Diabetes Action Month - Interview with Phil May
For Diabetes Action Month, we are chatting with amputees with diabetes about their experiences. Our Peer Support and Events Coordinator Matt Bryson sat down for a chat with amputee Phil May.
How long have you been a diabetic for?
I have been a diabetic for 10 years.
Before you become a diabetic, were there health signs that you were aware of?
I had trouble driving with my eyes, so I went to get them checked. When the optometrist checked behind my eyes, he told me to go straight to the GP. The doctor took a blood test. My blood sugar level was 23 and it should have been at level 5 or 6. The doctor also said that I have probably been a diabetic for the last 20 – 30 years. I had no apparent health signs.
How do you manage your lifestyle living with diabetes?
I take medication three times a day. I also watch what I eat.
Being an amputee and a diabetic, is there anything that you must continually be careful of/ manage?
I must continually keep an eye on my foot. It is important for me to do this. I check my foot every time I have a shower. I look for marks and abrasions. I lost my leg due to diabetes. Suddenly my toe went black. It happened overnight, the doctor said that it became infected with gangrene. I was in hospital for 2-3 days and then went home to try and treat the infection. I did not heal. I went back to the hospital three weeks later and was given antibiotics. The surgeon suggested amputation at the ankle but he said it might a difficult to live life with this kind of amputation and there was no guarantee that the gangrene wouldn’t come back. I told him to do what he needed to do and he suggested a below knee amputation rather than an amputation at the ankle. Two days later I received a phone call from a doctor and had the amputation below the knee.
What is the hardest challenge that you have overcome being a diabetic and what helped you to overcome this challenge?
The most challenging thing for me was to control my diet. I knocked off sugary foods straight away and instantly stopped having sugar in my coffee. I have never had sugar in my coffee since I lost my leg. I also try and have a balanced diet. I attended diabetic courses which really helped me to control my diet and manage my life living with diabetes.
If you had any advice for people that are pre-diabetic or living with diabetes, what would it be?
If you are able to, please exercise and watch your diet. Try and stay positive. It is not easy but there are many diabetics living an amazing life and managing their health conditions. Nothing stops me. Last year I walked the Great Wall of China and also travelled to Croatia and walked the walls of Dubrovnik.