How can you ride a motorbike?

“You’re a nurse – how can you ride a motorbike?”

I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times by incredulous family, co-workers and strangers. The risks, the amputations, the deaths – they’re horrific! How could I take such a risk? Well, avoiding the clichés of life is full of risks and I definitely am not one trying to live fast and die young – I’m just not that worried about motorcycle related trauma.

Through circumstance, timing and career, I’ve not seen that much motorcycle related trauma to scare me away. Sugar on the other hand – sugar is a nightmare!

Working as a nurse, especially in the Northern Territory, exposed me to the dangers of sugar. It’s terrible. It puts motorcycles to shame. I’ve seen horrific lower leg amputations carried out on the lower limbs of diabetics with a poorly controlled condition. Many more amputations than what I have seen relating to road-trauma.

I’ve seen toe amputations progress to forefoot to foot to lower leg to above knee – almost in the blink of an eye.

The amputations, mixed in with cases of peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy that have had led to patients having small, somewhat insignificant foot ulcers infiltrated and colonised by maggots have turned my stomach and made me think long and hard about the sugar intake in my life. Much harder than whether to take my motorbike to work or not. There’s nothing like picking maggots one-by-one out of a wound to make you start soul-searching about what went wrong here.

Don’t get me wrong – road-trauma, especially motorcycle related trauma is incredibly confronting, destructive and depressing.

Amputations, decapitations, burns and fractures. Terrible, but not that common. A 2012 paper from the Journal of Foot and Ankle research found that between 2006 and 2007 53% of Lower extremity amputation cases performed at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (Brisbane, Australia) were related to type 2 diabetes (8% to trauma, 18% to peripheral arterial disease) (Lazzarini, O’Rourke, Russell, Clark, & Kuys, 2012) and that 65 diabetics were having amputations every day in Australia in 2005 (Australian Diabetes Council, 2013).

So – how can I ride a motorbike with what I’ve seen as a nurse? Easily – how do you eat that biscuit?

 

Australian Diabetes Council. (2013). Diabetes Facts from http://www.australiandiabetescouncil.com/diabetes-education/diabetes-facts

Lazzarini, P. A., O’Rourke, S. R., Russell, A. W., Clark, D., & Kuys, S. S. (2012). What are the key conditions associated with lower limb amputations in a major Australian teaching hospital? Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 5(1), 12. doi: 10.1186/1757-1146-5-12