Monday, February 28, 2011

Support - not pity - needed

Double amputee Tony Christiansen is happy to offer support to quake victims. Photo / John Borren / File. Earthquake victims who have lost limbs from being cut from the rubble don't need pity, a double amputee says.

Tauranga City councillor Tony Christiansen lost his legs in a train shunting accident when he was nine.

Stories to emerge from Christchurch include a 52-year-old man whose legs were amputated with the tools available, a knife from a fold-out Leatherman multi-tool and a hacksaw, in order to save his life.

Mr Christiansen, who is travelling to America this week, said he would be happy to offer his support to amputees in Christchurch.

"If that opportunity comes up, I would be there in a flash because life's been very good to me.

"It's all I want to do in life is make difference.

"They don't need pity, they need strong people around them."

The double amputee said the adult victims of the Christchurch quake who had lost legs and arms had it worse than he did.

"I was pretty young, but I think for anybody later in life to have something like that happen is far more traumatic," Mr Christiansen said. "Being 9, I had only had a fairly [short] part of my life, and so carrying on the rest of it the way I am has been reasonably easy for me."

Mr Christiansen said people who had lost limbs in the earthquake would be traumatised.

"A lot of them probably wouldn't even know, even now, that they have lost their limb because they would be in an induced coma to help the body cope with the shock of what's happened.

"When reality hits, it's going to be probably one of the hardest things to ever imagine what it's like."

He said he could not say he knew how they felt, as everybody reacted differently.

"We all deal with things in different ways.

Some of us are more resilient to having changes and challenges in our lives."

Mr Christiansen, a motivational speaker, believed his attitude had got him through.

His achievements include climbing Africa's highest mountain, speeding 292km/h along Utah Bonneville Salt Flats in a Chevrolet V8 roadster, obtaining a pilot's licence, becoming a qualified lifeguard and writing two books.

His next goal is to compete at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in downhill slalom skiing.

"I know it's a tough thing to say but you have got to look at it [amputation] as an opportunity rather than a challenge," Mr Christiansen said.

"At the end of the day, your life's going to change in the blink of an eye.

"It's what you do about it that's going to make the difference."

No comments: