COURAGEOUS mum-of-six Jennifer Clark told today how she faces learning to walk for the third time after an operation to remove her legs.
The 41-year-old, from Hollycarrside, first had to have her deformed feet amputated to overcome a deteriorating condition.
But after buying her first pair of shoes and learning to walk all over again, relentless pain meant Jennifer had to resign herself to life in a wheelchair or have her legs amputated below the knee.
The mum, married to David, 30, agreed to the op and is now recovering at home.
“I’m in a lot of pain, but I’m setting myself little targets every day,” she said. “My challenge for today was washing my hair, and I’ve done that.
“I’m hoping by tomorrow to get to Asda.”
Jennifer, whose children are aged from two to 17, is also hoping to take her family away for their first ever family holiday together later this summer.
“I’d love to go to Florida, but I’d settle for Legoland or Haggerston Castle,” she said. “We’ve never had a family holiday before – circumstances have just got in the way of things.”
Jennifer has only just got out of hospital, but said she is already going “stir crazy”.
The insurance worker is helping market her husband’s photography business – DC Photography in Up Market, Fawcett Street – online, and hopes to get back to work herself soon.
“I’m hoping to be working from home by the end of June, but I don’t know when I’ll actually get back to work properly – probably by Christmas time.”
Jennifer was born with congenital bilateral talipes, which meant her feet were shaped like horses’ hooves and she had to walk on her toes.
But when her feet started to crumble away in 2006, she took the decision to have them amputated and replaced with prosthetics rather than spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
She was able to buy her first pair of shoes – her actual feet had been too deformed to wear anything other than surgical boots.
Now Jennifer must go through it all again. If check-ups show the amputation has brought an end to the pain, she must wait until her wounds are healed and stitches removed before being fitted for protheses.
She said: “I’ll have a new centre of balance and I’ll have to learn to walk all over again.”
l Jennifer runs a website and also posts videos on YouTube to help others facing amputation. She also hopes to show others more fortunate the challenges facing people who have limbs removed. For details, visit http://theamputeediaries.blogspot.com.