Triple Amputee Recalls Important Diabetic Foot Symptoms She Missed

Nine years ago, 47-year-old Jane Knight led a busy life. The British mum looked after an autistic son and worked as a therapist. She loved to write, paint, play piano, and sew. Today she lives as a triple amputee after operations removed both legs and one arm. It wasn’t a tragic accident that claimed her limbs — but a common disease that 25.8 million Americans and more than 3 million Brits have: diabetes.

prosthetic legs

Prosthetic legs are not as glamorous as this photo would have you believe. Image Source: CNN.com

How Does A Diabetic Become An Amputee?

After several weeks of weight loss, lethargy, and feeling all-around lousy, Jane was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the young age of ten. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing sufficient insulin to clear excess sugar from the blood. To manage her disease, she was instructed on how to regulate carbs and sugar, check her blood sugar levels, and give herself insulin injections.

Though she made an effort, she felt it was difficult to keep her blood sugar readings low. She reasoned that she could have chocolate bars and sugar, as long as she remained active. She didn’t realize that the toxic sugar she was ingesting was destroying her arteries, attracting plaque, blocking blood flow, and making small injuries difficult to heal.

diabetes infographic

Sugar should comprise less than 10% of a diabetics’ diet. Image Source: DesignInfographics.com

Diabetic Foot Wounds Spiral Out Of Control Rapidly

Real trouble began in August 2004, when Jame noticed a small cut on the ball of her right foot. She didn’t feel it at first due to the peripheral neuropathy nerve damage she suffered. “I started to get shooting pains in my right leg,” she recalled.

That’s when her doctor said there was no pulse in her leg and her little toe had turned black. “I had thought it was just bruised, but actually it was gangrenous and the tissues were dead,” she said.

It was shocking, but once the initial panic wore off, Jane thought, “What’s a toe? I can live.” But shortly after the amputation, the infection popped up as a blister on her foot. It spread through her foot and up her leg.

Two years later, her left foot was feeling numb. The podiatrist alerted her to the gangrene patch that would claim her other leg. “Sometimes I’d find it hard to put on a brave face,” she said.

On top of all this, she suffered from kidney failure that required a transplant. Then a cat scratch on her right hand caused an infection that spread up her arm and required the amputation of her writing hand.

“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I just want people to learn from my situation,” she told the Daily Mail

gangrene

Something as seemingly innocuous as a small cat scratch can lead to gangrene for people with poorly controlled diabetes. Image Source: BlackberryBeads.com

In The US, 12% Of Diabetics Will Lose A Limb.

According to the NY Times health portal, 50 to 75% of non-injury amputations are due to diabetes. That means that 12% of Americans with diabetes will lose a limb. Overweight smokers are at high risk for developing diabetic foot complications, as are the insulin-dependent, and those who have had the disease over 20 years. By the time a foot ulcer develops, it may be too late to heal. Every diabetic should focus on controlling their disease through diet, exercise, and medication. Many podiatrists also recommend using a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer to keep bacteria and fungus out of one’s footwear.

 

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