Thursday, January 20, 2011

Diabetic Foot

I thought it was a talk on diet for diabetics so I dragged myself to listen to this doctor who is attached to the QEH. You see, Mr. Hubby was recently diagnosed as a diabetic so I thought I’d go listen on his behalf while he lolled about in front of the TV.

‘Drag’ myself? Oh, I was nursing a cold. It was the first time I caught the bug in almost six years! That alone is an indication that I’m as healthy as a buffalo! (Have you ever seen an ill buffalo…or heard of one which called in sick during the ploughing or harrowing season before the advent of tractors?)

Now back to this interesting topic… Uncontrolled high blood glucose levels can, over time, not only damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes and blood vessels but long-term diabetics have a 50% likelihood of developing foot problems that could necessitate the amputation of toes or even the whole foot. This is new to me, by the way.

Ulcers on the soles
A callus (thickening of the skin) or a blister are a small problem in a healthy person but can easily become a serious health issue in a diabetic. This is due to several factors. The immune system of a diabetic is impaired and so prevents the prompt healing of any sores or blisters. Because nerves are also damaged, the patient doesn’t feel any pain on the affected foot and so he unwittingly lets the injury worsen. Failing eye-sight will also prevent him from noticing the damaged foot.

The doctor showed us several slides of feet with sores and gangrene, including before-treatment and after-treatment pictures. One of the pictures showed a foot with a circular metal object on the sole. I was thinking, a coin? I thought it was to show the size of the ulcer. But no, the patient had a bottle cap embedded on his sole and he wasn’t even aware of it! OMG! I was shocked. If you can’t feel the pain, SURELY you could at least hear your foot making that odd metallic sound as you move/shuffle/scrape your foot on the floor!

This is very 'mild' compared to the doc's photos!
There was at least one picture showing maggots feasting on an infected ulcer on a sole. Many of my friends winced and some didn’t want to see the pictures. I just looked and exclaimed ohh and ahh in the right places. (I guess the doc wanted to shock us so we’d take note!)

So how do you avoid getting diabetic foot? Prevent diabetes by watching your diet and stop being sedentary… like what you’re doing now in front of your computer.

Especially if you’re a diabetic, always wear properly fitted footwear. (Have indoor shoes just to wear in the house!) Use socks inside-out so the smoother side faces your foot. The doc said you could buy shoes and socks specially made for diabetics but they usually cost a small fortune.

A simple test to see if a diabetic will develop diabetic foot
Go for a check up to see if you’re among the 50% of chronic diabetic sufferers who are at risk of developing diabetic foot. There’s a test available at QEH. It’s painless and requires just ten minutes of your time. Walk-in patients aren’t accepted but you can make an appointment (at Level 3, QEH) to see a trained nurse (known as ‘Gatekeeper) on Tuesdays and Fridays.

If you have some foot problems and you’re a diabetic, go for a check-up at the hospital. The good doctor mentioned that  GPs might not be able to treat patients because they are unfamiliar with the problems of diabetic foot.

If your parents/grandparents suffer from diabetes, do them a favour. Check their feet for blisters, ulcers or soreness. I hope I’m helping to prevent the amputation of a few toes and/or feet. Take care!

All pictures from Google Images


  1. Hi,
    There may be hope for diabetics though. It seems scientists have developed (experimentally in 2005)an artificial biohybrid pancreas that can detect the levels of blood sugar. This thingmajig then can automatically pump the right amounts of insulin into the user.

    A diabetic friend of mine though swears by organic vinegar he buys from a shop in City Mall.



  2. That's good news, Rayner. Let's keep our fingers crossed for diabetics.
    Interesting, this organic vinegar!