Claudin Mathurin is a wonderful and kind-hearted woman who believes she is in the right field. The 46-year-old is a certified Foot Health Practioner employed at the Saint Lucia Diabetes and Hypertension Association.
The Association is crucial in the fight against diabetes and hypertension in Saint Lucia and engages in foot therapy in an effort to save Saint Lucians from having their foot amputated as a result of diabetes.
“The fact that I’ve gone a long way in helping prevent amputations make me happy,” Mathurin said.
“I always loved healthcare. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a nurse. I think it’s one of the ways that you could reach people,” Mathurin told The VOICE.
Mathurin joined the Association as a receptionist in her early 20’s. At the time, the Association comprised only two persons in office, herself and a nurse. During that time she decided she wanted to be a nurse, but dismissed the idea shortly after since she wanted to focus on other things.
“I continued working. I did screenings for patients whenever the nurse was absent. My life changed when a group called Saint Lucia Diabetes Project UK came to Saint Lucia. They were doing foot care and at that time there was no podiatrist on the island. Many amputations were taking place in Saint Lucia. I thought maybe that’s a field I should look into so I found out more about it,” she explained.
Mathurin fell in love with foot care while working with the group which came to Saint Lucia once every two years.
“Every time the group came to Saint Lucia I went out with them and eventually I said I want to get certified in that field. I started an online course but I had to go to England to do my practicals,” Mathurin said.
She was thrilled when she finally received her diploma.
“After attaining my certification I came back to Saint Lucia to make a difference. I decided that the Association was the most appropriate place to be since we see lots of people with diabetes. That way I could share the knowledge and experience that I had gained and let persons know that they don’t have to lose a limb if they have diabetes,”Mathurin said.
She added, “A lot of people don’t realize foot care is important; nerve damage usually begins in your toes and some people slowly start losing that little sensitivity, not aware of what’s happening. People who are living with diabetes should have a thorough foot check, which is done at the Association. We can save limbs and lives with proper foot care and that is why my job is so important.”
Mathurin wants Saint Lucians to know that sugar control is important. She explained that if one’s sugar level is not controlled, then a whole bunch of health complications could impact a person. She also stated that a person’s eyes, feet and kidneys could get affected as a result.
“As long as you’re living with diabetes the reality is you can lose a leg but you don’t have to.”
According to Mathurin, the foot care clinic at the Association’s headquarters in Castries is “second to none.” She believes that the clinic offers the best foot care service and said that persons living with diabetes should visit the Association regularly.
“Diabetes is a silent killer, just like high blood pressure and the statistics have shown that half of the people living with diabetes right now don’t even know they have it. If somebody comes to me when it’s too late there’s not much I can do but if they come early enough we can prevent amputation,” Mathurin said.
She continued: “I always tell people to look at their feet every day especially people living with diabetes. If one day you wake up and you notice something different—it could be a scratch, you should visit your doctor right away. It’s very important to do this because you can lose a leg quickly.”
Mathurin also stressed the importance of getting tested early as early testing can save limbs.
“Tell your loved ones to get tested and take control of your life. The life you save just might be yours,” she warned.
“People also shouldn’t wait to come to the clinic when they feel pain. Once you have diabetes, you should come and get a foot check even if your feet look okay. You don’t want to come when I can’t do anything to help you. I’ve seen people with nice feet but after you’ve ran all your tests you realize that it is just a disaster waiting to happen,” the podiatrist added.
According to Mathurin, the “bottom line” is saving lives.
“I love people and I want to see everybody live a healthy lifestyle, the way God intended it to be.”
“I want Saint Lucians to change the mindset they have about their feet. People often view their feet as something secondary. I don’t think people take their feet seriously enough, it’s almost like an afterthought. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have an amputation, but I’ve seen the effects it has on people and how it changed their lives and I don’t wish that on anybody. Cherish your feet,” she advised.