Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

When I started writ­ing these ar­ti­cles for the Townsville Bul­letin I called them “Pull up a Stump” be­cause I’d lost my leg to di­a­betes. My po­si­tion has changed now. I am well and truly stumped, no longer play­ing in the ashes; I’ve lost both legs. I’m now dou­bled stumped.

I be­lieve that I have a mes­sage for those with di­a­betes, do noth­ing and lose your legs.

On a se­ri­ous note, di­a­betes is a grad­ual dis­ease if it isn’t con­trolled from the be­gin­ning.

It is easy to say that but the prac­ti­cal­i­ties are very hard.

Some of our re­sponses are cul­tur­ally imbed­ded, such as the food we have grown up with and love.

It is ter­ri­ble go­ing to par­ties where ev­ery­one knows you are a di­a­betic, but they still of­fer you food that doesn’t com­ply with your di­a­betic con­di­tion.

Peo­ple show they love you by of­fer­ing you as much food as you can eat. You can’t knock it back be­cause it is a cul­tural thing.

The chal­lenge for me was to change my­self so that I would not be called “a non- com­pli­ant pa­tient” by the med­i­cal staff I was see­ing.

This was a neg­a­tive la­bel which did noth­ing for my mo­ti­va­tion. But I had to start lis­ten­ing to them. This was se­ri­ous busi­ness! My body was break­ing down be­cause I was not con­trol­ling the dis­ease.

Dr Ramesh Velu, the nurs­ing team, the hy­per­baric unit, the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion team and the orthopaedic tech­ni­cians ( the plas­ter boys) stren­u­ously and pa­tiently worked with me try­ing to help save the leg.

Dr Velu and the very pa­tient Dr Sangla from the Di­a­betes Clinic were for heal­ing rather than am­pu­tat­ing.

But in the end, af­ter seven years Dr Velu said to me, “Al­bert, what do you want me to do for you?” I said “Am­pu­ta­tion?” He nod­ded his head. It says a lot that he asked me the ques­tion.

Some­times there is neg­a­tive press about things hap­pen­ing in hos­pi­tals but this over­looks the cul­tural change hap­pen­ing there as well.

We need to give credit to the great peo­ple who have a pas­sion for heal­ing. They deal with weep­ing ul­cers and stench ( not pleas­ant) and try to help you. But in the end, I had to have my legs am­pu­tated and the poi­son cut out.

Nev­er­the­less, I feel bet­ter than I have for years. The free­dom of move­ment I have now is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

The con­di­tion of my ul­cer­ated legs, which had moved into my bones, has gone. I am now able to con­tinue with my pas­sions among which is work­ing in the com­mu­nity with the Townsville In­ter­cul­tural Cen­tre pre­par­ing for the Townsville Cul­tural Fest ( Au­gust 9- 13).

I am the am­bas­sador for the Pa­pua New Guinea com­mu­nity, which means ne­go­ti­at­ing for the com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the event and bring peo­ple from PNG and around Aus­tralia to it.

None of this would be pos­si­ble with­out the ex­tra­or­di­nary staff at the hos­pi­tal start­ing with those in the Dis­charge Lounge.

They are very friendly and look af­ter you. The front re­cep­tion is the same.

The yel­low shirts, the vol­un­teers, are tire­less work­ers who di­rect you to the place you want to go, of­fer you wheel chair sup­port, etc. They are the front­line in pub­lic re­la­tions.

They make you feel com­fort­able and re­lieve the anx­i­ety you feel.

Un­for­tu­nately, they are some­times sub­jected to abuse from anx­ious pa­tients; abuse they do not de­serve. They de­serve our thanks for a dif­fi­cult job well done.

I hope my ex­pe­ri­ence with di­a­betes has a mes­sage for those suf­fer­ing this con­di­tion. The so­lu­tion to di­a­betes lies within your­self. We must take se­ri­ous re­spon­si­bil­ity to deal with di­a­betes.

It is some­thing we can con­trol by lis­ten­ing to the di­eti­cians and oth­ers. Ini­tially I didn’t lis­ten be­cause their ad­vice about the food to eat didn’t fit with my cul­ture and tastes. Some­times we have to ad­mit our cul­ture is wrong. This is true whether you are from Europe or the Pa­cific coun­tries.

My years of ex­pe­ri­ence at the Townsville Hos­pi­tal have been very good, although I haven’t al­ways ad­mit­ted that. I am bet­ter now than when I started.

I’ve lost of few stone ( and I’ve been legless be­fore) but if ever you want to lose a leg, this is the place to go.

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