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Marc’s Diabetic Feet Beat Part 2: My Introduction to Diabetes

June 7, 2021

My Introduction to Diabetes

Foot fractures, ulcers, neuropathy and Charcot are not unique to diabetes. They are also not the only serious complications associated with the disease. In addition to foot problems, diabetes is a principal cause of kidney failure, high blood pressure, muscle fatigue, heart disease, stroke and loss of vision. Given my forty-year struggle with the disease, I am relatively fortunate. In addition to the problems that have threatened the loss of my left foot, I have Stage III (moderate) kidney disease, but have been spared serious heart and vision problems. My kidney function and condition of my feet were normal before I became diabetic. Both conditions worsened during the period that I recklessly failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the disease. However, as I discuss in later installments of my blog, over the last ten years, my kidney function stabilized and the incidence and severity of my foot problems improved through a combination of diligent glucose monitoring, comprehensive medical treatment and advanced technology. Had I continued along the path I had followed earlier, I would almost certainly be footless, on dialysis and possibly blind or -- worse, dead. My effort to help my readers preserve their limbs and avoid the other vicious complications of diabetes necessarily begins with a discussion of my experiences with the disease itself.

Diabetes Defined

There are two types of diabetes: Type I, sometimes referred to as “childhood” diabetes, and Type II, or “adult-onset” diabetes”. Broadly speaking, Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin in sufficient quantities to convert sugar to energy, while Type II is a disease in which excess body fat, poor diet, inadequate exercise and age interfere with the ability of the body’s cells to process the insulin the pancreas produces. Type I generally requires injections of insulin to replace the body’s natural production, while Type II can often be controlled with dietary changes, weight loss, increased activity and various oral medication. In severe cases, insulin injections may also be necessary. The causes of Type I diabetes have not been firmly determined but are thought to result from both genetic and environmental factors and/or a virus.

My Life Before Diabetes

I was a chubby kid and loved to eat. (That hasn’t changed). My first thirty-six years were marked by a repeated sequence of heavy eating and binge dieting. See a pizza, devour it! See an attractive girl, diet! My dieting was uniformly motivated by vanity rather than health. My life in athletics was likewise wanting. My caring parents tried to interest me in athletics, to no avail: swimming, boxing, little league baseball, even Judo. (Judo was short-lived. At age eight, I threw my father across the living room and sprained his back). My parents then sent me to an athletic day camp. My only “A” was in eating lunch. Really!
When I entered high school, I was 220 pounds. I stopped eating and lost 40 pounds. By the time I graduated, I was back to 220. When I was 26, I topped out at 308 pounds. I went to a “bariatric specialist”, who gave me daily injections of human chorionic gonadatropin (“HCG”, since banned by the FDA) derived from the urine of pregnant women. The injections, along with a 600 calorie/day diet consisting of a three-ounce portion of boiled chicken or fish and an undressed salad twice daily, enabled me to lose 140 pounds in six months. After fluctuating within a 20 to 30-pound range over a ten-year period, I crept back to 240. I enrolled in a hospital-supervised “protein sparing” fast, consisting of six 100-calorie protein powder shakes a day, weekly blood tests and group “behavioral modification” sessions. The week before I started, I noticed that I was consuming large amounts of water, followed by excessive urination: unbeknownst to me at the time, a common symptom and precursor of diabetes. During my first visit to the weight clinic, the doctor casually told me that he assumed I was on the diet to treat my diabetes. Diabetes?!! What diabetes??! My blood sugar registered 306 (normal is 80-110).

Prior to age 36, my health was generally unremarkable and periodic blood glucose readings were normal. Alarmed by the diagnosis, I promptly consulted with my internist. Given my biological age, weighty eating habits and athletic deficiencies, he concluded that I had Type II diabetes. He suggested that I remain on the weight loss program and monitor my blood glucose. After three months and a 25-pound loss, my glucose levels returned to normal. Unfortunately, the success was short-lived. A few months later, my glucose readings spiked. The doctor prescribed Metformin, a still-used diabetic control medication invented in 1922. The medication failed to work. I consulted an endocrinologist, who reviewed my history and concluded that I was a (late-blooming, I guess) Type I diabetic. (He referred to the brief period that my blood sugars were normal following the diet as a “honeymoon period”, a common but fleeting condition following rapid weight loss at the onset of diabetes). Interestingly, there is no history of the disease in my family and no doctor has ever been able to account for why I got it. Although it is uninformed by anything I have heard or read on the subject, my theory is that my protracted history of binge eating and starvation diets taxed my pancreas to the point that it was no longer able to produce insulin.

Next time: Careless behavior produces bad outcomes

About Siren Socks

Siren Socks are innovative smart socks that detect potential issues with your feet. Siren Socks are an FDA-registered Class I medical device and are for people with neuropathy.

The socks measure your foot temperature. Temperature monitoring has been shown to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers in multiple clinical studies clinical studies over the past 20 years and is considered the gold standard in diabetic foot care.

The information from the socks is monitored by licensed nurses who contact you regularly to check on your health and the status of your feet. Your doctor review any issues that arise and determine if a clinic visit is necessary.

Siren Socks are covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and many private insurance plans.

Interested patients can find a Siren-Certified Provider near them and begin the enrollment process by clicking here.

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Marc’s Diabetic Feet Beat Part 1: The Saga of my Left Foot

May 17, 2021

The (so far, Continuing) Saga of My Left Foot

This is the first installment of ---what I hope to be ---the continuing saga of my left foot. It is a saga because it stretches back some forty years to when I first learned that I was suffering from Type 1 Diabetes; and I hope to continue writing about it so long as: (i) my foot remains attached to my body and (ii) my story is able to provide some useful insights in successfully dealing with one of the potentially most serious but, with proper care and treatment, mostly preventable, consequences of diabetes mellitus—the loss of a limb.

Who am I?

First, a brief introduction. I was first diagnosed with Type I diabetes in my mid 30’s. For more than twenty years thereafter, I basically ignored the advice of my endocrinologist and dietitian(s), refusing to alter my carb-laden diet in favor of simply eating what I wished and compensating with excessive and somewhat arbitrary insulin injections. I visited podiatrists mostly after problems occurred rather than seeing them on a consistent schedule and taking prophylactic measures to prevent them. I pranced around in bare feet and chose my footwear based on style rather than suitability. After problems developed, I sought medical advice without adequate investigation or research. In short, I was reckless, and I paid dearly for it. I hope to save my readers from a similar fate.

I am a slightly overweight, if not morbidly obese, 70+ year-old, mostly retired, lawyer. This is important, not because I want to impress you that I have a law degree, but because I want to be certain that you understand that I do not have a medical degree. The thoughts, observations and comments that I will be sharing with you are based on my nearly forty years of real life experience as a diabetic, which although informed by an abundance of dealings with an ever-changing cast of endocrinologists, podiatrists, surgeons, wound care specialists, orthotists and sundry other specialists in diabetic foot care, and aided by my own independent research and one unfortunate malpractice case, are neither intended to be nor should be taken as medical advice. At most, I hope to be able to provide those who choose to follow my blog with guidance on when and to seek competent medical advice—as well as on the steps that may be taken to minimize the need for it. I will also highlight some of the medical and technological advances that have taken place in the recent past that assist in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetic foot disease that were unavailable during the early years of my struggles to save my foot.

What’s up with my foot?

This is a recent x-ray and picture of my left foot:

MarcF-Charcot-Foot-Xray-Tiny
MarcF-charcot-foot-siren-socks-tiny

(For reasons that a not entirely clear, my left foot has suffered most of the complications caused by diabetic neuropathy, including recurrent ulcers, hairline fractures, displaced fractures, a Charcot foot collapse, two (and potentially a third) reconstructive surgeries and ongoing ulcerations. Apart from sharing the daily incidence of incessant neuropathic foot pain with its partner on the left, my right foot is a near-perfect piece of anatomy suitable for placement in a Ferragamo ad in GQ. Unfortunately, shoes are typically sold in pairs). Had I only known earlier what I have learned through experience and hope to impart to others through this blog many of these problems could have been avoided.

What can I do for you?

My objective in taking on this project is to look back over by four decades of my experience dealing with the ravages of diabetes and highlight the steps that I might have taken to avoid the loss or, at least minimize the damage that impairs the usefulness of my foot and quality of my life. These include tips on monitoring and managing diabetes, daily foot care and preventative measures, podiatric treatment and advice, the benefits and options of reconstructive surgery and diabetic wound care. My hope is to deliver my message in a way that it not only informative but also practical and even entertaining.

What’s next?

In the next installment of my blog, I will describe the background and early years of my experience with diabetes in hopes you will be able to benefit from my recklessness and mistakes – and ward off the resultant complications.

About Siren Socks

Siren Socks are innovative smart socks that detect potential issues with your feet. Siren Socks are an FDA-registered Class I medical device and are for people with neuropathy.

The socks measure your foot temperature. Temperature monitoring has been shown to help prevent diabetic foot ulcers in multiple clinical studies clinical studies over the past 20 years and is considered the gold standard in diabetic foot care.

The information from the socks is monitored by licensed nurses who contact you regularly to check on your health and the status of your feet. Your doctor review any issues that arise and determine if a clinic visit is necessary.

Siren Socks are covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and many private insurance plans.

Interested patients can find a Siren-Certified Provider near them and begin the enrollment process by clicking here.

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Siren Diabetic Socks – User Stories: Maggie

January 23, 2018

At Siren, we're so appreciative of our community and users of Siren Diabetic Socks. Today, we're highlighting our first user story featuring Maggie. Maggie is one of the early users of Siren Diabetic Socks, and we're so appreciative that she's taken the time to share her story and experience with our socks. Please let us know in the comments below if you'd like to see more stories like this, or if you want to share your diabetes and neuropathy journey with the community.

Facts About Maggie

Location: Ohio
Diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes, Known for 27 years
Neuropathy: Diagnosed probably about 6 1/2.

"As far as I can remember, my body decided to go bananas after my son was born. When I was in labor with him there were some complications with him and myself. I believe something to do with the complications may have had some sort of impact on my neuropathy along with my blood sugar not being under perfect control."

Diabetes and Neuropathy

How did you first find out you had neuropathy?

"I honestly don't remember, I believe I noticed the pain and my doctor informed me that it was neuropathy which is a common occurrence with diabetics that have had years of uncontrolled blood sugar."

What are the symptoms that you’re currently having as a result of neuropathy?

"Pain most of the time. Especially bad at night time when I am trying to go to sleep, so I am usually up late due to this. It's just an annoying pain that is hard to describe. Many people don't understand the pain that I deal with every single day. I have balance issues at times. Just recently I went to a football game with some family. Where we parked we had a bit of a walk to the stadium. At one point I went to step up on a curb and my balance went a little wonky and I ended up falling. My legs felt like they were going to give out on me when we were walking back to our vehicle after that game. It was all I could do to make it to our car. This feeling makes me feel like I am in danger at times and that my legs and balance will fail me at any time."

Why is foot care so important for people with diabetes and neuropathy?

"Because if it goes unnoticed and untreated it can get really bad and you could eventually lose toes and or your feet in totality."

What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone who has diabetes and just found out they have Neuropathy?

"Don't wait go to a podiatrist and an endocrinologist as soon as possible and following their instructions to the letter."

Is there anything else you’d like to share or think people with diabetes and neuropathy should know?

"Don't take something as simple as your feet and your health for granted. Because in a blink of an eye things can so south really fast."

Diabetic Foot

What are your biggest concerns when it comes to your feet?

"That at some point I will lose my feeling in my feet and that I may lose my feet totally. I know that i still need to work on certain things that make a big impact on my feet."

Why do you think it’s so important that people with diabetes and neuropathy wear socks everyday?

"To help protect your feet and for the support that they provide. I honestly wear socks everyday all day. I feel like I can't manage if I don't have socks on. My feet don't seem to like not having the support that some sort of sock provides."

What do you do daily to take care of your feet?

"I check them daily and try to keep them clean and in fresh socks. Even though its hard to find socks that are not tight on my feet. I have some that work pretty well on my feet that I bought at the store but they won't stay on my feet. They slide off which is annoying."

Siren Diabetic Socks

What makes you so excited about Siren Diabetic Socks?

"They are extremely soft and comfy. The fact that they provide information about the temperature of my feet and can notify me of any issues as soon as they appear."

How do Siren Diabetic Socks feel?

"So totally soft and snugly. Even my six year old son thinks they are soft and wanted to wear them. I had to explain they are special socks."

What are your overall initial impressions of Siren Diabetic Socks?

"That they are really cool and that it's amazing that a pair of socks can monitor something as simple as the temperature of my feet."

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Siren Diabetic Socks are specifically designed to help people with diabetes and/or neuropathy. By wearing our socks every day, we provide you with insights into the health of your feet. We use clinically proven technology, temperature monitoring, to monitor the temperature of your feet continuously. When there's an increase in temperature, that's a sign of inflammation. We alert you to the problem, so that you can see your doctor and take the proper course of action.

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Read another user story: Siren Diabetic Socks - User Stories: Shunta

 

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