‘Cut this f--king leg off’: Uber driver’s demand
“CUT this f--king leg off!”
Rockhampton Uber driver Tom Bundesen didn’t mince his words when he entered the doctor’s office on crutches in 2017.
While cutting your leg off is unimaginable for most, his demand wasn’t up for debate – it was a matter of life and death.
“Another 12 months, I probably would’ve been dead due to the septicaemia,” Tom said.
Crutches were the 58-year-old’s only form of mobility for almost three years before he decided his leg had to go after suffering an injury that had continued to deteriorate.
He was working in a remote Aboriginal community, 240 kilometres west of Darwin when he stepped down four inches from the veranda to the grass and his knee bent the wrong way.
Tom collapsed to the ground and had to throw his keys at a nearby building to alert people to get help.
The day he dislocated his knee proved a turning point in the registered nurse’s life – he went from providing care in the “best job he’s ever had” to being the patient.
He was flown to Royal Darwin Hospital Intensive Care Unit and had 17 litres of fluid pumped into his body to “keep him alive”.
“I woke up and the daughter was there so I knew I was in trouble,” he said.
Tom was diagnosed with artery and nerve damage and spent five days in ICU followed by four months in the hospital before being transferred home to Rockhampton.
His days in hospital were some of the toughest, both mentally and physically, as he relied on care from people in a sector he himself was an expert in.
“Being a RN in the hospital system actually made the care worse,” he said.
“They thought I was going to critique their work and complain about them.”
After spending time at Rockhampton Hospital he was released back to his home with all his limbs intact but he arrived a changed man in a health battle far from over.
“Whatever could go wrong went wrong,” he said.
He experienced drop foot, compartment syndrome, skin grafts, bad dressing, a pressure wound, had three toes amputated and was hospitalised twice with septicaemia.
Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to an infection causes damage to healthy tissues and organs.
With no end in sight, Tom decided the leg, from his knee down, had to go.
“I made the decision to have it cut off and since I’ve had it cut off I don’t need a walking aid, I can get about better and I can function again,” he said.
Tom has been fitted with a prosthetic leg, which attaches with a suction-like function.
Once his health was on the mend, Tom’s next focus was to find work to keep his mind busy.
After searching for jobs to suit his circumstances, in August he began driving for Uber.
“I’m back to being able to plan for the future,” he said.
“Uber is giving me two things: one, Uber is going to supply me with this kick-ass workshop and two, work gives me a positive atmosphere.”
He plans to build a workshop with a carwash bay installed.
While driving for Uber pays less than Tom’s previous $140,000 salary, he’s found working 70 hours a week earns him enough to save for his ultimate goal.
He is in the process of raising his house to build an apartment underneath for him to live in, allowing him to avoid stairs and once he’s done he plans to travel across Australia in his van.