‘Losing my leg made me a mum’


You might think having her leg shattered in an Iraqi mortar attack was bad enough.

But for Hannah Campbell, the only mother in the British Army to lose a limb in a war zone, it was just the start.

The blast buried Hannah and left her partially blinded in one eye and needing plastic surgery on wounds to her face.

She was successfully dug out of the rubble, but then had to endure 19 painful operations as doctors battled to save her leg.

Following that she suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her weight ballooned to 21 stone and her five-year-marriage hit the rocks.

Then she had one final operation to remove her leg and now, 18 months on, the proud mother of seven-year-old Milly says she’s begun to rebuild her life.

Hannah, from Winchester, told the Sunday Mirror her left leg is gone, but her life is back.

‘After I was injured it was so, so hard because I couldn’t even do the basics with my wounded leg. I couldn’t bath Milly, I couldn’t cook her dinner… all the things mums take for granted.

‘I felt a bit redundant as a mother. And I carried a lot of guilt over what had happened and how it affected her. Now she has her mummy back.’Milly, who will never know how close she came to losing her mother back in June 2007, agreed saying she loves having ‘girly’ time with and going on walks.

Brought up in the village of Kirksanton, Cumbria, Hannah became desperate to see the world, so she signed up in 2002 to do a nursing degree with the Army.

Two years in, she transferred into the Adjutant General’s Corps, a personnel support division that attaches itself to other regiments.

She had fallen in love with another member of the General’s Corps, Jamie, who she married in 2004.

Milly was born a year later. In 2007, Jamie was scheduled to go to Afghanistan until an opportunity arose for Hannah to go on her first tour to Iraq alongside The Royal Artillery, instead.

Just a day before Hannah’s flight home on June 18, disaster struck. She was on guard duty when the attack came. The very last thing she remembers is hearing shots fired. A bomb hit the building, instantly reducing it to rubble, with Hannah still inside.

In a previous interview with the Mail, she said: ‘I was so tightly buried I could barely open my lips to call out. There was so much pain.’

But Hannah managed to scream long enough before passing out for nearby guards to hear her and start digging in the rubble — despite their own wounds.

A few minutes later, an American Special Forces team arrived and helped pull Hannah free. It took two and a half hours to dig her out.

When she woke up in a field hospital, she had no idea of the extent of her injuries. She had a metal shard through her left cheek and nerve damage to the back of her left eye.

Her eardrums were perforated, she had a traumatic brain injury, her left hand was split through the tendons between her second and third fingers and there was a metal pole sticking through her left thigh.

She was also covered in shrapnel cuts and burns. But her left foot was the worst — her heel bone and the joints around it had shattered.

Back in Britain, Jamie had been told of Hannah’s injuries just hours after the bomb struck, when officers showed up at his door at 11pm.

But he didn’t know whether she had lost limbs, was blind or brain damaged.

After emergency medical attention in Iraq, Hannah was stabilised enough to be flown to the specialist military unit at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, where Jamie and Milly greeted her.

She was so swollen that Milly walked past without recognising her.

Hannah was discharged at the end of July. But as the months went by, she couldn’t escape the pain from her foot. She became wheelchair-bound and her weight doubled to 21 stone. She was prescribed a painkiller usually given to terminal cancer patients and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

‘I was very angry all the time,’ says Hannah. ‘Angry because it had happened, angry that I was consumed with pain. I couldn’t take care of Milly. I felt like no one understood me. It put enormous strain on my relationship with Jamie.’

It wasn’t until Hannah’s GP suggested she consider amputation in late 2009 that she really gave it some thought. Her surgeon, Professor Keith Porter, agreed it might be best.

The operation took place in July 2010. But three days later Hannah suffered serious complications. Her kidneys failed and she suffered respiratory failure. For 10 days she clung to life in a coma.

Three weeks later, Hannah was transferred to Headley Court. Within just two weeks she was walking again, thanks to a range of prosthetic legs.

Friends and family have been supportive — even the women at her local beauty salon.

‘I asked if they’d mind if I brought in my prosthetics and they didn’t. Now when I get a pedicure, I take the legs to get their nails done to match. I have red on one, pink on another and a psychedelic Sixties-style pattern on another.’

She’s also enjoying being back in high heels and hopes to run the London Marathon on Sunday to raise money for BLESMA, the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s ­Association.

source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2130051/Now-mummy-Soldier-blown-Iraq-reveals-losing-leg-meant-mother-again.html

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