District Nursing Helps John Smith Achieve His Goals

John Smith and Jo Spurge, District Nurser
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
When Portland’s John Smith was told his leg had to be amputated his first response was “the sooner the better”.

Mr Smith had been suffering from severe circulation issues that were causing him a lot of pain.

I was a lawn mowing and gardening fanatic but when I was cutting the lawns I'd have to stop with terrible pain, he said.

One day I felt really bad and went to Portland District Health. They sent me to Melbourne and the surgeon came in and said we're really sorry Mr Smith but we're going to have to amputate.

I said the sooner the better because the pain was terrible.

The amputation was a success but Mr Smith knew he would be going through it again due to the circulation problem.

A year later his other leg was removed.

However, you won’t catch the double amputee complaining.

I reckon I managed it pretty well, he said. I think I'm going pretty good.

At 71 Mr Smith is keeping good health and isn't letting the loss of his legs slow him down too much.

Now fitted with prosthetic legs, complete with garish coloured socks to give them a bright look, Mr Smith realises his limitations but still likes to get about and enjoy himself.

With the help of Portland District Health's (PDH) district nursing service and his daughter Narelle, Mr Smith has been able to stay living at home.

He's recently enjoyed a Jade Hurley concert, regularly goes hunting with a friend, and has plans to return to horse riding.

You can't do everything you want to do but when I was in rehab in Melbourne I thought what am I whinging about; there a lot worse off than me, he said.

I still go to what I can. Life in general is pretty good.

He also spent nine months recovering in Warrnambool Base Hospital and has nothing but praise for the Warrnambool and Portland health services.

The district nurses visit Mr Smith three times a week to help him with showering and to undertake nursing duties.

PDH district nursing service nurse unit manager Jo Spurge said a big part of the nurses role was safety and prevention.

The district nurses assess Mr Smith's stumps to make sure there are no pressure wounds, check skin integrity and make sure he is properly attaching and removing his legs.

We're nurses and perform health roles on top of helping with showering, Ms Spurge said.

It's very important from a safety point of view and to prevent any problems.

Mr Smith enjoys the visits and appreciates the importance of their work.

I look forward to the girls coming, he said.

I can't praise them enough and 100 per cent recommend them. People say why don't you go to a nursing home but I say why? I want to stop here as long as I can and the district nurses help me to achieve that.

After recently losing weight, Mr Smith has had to adjust and refit his legs but he still gets to enjoy life.

Once I got the two legs I thought I'd never do this but I did, the former sheep property owner said. I still have to be careful when I walk around.

His next goal is to go horse riding. I used to do a lot of horse riding and I'd enjoy that again, and I mean proper horse riding, not just sitting there going around with a rope, he said.

Ms Spurge said people can self-refer for the district nursing service. It doesn't have to come from a doctor,she said. The district nurses will visit and assess each client.

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