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Featuring My Feet and Foot Doctor Fear

Eric Lagergren

March 4, 2010

Let’s talk about feet. Or, instead, let’s let you let me talk about my feet. Allow me to ramble — or amble — with no particular place to go during this blog entry. I’ll roam about, with my feet as my subject. Merely a stroll.

I’m a person with diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, if that matters to you. I’m insulin-dependent, and I’m complication-free. I wear an insulin pump, and I take pretty good (some might say above-average) care of my condition. However, next week I go to the podiatrist for my second visit (ever) to a foot doctor. Shall I be honest with you? OK, I will: among all of the doctors I’ve visited over the past two or three years — and there’ve been a lot of doctors — the one doc I worry most about seeing is the podiatrist.

Why? I’m not sure. One reason may be that my feet make me feel old. My feet are no longer the feet of youth. They bear the wear and tear of three-and-a-half decades of use. They have those little veins I remember seeing in my father’s feet when I sat at them when I was a kid.

And feet? Well, they’re feet. Add to that they’re feet coupled with diabetes, and you get the chance that things can go pretty wrong if they go wrong. Neuropathy. Ulcers. Amputation. Oh it all sounds horrible, gross, painful, and not something that would happen to me.

“Can you feel this?” (poke with little tool on the bottom of my feet). “Tell me when you stop feeling this” (tuning fork placed on my big toe). “Are your shoes comfortable?” “How long have you had this callus?” “Does it hurt?” “When did you start to lose that toenail on your small toe?”

There are a lot of foot-related questions I’ll have to endure. She asked me quite a few at last year’s visit. See, doc, my feet have taken a beating for most of my life. Don’t most people’s? I’ve only been someone with diabetes for three years, but I’ve been on my feet for 36, and I’ve been a pretty active person — a pretty active person who had no reason to pay much attention to his feet.

When I ran cross country and track during college, yes, there were calluses, blisters, sometimes pain, but I ignored these issues. When I ran and cycled in my twenties, my feet, at times, hurt; and there were foot injuries, odd aches, but they healed, and I ignored them.

Did I pay attention to how my feet looked? Did I examine my toes? Browse the bottoms of my feet? Look for signs of injury? No, no, no. And no.

Today, these days, I rarely practice what might be considered proper diabetic foot care. Blame it on my mostly nondiabetic past as a foot-ignorer. But hey, I don’t have any complications from diabetes, and so there’s that — that is, I mean, there’s nothing going wrong at the moment; I have complete sensation in my feet (normal sensation for someone my age), and upon my last visit to the podiatrist, aside from her scraping down a few calluses, she didn’t chastise me or warn me about my foot care. In fact, I was told I was doing fine.

But still. Still, there are things I should do more of, be more mindful about. I’m so good about my diabetes management in so many of its “pay-attention-to” realms. Except in foot care. I go barefoot in the house (most all of the time). I go barefoot in the yard (quite a bit of the time). I walk outside barefoot in winter to take out the trash (stupid, but I kind of enjoy the brisk wake-up it gives me). I will wear a pair of shoes, repeatedly — and I may just have them on today — that I know should go into the waste bin because of how they make my feet feel (they’re Dr. Scholl’s brand, but they don’t agree with my little toes; and it’s because I’m a lazy shopper, not because I enjoy the sore toe or two).

I also don’t thoroughly dry my feet after showers before putting on socks. I don’t closely examine my feet each day for signs or changes in color, appearance, or sores. I rarely look at the bottoms of my feet. I don’t clip my toenails by squaring them off (what the certified diabetes educator recommended).

I just do not follow feet instructions well.

And that’s probably why I worry about the podiatrist’s visit next week. My own issues. My own guilt. My own foot laziness.

I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I’m sure — well, I know — I could do better. I won’t go from where I’m at now, which is probably being only a halfway-there awesome diabetic foot person, to a 100% awesome diabetic foot person. Not overnight, and not for the next year or two. Maybe not ever.

But as I age, I do promise you I’ll become more feet-aware.



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