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A Tale of two feet….

26th June 2019
Deborah Lakelands

For anyone who is considering a vocation in Podiatry- I would say just take moment to think how it would feel to be in pain at every step, to be scared that you will never walk again. Then take another moment to understand the immense changes you can make to someone’s life- and to maybe save their life. Diabetes is a challenging condition, the subsequent and many conditions that come as a result of its long term can be depressing. To help someone retain the ability to walk or continue to mobilise is an amazing and wonderful opportunity. I feel so very grateful and humbled by the care and help I have been given.

The condition I have been diagnosed with is Charcot Foot.

It is a debilitating condition that has lowly impacted on my ability to walk without pain and has slowly in some ways made my world smaller. I am lucky to have felt pain, most people don’t, and consequently the condition becomes more advanced and can lead to loss of a foot. So, in some ways pain is a double-edged sword as it has saved my condition from progressing. To lose the ability to walk far has impacted emotionally as well as physically. I feel as though I have lost some of my freedom, I have lost my main exercise in life which was long walks. I feel diminished in some ways, it has made me challenge my self-worth, and has impacted considerably on my relationship with my partner. I feel as though I can’t join in with similar activities or even walk at a matching pace. I feel as though the way I had started to walk was ungainly and unattractive for others to see. My confidence has been reduced, especially in social situations. It has impacted my work, and I have turned down clients due to feeling uncertain about how far I can walk to meetings.

Diagnosis- has been difficult, initially I was diagnosed with wear and tear, this was repeated by several GP’s and in the early stages of pain a Diabetic consultant also felt that it was ware and tear. One of my GP’s stated that it was not Charcot, as did a physio specializing in podiatry. The physio identified fallen arches. The interventions he applied to my footwear did help for a short period of time. What I have found so frustrating is that so many professionals have said no it is not Charcot and I have been sent in so many different directions- but not to the professionals that has the most knowledge- the podiatrists at the diabetic foot clinic. Prior to being referred to the foot clinic my condition was finally identified by Rheumatology at Kings College Hospital, Diabetes Foot Clinic.

I had heard of Charcot only a few times before. This from a diabetic friend who had Charcot, and from Medical professionals who stated that I did not have Charcot.

Meeting the podiatry team at Kings has given me hope that I can gain some integrity in my foot and hopefully walk again without pain and without the fear that I could lose a foot or the ability to walk. I recall the emotions that went through me when the consultant Dr Nina explained how the Charcot was affecting my foot. I was shocked to hear how close I was to a tendon snapping and shocked at the fractures affecting my feet.  I still feel emotional remembering that appointment. I recall the feeling of hope as she and the team explained what could be facilitated to help me recover to a higher level of mobility. I wish I would have met her and the wonderful team at kings in the early stages of Charcot.

I am still scared and anxious about the outcome. But I now recognise that there is improvement the longer I have been in an aircast and am starting to feel that there is going to be a positive change in my life. I know I will never go on long hiking holidays again- so I guess it’s a beach from now on…

I can now start to look forward to life with less pain and more mobility. Most importantly to hope for a higher quality of life to share with my partner, and the ability to continue with my career to its fullest capacity.

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