Arne’s Leg

I received some shocking news this week. A former friend and colleague from the Metropolitan Police had been the victim of a road accident. On his 50th birthday, he was crossing a road in central London, when a coach ran over his right foot. He was taken to hospital, where the damage was found to be severe, with loss of bone and muscle. He was offered the option of long and complicated surgery to re-structure the foot, with the warning that this might not work. The second option was amputation of the leg just below the knee. This would allow a faster recovery period, and the ability to fit a prosthetic leg, that would ensure better mobility. He chose the latter option, and will undergo this surgery on Tuesday. I sent him an e mail expressing my concerns and shock at hearing the news, and I was surprised to get a reply very quickly. I was amazed at his stoicism, and the way he was dealing with this life-changing event. He didn’t complain, or once say ‘why me?’ He simply got on with the situation he found himself in, and was glad that the outcome was no worse than it was.

Arne is German, but has lived in London for many years. He has a wicked sense of humour, and speaks English better than most of his colleagues, including me. He is an excellent chess player, and an accomplished wordsmith, with an enquiring and analytical mind. It was always a pleasure to work alongside him, and we often had a great laugh together. Despite the pain and discomfort he is suffering, his first response has been remarkably practical. He has started a blog about the accident, and the forthcoming surgery. He hopes that as well as serving as a personal record, this blog will help others in similar situations, who find themselves unexpectedly facing terrible injuries, or the prospect of amputation, and dealing with the practicalities of life afterwards. I think that this is to be commended. Not many of us would have the presence of mind to start a blog, so soon after such a traumatic event.

With this in mind, I would like to use this post to promote Arne’s blog. It is not on wordpress, but it is simple to comment on the posts. Please visit the link below, and give him some support. Thanks in advance, Pete.


16 thoughts on “Arne’s Leg

  1. I am so sorry to hear this Pete. Sometimes, it takes a life-changing event for us to realize that we possess that inner strength, that determination to decide what is best for us. I truly admire Arne’s positive attitude despite what happened. I hope I will be able to read his blog too. Get well soon Arne, just said a little prayer for you.


  2. I applaud Arne for his courage and presence of mind. Not many of us would be so practical in the circumstances. I follow someone who is considering amputation in different circumstances and I shall put them in touch with each other.


        1. It’s a bit of a chore on that platform Sarah. You have to give an e mail address verification on Arne’s blog, via the green button. It’s not as good as wordpress! I will send over your link though. Many thanks, Pete.


          1. Yes, but even then, it wasn’t accepting. I’ve just been talking to Ron, who has been talking about his various conditions and hospitals on his blog for some years now, and he says, ‘Might be as well to warn [Arne] that some hospitals, like mine, monitor what patients are up to online and take a very dim view of criticism, no matter how much it’s justified.’


  3. Hi Pete, Hi David, I will reply to you both by email, but for now I will just say that the support and encouragement I experience every day is truly humbling. Apart from friends and family and immediate collegues, who you’d expect to say something, old friends from years back, colleagues from other teams, who I have never met and now even friends of friends have come forward. I do thank them all, it really does make it easier!


    1. Arne, I have already responded privately to your gracious e-mail, but I do want to publicly state here on Pete’s blog that I have a lot of respect for the tough decision you made. I spoke in my earlier comments about sympathy, but perhaps I should have mentioned that those comments were rooted in empathy. There is a difference. I would urge Pete’s followers to visit your blog. If any of them know you personally, they will likely have a jumble of feelings to sort out in their hearts. It may be a challenge for them to strike the right balance in their comments, so please know they mean well. For those people like me who do not know you, I would urge them to be openly empathetic, and to show you the respect that, in my opinion, you richly deserve. I believe it is of utmost importance that people be honest in expressing what they think and how they feel. I look forward to following your blog entries, and, as trite as it may sound, I truly do wish you the best.


    2. Thanks for that Arne. It is heartening to read the comments of support, and to see you coping so well thus far. I am pleased to read that it does make a difference, and that it gives you some encouragement. I will be thinking of you tomorrow.
      Very best wishes, Pete and Julie. x


  4. Pete, I found this article that you may want to read. I’ll also pass it along to Arne, too.

    This sort of life changing event is hard to deal with, not only by the victim, but by the victim’s friends as well. Victims rarely want sympathy. They may construe it as condescending, or they may interpret it as a nod to etiquette. In fact, there are probably a good many reasons why sympathy, especially if laid on thick, is a response that is not at all appreciated. Victims also don’t want friends to pretend to be blind to the situation, as that reeks of denial, or to paint a rosy picture of the new “special” life on which they are about to embark, as that smacks of disingenuousness. In fact, they don’t really want to even hear the word “victim”–or any of its synonyms–pronounced within earshot. Probably the best approach is to casually acknowledge the situation when it is appropriate to do so, expressing understanding rather than sympathy, and to otherwise treat the individual the same as before.

    This sort of thing–or worse–can happen to anyone at any time. Amputations may result from an accident, but there are other causes, too, like diabetes. Nobody said life is easy or fair, but, unfortunately, it’s harder and more unfair to some than it is to others. It does sound like Arne (at least on the surface) is coping very well with everything, and writing a blog seems like a very positive way to channel his thoughts and energies. I do wish Arne the best, and hope his blog finds a supportive base of readers.

    Finally, I’d like to say that I think your post was thoughtful and appropriate, and that it employed just the right tone. I’m sure Arne, and your blog followers, will agree.


    1. Thanks for your support and comments on this David, and for contacting Arne outside of the blog too. The involvement of strangers from ‘far-off’ lands can only serve to increase interest in Arne’s blog, and to add to the encouragement he is already receiving.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.


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