My name is John Paffett and I am 72 years old. I live with my wife Brenda who is 69 and one of our sons, Russell, who has returned home two years ago, he is 38. We also have two wirehaired dachshunds, Alfy and Peggy who we got through the Dachshund Rescue Society. I lost my first wife when she was 44 through cancer and we had three children. I married Brenda, who had two children, eight years later. We have been married for 20 years. Altogether we have 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
I became an amputee on the 5th June 1967 through cancer, which is indelibly etched into my being.
As I am a hemipelvectomy I don’t really have a stump to name! I am unsure why, but I do not like the word stump! By the way, hemipelvectomy means removing the whole leg and part of the pelvis. As I had cancer and only a 50/50 chance of surviving, they needed to remove as much as they could to ensure the cancer was gone. I guess I can say 56 years later I am cured!
My biggest concern was how far I could walk. I had high expectations, but the reality check soon came, and I pushed myself to walk. To this day every step is painful, but I am no different as every amputee learns to live with pain.
I worked for 49 years, mostly in the Oil and Gas Industry, having many business trips around the world before retiring at 65. Nowadays I am an author having just had my autobiography published and titled, ‘They Want To Amputate’. This book, through my personal insight, will answer some rarely discussed short term and long-term issues for those disabled through amputation affecting their circle of family and friends or those working with people after such trauma. I have just signed a publishing agreement for my second book about my two dogs and currently finishing my third.
My biggest challenge was learning to walk in the prosthesis I was given way back in 1967. I had a ‘bucket socket’ to sit in with a large waist strap and one strap over each shoulder attached to it. I overcame it by firstly getting rid of one walking stick, then one shoulder strap. A few months later the other shoulder strap went and after 8 months the other walking stick went. I have not used one since.
We enjoy fine dining whether eating at home or in a restaurant as Bren is a good cook (or chef as she says) and we have a motorhome too, which the dogs love. We have travelled all over England, visiting Wales and Scotland even across to France. By the way I am a ‘Retiree Apprentice’ designated by Bren. I hope to get a ‘Distinction’, but Bren says I may not even get a ‘Pass’! She recently informed me it is a 25-year apprenticeship, which is concerning!
When I married Bren in 2003, I remember on our honeymoon in Tobago booking a cruise to Nylon Lagoon in a glass bottomed boat. I mentioned my leg and said I needed to be able to step onto the boat from a jetty. ‘No problem, man’ was the response! When we arrived to board the boat the next day there was no jetty. The guy came and I explained about my leg, and I could not walk in the seawater. ‘No problem, man’ was the response, again! Five minutes later this giant of a man, wearing just shorts, about two metres square asked if I was the one wanting to get on the boat, moored some 50 meters away. I said ’Yes’, and in one swift movement he grabbed hold of my waist and threw me over his shoulders and started walking toward the boat in the sea. My wife was in hysterics at my predicament, and she could see that my view over his shoulders was just looking down his shorts which had a huge tear in. Not a pretty sight! As I approached the boat the fifteen occupants all cheered but I must admit all I could focus on with dread was the return journey!
Being amputee, a sense of humour in my view is essential. With well over half a century as an amputee there have been so many instances of hilarious moments that I wanted to capture these, which in part was why I wrote my autobiography.
You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Want-Amputate-John-Paffett-ebook/dp/B0BSH5SFDC/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3PO5LU2R4UKDX&keywords=they+want+to+amputate+by+john+paffett&qid=1687190044&sprefix=they+want%2Caps%2C380&sr=8-1
I would like to get my third book published because it will be a personal achievement. When I had my amputation there was very little support for me, even today most publications are from medical personnel or those writing their thesis in journals. So little has been written by amputees who alone know what we go through. The book will cover issues about pre- and post-amputation and the ongoing lifestyle issues and ageing process we all face. I will also have two individuals writing their own story too against each chapter. In getting this published it will give me a sense of achievement because I do believe it will help many people.
Once it is completed, I can then write the ongoing story I tell my younger grandchildren at bedtime, which will be titled, ‘The Three-Legged Unicorn’.