After working as a mountain guide in the Cairngorms, Mike Fletcher discovered pain in his right knee that after a medical procedure, became seriously infected. After 25 further operations, including three knee replacements, he elected to have his leg amputated above the knee. Mike (68) tells us how rock ‘n’ roll has helped to keep him going…
That old tempter: hindsight, sometimes visits me and I realise it would have been better to have pressed for amputation at a much earlier stage. A prosthetic leg gives me times of uncertainty and of fear but rarely are my spirits low. I try to take the issues full on, with humour – and to endeavour to make the most of my new opportunities.
I train every day in my home gym for 30 to 45 minutes. The strains of Status Quo, The Stones and a variety of punk bands help to raise the intensity. A typical routine is to dance full on for 20 minutes, lift weights, work on the punch bag, row and cycle.
In those endless days spent in hospital, it was music that kept me functioning. Long days were made bearable by listening and mentally interacting with it. Even in the operating theatre I listened to music, often punk, much to the interest and amusement of my consultant. The best punk music has a lot to say about life and some of it mirrors my own experiences.
When I was a full-time wheelchair user, I powered around the hilly terrain of my village, arm muscles burning as I tackled the upward inclines. I was also, at times, able to stand, even if it was with considerable pain. I wanted more; I needed to move, to begin to feel really alive and to sweat and to strain. I worked in my gym with weights and with background music playing, when I had a flash of awareness. I could dance. I used to teach aerobics. I pumped up the volume of the music and I danced in my wheelchair. During periods of being able to stand I danced and used my legs as best I could. I developed set dances to some tunes and free-danced to many others. With my prosthetic leg a whole new world opened up. I lengthened the duration of my dancing and I became quicker, more inventive and more agile.
From the physical exercise and the stimulation of music my concentration has also improved. I now treat physical activity and music as one and use it to give me a great boost at the start of every day.
On Mike’s playlist…
Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones,
Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads
And a bit of Jilted John…