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Decades of pain inspire Turriff woman's one-legged fundraiser

By Kirsty Brown

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A local woman has used her own decades-long battle to inspire a mammoth fundraising challenge.

In 1992 Therese Mitchell sustained an injury which required reconstructive surgery on her knee, but unfortunately this resulted in an infection which took more than four years to eradicate from her leg.

Despite the issues with her knee, Therese - mum to Rosie, Emily, Thomas and George - never lost her love of an active lifestyle and continued to pursue various sporting activities in her free time.

In 2016 it was decided that the best option for Therese's long suffering leg would be knee replacement surgery, which despite going well left Therese with a lot pain.

Follow up surgeries in an attempt to resolve these issues resulted in the discovery that infection had returned.

This time it was a septic infection which left Therese very ill and dependant on antibiotics as her body struggled to fight off the infection.

Explaining the situation, Therese said: "I was on long term IV antibiotics and really very unwell with infection starting to win the battle.

"We came to a point where we were running out of options and time.

"I felt I had let down my surgeons at the time after the amazing surgery they had already performed but amputation was the option which offered the best chance of being rid of infection, pain and hopefully be eventually able to get back to as normal a life as possible.

"After over 40 operations I had my above knee amputation on January 8, 2020."

Everything went according to plan and Therese was recovering well when the country was put into 'lockdown' in March, forcing the closure of the prosthetics department and putting some highly anticipated appointments on hold.

These delays, which lasted around 20 weeks, actually resulted in damage to her residual limb - unbeknownst to Therese - which created issues with her recovery over the following months.

Despite her best efforts to strengthen her leg, it was necessary for Therese to wear her prosthetic for increasingly reduced lengths of time until March this year when it was decided she should stop wearing it entirely for a few weeks to allow her leg to heal.

Nine months later, Therese still relies fully on her wheelchair for mobility.

Determined not to be beaten, she decided to stop waiting and started to pursue sports which she could enjoy without her prosthetic.

She said: "Covid-19 has caused lots of issues and a serious backlog within the NHS to resolve the problem so I decided I needed to make the most of a very bad situation and start to pursue sport one legged."

Amongst the sports she has enjoyed are swimming, wheelchair basketball, climbing and pistol shooting.

Inspired by her renewed love of activities, Therese decided that she would like to challenge herself to complete, one legged, one hour of 10 activities in a 12 hour period to raise money for some of the charities who have supported her.

Her 10 chosen activities - which she will attempt to complete at Banff's Deveron Community Centre on January 14 - are wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, indoor climbing, swimming, pilates, pistol shooting, gym circuits, outdoor cycling and indoor spin and rowing.

All money raised through her challenge will be split between NHS Physiotherapy Department of Woodend Hospital, Finding Your Feet and Scottish Disability Sport.

Commenting Therese said: "This will be a tough challenge as I will have very little time to rest and fuel up and especially as this will all be completed with only one leg as I do not have my replacement prosthetic leg yet.

"These three groups are very close to my heart and have been a great help to me with my recovery.

"Live Life Aberdeenshire are allowing me to use their facility in Banff to complete all 10 activities and also raise awareness that these are just some of the sports that you can take part in, even with only one leg!

" I hope I can encourage other people to give sport a try.

"I have a number of people to thank for helping me get this far...not least my family, especially my husband Duncan."

At the time of going to print Therese had raised over £3300, and donations can be made online at: www.gofundme.com/f/10-activities-in-12-hours-challenge.

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