At a Crossroads

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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  • Deb

    Oh, Jan. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. The very best of luck to you.

  • David Spero RN

    I’m sorry to hear this, Jan. I am not expert in leg infections, but I do know scooters. If you can afford it, you can get a van with a ramp so you can scoot right in and out of it. Or an automated lift to put the scooter in and out of your trunk.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  • Natalie Sera

    Oh, Jan, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles with leg infections. I know how hard you’ve tried to keep good control, and this is a sad reminder that we are not in control of what life hands us.

    I’m wishing you a Refuah Shleimah, which in this case means a good adjustment to whatever awaits you rather than a return to former life.


    Natalie ._c-

  • Bill Wildey

    Hi Jan. I’m not in the habit of responding to blogs, but here comes an attempt. I was told last week that I would be undergoing an ‘ablation’ of the vein in my right leg in January. Not sure if that means I have P.A.D. or not. I have an appointment with my podiatrist tomorrow for heel pain in the right heel that just won’t go away with home treatment. I want to thank you for the heads up on asking more questions and wish for you a happy outcome to your recent foot problems.

  • Pat Barney

    There has been great success in treating serious wounds with sugar. Check out Dr. Julian Whitaker’s site and google treatments with sugar. It has been used for years and now that antibiotics are not as successful, it is better to look for some other treatment before cutting off a leg.

    God bless you

  • Linda M.

    So very sorry for your troubles and praying things go well for you no matter what you need to have done. I see people with amputations getting around just great all the time…but I know it’s different when it’s you that has to deal with it. My heart rate and BP goes up just thinking about it. Don’t blame yourself though—I know by reading your blog that you are very good at taking care of your health, asking questions and demanding that doctors work with you. You’re the type that reads every bit of info out there and doesn’t miss a detail. But we can’t all be doctors and just have to do the best we can. Even doctors can’t prevent things from happening. If they could, doctors and their families wouldn’t ever have complications such as yours. But they do.

    I know you’ll be OK with whatever you need to do because you’re a fighter and a survivor. God bless.

  • Jan

    Sugar may work on some wounds. Honey — manuka honey in particular — is said to be very good for healing wounds. However, those are topical treatments. My infection is in my bones. There’s no way to get sugar or honey into my bones. Good thought, though. Thanks!

    BTW, I have chosen to have my leg amputated. Thanks for all of your good wishes. Keep ’em up!


  • Cathy A,

    Jan, I have no advice or ideas for you. I have no “there, there, things will be OK.” What I do have is a feeling that something is happening to someone I have come to think of as a dear person in my life. You know we are all out here in cyberspace, wishing we could in some way be there to help. Know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for being YOU.

  • MaryAnn Merrell

    So sorry to hear your news. I wish you all the best, MaryAnn

  • Christine

    Jan, I am SO sorry to hear this, but at the same time, I don’t know if “sorry” messages are appropriate. You’ve made a decision that would cause a lot of us incredible emotional turmoil, and it is a testament to your strength and will that you’re able to post here about it with such honesty. That’s not to say it will be easy, and that’s not to say that you won’t have emotional struggles as you adjust to this new way of life; just know that my thoughts are with you and that I hope for the very best for you in terms of your adjustment to this new phase of reality. All my best to you. Christine

  • Diane


    Best of luck to you with your surgery. Do you watch Survivor? There is a contestant on the show that has a prosthetic leg (although she has been voted off recently, since the others thought of her as a threat). She was running in the sand doing the challenges better than some of the contestants with two legs. I also knew a swimmer with one leg that swam faster with one leg than folks with two. He was amazing to watch.

    I know you have a rough road ahead of you until you heal, but I’ll bet that you will be up and about better than you have been recently.

    Think about you often. Keep in touch with us via your blog if you can. We will be here for you if you need us…. Stay stong….

  • Nancy

    I’m no lawyer, but it sure sounds like a malpractice lawsuit opportunity to me. Wouldn’t a bunch of money come in handy now — for that ramp van, railings, temporary home care, etc.? I don’t mean to be crass, just trying to help you cope.

  • Marlene Whitby

    Dear Jan,
    I am so sorry to hear about your leg problems. You will be in my †houghts and prayers. My brother had a leg amputated due to a motorcycle accident seven years ago. He spent a lot of time lifting weights to build up his upper body strength. He started that in the hospital once he was out of surgery. It really helped him when he began to get back on his feet again. Good luck to you…and more importantly, GOOD HEALTH!