Hello, my name is Carl, I come from a small town in Sweden, I am 32 years old and this is my story. My life changed drastically 13 years ago. I had just finished my military service as a ranger and I felt ready to conquer the world. One day, my friend and I decided to try wake-boarding, this was the first time for me, and I was very much looking forward to a fun day out. It was this day that changed my life as I knew it.
During the activity, I fell down and my feet got stuck in the binding of the board. My left knee twisted; as a result everything in the kneecap was torn (anterior cruciate ligament, blood veins, and nerves) my knee was ruined. I was in the middle of the lake and had to swim to land for help, I could not get onto the boat due to the fact my feet were stuck to the board. It is amazing how the body works, I did not experience pain until I was safe at land; it was as if the body knew there was no time for pain until I was out of the water. Due to the fact that the vein was torn, I developed compartment syndrome (this is when a muscle is deprived of blood and oxygen resulting in swelling). Due to the severity of the injury, doctors had to make an incision 30cm long, and I spent 42 days in hospital. During the 42 days I had really good support from my family and friends, there was not a day that I didn’t have a visitor. Unfortunately, due to the damage done to the nerves, I lost control over my left foot. Doctors told me that I needed to get my foot amputated. I was not ready for this. Neither, was I expecting it. I wanted, so badly, to wait for a year to see if the nerves would heal, but it didn’t happen. There was no other way than to amputate my foot. I was devastated.
Three months after the amputation, I got my first prosthetic leg fitted. I could take my first step in over 15 months. The feeling was amazing.
The following few years(post accident) were very tough, especially mentally. I did not talk to many people about my feelings, and I made a big mistake in not talking to a therapist. I thought that I was strong enough to handle it myself, but I struggled to cope and turned to alcohol to numb the pain.
Things changed for me for the better when I got a new job, this felt like a fresh start in my life and I found my way back to the gym again, it was good therapy and made me feel positive. Gym sessions have given me the opportunity to talk to physiotherapists about my situation and talking to others has helped me to feel more positive and secure in my own skin. I started to take the gym seriously a few years ago, I found a real passion for deadlifting; I can now lift 255kg. Thanks to social media, and networking with others, I will go to Manchester in August and compete in the “Worlds Strongest Disabled Man” competition.
My top tip for someone who is experiencing anything similar to my situation would be to go and talk to someone about how you’re feeling, talk to a therapist, talk to a friends, talk with family and talk to someone who has experienced a similar situation to what you’re going through. You are not alone. Never ever give up.