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Former Private JJ Chalmers hopes to see it through in Strictly Come Dancing – and he won’t let his injuries hold him back
For the 33-year-old Invictus Games medalist, the BBC One competition is nothing compared to the heart-wrenching battle he fought just to stay alive after being ‘torn’ by a bomb
His life was changed forever in May 2011 when the Royal Marines Commando went out on foot patrol with 11 other soldiers to clean up a suspected bomb factory in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
One minute the world was normal, the next he was lying on his back after being ‘pulverized’ by the rubble of an IED (improvised explosive device) that one of his comrades had accidentally stepped on
« My legs were torn, my face was crushed, my neck was broken, my arms were pretty well torn off »
But despite the horrific extent of his life-changing injuries, JJ can clearly remember the exact moment before the explosion and the final thoughts of his old life.
He continued: « What I remember is that I was standing, quite normally, talking to a friend, going about my daily business
« Then a fraction of a second later, I was on my back in the worst pain I have ever felt »
His fellow Marines fought valiantly to stabilize JJ as they waited for the rescue helicopter for 25 minutes
Less than an hour later, he was on the operating table at Camp Bastion before being brought back to the UK, barely alive
He was in a coma at the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital in Birmingham for a week and underwent 30 operations, many of which lasted up to 2 p.m.
« My arms basically came off, and they got reattached by amazing surgeons in the weeks, months and years to come, for that matter, » he told Metro
« My face was crushed, my neck was broken, my eardrums burst Almost everything had had some level of damage
« But, apart from a few fingers, everything was still there Everything was stuck together, the surgeon built me a new body
« And then I spent the best part of four or five years learning how to use this body »
And that’s exactly what he’ll be doing for Strictly this year, with the inspirational star insisting he doesn’t want ‘special treatment’
Appearing recently on ITV’s Lorraine, JJ – who is in partnership with pro Amy Dowden – explained that he had been in contact with his doctor and other medical professionals to devise a plan for her he can safely participate in the physically exhausting show
« Those with whom I am a partner, they will essentially have their work cut out for them, » he explained
« We’ll find out, but on the other hand, watching myself on TV now I can tell I have terrible posture and it’s because of my injuries I have to work around them
« So the idea that it could improve my rehabilitation and continue my level of fitness is going to make a huge difference to me »
He added: « I don’t want any special treatment, but we’re going to have to level the playing field, so that’s fair »
Strictly Come Dancing, JJ Chalmers, Amy Dowden, Injury
World news – GB – The last memory of Strictly’s JJ Chalmers before being « torn » by the explosion a bomb
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