I recently had an email thru the contact form of my blog. The email started out as, “I am a graduate student doing research on devices for the early detection of diabetic foot ulcers.” He came to my blog thru a message board and asked if it would be possible to speak with me. We made arrangements to speak on the phone yesterday afternoon. Prior to speaking with him, he sent me a list of topics that he wanted to talk about. I am not going to speak about the device that he is working on – I think it is a great idea and I hope that it is able to come to fruition. I don’t want to have someone read my blog and steal his idea (he is actually working with a team).
One thing that we discussed was basically what the title of this post is – taking foot care seriously. I confess, prior to my very first ulcer, I did not do that. Like many other people, I read all the warnings about taking care of your feet. When I was first diagnosed, I even got rid of my sandals because I was told diabetics shouldn’t wear sandals. Somewhere along the line, I got “careless.” It wasn’t that I didn’t care, because I did. I think it was more the attitude of “that won’t ever happen to me.” I am invincible after all!
When I had my first ulcer, I had some mild neuropathy. I didn’t check my feet every day. I ran around the house and even went outside barefoot. One Friday morning, I was getting ready for work and I noticed a big hole in the bottom of my foot. It wasn’t as big of a hole as “the wound,” but it was a good sized hole. I had gone to a client’s office the day before that had a gravel parking lot so my first thought was that a stone came up thru my shoe. I looked at the shoes I had worn the day before and although there was not a hole in them, there was blood.
I then started looking at all the shoes I had worn that week and everything had blood in them. At the beginning of the week, my cousin and his wife were having a cookout for their daughter’s birthday after work. I took casual clothes with me to change at the office and go to his house from there. The sandals I wore that night also had blood on them. I knew that I had the hole in my foot all week.
That first ulcer took about 6 months to heal. At the time, I did not even have a podiatrist. I went to my PCP who in turn referred me to one. Although I had neuropathy, it was mild and I did have feeling in my feet. I had no clue what caused the hole in my foot.
The weekend before I found it, I was out on my deck in my bare feet. I was waiting on my dog to do his business when my neighbor came out and he decided to go visit her. I had to walk thru the grass to get him. Later that day, I went to visit my cousin in Annapolis and spent the night. The next day, Nicky did the same thing to me – I was standing in the doorway in my bare feet when he decided to take a stroll and I had to go after him.
After thinking and thinking about what could have caused it, I decided that the best bet was Nicky’s choo hooves. He would lay on the floor next to my bed chewing on them. I didn’t remember stepping on it, but I thought that would be something I would step on and just keep on going because I knew what it was. However, I really have no clue what caused it.
After that, I learned to start checking my feet everyday. I know from talking to other people online, most people really don’t take foot care seriously. Like I said, prior to my first ulcer, I didn’t either. When I see people talking and shrugging it off, I will post the link to the pictures of my foot so they can see what a simple case of dry skin turned into and I did the right thing and called my doctor on day one.
What bothers me the most is some doctor’s misconceptions about foot problems. Recently on Facebook, the mother of a Type 1 child said that her endo told her that only “obese Type 2 people with poor circulation” have problems with their feet. I was a thin Type 1 and to this day have good circulation in my feet. I have heard other people think that only Type 2’s have foot problems or only people with poor circulation. I truly don’t believe that I was the exception to rule. Type 1’s with good circulation CAN have foot problems.
Two simple things that you can do are to check your feet every day for signs of problems – do it when you are putting your socks on in the morning. Use a good moisturizer. My nightmare started as dry-cracked skin. I use Elta Swiss Care Moisturizer. Although my pharmacy doesn’t keep it on their shelf, they do order it for me. I lost two years of my life because of that dry skin. Taking 2 minutes out of your day every morning can save you a lifetime of grief.