Tuesday 21 November 2017

An earlier intervention would have helped me keep my foot

Case Study: John O'Reilly who suffers from type one diabetes
Case Study: John O'Reilly who suffers from type one diabetes

Having already undergone an amputation on part of his foot, John O'Reilly's fear that he may eventually lose his right leg stays with him all the time.

Just before turning 13, John was diagnosed with type one diabetes while growing up in Portarlington, Co Laois.

He is critical of the health system and the inaction of others which he claims threatens him from being able to keep his leg.

The 42-year-old was able to manage his condition until a prolonged issue with his big toe led to amputation four years ago.

He is adamant an earlier diagnosis of a pimple on his toe, that grew and became an open wound, would have saved his foot.

"My consultant told me it is a ticking time bomb," said John.

"Realistically, I am going to lose more of it but they cannot tell me if it will be in a year, 10 years or further down the line."

"Every three to six months I have tests done. The infection is always there so they need to make sure it has not progressed," he continued.

"If they don't catch it in time it could mean going the whole way up the leg."

Prior to the amputation, John had to walk around with a vacuum pump strapped to his leg as the pimple on his toe grew and he developed osteomyelitis, an infection that attacks bone marrow and brings on gangrene.

"It absolutely could have been prevented. Without a doubt," he added. "It all boils down to finance. In an ideal world it would not, but unfortunately with the health service in Ireland, that is the way it is."

John was forced to give up his job as a retail manager and now spends his time spreading awareness of type one diabetes by managing a website with a friend. He knows that he may never recover from the infection that has already claimed half of his foot.

"At times it would be upsetting, but I am a practical person and I just try to get on with my life," he added.

"You'd like to think that it could have been prevented if we had a better health system."

John believes the health service focuses on those with type two diabetics because it is preventable, while type one, which is hormonal, is not.

Irish Independent

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