My name is John Bowles and I am aged 82, although I am often told I look like 62 and act like 22.
My left leg was amputated in October 2020 below the knee and my right leg above the knee in May 2021. Because of the imbalance I am unable to use prosthetics, so a wheelchair is now my chariot to the world.
I have to say one of the worst aspects of my long stays in hospital was the coinciding with Lockdown – no visitors. This was particularly hard to endure but thank goodness for the mobile phone which enabled chat with family and friends, which kept me reasonably sane.
A sense of humour went a long way. When I went down to the operating theatre for my first leg, I pinned a note on the leg under the gown – “I have already ordered my parrot”. This went down like a lead balloon since most of the staff in the theatre were foreign and obviously had never read Treasure Island. At least the surgeon got the joke.
I developed a good rapport with my surgeon and that helped enormously. One morning he came to see me and said “I hear you were chasing the nurses last night!” I had no recollection of any such thing. Evidently, with one leg gone, I somehow got out of bed and was chased by the nurses along the ward floor to get me back into bed. The effect of heavy painkillers containing morphine and the like!
There are two interests that I have had to adjust/change since amputation. Firstly – I have been a semi-pro drummer in jazz bands for 60 years. Playing live music has always been a passion. Unfortunately, you need 2 feet as well as 2 hands to play a drum kit, so I have taken up the bongos and conga drum and continue to play gigs as a Latin-American rhythm section.
Secondly, I miss playing golf terribly. It has been an important part of my life and a serious part of my business. Instead, I have taken up fly-fishing for trout, which gives me fresh air, scenery, wildlife and social contact with other members.
I have run my own business for over 40 years manufacturing high class trophies for sport, particularly in the world of golf, including for the British Open, the American Open, the American PGA and the Ryder Cup.
I have now started to hand over to a successor, since it is that time of life, and in my case, I can’t do the legwork any more!
However, I am into research on famous trophies and will be writing a book in due course.
I have recently purchased a power wheelchair and a road-going mobility scooter which will open up my world even more, and no doubt terrorise the neighbourhood. When I fish at my lake the running gag is “have you got your brakes on, John?!”.
I now have a long list of “legless” puns – “Got to keep you on your toes John! “, “Don’t stand for that John – give him a good kicking!”. A client called me to chat about things and thoughtfully ended the conversation with” Well, John good to chat. I’m sure you will be back on your feet before too long! “. Even my G. P. got in on the act recently – ” We need to check your COPD John, – do you get out of breath walking up your hill?!
I am looking forward to moving into a flat in a retirement village soon – 200 residents all over 60, and plenty of social activity. I will be able from my wheelchair to play croquet on the lawn, putting on the green – and indoor curling – would you believe!