At a Crossroads

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I have some serious thinking to do. The infection in my foot has gotten worse and has now extended a short distance up my leg.

That’s not good news. And the news got even worse when I read the doctor’s report on my bone scan, which noted, “This area (leg) in particular is somewhat more prominent today.”

More prominent today? You mean I’ve had an infection in my leg since at least April, when I had my last scan (before this one) and nobody told me? Sonuva…gun! You also have to understand that I practically live on antibiotics. And some pretty strong antibiotics at that.

Dr. B ordered the tests, but I had copies sent to Dr. A (my regular podiatrist) as well. I went to see Dr. A on Wednesday and he walked into the exam room saying, “You have some serious problems that can’t wait to get taken care of.”

I am, he says, beyond oxygen treatment. Beyond a wound vac. At the least, the rest of my calcaneus (heel bone) will be removed. At the worst, part of my leg will be removed.

Dr. A says it will be easier to walk with a prosthesis than without a calcaneus. Maybe he just didn’t want to tell me my leg is going to be amputated.

Ironically, my primary care doc mentioned amputation the last time I saw him, just on the basis of my having recurring — make that continuous — infections. My PCP also said something interesting when he pulled up the notes on my previous scan: It mentioned infection in the ankle. Funny. Nobody ever mentioned the ankle, either. It was always just the calcaneus.

Today I go to see Dr. C. I’ve been telling myself that, if just removing the calcaneus and hitting the IV antibiotics again will do it, fine: If not, I’ll have the amputation. Which is OK to think about, but now that I’m writing it down, it doesn’t seem as innocuous. In fact, my heart rate just sped up.

In the meantime, I’m making contingency arrangements. For one, I had my cleaning lady come an extra day so we could really dig into the bedroom (things have sort of been piling up. Like books and clothes). Next is to have the furniture rearranged so I can go straight from the door to “my side” of the bed instead of having to walk (or whatever) all the way around the bed to get to my place.

And I have questions. How will I go to the bathroom in the beginning (i.e., before I get a temporary prosthesis)? The seats in the van are kind of high and I have enough trouble climbing in with two legs. Is there a way I can have my car back and still take the scooter with me — in a place I can reach it, that is?

The self-recriminations are coming fast. You know — the “I shouldas.” I shoulda read the reports. I shoulda asked more questions. I shoulda gone to see Dr. A sooner (a LOT sooner). I shoulda gone to medical school so I’d know if I was being properly cared for.

I’m sad, I’m angry, and I’m really, really pissed off. I trusted Dr. B. I’m told he is having some personal problems, but you know what? I don’t care. Doctors are supposed to take care of their patients, not let them go without proper care to the point that they lose body parts.

On the bright side, this was not caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or hardening of the arteries. That’s usually the reason a person with diabetes has an amputation. The chances of having a second limb removed is more likely if it’s caused by PAD, because PAD isn’t limited to one isolated spot.

Listen to me. Here I am, talking about amputation and I don’t even know yet if it will happen. Please let me be extremely embarrassed this time.

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