Focusing on what she can do with what she has is one thing that keeps Fay Keegan going.
“I want to achieve the best that I can that incorporates the whole of me with all the pluses and minuses I carry with me.”
Fay elected to have one of her lower legs amputated in 2012, 44 years after a train accident that crushed her foot and gave her ongoing pain, infections and ulceration.
“The bones across the middle were crushed and arthritis had built up, and there was a fracture of the metatarsal in the foot as well,” said Fay.
“Then there was bone pain and swelling pain and the skin would break down a lot.”
As Fay went into surgery following the accident, her parents signed a consent form that the doctors would try to save her foot but if they didn’t they’d remove it.
“When I came out I automatically thought it was gone.”
But they had saved it.
When she was 15, an orthopaedic surgeon told her she would have a more normal life if her foot was removed, but she refused.
“Appearance is everything at that stage.”
For 20 years prior to the amputation she wore a compression stocking on her foot and in 2007 bought herself a wheelchair so she could do more things with her husband David and children Mathew and Jessica.
It was an unrelenting infection that led to her ultimate decision to amputate, with the surgery taking place on January 22, 2012.
Following surgery she was on painkillers and went through rehabilitation, but she said the main thing she noticed immediately afterwards was that she no longer had pain.
“That was just the most amazing thing.
“I’ve had pain all my life since the accident. That was unless I was in hospital and totally restricted to bed and the pain went then as soon as I started walking the pain returned.”
Now she looks at how she can do things with what she’s got.
“It doesn’t mean you have to do something exceptional to prove you are living a normal life.
“Young people do amazing things but that’s not to say everyone whose had an amputation wants to go to the Paralympics.”
She said some older people can become amputees due to complications with diabetes or vascular disease and when they are looking for positive role models, getting into the Paralympics is not what they want.
“For some people it depends on the integrity of the skin of the stump and the level they had to amputate, for some it means adjusting to life in a wheelchair due to their age or condition of disease or skin.
“It is just a matter of what suits people.”
She added that amputees also tend to have increased body heat.
“You don’t have the same amount of skin to perspire and also most of the suspension system covers your skin, which increases your body’s temperature.”
Fay said it is important to keep positive.
“Sometimes when people have outrageous hopes and dreams you can feel you are being unrealistic and that they shouldn’t be being too hopeful.
“But with a pessimist life you have a negative future and a hopeful life is a positive future. Neither thing can be counted on so I would rather hope.”