Hello! In my first blog for FYF I thought I would give a brief overview of who I am and what FYF means to me.
I’m Hope Gordon and I’m from a tiny wee place called Rogart in Sutherland up in the Highlands. Apart from suffering from a sore knee on and off since I was 4 years old, this was always put down to growing pains, I lived a very healthy and active life, participating in all the sports I could as a child. Then one day when I was 12, I went to school and although nothing happened, my leg became extremely sore and I couldn’t walk on it, I went swimming later that day and couldn’t kick in the water. I didn’t think too much of it, thinking it was just a flare up of my ‘growing pains’. l thought I’d just go to sleep and be completely fine the next day. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and I’ve not walked naturally since. About a year later I was finally diagnosed with a chronic neurological pain condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I spent all my teenage years in and out of hospital receiving various different treatments, but unfortunately nothing helped.
The one thing that helped me enormously throughout this time was sport. I could no longer do most of the activities I did when I had two working legs, but I could still swim using my arms, so I just kept swimming! I soon got invited to join the Scottish Para team – I swam with that team from 2010-2018 and have some very special memories with some great people. Swimming really helped me, not just physically – Drs think how active I was helped to slow down the spread of my condition – but also psychologically. I could leave my wheelchair on the side of the pool and just enjoy the freedom of the water.
Throughout this time my leg continued to get worse, eventually I knew that my best way forward for a more positive quality of life was to have an amputation. It was a really difficult journey to get this because most Drs were not on my side. Eventually on 2nd August 2016, after a 5 and a half year battle to get there, I had my left leg electively amputated above the knee. This has been the best decision I have ever made. Nobody knows your body as well as you do, I just knew that this was the best option for me and I am so glad I fought the battle to get there. It has given me a second shot at life. I’ve been able to do so much more with one leg than I ever could with two, and also being free of my CRPS pain!
What does FYF mean to me? I absolutely love this charity, literally everything about it. The people who run it and who they run it for. I consider myself extremely lucky as an amputee. As it was an elective amputation my brain was around the idea far before it actually happened (1917 days to be exact), because I was also involved in para sport I knew so many amputees who I knew I could go to for help. I felt like my path was already set. However, I am very aware that this is not the case for everyone. And I think this is where FYF step in (no pun intended). I love that there is something for everyone, if you want to have a coffee, do some gardening, go rock climbing or abseil off a crane, FYF can help! I really feel like FYF provide such vital support to amputees and their families. Let’s face it, adjusting to life with less limbs isn’t easy, but having FYF by my side made it easier for me. I am a very proud ambassador for the charity (or Amp-bassador as we like to call ourselves), and I will fly the FYF flag as high as I can wherever I go!
What do I do now? I am now a full-time athlete, but more of that in another blog!