Would you have thought being reckless with your diabetes could lead to foot amputation?
A Type 2 diabetic, Alan Saunders from Willenhall never thought he’d be at risk of losing his foot, but he came close three years ago when the bones in his toes started disintegrating following a poor diet and inappropriate footwear.
The 67-year-old explained: “I was eating and drinking as I pleased – cakes and sweets etc.!”
Alan, a worker at Walsall’s steel factory, had been fit and well for most of his life but was taken aback when he started to feel tired and sluggish in his early fifties.
“I was exhausted all the while and my blood pressure was particularly high; it just seemed to come out of nowhere.”
Diagnosed as diabetic at 52-years-old, the keen fly-fisher was forced to make a big change to his lifestyle.
“I was told to eat well and exercise more. While that’s helped me immensely with my energy levels, I’ve still been required to take extra precautions around foot care.”
It was almost three years ago, when driving back from a holiday in Cornwall, that Alan first noticed pains in his right foot.
“I just shrugged it off and didn’t bother seeking help straight away; that was my first mistake. You should always seek help at the first sign of anything untoward.”
After a number of days, Alan finally sought help from his GP who referred him onto Walsall Healthcare’s podiatry service, to be told by the team that the bones in his right foot were literally falling apart.
“It was unbelievable how something so serious only felt like a dull pain; the metatarsals had shattered and I hadn’t noticed. I was told it was because the nerves in a diabetic’s feet can become damaged and often the pain isn’t felt. This is why you should always check your feet because you won’t necessarily feel any ulcers or sores developing, and before you know it, they can be open and infected!”
With the support of a cast, the bones in Alan’s foot were able back to knit back together, however while trying to rest he had been putting additional pressure on his other foot. This eventually led to his left foot becoming sore and in June of this year, developed an ulcer.
“I was trying to protect my right foot and was overcompensating with my left, but because of the nerve damage I hadn’t even noticed that the ulcer had burst – once again I was back at Walsall Manor Hospital!”
And today, thanks to rest and a course of antibiotics, Alan’s ulcer looks to be healing well. Unfortunately the lack of supportive footwear means he has developed a bone deformity in the foot known as ‘Charcot foot’ and must wear gel supports in his shoes to prevent further damage.
When asked what he’d say to diabetics who aren’t taking foot care seriously he replied: “Don’t be as careless as I was – following the professional’s advice as you don’t realise the damage diabetes can cause.”