Wayne Maycock is known up and down the country for representing aluminium systems company Reynaers and has been in the industry for over 30 years. Now, the UK Commercial Sales Manager is raising money for a new prosthetic leg that will transform his quality of life beyond recognition.
We talk to him to find out his story.
Can you tell us about your accident?
Five of us were golfing in Florida in the US in 2009 with Malcolm Allanson, a well-respected character in the industry. We usually took two cars to go out, but for some reason on this occasion we travelled altogether. We were hit by a drunk driver and I immediately lost consciousness for about 30 seconds
When I came to, we were surrounded by the emergency services. We were numbered one to six in terms of priority to be rescued based on our likelihood to survive. I was number five. Someone realised that I was conscious, I was sedated and in order to save my life, my left leg was amputated above the knee. I also sustained several other injuries including extensive damage to my right leg, a broken pelvis, ribs and arm as well as a collapsed lung. Malcolm, my dear friend and colleague, was number six. He was pronounced dead. Whilst I couldn’t attend his funeral due to my injuries, I’ve been told it was attended by most of the key people in the glazing industry.
What were your initial thoughts after realising you had been involved in something so life changing and then when you realised you were going to have to lose your leg?
After being sedated at the scene, I woke up 24 hours later after 17 hours in surgery. I didn’t know what had happened, but I had lost sensation in my left leg. It wasn’t until a doctor came in and quite brutally told me what had happened, saying that I had to deal with it, that I realised my life would never be the same again. There was no time to mentally prepare as it had already happened. After nearly 50 years of being able bodied, I never would be again. In a way I’m glad he treated me in such a matter-of-fact way, as I’ve never been one to seek sympathy or make a fuss.
We all have a hierarchy of needs, but at that moment I just wanted to live. I guess the severity of everything didn’t really hit home until I was home. When I was flown back to the UK on a medical plane, my healthcare costs had accumulated to almost $1m. It really is a lesson to learn about being prepared, as my supermarket travel insurance policy covered everything.
How were you coping mentally with the thought that your life was going to change immensely?
Justin Hunter, the Managing Director of Reynaers and a close friend of mine, came to visit me in hospital. He asked me one question: “Are you staying, or are you going?”
Of course, I was going nowhere. He was happy to change my job role in any way I needed to accommodate my recovery and new disability. I was probably the hospital’s worst patient because I just wanted to get home and get back to work. I have changed as little as possible in my life. Bearing in mind I live in a three-storey house, I didn’t get an accessible bathroom or a stair lift, or move my bedroom downstairs. I got my driving licence back, as I drove an automatic anyway, and within six months I was back in the office. This was crucial for my recovery as I think purpose is good for the soul. If you don’t challenge yourself and become complacent then you won’t ever get better. The provision for disabled people is still awful, so in my opinion you can either shut yourself away or you can take a can-do attitude and get on with it. I chose the latter and now seven years later, nothing phases me.
What has been the biggest change to your life from pre accident till now?
Have you ever tried to put a shoe on a prosthetic foot? It isn’t easy! I was stuck with lace up shoes for a long time, but eventually found some Chelsea boots with zips. In all seriousness: everything that you take for granted, I can’t. I have always made fitness a priority in my life and at the gym I see people running on the treadmill. I can’t even remember what it feels like to have two legs, never mind imagine running again. Nevertheless, the experience hasn’t been as devastating as you might imagine. I still travel the breadth of the country for Reynaers on a weekly basis and travel around Europe visiting its overseas offices. I still consider myself lucky on that day, and spending so long in hospital was a huge leveller as I saw so many people worse off than me. The human body has an exceptional ability to repair itself and adapt.
What effect will having this new prosthetic leg have on your life?
I’m mobile in an NHS-funded wheelchair and a prosthetic, but they are extremely basic and outdated. A new leg would be a quantum leap from where I am now. A microprocessor prosthetic works quicker than your brain to adapt to different terrains. At the moment, anything that isn’t flat pavement is a struggle for me and my balance is extremely poor. I walk at the pace of a toddler and it takes four times longer than normal to walk up a set of stairs. On steep inclines I have to walk downhill backwards and lean forwards in order to compensate for the slope. A microprocessor, however, would compensate for me on anything from slopes and stairs to sand. It can be controlled by the stump of your leg and buttocks to lock so that it doesn’t bend, meaning I’d be stable and I would have the confidence to walk around the busy town centre again. The problem is, it costs £25,000.
What is the time frame to have this fitted for you once the funds have been raised?
Raising funds is the time-consuming part. I want to be there, I’ll find a way to be there, by the end of the year. I’ve already received generous donations of over £11,000, including £5,000 from Reynaers. My fundraising total is £30,000 to factor in the consultation sessions and six-monthly check-ups. The limb only comes with a three-year warranty, so I’ll also need to buy an extended warranty.
I would have to learn to walk again with a new aid – it’s a long process of improving my gait and learning how to maintain the prosthetic. I’m not bothered about falling over. If it happens, it happens, and I’ll just get up and carry on. Lots of amputees don’t learn to walk again because it’s too hard. To put it in perspective, a prosthetic limb weighs 10-12kgs. My goal, however, is to walk normally so that you don’t realise I have a prosthetic limb – and ultimately, to complete a round of golf without using a buggy.
My family and I have been saving money to make this dream a reality, but we simply can’t do it on our own. I’ve just set up a JustGiving page and welcome any donations, big or small, that will allow me regain the independence that was lost in 2009.
To find out more or to donate, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wayne-maycock-1