Guest Blog: Foot care, Diabetic Neuropathy

Edited 30/03/17 to reflect changes in the page from DCO to Diabetes Can’t Stop me.

One of our Closed groups on the Social Media platform of Facebook was called ‘Diabetes Education and Management’. This group was supported by  Diabetes Educators and a Midwife, a Dietitian, and a Pharmacist, as well as Mental Health Counsellors.

In March 2015 one of our Diabetes Educators posted a link to a  blog about complications and Foot Care in diabetes management, a fairly regular topic of discussion. Footcare form edited July 09

A very heartfelt and powerful response came from a member of the group, Zac. Zac has  very strong views on the importance of seeking truth, accurate information, and developing informed knowledge about foot care and diabetic neuropathy in particular. He warns about the high risks associated with poor diabetic control, and not being proactive in our own health care, risks that he believes were not made clear to him before it was too late. Here are Zac’s powerful words:

This topic is very interesting to me, being a Diabetic T2 for a few years now. I visit my Clinic only once a year. They make my appointments, not me. BUT I just wish I had’ve been told about the seriousness of COMPLICATIONS of Diabetes as so far as Peripheral Neuropathy is concerned, as I now have it.

Not once was I referred to a Podiatrist, so I asked to make an appointment, only to be told they are not taking any more patients as they are over loaded. Well, I didn’t bother too much about it at the time, as I didn’t have Peripheral Neuropathy, and thought nothing of it. Until, that is, for another 2 yrs. By then, my feet felt like they were in a bucket of bull ants.

Not realising this was nerve damage, I put up with it, until, on one of my visits to my Clinic the nurse did a small test on my feet. She looked at them and said, “Oh, your feet are fine.” So I asked, “What would be making my feet feel like they are being bitten by bull ants?” She looked at them again, said she didn’t know, and again, said she thought my feet were fine, so home I went, feeling disappointed.

On the next visit, I demanded. I said, “Something is SERIOUSLY WRONG with my feet, please help me.” So the nurse called in some guy, whom I wasn’t introduced to, and he put a name to it, called it ‘Peripheral Neuropathy’. Well, I was just over the moon that someone had finally worked out what was wrong with them!

But then he said, “Go to your chemist buy some Phanalgon Cream. This helps some people.” my reply was, “But I want something that will definitely help my feet!”

He said, “There is no cure for Peripheral Neuropathy.”

So I said, “You’re kidding me, in this day and age there is no cure for it?”

He said, “Yes, no cure.”

So home I went, with Phanalgon Cream in hand, only to have a bad reaction to it. My skin started to peel off from my feet, as it has chilli in it. So I tried again when my feet healed, but used less of the cream. Still I had a reaction to it, so I gave that the flick…..

I’m ANGRY at myself. First of all, for being so flippant about Diabetes; and not educating myself about complications which I never knew existed. And I’m ANGRY at my Clinic for not pointing these matters out to me in the first place. After all, isn’t this why we attend clinics? When the nurse used to test my feet, I was never given an explanation as to why. It’s the same with my eye tests. I was never told that Diabetes can affect your eyes. I just thought it was a normal eye test…Sorry this is long winded but if I can help just ONE person to realise the seriousness of Diabetes Complications then it will have been worth while typing all of this.

I just wish I had been warned. Peripheral Neuropathy is the pits, and I don’t have a normal life now. I am practically house bound because of it…..If you have read this far I Thank You and I Thank you David Mapletoft and Sally Marchini and for everything I have learned through your expertise and knowledge, even though it’s too late. Well, not too late as far as Diet is concerned, but it’s too late for my suffering feet. Thank you Zac

Zac has kindly shared his experience here. Do you have a similar experience? Can you give Zac any suggestions on how to manage his foot discomfort and pain?

Helen Wilde

formerly Senior Counsellor DCO

Moderator Diabetes Can’t Stop Me

Helen was a Counsellor with the service from 2003 until the closure of the Service. She has been the parent of someone living with Type 1 diabetes since 1979, and has lived with Type 2 diabetes herself since 2001.

 

8 Comments

  1. Kris on March 12, 2015 at 1:52 am

    Zac, you are not alone! The exact same thing happened to me! They tried various drugs, but nothing worked. So an appointment was made for me to see a specialist. My Doctor said I needed to have a fasting blood test before I attended hospital. Saw my Doctor for my results two days before the hospital visit. She went over my results and said that they were the best results that I’d had since being diagnosed five years earlier. She went on to say that looking at my results she was puzzled why I had even developed neuropathy in my feet.
    At the hospital I met a Professor, who had no interpersonal skills at all. He arranged for a quick finger prick blood test to be done. Then started tutting! Your obviously not taking your condition seriously enough! It’s your mismanagement that’s caused your neuropathy! Pardon? Have you looked at my medical records? Thankfully my husband was with me! He has attended all my clinic visits, and watched me change my diet, etc ever since I was first diagnosed in 2009. He challenged the Professor, but he was not for budging. Your over weight. True, but I’ve been with a dietitian since 2005 when I put weight on whilst going through the menopause. They even advised me when my diet needed changing because of the Diabetes. But again, he was dismissive of this! He just tried to make me feel guilty, that it was all my fault! I do Zumba or line dance most days, plus swimming in the summer. Not good enough, you need to go to the gym! I walk every where. Not good enough, you need to go to the gym!
    In the space of fifteen minutes, that man did more damage than my Diabetes ever had!
    Thankfully, my Doctor, Diabetes nurse & husband have supported me. But for the last twelve months I have been in a very dark place. Even though my blood tests still show that I have my Diabetes under control, I constantly doubt myself, because of the man with a title!
    But, if I’ve learnt something, it’s to never give up, keep researching for information. We are all unique, what works for one of us, will not work for another. Just because someone has a title does not mean that they have all the answers!

    • helwild on March 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story, Kris. 🙂 I am so sorry that those 15 minutes are still impacting on how you view yourself. 🙁 Being mentally strong is important in living successfully with a life long chronic health condition. Building self esteem and owning our diagnosis mean that we can believe in ourselves. When we meet people who may seem to have a different ‘take’ on what we are doing, or where we are at in our management, it can help to remember that empathy is not a universal trait. A very scientifically minded person may be single mindedly focussed on science and mathematical equations. What we can do is take from them the best of what they are offering, the science and the maths, and find the empathy we need elsewhere. Some people cannot give it. Perhaps some of those people are the ones who come up with the scientific tools we can use in our physical management. We can get the mental strength we need from different people. If you are an Australian, or living in Australia, you can access free, personal one on one counselling here at the website. Or, perhaps rather than joining a gym, you could try Yoga classes. Here you will learn mindfulness, physical relaxation techniques, breathing techniques for calming the mind and body, and meditation practice to help the peaceful acceptance of life. Helen Wild Senior Counsellor

      • Kris on March 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm

        Thanks Helen.
        I live in the UK, but enjoy this web site, as well as ones in USA & UK.
        I belong to a leisure complex, which has lots to offer including yoga. I find that it takes me a while to get going every day, so have to attend early afternoon classes. They have yoga first thing in the morning, so for now that is a no no, as I would not be able to drive that soon in the day.
        But, I’ve learnt to take each day as it comes. I exercise on my bed every day before getting up. I found that on one of the web sites, and it really helps. I have successfully gone down to 50% of my neuropathy medication and feel heaps better. Got another check up next week, so will see how my bloods are doing now I’m more active again.
        Also as the days are getting warmer, I’m going back to swimming again. I find that in the winter months, coming outside after a swimming session, the sudden change in temperature upsets my legs.
        Keep up the good work on this web page!

        • Helen-Edwards on April 1, 2015 at 9:39 am

          thanks for joining us Kris! So positive to hear someone have good results with changes to neuropathy 🙂

  2. Laurie on March 18, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for sharing started me thinking about it more

    • helwild on March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Laurie. 🙂 I am sure everyone involved is thinking about it more after all the input from members. It’s great to see you here.

    • Helen-Edwards on April 1, 2015 at 9:39 am

      great stuff Laurie 🙂

  3. helwild on March 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    Thanks for the further info Kris. Its lovely to see our UK members participating! We do appreciate your kind feedback 🙂 It sounds like you have some great exercise routines worked out to help improve your mobility and to deal with difficult weather conditions, as well as your pain and neuropathy. Regards Helen

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