When Michael Durrant cut his foot on a piece of broken tile, he knew he needed to watch for problems.
The 63-year-old has had type two diabetes for a decade and is aware of the risks of seemingly minor injuries.
Even so, that small cut on Mr Durrant’s foot led to a three-month stint in hospital.
The Young man shared his experiences at the launch of the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s new high risk foot service, for people with diabetes and circulation problems in the region who have – or are at risk of developing – foot ulceration.
“I’ve had little cuts and nicks on my feet before and they’ve always healed. No big issue,” Mr Durrant said.
But this time – just before Easter – Mr Durrant said it was about two weeks after he cut his foot that he began to feel “really unwell”.
“I thought I was getting the flu,” he said.
Mr Durrant made an appointment to see his GP, but the night before the appointment, he was checking the wound on his foot and realised there was a problem.
He said neuropathy – or nerve damage – meant he had not felt pain in his foot, which he said was described by his doctor as “septic”.
Treatment began within an hour, with Mr Durrant describing how “little pieces of rotting meat” were being removed from his foot, as the wound was debrided.
Mr Durrant was admitted to Wagga Base Hospital for surgery on his foot and staff found there were also issues with the circulation in his leg.
A second surgery was later needed to deal with a further infection.
“Sadly, we have a situation where type two diabetes is just increasing. On the journey I’ve been on, and mine’s been relatively mild, I mean I’ve walked out with a foot and leg, and a lot of people don’t,” Mr Durrant said.
“I was in the surgical ward and the number of people up there who had toes missing, the top of their feet missing, legs missing, is extraordinary. So I consider myself lucky.
“If you have diabetes, you need to check your feet.”
This is the first time a coordinated foot service has been available for patients in the region.
“Foot ulceration and lower limb amputations are a leading cause of hospitalisation for people with diabetes,” said transitional nurse practitioner Leah Brown, who coordinates the new service.
"The key to prevention is early detection and appropriate management," she said.
The service, accessed via a GP referral, is staffed by a podiatrist, wound nurse practitioner and diabetes nurse practitioner.