PHANTOM pain is something which all amputees seem to have in common.
The sensation of pain in a limb which is no longer there is impossible for the able-bodied to imagine, but is all too real for amputees.
Every member of the newly-formed Bassetlaw Amputees Support Group said they experienced this excruciating pain regularly.
But these are not people who sit around moaning and feeling sorry for themselves, instead they share a laugh at how they are coping.
They are true examples of triumph over adversity and their stories are an inspiration.
Sharon Cook was born with spina bifida and has had both legs amputated below the knee.
It was while going for physio at Bassetlaw Hospital and seeing so many other amputees that she decided to set up a support group.
She is now chairman of the group which meets every second Tuesday of the month at The Crossing, on Newcastle Street, Worksop.
She said: “I was surprised that there wasn’t already a support group and then my friend Debs Charlesworth said we should set one up ourselves, so we did.”
“We are here to give each other support and to help each other.”
Mum-of-two Sharon, 40, of Featherstone Avenue, Manton, suffered three-and-a-half years of pain with ulcers on one leg before it was amputated in 2008.
When the same problem started on the other leg the year after, she made the decision herself to have it removed as well.
She said: “I asked for it to be taken off and it was done within ten weeks.”
“With the first one I had years of infections and operation after operation. There was no way I was going through that again.”
Sharon was determined to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs, and with a lot of hard work and determination she has succeeded.
“You can’t keep a fighter down,” she grinned.
Former coach driver Andy Hardman, 53, of Elmton Road, Creswell, lost his left arm in a road crash in Belgium in 2007.
He was sitting in the crew seat at the front and his arm was torn off at the elbow.
He said: “I went into auto-pilot. As the co-driver I was responsible for the passengers on the coach and I got up to check everyone else was allright.”
“There were four passengers injured so I was more concerned about checking on them.”
Andy was brought back to the UK by private ambulance and the rest of his arm, to just below the shoulder, was removed at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.
“The hardest thing for me has been losing my job as a coach driver. That was all I wanted to do from the age of nine and I loved my job,” said the father-of-two.
“The strange thing is I can still feel my fingers in my left hand. The pain comes and goes but I can always feel them there.”
Janice Webster, 71, of Dukeries Crescent, Manton, had her left leg amputated below the knee in 2006 after contracting gangrene.
“I manage in my wheelchair and I have five children and three grandchildren who help me,” she said.
Debs, 37, of Ladywalk, Gateford, is organising a fundraising Valentine’s disco at Worksop’s Masonic Hall on 11th February, 7-12pm. Tickets are £5 and £3 and are available by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The amputee group’s next meeting will be on 8th February, 10am-11.30am, contact Sharon on 07858 671198 for more information.