BBC News

'Why I chose to have my leg amputated'

By Hayley Westcott
BBC News Online

image copyrightVictoria Snell
image captionVictoria, pictured after her operation in December 2017, says she hasn't regretted the amputation "for even a second"

A woman has celebrated the first anniversary of having her leg amputated - by running a 5k race.

Victoria Snell, 27, from Plymouth, broke her leg while walking with a friend in 2011.

Despite repeated surgery, her leg did not heal properly and she decided in December 2017 to "cut it off to get my life back".

A year on, Victoria said just being able to run a race had left her feeling free "for the first time in years".

"It's a year of learning how to walk again, of experiencing 'firsts' for a second time and of trying to push past any limitations I set myself in the past," she said.

"Despite the pain, frustration and the bone-deep exhaustion I have experienced since the surgery, I have not regretted it for even a second.

"I feel free for the first time in years, even if it is endlessly frustrating to realise I need to do something after I've already taken my leg off for the day."

image copyrightVICTORIA SNELL
image captionRunning in a race is something Victoria Snell never thought would be possible
image copyrightVictoria Snell
image captionRepeated surgery over a six-year period did not help Victoria Snell's leg

Victoria completed the Queen Elizabeth Christmas Olympic Park 5k run in London on Sunday.

"I came third from last, and I was lapped by almost all the 10k runners, but I did it! My aim was to do it in under an hour and I did it in just under 55 minutes," Victoria said.

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Before her life-changing operation, Victoria - who works for a train company - said she could not remember the last time she took a step that did not hurt.

Throughout her 20s, she had been unable to walk to work, despite living just a 15-minute stroll from the office, because the pain was too great.

image copyrightVICTORIA SNELL
image captionVictoria originally broke her leg in 2011 while out walking with a friend

When Victoria raised the idea of amputation with her doctor, he told her to consider her decision for one month before meeting with the amputation team.

It was after this - as well as having the support of her parents and younger sister - the decision to carry out the procedure was made.

media captionVictoria Snell chose to have her leg amputated after six years of "constant pain".

Despite not regretting the amputation, having a prosthetic leg has come with some issues Victoria never thought she would have to deal with.

"I lost my shoe once," she said.

"When you wear slip-on shoes, when you walk, you grip slightly but you can't grip with a fake foot.

"There are ways I keep it on - which vary from shoving a sock at the end of my shoe so my foot is stuck in, to using Blu Tack to keep the shoe attached to my foot.

image copyrightVICTORIA SNELL
image captionLosing a shoe and not realising is something Victoria said she never thought she would experience

"I think I was using Blu Tack that day and it didn't work.

"As I was walking, people were looking at me weirdly. I looked down and I was only wearing one shoe! No idea where it is," Victoria added.

One year on, Victoria is in a good place and happy with the progress she has made in the past 12 months.

But what does she think the future will bring?

image copyrightLAUREN SPINKS
image captionVictoria is feeling positive about her future living as an amputee

"If you're going through something for such a long time like I was, it's really hard to see an end. This decision was so final.

"This is for the rest of my life. I know that sounds really stupid but it's weird.

"I'd like to think I'll get married, have kids and buy a house, but I don't know that's going to happen.

"But I know no matter what I do, I'm going to be an amputee doing it. That's a strange thing to sometimes think about."

Related Topics

  • Plymouth
  • Amputees

More on this story

  • 'I had my leg cut off to get my life back'