Deon battles disease as Centrelink stalls

Deon and Kirstie Palmer with their family Harrison and Cooper Dendle - Duroux and Harper Dendle - Palmer at Market Square Grafton on Saturday, 2nd January, 2016.
Deon and Kirstie Palmer with their family Harrison and Cooper Dendle - Duroux and Harper Dendle - Palmer at Market Square Grafton on Saturday, 2nd January, 2016. Debrah Novak

KIRSTIE Palmer can not understand why government agency Centrelink won't help her husband Deon as he battles the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis.

"We got denied (for a disability allowance) the first time in September so we put in a counter claim," Kirstie said.

"We've been waiting since September to see if they will accept it or not.

"It's just ridiculous, they can't even tell us why it hasn't gone through.

"We had to have an interview with a government doctor and even he said he had no idea why he had to do this.

"I just don't understand."

Deon was diagnosed with the chronic illness when he was just 19 but he has lived as normal a life as possible.

Despite his health issues he was able to work a part-time job at the Clocktower Hotel.

This year however his health has deteriorated, forcing him to spend more and more time in Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital, and less time with his three young children.

Kirstie travels from Grafton to Brisbane frequently to support her husband but the time off work is putting further strain on the family.

"It's frustrating to have to worry about finances, we have enough things to worry about now," she said.

"We know we're not the worst off people in the world but we have worked and paid our taxes and now when we need help from the government they're not helping.

"We are very lucky we have had a lot of family and community support or we would have to sell our house if we couldn't pay the mortgage."

Kirstie has been approved for a carer's payment which she said will go some way towards providing some stability.

Deon is home now after spending the past month in hospital after undergoing surgery to help clear a reflux condition that was causing aspiration pneumonia and further damage to his lungs.

"We got back Thursday afternoon so it's good to have him home," Kirstie said.

"He is looking forward to spending some quality time with the kids."

Deon is currently waiting to find out if he will be eligible for a lung transplant.

His sputum is undergoing genetic testing in the UK to determine his eligibility but a bacterial infection is hindering his chances.

The next trip for Deon is a clinic appointment in Brisbane, which will determine whether he returns home or remains in hospital.

On top of the trips to hospital, Deon must undergo a daily routine of airway clearance, regular doses of medication, light exercise and percussion on his back.

"It's a pretty busy schedule fitting it all in," Kirstie said.

"After this operation we are hoping his pneumonia will cease and should ease off some of his trouble with his lungs.

"He is sitting at about 32% which is pretty good.

"He was on 26% at one stage.

"It's full on but we're positive and try and pass on the goodwill when we can."

Topics:  centrelink, cystic fibrosis

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