Don’t call me an amputee: I’m an athlete

Basketball

Michael Mellon elected to have his leg amputated and now he's taking on the world 

15th May 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Having my leg amputated was the biggest call of my life. I broke my fibula and tibula while playing rugby for RAF Honington in 2001 resulting in compartment syndrome in my lower left leg. Despite having 12 operations over several years, I was in constant pain due to severe nerve damage so, in 2013, I elected for amputation.

I’m glad to say it was the right call. I get phantom pains a few times a week and there are periods that I can’t wear my prosthetic leg but I’m a lot more active and in less pain than before the amputation.

My job was senior arcraftsman in the RAF and I loved it. My father was in the RAF too so the family moved around to different bases when I was younger. I was born in Aberdeen and lived at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Kinloss until I was eight when my dad was posted to Germany. So the RAF has always been part of my life.

So you can understand that, following a childhood where the RAF was part of family life then a career in the airforce, I thought my life was over when I had to take a medical discharge in 2005. I struggled to come to terms with life in civvy street but after being introduced to the Invictus Games training camps I’ve the impetus to get life back on track.

The games were founded by Prince Harry in 2014. The word invictus means unconquered. It embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick service personnel and personifies what these men and women can achieve post injury. The games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.

But they’re about much more than just sport – the games capture hearts, challenges minds and changes lives.

There’s a team of 72 competitors selected to represent the UK at the games in Sydney this year and it will be an incredible experience. My specialisms are wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball – needless to say the competition will be fierce from the very best in the world.

The games capture hearts, challenges minds and change lives.

Having the focus of the games has changed my life and all for the better.  After I left the RAF every day I wished I was still in there with my friends. It was really difficult but I love being with the lads again - I feel like I’m accepted when I’m around them. And my eyes have been opened on how people in similar conditions have coped and progressed with their lives; how they cope with pain or feeling down. Being more active is a great feeling and takes my mind off the pain.

Since 2005 I’ve been a house husband and parent while my wife Deborah works as a nursery nurse. But now my three children - Ryan, 12, Eve, 11 and Sarah, six - are all in school, I’m beginning to think about finding a job himself.

I’m unsure of what type of work but I’d love to work with ex-forces people. I’m currently getting support to find work by forces charity Help for Heroes and the future looks positive.

If there’s one thing injury can do for you it is to give you the drive to succeed in whatever you do. It’s incredible when you see all the competitors at the games not only recover from their injuries but turn them into a positive. I’ll forever be encouraged by that astonishing human desire to succeed.