The silent killer

Diabetic Jone Nuku Marau and wife Sainimili Tawase at their home in Naivikinikini, Lami. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Former police officer Jone Nuku Marau is living proof of a silent killer in our midst after he lost his parents and three brothers to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Mr Marau, 57, and his brother Rupeni Temo, 66, have lost their legs to diabetes and are the only surviving members of their family.

The norm before was after work it was drinking grog with friends until 4am and going to sleep with on empty stomach, said Mr Marau.

“Another thing that contributed to my sickness was eating junk food during grog sessions.That was the norm, it is called chaser.”

Mr Temo said their “parents died of NCDs and our three brothers too, including one of our nephews who was also diagnosed with diabetes”.

“Please have medical checks every month because in my case I did not know I had diabetes until I got a sore leg and took it to the doctors. By that time the disease had spread all over my legs.”

Mr Marau, who had a career spanning 20 years, had both his legs amputated after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

In 2014, he was hospitalised with numb legs and was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I did not care about my health, I ate unhealthy food, I was a heavy smoker, drank a lot of kava and alcohol,” he said.

“The norm before was after work, it was drinking grog with friends until 4 o’clock in the morning and going to sleep with an empty stomach.

“Another thing that contributed to my sickness was eating junk food during grog sessions. That was the norm, it is called chaser.”

In 2019, his health condition worsened which led to his leg being amputated and just two weeks ago, he lost the other leg.

“My condition is getting worse, I also suffer from kidney problems, heart disease and liver complications. Now, I have to use a wheelchair and I need someone to help me around the house to go to the washroom and so on.

“I can’t work to support my three children and wife. We don’t have a source of income. When I retired from the Fiji Police Force in 2021, I had only one leg and I was using crutches to go to work.”

His brother, Rupeni Temo, 66, had his legs amputated after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016 and is being cared for by his niece. Of the five siblings, the two men are the surviving members.

“Our parents died of NCDs and our three brothers too, including one of our nephews who was also diagnosed with diabetes,” Mr Temo said.

“One of our brothers who died at the age of 48 was hospitalised 27 times as his situation worsened.

A teary-eyed Mr Marau advised all Fijians to “watch what you eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle”.

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