Epidemic: Sosene Misi needed the five toes on his left foot amputated after they became infected as a result of diabetes and gangrene. Picture: Simon BennettForthe past four yearsSosene Misi has spent most of his dayscamped on the lounge with his left foot perched up in the air,as a result of doctors orders.
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Unfortunately the 62-year-old’s story is not uncommon.

The Ruse resident isone many Australians who have needed an amputation after fallingvictim to the diabetes epidemic.

In 2012 –one year after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes –Mr Misi had the five toes on his left foot amputated after a combination of gangrene and diabetesthreatened to infect his entire leg.

In the 12 months before his operation, swollen toes had become a regular problemfor Mr Misi.

Usually a few tablets did the trick.

But this time was different.

“I tried to put my shoes and socks on as I was gettingready for work, and I saw my toes were swollen,” he said.

“I went to the medical centre in Ingleburn and the doctorsaid you have to go to Campbelltown Hospital straight away.

“I had some tests and two hours later the doctors said I had to go to Liverpool Hospital.

“There were two doctors waiting for me and they said ‘we have to take you upstairs straight away and do the operation’.

“They said if theycouldn’t amputate mytoes Iwould lose mywhole leg.

“I was crying because my wifedropped me at Campbelltown Hospital butwe didn’t think my toeswould be amputated.

“Every time Ihad swollen toesthey just gave me tablets -but this time, no.”

Mr Misi spent the following three weeks in hospital before being discharged –about two and a half weeks longer than they average stay for a patient in hospital.

Following the operation he also received regular visits from health professionals to help change his bandages, and still requires monthly check-ups.

He also required two-daily injections.

It wasan expensive lesson for Mr Misi, who said he was unaware of diseases such a diabetes and cancer, while growing up in Samoa.

That’s why more funding for educationand preventionwas a must, the head ofCampbelltown Hospital’sEndocrinology Unit, Dr David Simmons said.

“It’s a small investment in comparison to four years off work, three weeks in hospitaland repeated attendancesin clinics,” he said.

“Diabetes is stopping people from working and costing hospitals a lot (of money).

“(Mr) Misididn’t know much about diabetes so he needed education andthis is what we need to make sure is in place.

“We need to give people the tools and knowledgetofind a way to support them.

“Isn’t it better to prevent the problem?”

The Ruse local’s condition has gradually improved and last week he began to walk an hour a day as part of an exercise regime.

He is also hopeful of returning to work next year.

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