By: Meagan Esler
Winter in Chicago is catching up with my diabetic feet. No matter how much I lotion up before bed, the cracks are beginning to show. I recall a visit to my endocrinologist where she tested for sensitivity and scoped for cracks, wounds, or anything out of the ordinary. She told me how lucky I was that the skin on my feet was smooth and well maintained. She said to keep up with what I was doing. Though truthfully, I wasn’t doing anything, it was summer and my feet were in good condition because of the warm weather and pure luck.
The endocrinologist warned me that a small crack in the skin on the foot of a person with diabetes could let germs in and lead to a very serious infection. She said I should always wear socks, which I try doing. Unfortunately, I much prefer being barefoot at home and admittedly, my bare feet often win over any need to be cautious. Before that talk with the endocrinologist, I’d never really paid much attention to my feet, figuring I was young enough not to worry.
In my early days after diagnosis over 17 years ago, I wore extremely high heels and dealt with foot pain because of them, practically limping home after a long day of being on my feet at work. After I injured an ankle a couple of years ago, I started saving the really high heels for special events.
Nowadays, I try to keep my feet healthy. I moisturize them overnight, wear comfortable shoes, get regular foot rubs thanks to my husband, and won’t go near a nail salon for a pedicure because of all the horror stories that accompany diabetic feet. I once bought a “Ped Egg” because of some high praise a friend gave it, and to my dismay, the package said it was unsafe for diabetics. I had to wonder how they could advertise on their commercials that it was “so safe and gentle it won’t harm a balloon,” but could potentially injure a diabetic foot.
When a glass breaks at home, it’s like alarms go off, as though a biohazard spill occurred. My husband hollers for me to stay still while a panicked member of my family races to get my shoes. We don’t play around. I learned that doctors don’t play around with diabetic foot injuries when I stepped on a missed piece of glass at home. I was able to get an immediate appointment when I told them I had diabetes and a cut on my foot. Moments earlier, I had attempted to get an appointment for a cough, and they said they had no available appointments, instructing me to call back the next day.
As much as I’d love to put it out of my mind, I know what can happen. I think everyone living with diabetes does. I try not to worry unnecessarily, though I know I have to be careful with my feet. I will continue to do my own foot inspections often, and try to combat the dryness and cracking that a long cold winter inevitably brings.