As most of you who follow this blog regularly already know, I'm a diabetic. Unfortunately, for most of the time I've been a diabetic, my blood sugar numbers have been largely uncontrolled and often ventured into the 300+ range (normal is 120 and below). I ate unhealthily, I didn't exercise, I didn't do anything you read that diabetics should to do maintain their health. Then it came and bit me in the butt.
In December, a small pinprick at the bottom of my foot turned into an infection that ultimately led to the amputation of one of the toes on my right foot. Shortly after, another infection led to the loss of my big toe on the same foot and the entire left side of my foot being cut open and cleaned out (the infection was extensive). In fact, the wound was from the area that my now gone toes were to about an inch from my heel.
Overall, my healthcare providers, a wonderful doctor named Joseph Newman and a nurse called Laura Grey, thought the wound was healing well and, though I had a few setbacks, the prognosis seemed to be getting better.
Then, last week, Laura found an 'abscess' - a small bit of depth in the side of my foot and suggested I go to see Dr. Newman about it. The doctor took a culture from the abscess and called me Monday morning to tell me that it had grown a bug and that he wanted me to see another doctor (a D.O. and infectious disease specialist named Dr. Anthony Zeimet) to get treated.
I met with Dr. Zeimet on Tuesday morning at 8am and he sent me to the hospital for a full day of testing and an MRI. He also started me on a six week course of intravenous antibiotics meant to fight and kill any infection I had in my foot. On Wednesday, the MRI came back and the news was not what I had hoped.
It seems that my foot has many tiny abscesses in it and performing surgery to clean them out would do significant damage to the foot itself. Dr. Zeimet broached the subject of amputation with me and suggested that I opt to have a below the knee amputation of my right leg.
Surprisingly, this didn't upset me as much as I thought it would. I understand how traumatic losing a body part can be but I also understand that, realistically, I need to weigh living a healthy and productive life against an ongoing (and probably unsuccessful) battle to save a sick limb. In the end, I made the decision to continue the six week course of antibiotics but stated that, if they don't work, I am open to amputation.
Perhaps I should be more upset about this than I am. Perhaps I should be railing at the world. But my main focus in all of this has been healing successfully and moving on with my life. I'm not willing to engage in endless battles with infection after infection just to save my leg. The logical and prudent thing would be to chop it off, heal, get a prosthetic, and get on with life. That is what I plan to do - unless, of course, the antibiotics actually work.
I'm sure if the time comes to actually take my leg I will have a plethora of emotions around it. One can't be human and not feel an attachment to their body and having a body part cut away is traumatic. But life is full of joy for those who look to find it. A temporary setback won't ruin that joy and won't hinder a life lived with joy.
After all, it's just a leg.