“Most of the amputations you see around here aren’t from the war; they are from diabetes.” These words still ring in my ears to this day, but I heard them more than a year ago by a military doctor. Amputations are just one of the serious consequences of diabetes but other than blindness; it is the possibility of an amputation that causes the most concern for me and many other diabetics across the world.
Statistics from the website www.ampute-coalition.org show that of the 185,000 amputations that occur in the U.S. each year, more than half are related to diabetes and vascular disease. Interestingly, the data showed that 55% of diabetics that have one limb amputated will have the second limb amputated within 2-3 years. More surprising was that African Americans were four times more likely to have a limb amputated than Caucasian Americans.
Knowing that the risk of diabetes is real, and having seen people who have lost limbs to diabetes, early prevention is my watchword. Staying active, taking herbs to maintain my cardiovascular circulation, and paying super close attention to neuropathy is high on my list of amputation prevention.
Perhaps the biggest amputation wakeup call was when I was surfing the web and came across retired WWF wrestler Kamala “The Ugandan Giant.” As a child, I was a huge fan of the 6’7” and 380 pound Kamala (whose real name is James Harris), but as I read the online article the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that he was wheelchair-bound, with both legs amputated well above the knee. What happened to him? Diabetes.