Operations, rehab, now what?

My last post dealt with rehab after my operations on my feet. Today I will discuss the mental stress caused by diabetes and how you must learn to adjust your way of living. This involves your diet, purchasing diabetic shoes and accepting the fact that you must lose your bad habits or face dire consequences. After I left the rehab facility and was taken home and it was a scary day. I remember getting home and thinking to myself what now? I’m a guitar teacher who wasn’t going to be teaching anytime soon. I missed that part of my life. My students were assigned to other teachers and I had to accept it. No matter what your profession, be prepared to take time off from it. The feeling you have of just sitting home and worrying about your future can be troublesome. You have to rely on friends and family more than ever to help you.They have to take you to doctors appointments, grocery shopping and many other things you take for granted. If you’re independent, this is very difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very helpful having people look out for you, but you feel a bit ashamed and embarrassed. Then you realize how much your family and friends really care about you. My sister took me to all my doctors appointments and took me to supermarket when needed. My best friends came to visit me often. You don’t how much company means to you when you’re alone you feel afraid about your future. Your finances for example. I didn’t get unemployment right away and rent was due and all other bills as well. I was very fortunate to have a friend loan me money. The people I worked with raised money for me with a comedy night. I was beyond grateful. These things helped me through a difficult time.

I told you all when I was at rehab how I had to wear a cast on my left foot to help my wound to heal. The doctor told me to take short walks to get used to walking again. I’m on the third floor so it’s wasn’t that easy, but I was determined to get better. Once you learn to accept your situation, you push yourself to get well. This means sticking to your a diet that can be bland at first, but you’ll soon learn of all the foods available to you portion controlled of course. What you eat goes hand in hand with your wound healing and you’ll feel much better. I used to walk around the neighborhood with my cast on and was just happy to be out. So stick to your diet, keep your A1c low. My A1c was between 5.7 and 5.0 after all my operations and rehab.I am very grateful to my doctors, family and friends for all their support.

Once you’ve healed you have to be fitted for diabetic shoes. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Your insurance will only let you go to certain places. You may have to pay some of the expense out of your own pocket. My shoes average about $1300. The first time I got them my insurance covered them, the last two times I had to pay about $500 out of pocket expense. The shoes look like sneakers, but it’s the inserts that cost the most. I have no big right toe anymore, so they put a toe insert in the shoe. The insoles have to be changed every 4 months. So beware of the expense.

The next thing I’d like to talk about today is my eye issues. When you’re a diabetic your eyes grow extra blood vessels that leak and cause fluid to be present. You will have to get laser treatments and eye injections to help control the fluid and save your vision. Your doctor will tell you to control your A1c to help keep your vision. Seventy percent of my doctors patients are diabetic. Many people lose their sight everyday from this disease, so don’t cheat, or fall off the wagon as a rule, it could mean the loss of your sight.

The last thing I’d like to talk about is the black and white of this disease. I am very fortunate to have doctors who tell me the truth and don’t coddle me like a baby. My foot doctor has said over and over if go back to eating the way I did, I’d be dead in three months. It sounds harsh, but it’s not . You need to be scared so you can stay alive.It’s a thought I have everyday, so trust me when I say I rarely cheat. The holidays are a challenge, but one day is fine but not a week. My eye doctor also has told me I could lose my sight if my sugar is too high. If this sounds scary, it is. Remember it’s your life, and you want to continue to live it as well as you can! Next post I will talk about daily routines and how they can benefit your A1c.

Rehab from Amputations

My last blog I talked about being diagnosed with diabetes and the few amputations and operations I went through. Today I will discuss my rehab after the operations, what to expect, and the importance of following your diet during this time.

When you have recovered from your operations, the hospital will help you pick a rehab facility based on what your insurance allows. Underline allows! It is a process that factors in your diet and situation.I was sent to a facility that was more of a nursing home than a rehab facility. I was only 48 at the time and I lucked out in getting a roommate who was close to my age. The majority of people at the rehab were 65 and older, so of course I felt out of place. I will also tell you that being in this facility for six plus weeks really shows you what nursing home living is like. Sad. There are so many people there who get no visitors and have no one. It will inspire you to stay healthy after the time in there. I was fortunate to have friends and family visit me.

Before I tell about the rehab I received, I want to talk about the diet they put me on. When I was in the hospital you had had to order your meals by phone after looking at the menu. The dietitian on staff kept track of what you ate and how many carbs you could have per day. They showed me how to prepare meals for myself for every week. I follow this plan to this day. I’m grateful I went to a good teaching hospital.The rehab facility was different. Yes I was recognized as a diabetic, but the lack of a strict plan by them challenged me to keep up what I ate everyday. I requested menu changes, and even spoke to the cook. Why? The menu contained many unneeded carbs such as potatoes, cheese steaks, burgers and even desserts like cake. I had to substitute every meal with items that were healthier choices. Fresh fruits, salads, and foods without white bread.Choose a high protein diet to help with your wounds. I learned very quickly what was healthy and how to make my choices with the help of my doctors and friends who also had diabetes. I read articles online and talked with anyone willing to help.It wasn’t the best place for diabetics, but thinking about it now it helped me learn about proper foods for a diabetic. I did lose 70 lbs between the hospital and my rehab.My advice for anyone about to go to rehab is to discuss with your doctors and diabetic friends on what foods are good for you and what to avoid.I would ask to speak to someone at the facility you’re going to. Ask them about the menu, living conditions, age groups, and how the rehab works.

My first day of rehab was fairly basic. Some exercise bike riding and walking through the halls. Each day the challenges were tougher. They would simulate everyday life routines with opstacle courses,walking up and down stairs carrying weights, walking outside and increasing the difficulty and distances everyday. The rehab was first rate. You had rehab two to three days a week. I had a cast on my left foot to help my wound to heal faster, so that was also a challenge. They provided me with the exercises and drive to walk properly again. Since I had lost my right big toe I had to learn balance. I learned to stand on one foot and how to walk normally again.I live on the third floor of my apartment, so all these exercises helped me carry things up and down the stairs with balance and ease. A very practical approach to rehab.

They also offered occupational rehab to show you how to walk around your kitchen and cook.The simple things in life you take for granted are now a challenge. Be prepared to work hard. It is a physical and mental challenge. You have to want to get better.The alternatives are not pleasant. You can lose a foot, your eye sight and develop other medical complications. So for your own safety, pay attention and keep a positive outlook. Keep in touch with friends and family during your rehab. They’re a great ally to have.Next post I will discuss the mental stress and uncertainty of how the amputations, diet and your future with diabetes will affect your life.

How diabetes changed my life

Welcome to my site!! My goal for this blog is to offer advice and assistance to people who have diabetes and have had amputations and have had issues with their eyes as well due to this disease.

It was a little bit more than two years ago I first discovered I had diabetes. I am a music teacher and I run a rock school program. One of my students during a rehearsal noticed that I looked white as a sheet and asked me if I felt ok. I said yes and continued with my rehearsal and didn’t think too much about it. When the rehearsal was over I was starting to feel very disoriented,my vision was blurred, and I was shaking. I went to my car, and sat down and fortunately I had some crackers and water to eat . I felt better and drove home thinking maybe I had the flu or something. I was wrong. A few weeks prior to this episode I noticed on the bottom of my left foot I had a small open wound. I thought to myself that I must have stepped on something and put it out of my mind. A week or so later there was a small wound below my right foot toe. I have a foot massage machine and was soaking my feet with salt to help it feel better. This is where life I as know would change for the worst…..

For the next few weeks the shaking and blurred vision were becoming a part of my everyday life. The wound below my right big toe had become smaller, but the wound on the bottom of my left foot was getting larger, It was red and discolored enough to scare me enough to seek medical advice. I went to my local hospital and saw my primary doctor. I told her of my symptoms and she examined my feet. She told me I had two foot ulcers and to go to the emergency room immediately….

I was at the emergency room when a doctor came in and told me that the foot ulcers were most likely a result of diabetes. It did run in my family, so I wasn’t that surprised. They checked my sugar. It was around 300. My A1C was about 9. I had no idea what any of this meant, but listened to doctors and was then afraid of what was next…..

I was admitted to the hospital and was introduced to many different doctors. Three foot doctors, a diabetic doctor,an infectious disease specialist, and my regular doctor. In the next few hours I was informed that I need surgery on both feet ASAP to save them. The infectious disease doctor told me I had a infection in my system and had to be put on antibiotics to help fight it. The first surgery was on my right foot. The infection below my right toe was infecting my toe, so it had to be amputated. My left foot was hooked up to a wound vac, which basically sucks out the bad fluid from your wound. The hole in my foot was getting larger, so this had to be done. I had later lost two toes on my left foot that were also infected in the bone. After all these surgeries and treatment I was fortunate enough, with the help of excellent doctors to be able to keep my feet. All this because of poor health and ignorance on my part. Next post I will discuss my rehab.