compete internationally later this month under judo’s “special needs” category and I will be fighting against able-bodied people with low-level ADHD and autism. I am also working
toward the Paralympics for discus, javelin and shot put; however, this is very difficult, given the current situation with my prosthesis and the need for additional surgery. In August, I competed in the British Judo Special Needs Championships and achieved a silver medal.
With all of this in mind, I am just loving being able to do sports and any kind of physical activity. I am currently in the process of writing my autobiography, which covers a lot more of my life story. I’ve included links to my Web site and social media sites for you to take a look at. Under the “Media” tab, there are some clips that have been on the BBC.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your response.
Jamie Gane Thrower Website – www.jamiegane.com
Facebook – Jamie Gane Thrower
Instagram – Jamieganethrower