Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing Science, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark; email@example.com.
This study explores the lived experience of losing a leg as described by the patients themselves post-discharge. Studies have documented that regardless of aetiology patients are faced with severe physical as well as psychosocial challenges post-amputation. However, only few studies explore in-depth the patients' perspective on the various challenges following the loss of a leg. The study uses the phenomenological approach of Reflective Lifeworld Research (RLR). Data were collected from 24 in-depth interviews with 12 Danish patients. Data analysis was performed according to the guidelines given in RLR. The essential meaning of losing a leg is a radical and existential upheaval, which restricts patients' lifestyle and irretrievably alters their lifeworld. Life after the operation is associated with despair, and a painful sense of loss, but also with the hope of regaining personal independence. The consequences of losing a leg gradually materialize as the patients realize how the loss of mobility limits their freedom. Patients experience the professional help as primarily directed towards physical care and rehabilitation. The findings show that the loss of a leg and, subsequently, the restricted mobility carry with them an existential dimension which refers to limitation of action space and loss of freedom experienced as an exclusion from life. Our findings demonstrate a need for complementary care and stress the importance of an increased awareness of the psychosocial and existential consequences of losing a limb.