– I look forward to treatment with osseointegration. It will make everyday life easier with a tractor and truck. The high thigh amputation means that the sleeve I use today is not as useful, says Villy Andresen.
By Marte Nordahl. Photo: Private.
Villy Andresen from Tyristrand remembers well the fateful fall in the soapy courtyard in January 2015.
The leg stood straight out on the side of the knee at almost 90 degrees. As a result of the accident, Villy had to undergo surgery on a new knee. The fact that the operation was not successful resulted in four subsequent knee transplants, as well as three knee operations.
– I remember the time as a pure nightmare, says Villy.
Jumping accident as a 13-year-old
Villy remembers the rough teens on the ski jump where it was about jumping as long as possible. An unfortunate and sharp fall on the ski jump resulted in stretched tendons and cruciate ligaments. All the following summer he was walking with crutches and a plastered right foot.
– As an 18-year-old, I had knee surgery at Sophie’s Minde without any improvement. Although I have not had much pain afterwards, I have experienced the right knee as more unstable, he says.
The uncomfortable knee made Villy dependent on crutches for the next two years.
– Finally, I asked if the orthopedic manager could amputate my knee, something the doctors did not want. I let them know if I was going to take the job into my own hands anyway. Thus, they had no other choice. I do not regret for a second the amputation itself, says Villy.
Before the amputation, Villy came in contact with Arne Wilberg through an acquaintance at work. At that time, Arne was part of the peer committee in Momentum.
– I called Arne and asked him questions about his amputation. At the meeting shortly afterwards, I got an introduction to how the leg amputation had changed his everyday life. Although I was somewhat prepared for how things would turn out, my thigh amputation was different. I amputated just above the right knee, in the middle of the thigh, he recalls.
– The amputation itself went very well. Just before the operation, I was offered sedatives. With a high pain threshold, I was sure I did not need anything. I was looking forward to having the operation completed. It was a relief to have the knee removed, he recalls.
Member of Momentum
Villy joined Momentum on the same day as the amputation. He has enjoyed the membership greatly since.
– It has been useful and inspiring to read so many different stories about prosthesis users throughout the country.
Villy has also participated in Christmas dinners and information meetings. Unfortunately, he has been too busy with work to be able to attend events.
Walking school at Fram
Immediately after the amputation, he was sent to walking school at Unicare Fram in Rykkin. Here the physiotherapist taught him that pain can be “fun”.
– To begin with, it hurt to wear the prosthesis. Since the stump had a nice length, it was effortless to learn to walk. The leg also felt stable. Just a few weeks after the amputation, I also climbed to the top of the climbing wall on Fram. I decided early on not to give up hope of regaining an active life. My own stubbornness has benefited me.
Two years after the amputation, calcifications formed on the side of the bone pipe on the stump that had to be removed. Yellow staphylococci also appeared through the wound. The bacteria had probably been present already after the amputation. The staphylococci resulted in a new amputation.
– In January 2019, I amputated a full 13 centimeters extra over the old stump. With a shorter stump, the leg also feels more unstable when I wear the sleeve. Although it is not difficult to walk, it is challenging to get the prosthesis to feel completely stable on the stump, he adds.
Process of osseointegration
Based on these challenges, Villy has started a process of osseointegration at Rikshospitalet. In collaboration with experienced orthopedists at the hospital in Gothenburg, he looks forward to starting treatment. Due to covid-19, the operation has been postponed until further notice. Villy hopes for an operation by the autumn.
– I am really looking forward to this. I have been mentally preparing since last summer when I became aware of this solution. An integration will hopefully make my everyday life a lot easier. It will be much more comfortable and fun to drive a tractor on the farm. Due to the pain I get from sitting on the sleeve, I take it off when I drive a truck and tractor. Tractor driving is also challenging since I get in and out of the tractor more often during work. Thus, the prosthesis also moves so that I have to put it back on. It feels quite twisted. With the integration in place, it becomes more comfortable to sit. I will also use my leg more actively in everyday life, Villy emphasizes.
Working every day
After the amputation, it took only a week before Villy drove the tractor again. At that time he did not even have a prosthesis.
– It is important not to give up when you face adversity. Today, fortunately, I have no form of phantom pain or pain in the buttocks, he says.
Even with a challenging workday, Villy drives a truck every day. A normal working day for the transport chain Kjos starts at three in the morning. Here he has worked for the last twenty years, with just under 75,000 kilometers of driving behind him. After a full working day, work on the tractor on the farm continues until six in the evening.
Villy finds it more challenging to walk now than before. In January this year, he got heart fibrillation, which means that he gets tired quickly and does not have as much stamina as before.
– Still, I have managed to paint the house. I have replaced the ladder with a lift that I use as an aid. Since I am used to staying active even with a sleeve, it is natural for me to stretch a little further. It also helps to have a kind cohabitant, he says.
– Never before have I worn so many shorts as now. This makes it easier to take on and off the prosthesis. I’m not embarrassed to wear a prosthesis either. It’s also nice that people come over and ask me questions and have a chat, he says cheerfully.
Wheelchair as relief
To relieve the healthy leg as much as possible, Villy uses the wheelchair as soon as he gets home from work.
– While I wait to get started with the treatment, I save the stump for as much wear and tear as possible. Since the sleeve is attached completely differently now than when the stump was longer, it is also more challenging to use the muscles. Those I have talked to who have a similar integration in the leg, say that they use the muscles in a completely different way than with a sleeve, he says.
Villy enjoys being able to stay active with the practical work on the small farm that he runs with his cohabitant.
– The pedometer I use measures around 4-5000 every day. Because I use 70 percent more energy with a thigh prosthesis than otherwise, I am happy with my own efforts.