Imagine being in so much pain that you would consider having your leg amputated to make life easier. We think Ozcare client Penny Chidlow is the bravest woman around after making the tough call to have her leg removed after battling leg ulcers for 18 years.
Diagnosed with Scleroderma when she was in her 30s, Penny has been fighting her auto-immune disease ever since. Sick of suffering immense pain, sleepless nights and feeling like a zombie, day in and day out, Penny opted to have her leg amputated early last year after trying every other viable option to ease her pain.
Not only did Penny bravely choose to undergo amputation, she also agreed to do it using a spinal block, a safer option than anaesthetic with her existing heart problems, which meant that Penny could hear the amputation saw during her surgery.
“I couldn’t see the saw but I could hear it,” said Penny.
"My surgeon kept saying to me 'be brave, you’re doing really well,' and I said to him 'I can’t change my mind now.'"
A year on, Penny says it hasn’t been easy but she is the healthiest she has been in five years.
“I can cook a stir-fry on one leg and barbecue tongs are my new lifesaver,” said Penny.
“Ozcare come in three days a week to help with my housework, take me to my medical appointments and assist me with shopping and social outings - I have the most amazing carers and I couldn’t survive living on my own without them.”
Penny is very determined and doesn’t let much phase her.
“When something annoys me, I laugh it off. I still sometimes have that feeling when I just want to be able to walk... to go down on the beach and watch my grandchildren in the surf, but I just tell myself to go and do something else and get over it,” said Penny.
Penny’s attitude to life is remarkable and one we should all be inspired by.
“At the end of the day it is all up to me. I set myself goals, this year is prothesis, next year is the Murray River on a paddle steamer,” said Penny.