this morning i had my annual appointment with my vascular ultrasound clinic. sometimes i get a little nervous about these appointments, but this time i felt quite relaxed.
way back in 2004, when i was not such a "good" diabetic, i did something really stupid. something i had been doing myself for many years, without much thought. oh i knew that if i wasn't careful, "things" could go wrong. but i was always careful, and besides, nothing could happen to me!
it's okay, i can see you shaking your heads. i know what you're thinking. "oh my, what was she thinking?"
well here's what happened. it was july. sandal weather. a time when feet need to be pretty. scrubbed and creamed and polished. so i set out to give myself a pedicure. something i had done many times in the past. i soaked my feet in warm water, and then proceeded to scrub them with a loofah. i had a few spots where calluses had built up and so i brought out my weapon of choice.
over the next couple days, my toe started to hurt. it was a bit red, but seemed to be healing. we had our family reunion that weekend, and i went to the beach with family. i didn't swim but i did walk along the waters edge. later that evening, my toe was really red, and throbbing. i cleaned it with peroxide and polysporin and covered it with another bandaid.
by the next day, monday, it hurt so bad i could barely walk. my boss at work told me i should go to emerg and have them look at it. the toe was swollen, but so was my foot. and the whole thing was a bright red. i promised her i would have it looked at.
after dinner, my husband and i went to the emergency department and proceeded to wait. it was a very busy night, and after a couple of hours it was finally my turn. the doctor asked the usual round of questions, and after i told him about being diabetic he became a little more concerned. they did some blood work, and decided that i would need to be put on an IV antibiotic. i figured that this would take about an hour and then home i would go. WRONG! what i had was called Cellulitis.
a bacterial infection, that spreads under the skin, affecting the soft tissue such as the skin itself, and the fat underneath it. There are several bacteria that can cause cellulitis. Streptococcus and Staphylococcus are the two most common species. The actual type of bacteria causing the infection depends on the nature of the exposure, such as infections resulting from a cut, a cat or dog bite, or swimming in salt or fresh water with broken skin. it seems mine was caused by the lake water.
so i was admitted to hospital and put on complete rest, with leg elevated, and IV antibiotics. during my stay, i quit smoking. i also found out that i had numerous blockages in the arteries in both legs. i saw a vascular surgeon, and it was decided that i would have a stent put in my left groin in hopes that this would help with the circulation. it didn't.
in november it was decided that in order to help with the circulation and to hopefully lesson the peripheral neuropathy i had been suffering with, that i would undergo an aortobifemoral graft surgery. in short they would attach an upside down Y shaped graft made of gortex to my aorta and then the ends to the femoral arteries just below the blockage. this would hopefully allow better blood flow to my lower extremities.
so today's ultrasound was to determine if the grafts were holding up. making sure there were no blockages building up in them. the reason i wasn't too nervous was simply because i was having less pain with walking. it used to be that i could barely walk a block without having to stop and rest. the pain in my lower calves and sometimes my butt or behind my knees would be so bad that i couldn't continue. i was told that walking would make it better. but how do you walk when it hurts?? well i have been walking and noticing that i can now walk much further without pain. they told me that the arteries are like rivers and when they thin out and fill with debri and such, tributaries will grow allowing the river (blood) to bypass the blockage and continue to the sea(lower legs).
every year i have an ultrasound done, and so far nothing has changed. the grafts are still working well. i walk further with less pain. things are good. so until next year, i will continue to walk and build up those tributaries!