Preston man Samuel Keeble has now spoken of his determination to rebuild his life after he underwent a leg amputation following a road traffic collision.
The 27-year-old sustained severe injury to his left leg and suffered serious blood loss, when a car collided with his motorcycle in Rochdale in 2015 while he was travelling to his fiance's house in Chorley. He was thrown from his bike and landed on the road 20 yards away. The driver of the car was convicted of driving without due care and attention.
Sam, who sometimes wears a prosthesis, said: “I remember everything about that day. I was on my way to start a new life, and the next minute I was knocked off my bike and in terrible pain.
"My wife had just had surgery for thyroid cancer at the time of my accident, but I became totally dependent on her. She went from being my partner to my carer."
Commenting on the emotional impact, he added: "Your hope starts to dwindle and you feel lower and lower. It got to the point where we'd always expect the worst case scenario to happen.
"Catherine was very understanding but she struggled a lot, so there was frustration and fall-outs, and we almost most got divorced."
That's when Sam decided to visit his mum in America to give the couple some time apart, and discovered the full impact that his pain medication was having on him.
"My mum's husband used to take it, so he recognised the signs. He saw how distant I was. The medication shut off my emotions and pulled me away from people socially," he said.
"I had to decide whether to take it and be in less pain but have this emotional barrier, or feel more like a person and find another way to deal with the pain."
He chose the latter.
Physically, it has been a gruelling journey for Sam from the very beginning.
Following his accident, he was taken to Royal Oldham Hospital where he underwent surgery to his left leg. He remained in the high dependency unit until being transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital on May 4 for further surgery.
He was discharged from hospital on May 18 and went to live with his dad and stepmum in Halifax while Catherine visited every weekend. He saw a physiotherapist weekly and began to regain some mobility with help from walking sticks and a wheelchair.
However, he suffered from a series of infections and by November 2017 he was told that his injury had not fully healed. As a result, on March 23, Samuel’s left leg was amputated.
Since the operation, he suffers from low back pain and has phantom pains around the site of his amputation. He also has pain in his neck and shoulders, and endures high levels of fatigue.
Determined to make the most of his new life, he turned to serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him access specialist rehabilitation, support and therapies.
And despite his struggles, he has made significant progress in his recovery, with help from an i-walker knee frame and wheelchair to maintain his mobility as much as possible. He also continues to attend physiotherapy and is keen to get involved with wheelchair sports.
“It has taken a long time to get myself to where I am today, but I am determined to try and get as much of my life back as possible," he said.
"You don't get to choose a situation like this but you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it.
“Since my amputation, I have been on a lot of websites and forums and have tried to get involved with as much activity as possible as this helps with my mental well-being. I have been to a limb power event, and I was able to do a little bit of rock climbing in America, adapting the way I did this without my prosthesis.
“I am now focused on getting into wheelchair basketball and snowboarding. I have also been able to try out volleyball, archery and javelin, and I have been able to see the potential benefits of them all and how adaptable they are.”
Samuel, who married Catherine in December 2015, is also keen to get back into work.
He added: “Prior to the accident, it was always my wish to work with animals, and I have now been given the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship in this area.
“I hope this will help me get towards my goal of being a veterinary nurse, which is what I really want to do."
Catherine adds that since her husband's return from America, the couple have also talked through all of their problems and are now stronger than ever.
That is why Sam is joining his legal team in supporting Limb Loss Awareness Month.
Claire Newstead, legal expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Samuel has shown such bravery and courage whilst he continues with his recovery.
“Limb Loss Awareness Month is important to highlight the help available to people affected by such issues and also to recognise those who have made remarkable progress following serious injury.”
And Sam refuses to let his amputation hold him back.
He said: “I know it may be a struggle, especially if I require further surgery which might lead to an above the knee amputation, but my focus is to make a life for myself and Catherine.
“I am determined not to be defined by the loss of my limb; I am only shaped into the person I’m meant to be.”