How One Patient Coped With a Diabetes-Related Foot Emergency

Christine cut her foot on a piece of metal.
The No. 1 cause of hospitalizations in people with type 2 diabetes is a foot injury, which can rapidly escalate into an amputation (there are approximately 86,000 diabetes-related lower-limb amputations each year in the United States). Any foot injury a person with diabetes experiences should be treated as a potentially limb-threatening medical emergency.

After her doctor told her she had type 2 diabetes, Christine spent the next 10 years trying not to think about it. Her blood sugar was too high, but she only checked it when she "absolutely had to." Her doctor warned her that she was at risk for a health crisis, but she still didn't get her diabetes under control.

Then in July 2006, Christine was helping her child move home, and she was taking a break from loading boxes. The Canajoharie, N.Y., resident, now 56, leaped up to answer a phone across the room and stepped—barefoot—on a piece of metal sticking out from a bed frame. "It bled a little bit between my big toe and the next one, so I put peroxide on it, and it seemed to heal over and I didn't think about it again," she recalls.

Protecting Feet
Diabetes Danger Infection Doctor-Patient Video
Foot injuries can lead to amputations  Watch video
The bottom of her foot turned black
Because of the diabetes, her feet had been numb for quite some time. At the end of September, she noticed an angry red spot on her big toe. The next morning, her whole foot was red.

Since it was a Sunday, she went to an urgent-care clinic, where they told her, "No way can we deal with you—you're going to the emergency room." So she ended up in the ER, where the redness quickly spread up her leg.

12 Next
Lead writer: Eric Metcalf
Last Updated: August 08, 2008

Get the latest health, fitness, anti-aging, and nutrition news, plus special offers, insights and updates from!

More Ways to Connect with Health