Well, it is! There have been some bumps along the way and I have learned some valuable lessons, but I do have my leg today. This last part of my foot story is about what happened with my foot and what I now deal with as a result of my surgery.
I continued to make trips to the doctor about every 10 weeks (and still do!). I get a callous on my heel under where the bone material is – the doctor called it a “prominent boney mass.” The callous gets cleaned up so it doesn’t cause a problem.
I started to get pain in my heel. I tried several times to speak to the doctor about it but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Every time that I tried to talk to him, he would just sit there and stare at me without saying a word. One time, he actually did talk to me about it but was extremely arrogant when he did – he wasn’t someone that normally came across as being arrogant. During that conversation, he said that he could shave the bone down but he did not want to do more surgery on me. I told him that even if he wanted to, I did not want more surgery on my foot. Needless to say, I was getting very frustrated and did not feel that he believed me.
During the two years that I was not able to move around, I gained about 65 pounds. As soon as I was able to start using the treadmill again, that weight started coming off. After I started losing weight, I noticed that the leg with the infected foot was larger than my other leg. I had an appointment already scheduled with my PCP shortly after noticing it so I asked him about it. He agreed that it was definitely swollen, but he had no experience with wounds so was not sure what to think about it. The next time I saw the podiatrist, I asked him about it. He didn’t bother to even look at it but told me that I was lucky to have my leg.
About a year after my foot closed, I woke up one morning to find blood on my sock. I think I about had a heart attack that morning. The ulcer was on my heel in the area of the boney mass – of course, my first thought was that the bone came thru my foot. I called and made an appointment to see the doctor. He said it looked like it was caused by friction. He said it was superficial and I told him that was easy for him to say! I had a slip for new orthotics and when I went to get those, the orthotics place told me my orthotics were worn and most likely were the cause of the new ulcer. I had to stay off of my foot for about 2 months this time.
Every time that I saw the doctor, I would mention the pain in my foot and it was like that was a subject that was not possible to talk to him about. I kept trying to figure out what was wrong – I guess I wanted to try & fix whatever the problem was. I know some doctors have a problem with people with pain, but in light of his chosen profession, that didn’t make sense – I would think that people experiencing foot pain is pretty far up there.
I am an honest person, so it bothered me that someone thought I was making up pain. I guess you can say that I am not very good when it comes to trying to talk to people. I have a tendency to not say anything when they say something that bothers me and just walk away. I figured it would be better to send him a letter and let him know how I felt, so I did. I had never asked him or any other doctor for pain pills and I reminded him of that. I did not want more surgery on my foot. I mostly wanted to feel like he believed me because no matter how good of a doctor he was, that wouldn’t do me any good if he did not believe me. He called me after he received the letter and actually apologized. One of the things that I said in my letter was that he never x-rayed my foot. He told me on the phone that he would get an x-ray at my next appointment.
At my next appointment, he x-rayed my foot. Everything had gone well until he came in the room with the x-ray. As soon as he started talking to me, he started getting extremely arrogant again. I left his office in tears that day. I didn’t want to make another appointment when I left, but my recently purchased orthotics were falling apart so I needed his help with getting that corrected, plus I had cataract surgery scheduled the following week and that was being performed by a doctor that he referred me to. I didn’t think telling him where to stick it would be a good idea.
A few more months went by and I kept trying to convince myself that because he was a good doctor, it didn’t really matter if he believed me or not. I knew that if I had another wound on my foot, he would do everything possible to have that heal. Then I started having a lot more pain and it was different than what I had been experiencing. I did not feel comfortable going to see him based on what had happened in the past. I decided that it would be better to look for another doctor. In the past, I had broken my foot several times and did not have obvious signs of a break other than pain. Because of the bone material in my foot, he had even warned me to not have anyone rush in doing something to my foot because of the way it looks. If something happens, I don’t want to go to an ER type place for an x-ray and have someone that has never seen an x-ray of my foot making a decision about whether something is wrong or not.
I decided that it would be better if I found another doctor. In light of everything going on, I made an appointment with one of the other doctors from the wound center. He is a general practitioner and he was one of the doctors in HBO so I already knew him. I didn’t really expect him to help me with the problem with my foot but since he was a GP and familiar with wounds, I knew he would be a good one to ask about the swelling in my leg. I also figured that if I did have a wound in the future, I wanted someone good and I knew he was good.
When I went to see the doctor from HBO, we first talked about the swelling in my leg – he said that I had lymphedema. He said that it was nothing to be worried about but that I still deserved an answer. He gave me a script for compression stalkings.
When he started examining my foot and felt the bottom, his first response was, “that needs fixed.” I told him that I did not want more surgery on my foot. He told me that the surgery should have been done before I did HBO. I now wonder why that wasn’t done myself. Before I started HBO, I had an x-ray and the doctor said that the material had slipped. He even thought that was one possibility why my foot wasn’t closing. In fairness to him, I don’t know why he did not suggest doing the surgery, but I really have to wonder why it was not done at the time.
He then picked up my shoe & pulled the orthotics out – he said those will never work. He asked the nurse to hand him some Betadine. He started putting the Betadine on my heel and I started getting very nervous! He placed the orthotic against the bottom of my foot. When he pulled it away, the area where the bone protrudes from my foot had made a red mark on the orthotic. He then cut a little hole in the orthotic to try & give the bone some relief. That kind of surgery, I can handle!
When we were talking about the pain, the HBO doctor said that it was good that I still had bone pain. He said with neuropathy, bone pain is the last to go so it was good that I still had that. I did not know that before. I told him that several people had asked me how I could have pain in my bone when I had neuropathy and I did not know why; I just knew that I had it!
Having that little hole in my orthotics has made a huge difference in the amount of pain I have. The orthotics’ place gets a little bent out of shape every time I come in & they see the hole, but they will get over it!
I don’t walk around without shoes on and I didn’t do that even prior to the modified orthotics. As soon as I get out of bed in the morning, I put my shoes on (after checking blood sugar of course!). They stay on until I go to bed at night. Because of my balance problems, I use a shower chair. I get in the shower and take my shoe off after sitting down. I put the shoe back on before getting out of the shower.
Because of the surgery I had, my foot is wider than it originally was. He explained to me why, but that went in one ear & out the next. I have to buy wide shoes now so that makes shoe shopping hard. None of the shoes that I had would fit anymore, even without the orthotics in – that made me sad to have to get rid of all my shoes!
The wound center recommended Elta Swiss Creme Moisturizer for my feet. I use that daily on my feet now and have not had a problem with dry feet since I started using it. Although I always used something before, I had trouble in the winter and could never find something really good. That stuff is good!
As I mentioned, I have lymphedema because of the infection. My ankle is swollen more than the other. The calf of my leg seems where most of the swelling is. I was given a script for compression stockings to use, but having something that tight on my foot really bothers it so I don’t use them.