Actor Duan Weiming a changed man, takes diabetes medication so others won’t worry
After learning he had diabetes at the age of 22, Singaporean actor Duan Weiming had steadfastly resisted turning to Western medication that would control his condition.
But following an amputation of part of his left leg in early September, the 61-year-old has had a change of heart.
He now injects insulin every morning and watches his diet. He also takes atorvastatin tablets every night to lower his cholesterol, as well as aspirin and paracetamol to relieve the pain from his wound.
Duan, who recently reconciled with his 35-year-old daughter from a previous marriage after more than 10 years of estrangement, told The Straits Times at his home on Tuesday that he takes his health more seriously now as he does not want others to worry about him.
He said: “After this incident, I have changed. Why should I let people around me worry? I have chatted with other diabetic patients, who told me the doctor’s medicine works. Even if it does not cure you, it will prolong your life.”
Duan used to “treat” his diabetes in his own way, by exercising and drinking more water. Looking back, he said: “I was stubborn. I did not want to stop eating the things I loved. How did I know that diabetes was so serious?”
Now, he consumes fish soup and lots of oats and vegetables, which are high in fibre. He avoids food that is fried, such as fried bee hoon and sweet and sour pork.
He joked: “Nowadays, even when I smell unhealthy food, I feel guilty.”
However, he is still not 100 per cent compliant when it comes to following medical advice.
For example, he has a follow-up appointment at the National University Hospital – where he was hospitalised after his surgery – on Friday, but is unlikely to go as he thinks the hospital is far from his home and not worth the trouble to travel to.
He lives in a three-room Housing Board flat in Boon Lay with his girlfriend of more than 10 years, a Singaporean who does not work in the entertainment industry.
Despite losing a limb, Duan remains fiercely independent, preferring to do household chores himself.
For example, he sweeps and mops the floor while seated in his wheelchair. He also waters the plants outside his flat and visits the nearby market. While showering, he wraps a plastic bag around his wound.
He also attempts some physiotherapy at home, such as rotating his wrists and turning his body from side to side while seated. Another exercise he does regularly is holding the armrests of his wheelchair, then lifting himself off and lowering himself back down on the seat.
He said he had been to some of the rehabilitation sessions when he was hospitalised, and thinks he can do the exercises by himself.
The wave of public sympathy has also kept him going. Since news of his amputation spread, he has received countless messages of support from fans, old friends and fellow celebrities.
He said local actor Chew Chor Meng, who suffers from Kennedy’s disease, a motor neuron condition that leads to spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, encouraged him to be strong.
“I am very touched by these messages. Although I don’t have a leg, the rest of my body is okay.”
His upcoming plans include selling his flat and downgrading to a two-room unit, so he can live off the sale proceeds.
The star of the Channel 5 series 128 Circle is also looking to act again and is open to the possibility of getting a prosthetic leg.
But what if his diabetes is not managed adequately over time and thus cause him to possibly lose his other leg?
He said: “If it happens, I will accept it. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? At this point, I am just living one day at a time. And there are many people who have lost a leg, or both, and are living perfectly fine.”