Reflections On Diabetes Through the Eyes of a Pre-med Student

Today’s visit to the Healthy Step’s office was a very interesting one. For starters, I previously never understood the correlation between feet and how they relate to diabetes. Coming from someone whose close relatives have diabetes, I never really took the time to wonder why they care for the feet and wore special socks and/or shoes. Today, I learned why it is critical to thoroughly look for any cracks, rashes (which may be fungus) or cut’s on the feet. In Diabetes, as the disease progresses, there is a risk for decreased blood flow to the lower extremities. Decreased blood flow means decreased oxygenation of the tissues and nerves. Without this “food” of oxygen the nerves malfunction. This can lead to numbness in the lower extremities. This has a special name: “Diabetic Neuropathy”. The danger in Diabetic Neuropathy is that unseen small cuts have the potential to escalate towards infections especially if the patient does not FEEL the difference in the tissue (nerve damage) due to decreased blood flow (microvascular or macrovascular disease preventing optimal oxygenation or feeding of the nerve). In other words, if the infected area might feel painful in a person without diabetes, a diabetic might not feel that pain due to nerve damage. If the patient with diabetic nerve damage does not CHECK their feet the infection may travel to the bone. If the bone is involved, in order to control infection and prevent further worsening of the diabetes, a surgical consult is requested to evaluate the limb for possible amputation. At HEALTHY STEPS CAREFUL attention is paid to the lower extremity in order to prevent diabetic neuropathy and/or loss of limb.

Ella Fitzgerald, "The First Lady of Song"

**By the 1980s, Fitzgerald experienced serious health problems. She had heart surgery in 1986 and had been suffering from diabetes. The disease left her blind, and she had both legs amputated in 1994. -

Yafet Amanuel Pre-med Student, University of Maryland College Park

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