At a Crossroads: Update

Talk about a difficult decision! It isn’t easy to choose between keeping a body part…or not. But, after consulting with my podiatrist, my primary-care physician, and a wound care specialist, I have chosen to have a below-the-knee amputation. I believe I made the right decision.


I have had infection after infection in my foot, primarily in my calcaneus (heel bone). I’ve had two surgeries to remove parts of my calcaneus. At this point, the rest of it is infected and needs to be removed. All of it — that is, what’s left of it. You can walk without a calcaneus, with a brace. However, the soft pad of the foot begins to break down.

The infection has spread to someplace around my ankle. It’s begun to climb up my leg. Nothing I have done has stopped the infection from spreading. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the MRSA I had. I do know that MRSA can invade your bones and cause osteomyelitis (a bone infection). And it’s difficult to get rid of. At any rate, it doesn’t really matter, does it?

I could have the calcaneus removed. However, if the infection is found to have spread to the talus — the bone in the ankle that connects with the lower leg bones to form the ankle joint — or some other places I forgot to remember, then I get an amputation anyway.

Oddly, I feel better now that I’ve made my choice. I have the name of a surgeon who is very skilled at doing amputations. I have an awesome husband and grandchildren to take care of me while I recuperate.

I have wonderful friends to do a little pampering (and cooking). One, a friend since we were 10 years old, wants to come here to help. My Sisterhood friends appear to be lining up to feed me. A quilter friend plans to make me a “recuperation” quilt. A green one. Green is not my favorite color. It has to do with me knitting her a blue sweater years ago. (Blue is not her favorite color.)

Everything I need in my house is on one floor. Well, besides the laundry room, which is in the basement, so I won’t have…er, get…to do laundry, but I think I can sustain my disappointment.

I plan to write about my experiences, because people with diabetes are at higher risk for amputations than the general population. Maybe what I am going through can help somebody else who will be having an amputation. Maybe what I am going through can convince somebody to manage their diabetes a bit better to lower their risk of having an amputation. Maybe somebody out there who has had an amputation will have some advice for me. (If so, bring it on!)

The appointment with my surgeon is Friday and we’ll go from there. In the meantime, I’m getting my house ready.

Please send up your best wishes for acceptance, for a successful surgery with no complications, and for a fast healing.

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  • Deborah

    I wish you all the best of luck with everything.

  • Bob Fenton

    Our prayers are with you. And may it all end with this.

  • Gail P

    I always watch for your posts and have been thinking about the infection that won’t go away. Sorry to hear you have to resort to amputation but you are right. You do speak to many, many people with similar challenges and your positive attitude has sustained many of your readers.

  • Kay

    I want to thank you for sharing you experience with everyone. I wish you the best in your surgery and a quick recovery. Grandchildren can help so much!! They just seem to make things better. God bless and I will pray for you.

  • Cathy A,

    Jan, all good wishes are coming with this post.

    Also, know I am one of those diabetics who takes my feet for granted. The neuropathy gets in my way. They hurt sometimes because I beat up on them by walking and wearing the wrong shoes. They are cracked because I don’t put lotions on them. I don’t always wear shoes and walk barefoot outside. I will be better. Thanks for the reminders. By your blogs, you might have very well saved me.

    Thank you. Now let’s all concentrate on getting you through this. I really care about you!!

  • Larry Chait

    Jan – Saw your post, and while we probably aren’t related, we do share the same last name and diabetes. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Joye

    I’ll be praying for you. Being a very active on-my-feet-and-going type person I can’t even imagine an amputation like that. However, having said that, with the choices you had, I think you made the right decision. I am 68 years old, a type 2 diabetic for about 6 years, & I have learned in life that when you have no choice, you can adjust to anything in time. It starts where have already started: making up your mind to do it and then planning how to go from there. Support from friends & family makes it a lot easier……not easy, but easier. Keep a positive attitude, stock up on things to do (other than watching TV) while recouperating, and keep in contact with everything and everyone you can to keep your mind active. This is not as easy as it sounds (I know!) but it makes a BIG difference! GOd bless you and help you.

  • Dan

    Please know that our thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family and friends. God bless you.

  • Lori

    I wish for you a speedy recovery. I have enjoyed all of your blogs and will continue to check in on you. Your experiences have helped me in my journey w/type 2 diabetes. Best wishes to you.

  • Fran

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I have a working left foot b/c of caring surgeons, who took a chance on me, when I didn’t believe in myself. Your sharing is a wake up call to me.I know you made the right but dificult choice. Take care of yourself. Share when you can. Your positive attitude is am inspiration to us all.

  • Paul

    I know what your getting ready to go through and wish you all the best. Life does carry on and for what it’s worth since my BTKA I have been hiking in Glacier National Park and ocean kayaking off the coast of Northern Vancouver Island with killer whales. I went through a year struggling with an infected big toe that after a partial and then complete removal spread to my next toe bringing me to the conclusion that the best course was a BTKA. Do some research and be ready to describe the activities and level that you want to regain and talk to a number of prosthetists. I fell after my amputation and had to go through 6 months on crutches before I could get a prosthetic.
    Best wishes,

  • Marilee

    Our prayers are with you. Please keep us updated. Thank you for your candor.

  • Sara Smarty Pants

    granny, you know how much i love you and feel for you. thank you for sharing your experience and being so candid and open about it all… it is something we ALL fear…they instill it in us….but that doesn’t make it any easier. I wish you didn’t have to do it, but your straight forward, black and white documentation may help someone else (not, I KNOW, that is why you are doing it…this is definitely NOT you taking one for the team!!). {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{granny}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

  • Ana Angulo

    Dear Jan: for the past three years I have been reading your blogs and I have learned so much. I have a US education, although I come fron and live in a Latin American country. Thaks to internet and your willingness to share your experiences with us I now take much better care of myself and do not feel as guilty as I used to. I am praying that your surgery goes well, that infections go away and that you can be back soon! un fuerte abrazo fraterno

  • Lorraine

    Jan I have always read and enjoyed your blogs and your trips and how you can laugh about things. Someone once said to me don’t ever lose your sense of humour. So now my thoughts and prayer go to you with all the good wishes for a safe and speedy recovery. Believe it or not the last person that I knew had an amputation was my grandfather and I was a little girl and now I am a 73 year old senior, so it was a long time ago.
    sending you lots of hugs,Lorraine Solomon