November 11, 2023
My Health Journey: Dundee drummer Scott marches to his own beat after double leg amputation
When Scott Campbell was told he had to have his right foot amputated, he had one question for his doctor: “How soon can you do the operation?” The 48-year-old pipe band drummer and former council support worker, from Dundee, just wanted the pain to stop – even if it meant losing his lower limb. “I was instantly relieved when they first told me I could lose my foot,” he said. “This is how bad it was making me feel. I felt so ill at that point I just said to them, I don’t care, just take it. “If it’s making me feel like this I would rather you just removed it.” Scott suffers from which resulted in severe skin and bone infections. He was playing five-a-side Football at Soccer World at the Kingsway Campus in Dundee when he first noticed a problem, Scott explains. “At the time I was a support worker for Dundee City Council, working with adults who have learning disabilities. “I got a blister on my foot which ulcerated and became infected.” From there things got worse. He developed a bone infection in his foot called Osteomyelitis, which people who have diabetes are more at risk of developing. He was “constantly on antibiotics.” “When osteomyelitis sets in it will only get worse. There is no amount of antibiotics which can take it away.” Then one Monday in 2015, after a weekend competing in the Scottish Pipe Band Championships, he was rushed to hospital. “I couldn’t go into work,” he says. “I knew something wasn’t right so I got myself into A&E and saw the triage nurse. “At that point there was a strong smell coming from my right foot. They just rushed me through and told me I could lose it. “But I felt so ill, I didn’t care, I just wanted my foot taken off.” On that occasion doctors managed to save his foot. But over the next three years, Scott ended up in Ninewells Hospital 19 times, enduring nine grueling operations to remove infected fluid and tissue. Scott soon reached the point where amputation was the only option and in December 2018 his right lower limb was removed. For Scott, it ended years of agony. “I went into hospital on Friday, December 21, 2018 in pain,” he explains. “But the next day, I was pain free and it felt great.” Scott spent five weeks in Ninewells Hospital recovering and learning to walk with a prosthetic limb. “If you will pardon the pun, I hit the ground running,” he said, with a smile. “I went to the physio department at Ninewells, using weights in the gym to work on my core and strengthen my other leg. “I was so keen, I would go down to the gym half an hour before my session with the physio was due to start.” “Lying in bed feeling sorry for myself and getting really depressed was a dark path to go down,” he added. “I didn’t want to go down that road so I just had the mentality that if the foot had to come off, it had to come off.” Little did he know five years later he would be faced with making the same difficult decision. This time it was his left lower leg that had to be being amputated. A bad abscess formed on his left foot which never healed. He didn’t want to go through the same anguish he had gone through with his right foot – so he made the brave decision to have it removed. “The surgeons and my consultant agreed. This was because the ulceration on the side of my foot wasn’t healing,” he explained. Scott had his lower left limb amputated in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee in September this year. “The infection had been building up and on the day of the surgery I was feeling really ill,” he remembers. “But the day afterwards, I felt great. “It has been difficult adjusting to having two prosthetics and it takes a lot of energy to walk. “But I have been working hard on building my strength back up with physio as well as getting support from . “I have no regrets about the surgeries as I feel so much better.” I found out about Scott and his incredible health journey after receiving an email from a reader who felt he deserved recognition for his outstanding bravery. During our interview, I was struck by his determination not to let the difficulties he has encountered hold him back. To help him move forward, Scott sets himself goals which give him something to work towards after the operations. One of those goals included learning to drive which he did after his first amputation. Pipe band drummer Scott was also determined to get back to playing. “After my right foot was amputated and I said to myself ‘you need to get back to the band and do what you love doing’. It’s a massive part of my life. “Before I knew it I was back playing with the snare drum with the band two weeks after I got out of hospital!” Scott has been a member of a tribal pipe band called the Average Pipe Band since 2019. He also plans to join a competing pipe band before the end of this year. And he has plans to play the drums at the Scottish music Parade tour in Germany next May. “I joined my first pipe band in 1990 and it has been a way of life for me,” he explained. “When you get out and play it’s phenomenal. I have also made really good Friends with the guys in the bands.” Another long-term goal Scott has set himself is a new career – he plans to train to become a humanist celebrant after retiring from his Job at Dundee City Council. Throughout the ups and downs and his surgeries, Scott’s wife, Laura, has been a constant source of support. Laura, 38, works with the Scottish Legal Commission in Edinburgh. “Laura has been an absolute rock,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her. She has been the driving force behind me and everything that I do. “If it hadn’t been for Laura being there, god knows what I would have done.” Scott is now looking forward to the next chapter in his life after his amputations. “Having a positive mindset is imperative,” he said. “Not everyone has that though and I have met people who were very much resigned to the fact that their life was over having lost a limb. “But I made a conscious decision not to think like that – I am excited to see what the future holds.”
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