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Crisis highlights lack of services

Jeremy Meyer of Grafton with his prosthetic leg - had a lower leg amputation after it became infected while fishing at Minnie Water weeks after the floods. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Jeremy Meyer of Grafton with his prosthetic leg - had a lower leg amputation after it became infected while fishing at Minnie Water weeks after the floods. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

OF ALL the death-defying things he has done, it was a relaxing afternoon of fishing that left Jeremy Meyer with only half his right leg.

A month after the 2013 floods, Jeremy and his father headed out to Minnie Water to throw in a line.

What he brought back with him was a whole lot more than just a few bream.

"I got three micro-organisms in my foot from a blister I had," Jeremy said.

"It turned into gas gangrene and within two weeks I had my leg amputated."

What shocked Jeremy most about his ordeal was the lack of support and assistance he received.

"I got rejected from Centrelink to get a disability pension the first time because they said it wasn't enough of a disability," he said.

"I appealed the rejection so it was then sent to a third party assessor and has been five months in the process."

Jeremy and his family had to fork out thousands of dollars for walking frames and to equip their home with railings and shower stools to assist him.

"Plus I've got $60,000 worth of debt I'm trying to pay off," he said.

Jeremy said his mental health had suffered from all the stress and things kept piling on top of one another.

"My negative attitude is so bad, my fiancée and I split up," he said.

"I've been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I now have high blood pressure. Plus, stress is eating away at me so much they're talking of a possible kidney/pancreas transplant in the future."

Mr Meyer said the blow could have been softened if there were more services available in the Clarence Valley.

"I don't need people to come to my house and do my housework or anything like that; it's just programs or group meetings; there's nothing," he said.

"Counselling is one thing, but they need someone who deals with this specifically.

"It's not the same as losing a loved one, but in a way it is. Sometimes I look down and I don't have my prosthetic on and it's a kind of mourning. I wake up some mornings and think 'why bother'."

Mr Meyer said being confined to his home was not helping his psychological health.

He said the Valley needed to look at setting up its own rehab clinic to help people like himself get over the traumatic times.

"I'm fed up and these are things that need to be said. The Clarence is way behind on everything."

At 34, Mr Meyer was an adrenalin junkie, always playing sport and keeping active. He played hockey, refereed roller derby and taught mixed martial arts.

Now, he is struggling to get his life back on track.

"I just really thought there would be more (assistance) and something needs to be done," he said.

"The ironic and frustrating part is I used to work in the disability sector, and find it confusing how hard it has been for myself and people in my situation to be assisted, as I have been on the other side helping people with similar."

Topics:  centrelink, depression, disability support pension, editors picks, minnie water, prosthetic limb



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