Face It Now or It Won't Be Pretty

Protect your limbs with proper foot care.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

I've been talking a lot about looks. How to make your feet look better without getting a pedicure from a salon, Summer Toes, Feet and Shoes-Part One and Part Two, and even more about summer shoes and looks in, Flip Flops, No Socks and Crocs, and Do Crocs Rock? Once again, I'm inspired by my own experiences to write. Many of us know how to take care of our diabetes but it's the doing it that really counts. Remember, diabetes care includes foot care

The other evening I was pouring our drinks for dinner. The glass pitcher fell out of my hands onto my foot. My foot was red and it really hurt. It made me think. We've all been told not to walk barefoot….EVER! Yet, many of us continue to walk barefoot at home. Or, maybe we'll wear our flip-flops or just socks instead of a more protective shoe. We justify by saying, "I'm home, it's okay," or find some other excuse. Truth is, most accidents happen at home. I've cared for a lot of people with diabetes and foot problems in my almost 30 years in this field. I've seen many people lose their toes, then their feet, and then their legs. I can't remember one that could not have been prevented. Face it now or it won't be pretty.

Facing it means accepting it as a reality. Don't say, "Oh, it won't happen to me," and continue doing things like you did before you had diabetes, or doing things like your friends who do not have diabetes. The fact is over half of the amputations that happen happen to people who have diabetes. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing your feet. But, this doesn't have to happen to you.

Take a look at what can happen when walking barefoot at home. I remember Agnes who walked barefoot. She opened her pantry to get out a can of beans. The can fell on her unprotected foot causing a sore. The sore did not heal. She went on to lose her toe, then her foot, then her leg. This could have been prevented had she been wearing shoes that protected her toes. Something similar happened to Bill when he reached up to open his freezer and out fell a hard, cold, package of meat on to his unprotected foot which also caused a sore. He decided he'd take care of it himself rather than go to the doctor. He's a guy. He's cool. He's independent. He too lost his leg. He could have prevented this just by wearing shoes with protection for the top of his foot and by getting professional wound care rather than trying to "fix it himself."

Although this picture doesn't look pretty, it is real. This person stepped on a nail.

Foot Nail

 In this case the person didn't feel it. This nail not only went through his skin but also his bone. I don't know the outcome, but I would not be surprised to find out that this man ended up having his toe, then foot, and then leg amputated.

This too could have been prevented had the person faced the facts about diabetes and foot care. He could have made sure he wore shoes with a strong and thick enough sole and leather uppers that would not have allowed a nail in so easily no matter where he was. I'm sure he didn't think this would happen to him. I'm sure you don't think it will happen to you. Take care of your diabetes, which includes taking care of your feet (The Do's and Don'ts of Footcare) and you too can keep your feet for a lifetime.

EnJOY! Healthy feet.

Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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