Return to football drives Roo during recovery

Luke Burnett lost 12 kilograms during a 40-day stay at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne earlier this year. He said the support of friends and family, including his brother Alex and mum Raelene, pictured above, and his partner Brittany Monaghan, pictured below, helped him get through the ordeal.

THE RELAPSE

South Colac footballer Luke Burnett says he feared he would never play football again during a month-long stay in hospital earlier this year.

The Roos’ assistant coach, 26, had battled ulcerative colitis since early 2016. The long-term condition results in inflammation and ulcers of the colon.

In Burnett’s case, ulcers had grown in his large bowel, causing gastroenteritis-type symptoms.

He had kept on top of the condition with daily drugs in recent years, but a major setback on February 2 would lead to one of the hardest months of his life.

“I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January 2016 and I’d actually gone into remission,” Burnett recalled.

“But then about 18 months after, I had a relapse around the Australia Day weekend this year.

“I went to hospital in Geelong, then got moved to St Vincent’s in Melbourne where I stayed for the next 40 days.”

Burnett said it was a scary and frustrating time as doctors struggled to get on top of his condition this time around.

The drug he had used to manage the illness, Infliximab, was no longer doing the job.

As the weeks passed with no progress, doctors floated the idea of removing his large bowel.

“I was in there for over a month and we just couldn’t get a handle on it, the medication that had worked the first time wasn’t doing the job,” Burnett said.

“I was pretty down in the dumps because they couldn’t work out what they were going to do.

“So they decided to remove the whole large bowel. The surgery was the final straw.

“It was pretty scary when they say they’re going to remove your large bowel.”

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