A cautionary tale for diabetics and the care of their feet. It was typical Monday in the practice and I was seeing patients consistently and moving from room to room. It was when my medical assistant comes in and states, “Doc. Your next patient is ready” that things became interesting. She continues to give me a brief history about the patient and I then proceed down the hall to the treatment room. I walk in the door introduce myself and begin to evaluate the patient. The patient begins to tell me that they are diabetic and that they do not go to the foot doctor unless they really need to. I continue to listen. The patient continues to say, “I pick at my feet all the time doc, so about a week ago I pulled the skin too far and could not get my big toe to stop bleeding!” “So I called here to the office and was gonna come in, but decided not to.” “Y’all told me to go the ER if I didn’t come here, but I was NOT about to go the Emergency Room!” “So, it did finally stop bleeding and I’ve been soaking it in pure rubbing alcohol since then!”
Are you kidding me! So let’s examine this conversation.
One, you are diabetic.
Two, you enjoy picking at things on your feet.
Three, you inflict bodily harm upon yourself and refuse to seek treatment.
And four, you self treat by soaking your toe in alcohol. Where do I start?
I understand that a lot of patients have a slight fear of going to the doctor. This is normal. But one must use logic when balancing fear versus health. Diabetes is a condition that affects all parts of the body. A major reason that a lot of diabetics do not take their condition seriously is because they cannot literally “feel” the effects of diabetes on their bodies. A common condition that often comes along with uncontrolled Diabetes is Peripheral Neuropathy. This condition is a degeneration of nerves which renders a person insensate, or having no feeling, and in turn affects the nerves of the periphery such as the fingers and/or toes.
So, if you are a diabetic use this patient as an example of what not to do.
First, do not “pick” at your feet. If anything looks suspicious, see your Podiatrist immediately.
Secondly, do not soak your feet. Clearly this patient has Peripheral Neuropathy, because likely most of us could not withstand the severe burning sensation that alcohol would have on an open wound.
Lastly, if you are told to seek care by any health care provider, please do so. We are here because we care about your health.