Well, it has taken 2 years and 10 days for me to finally understand what the impact of the last 2 years and 4 months has had on my life and on those that are close to me. I wasn’t going to write about this, but I feel that I need too. I will try to keep it brief as most of my posts, but that also might not be possible as I have to go back 2 years and 4 months to where this inter-story began.
At the beginning of this major journey, I was still living on the streets. I was still homeless as I had been for the most of 22 (twenty-two) years, Yes, you did read that number correctly, it is not a typo. Just over 2 damn decades. At the time everything changes I was sleeping on a concrete slab at night in Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. This was a normal thing for me to do for so many years. Sometimes I would have a sleeping bag, other times I would only have the clothes on my bank.
As an insulin-dependent diabetic that wasn’t taking his insulin (as I had nowhere to store it or keep it in a fridge) this caused several issues. I also have a lot of other health problems. Both physical and mental as well. But trying to deal with these health problems whilst being homeless was pretty much impossible.
In late February of 2018, I developed diabetic ulcers on both feet. They started small, about the size of a 5 cent piece and day by day got bigger and more painful, after about a week they were both about the size of a 50 cent piece and you could see inside my foot and see parts of my feet bones. To the point where I literally could not walk. And if I did, which sometimes I had to, to go to the toilet for example. It would take me a long time and a lot of pain to just walk a very short distance to the public toilet, which was located on the other side of the building where I used to sleep.
After another few days and sending a private message to a close friend on the Central Coast of what it looked like she told me that I needed to get to the hospital. She knew this from her nursing background and also her husband also had issues with one of his feet due to his diabetes. But, stubborn me refused to go. I 100% hated hospitals because being homeless I had some issues with the hospitals not wanting to help, some just thought I wanted to see a Doctor and stay overnight so I could get a decent night sleep, something to eat and a hot shower. Which if you know me as I hate hospital, that was never the case. For me to go to the hospital by my own decision meant things were really bad and I just couldn’t take any more of the symptoms or pain, depending on what the issue was at the time.
After another couple of days of putting up with the pain and the puss coming out of the ulcers and then them starting to bleed and me refusing to go to the hospital I literally could no longer even walk around the other side of the building to the public toilet. So, reluctantly I had no choice but to go to the hospital. So I grabbed my mobile phone and called “000” (Australia’s Emergency Services Number) and requested an Ambulance.
** Continued writing on the 20th May 2020 (the following day from starting) as I was feeling unwell with COVID and needed to get some sleep – turn out this is also going to be a very lengthy post also as I am going into details about all the events and haven’t even got post the hospital stage yet **
** It also appears due to the length this post is going to be I might do it in 2 or 3 parts and it is going to take several days at least to get through all of this **
Once the Ambulance arrived at the park, which as you know now was my sleeping location they took a look at my feet, realized that I literally could not work, nor put my shoes on due to massive swelling in both feet. They brought a stretcher around from the Ambulance to where I was sitting, took my backpack (which had everything I owned in it) to the back of the Ambulance and then put me onto the stretcher and into the back of the Ambulance. From there we drove to Mona Vale District Hospital Emergency Department.
Within minutes of arriving of the nurses seeing how bad my feet were, they had a Doctor come and see me within minutes. The first thing he did after taking a look at the ulcered wounds and seeing all the puss, blood and fluid coming out of both of them gave me a shot of Morphine. This eased the pain somewhat but didn’t take it away fully. I was also given some tablets to help with nausea caused by the morphine and also something to eat and drink as my BSL (blood sugar level – linked to my diabetes) was dangerously low. They also put in am IV drip pretty much straight away as I was also dehydrated. Which was to be expected. But as always they had trouble finding a decent vein. But they got one in that worked for the time being so I had the fluids running in with some very strong IV antibiotics to help heal the ulcers as well.
Within about an hour the Doctor had the surgeons came to the Emergency Department and have a look at both my feet. They mentioned it was the worst case any of them (there was 3 of them there) that any of them had seen in a very long time. One of them mentioned he had never seen a case so bad before in his 10 years as a surgeon. And that says something about how bad it was. I was also informed that I was going to be moved shortly as I was being admitted to the surgical ward of the hospital and that I could expect a lengthy stay in hospital.
The Hospital Stay and Outcomes
It only took a couple of hours before I was moved to the surgical ward and had a surgeon and a hospital Doctor assigned to me directly for my care whilst I was there. I do not recall the name of the surgeon involved, but I remember the Doctor was Dr Michelle. She was such a loving and caring person and my situation outside of the hospital concerned her a lot. She saw me several times a day checking and keeping me fully up to date on what was happening.
After about a week of being in the surgical ward, I was starting to lose my mind. I could walk slowly and would regularly disappear to go and have a smoke and the nurses knew this and so did my Doctor. So they knew where to find me or they just called my phone. Which was done a lot during my admission.
After the first week, the IV drugs were not working and my feet were getting worse. They then began talking about amputation. Firstly my toe, then my inter foot, then both feet, and finally my right leg and left foot (as the right foot/leg was the worst).
This is where we will leave Part 1 of this story and Part 2 will be coming your way very soon, within the next couple of days.