A Patient’s Perspective: My Foot Five Years Later

Kelly Booth FootIt is coming up on the 5 year anniversary of when my foot finally closed 100% – the wound itself was a two year process. I can’t even say for sure which day that it totally closed because my vision was so poor at the time because of cataracts, I missed the big event. Looking back on medical records of when I saw the doctor, I know it closed between February 9th and March 19, 2007. I decided to write about this today because another person going thru a wound was asking me questions about how my foot was doing today. He was concerned about what my foot looked like now and what the skin was like.  I have written about the physical aspects of what I went thru but I have never really written about the emotional part of it.  I am finally ready to write about that part of what I went thru.

I thought I may as well take a picture of my foot and write an update about it.  If you want to see the pictures of what I healed from, you can see those here.  I warn you, don’t look if you just ate or have a weak stomach.  Although I will kind of summarize what happened here, the other write-ups with more detail are under the “Diabetic Foot Wound” menu at the top part of my blog.

I get a callous in the area that the original wound was. The doctor that did my surgery told me that it was because of the material used leaking out. I have since learned some of what he said wasn’t true so I don’t know if that is true or not – I know when I have searched for information on AlloMatrix (the material used in my foot), I have not read about that happening. It isn’t a question that I ever asked my current doctor. I go about every 10 weeks to get the callous trimmed and am past due in this picture.

I have a boney protrusion where the AlloMatrix was put in my foot. I do have periods of pain because of it. My current doctor modified my orthotics to relieve the pressure on the bone and that has made a huge difference in the amount of pain I was having. Back in 2010, I had a delay in getting the orthotics and bought some of the Dr. Scholl’s gel heel inserts to provide some relief because my orthotics were worn out. They really helped a lot and the next time I needed orthotics, I asked my doctor if it was OK to just use those. It was stressful going to the orthotics place because they would get bent out of shape when they saw the hole my doctor cut in them.

I have had two ulcers on my foot since the original wound closed. The first was in the spring of 2008 and I was told that it was caused by my orthotics being worn out. That ulcer was directly on the boney protrusion. The second ulcer was in the summer of 2010. That was caused by a blister on the side of my foot. The blister happened the night that I passed out from low blood sugar and woke up to EMTs over me. I found the blister after coming home from the ER.

I like to call what happened to me a comedy of errors, except it really wasn’t very funny. The original doctor I saw had been my doctor for years and he was very good. When I filed for disability and had to move back home and stay with my mother, I had to find all new doctors. The first doctor I saw for my foot after moving ignored the signs of infection. I ended up in the hospital and saw one of his associates. She ordered an MRI but even though the radiologist felt I had osteomyelitis, she didn’t think I did – guess which one was right!

While in the hospital, I picked up MRSA. After being discharged from the hospital on IV antibiotics, my family and home nurse did not feel the doctor was being aggressive with my wound. I made an appointment at the local wound center in Altoona and started going there. That doctor at least did the culture and picked up the fact that I had MRSA. After two rounds of Vancomycin, he did another culture and an MRI. Both stated that I still had an infection however the doctor said the infection was gone. He started me on a wound vac which should not be used with an infection in the bone – because of that, my bone turned to mush.

I switched to doctors in Pittsburgh at Ohio Valley General Hospital and ended up having three more surgeries plus doing hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  March 10, 2006 was the scariest day of my life.  The doctor did not know for sure what he was going to do until he opened my foot up.  It is not a comfortable feeling being called a challenge by your surgeon.  It still took another year for my foot to close entirely.

Ironically, the podiatrist that disagreed with the radiologist had done her residency at the UPMC podiatry program under the podiatrist that did my surgeries in Pittsburgh – when I Googled his name, they came up together on a paper.

After my foot finally healed, I started having a lot of pain in my foot. That is when my relationship with the doctor that did my surgeries seemed to fall apart. I went from him telling my mother after one of my surgeries that I was his favorite to patient to being the patient from h*ll.  Every time I tried to talk to him about the pain, he would sit and glare at me. It was obvious to me that he didn’t believe me. The couple times he did manage to talk to me, he was extremely arrogant. I wasn’t looking for pain pills, so I don’t know what his problem was. I believed that he would help me if I walked in with a hole in my foot, but I have also had broken bones that the only obvious sign was pain. I knew it was not possible to get help from him if the problem involved pain.

I am very a honest person so it really hurt to have someone treat me like I was lying when I wasn’t. Obviously he was my doctor and did not know anything about me personally, but don’t treat me like I did something wrong when I didn’t. I am the person that took $5 back to WalMart when most people I knew said they would have kept it. I would bet money that he would have kept the $5 before he would have taken it back yet I am the one being treated like a liar.

I really struggled over what to do. I believed that I had my leg because of him but I did not like how I was being treated. He was an arrogant jerk to put it nicely. I wanted to find another doctor, but I knew what I had been thru before finding him and I was literally terrified to go to someone else.

I finally decided I couldn’t take anymore and I changed doctors. I decided to see one of the doctors I had met in HBO. I knew he was a good doctor and had a lot of respect from his other patients. I made an appointment with him and requested my records.

I was very shocked when my records came. The doctor that treated me like I was lying had lies in my records. He wrote about “painful toenails” and “difficulty walking due to painful toenails” at almost every visit. I have never had a painful toenail in my life. I have difficulty walking, but it is not because of painful toenails, it is because I have neuropathy.  Having problems walking because of painful toenails doesn’t even make sense.

When I saw the doctor I met in HBO, he said “this pisses me off” about my foot. I didn’t have to convince him I was having a problem, he could tell by the bone protruding out of the bottom of my foot. He also told me that my foot should have been fixed prior to my doing HBO. What he doesn’t know is that the doctor that did my surgery even discussed with me that the material in my foot had slipped and wondered if that was why it wasn’t closing – that conversation took place prior to my starting HBO. He never suggested doing more surgery before I did HBO. I don’t know why he chose not to fix my foot, but my gut tells me it had to do with money.

I went thru a lot of anger over what happened. I was angry with myself for trusting someone that didn’t have my best interests at heart. I was angry for being lied to. I was angry that I had to go thru what I did with my foot when it was not necessary.

I have seen some of the worst in doctors and nurses.  I saw a lot of greedy people. I saw people looking out for their best interests and did not care that I was a human being. I saw people that ignored test results that said something was wrong. I wondered if I was being deliberately set up for an amputation.  It is pretty sad that I would even think that but I can’t come up with any other reason.  Why was I put on some expensive antibiotic instead of one of the antibiotics listed on the culture for the infection I had?  Was someone in bed with that drug company?   I saw mean people that should not be in medicine. I saw arrogant people and I saw people that lied. I saw people that had absolutely no compassion for their patients.  I was kicked over and over again when I was down by people I should have been able to trust and were supposed to be helping me.

But I also met people that truly cared about their patients. I saw extremely good doctors and nurses.  They are not consumed by greed. They listen. They care that you cry and are hurting.  They don’t know all the answers, but they don’t make you feel like you are a bad person because the things they are doing don’t work.  It isn’t your fault and they don’t blame you.  They don’t pretend to know it all, but they do their best to help you as much as they can.  Those are the people that are good doctors and nurses. They care.

I still ask why and I still cry. I know I will never get the answers to some of the questions I have. I tried to find peace by reading Bible verses that talk about forgiveness. I have stickies on pages of my Bible to read verses about forgiveness when I get angry. I find the most comfort in reading Ephesians. I know I need to forgive. It is hard to forgive someone you think of as evil. How can someone do the things they did and not be evil? I laughed recently when one of my doctors said, “how do they sleep at night?” when we were talking. I said that I ask myself that question a lot.  Doctors are supposed to be good people.  They are not supposed to deliberately hurt people.  I don’t think it is possible to ever understand why they did the things they did.  If I want peace, I have to quit asking why but I don’t think it is possible to not ask why.

Amazingly, it wasn’t searching for forgiveness that finally brought me the most peace. It was reading Proverbs 6 that brought that peace:

16There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

I am not the one God hates. I didn’t lie, my doctors lied. I didn’t do anything wrong. They are one the ones that did something God hates, not me.

I thought I Can See Clearly Now was a good song to share here.  I can’t say that all of the bad feelings have disappeared, but I can certainly see clearer now.  Its gonna be a bright, bright Sun-Shiny day!

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8 thoughts on “A Patient’s Perspective: My Foot Five Years Later

  1. Hello Kelly,
    wanted to ask, since ur foot has been healed, how many hours per day do walk..and about how far. Is everything back to normal..or is one foot shorter than the other?
    Also, wanted to comment..that on ur blog..where it says Diabetic Foot Wound..when i scroll over it..a menu drops down..but i am unable to click on any of its listings since it disappears-same problem with accomplishmnts. Stay Well!!!

    • Hi Joe,

      I was trying to use my treadmill daily – times varied on how much energy I had. I had been doing 1 hour a day and then started having major fatigue issues a year ago. I was just getting my energy back when my treadmill died. It is hard to walk outside with the weather so I don’t get much walking in. I have 6 hand weights of different sizes so I am carrying them up or down the stairs one by one. I take them all down one day and up the next.

      I was able to click on the menu items. What browser are you using? The WP support people say to clear your browser when you are having problems and that sometimes helps clear it up. Let me know if that doesn’t help and what browser you are using & I will file a support ticket.

  2. i’m sure i’ve had more good nurses than bad, but i must mention the one that left my window open when it musta been 30 degrees below zero and knew that when i woke up i would he frozen. also the one that flicked the IV caps onto my bed while i slept, so that it felt like i was resting on a bed of nails. Oh and when i was in rehab, dying of thirst and the very thoughtful, observant nurse asked if i would like anything to drink. shoot, they were outta soda but had plenty of milk. Great, i said, but she never returned. i figured she musta got busy but when a second nurse did the same, and didnt return, i knew for sure, without doubt, that i was curbside and had the urge to start barking. actually i like to think i took bettr care of my dog than that! But..I am getting Better and thats all that really matters!

    • Joe, if you think about it, it is kind of sad that we remember the couple bad ones over all the good ones. It does give you a whole new perspective on the word compassion. And you are right, all that matters is that you are getting better. Before you know it, you will be the one singing I Can See Clearly Now!

  3. Kelly, i am sincerely happy for ur recovery, as u can imagine, since my current struggles parallel ur unfortunate saga. ur ‘success’ story is very comforting to read because it is so very easy to get down and harbor negative thoughts; thoughts about getting better, what’s up the road and thoughts about dctors, nurses and the good and bad in ppl. ur 5 Yr-healed foot (pic) is the light at the end of this tunnel. as i told my family/friends, ur blog was my xmas present this yr!!! btw- what meds r u taking Now and B4 this happened? My dctr just put me on 75/25 humolog plus kombiglyze tabs..which r working Great. He wanted me to take Victoza also but i refused because its new and i didnt like possbl side effects. Now tomorrow he wants to change again to Novolog.

    • Joe, one reason I started this blog was to share what I went thru so others know there really is light at the end of the tunnel. I am glad that you can see that.

      As far as the meds go, don’t forget I am T1 and you are T2 so treatment methods might be different. What really matters is that you find what works for you. Every one of us is so different in what we need. The 75/25 is a mix of long & short acting. I haven’t used it so I am not sure which is which. Novolog is a short acting used with meals. I use Levemir for my long acting and Apidra for the short acting although I decided to fire my pump back up today – not sure if I will continue on that or not. You only use the short acting in a pump. I can’t say I blame you about being worried about side effects with something. I try to avoid newer stuff for that very reason.

  4. Oh Kelly Kelly Kelly – what a saga of bravery and courage (and dumb–ss doctors).
    The “painful toenail” comment was disgusting.
    The charge nurse at dialysis is supposed to check the feet of all pwd’s once per month. My insurance gets charged $120 for this procedure. He would always take off my socks, take a quick look and say “you’re okay”. Never said a word about my bruised toenail or a blister I had on the side of my foot (that was fortunately being monitored by my podiatrist). Well, this particular guy transferred out and a new nurse replace him. At the next foot exam he checked my pulses, looked between my toes, asked me all kinds of questions and did the filament test and checked for dry skin. A huge difference.
    I am SO TIRED of us having to be our own best advocate. Kelly, thank goodness that you are very intelligent and well-informed.
    And mostly thank goodness that you still have your foot.

    • Thanks Kathy. I am glad you have a new nurse that actually does what they are supposed to do. It is bad enough that they aren’t doing what they should, but when they are billing your insurance and getting paid to do something, that just makes me mad. You are right, I am extremely glad that I still have my foot.

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