Archive for March, 2012

North To Alaska

It is with great pleasure that I will be able to share Bonnie’s story with you over the next few weeks. bonnie will share her experiences with Charcot Foot, how it changed her life and how she dealt with this devastating disease. It isn’t enough that Bonnie has to deal with Charcot Foot, but life becomes very complicated because of it and also because of news she and her husband, Tony receives.

NORTH TO ALASKA

P7310525 copyBefore I start my story, I need to acknowledge several people who helped me tremendously to continue living and not become a recluse. My dear husband Tony, mentor/friend Sharon McKenzie, dear friend Bonnie Jackson ( met her after my first surgery) and my extended family and friends, without them I would not be here today. The reason I mention these friends is because my immediate family lived in the lower 48, however I am living proof of the power of prayer for that was their gift to me, plus hundreds of cards and calls. I was raised in a Christian home and felt I was a Christian although had not been a practicing Christian since moving to Alaska in 1962. During this illness I renewed my faith and believe it is God’s will that I am able to have a very normal life.

I was born and raised on a western Nebraska panhandle farm. Being raised on a Riding Diamondfarm you normally have a few bumps bruises etc. Well, I was fortunate, no broken bones, but falls from riding horses many times. No major illness or surgeries, just tonsils and appendix.

My teenage years were great (1950’s), I attended the same school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Graduating in 1959. Good old Lyman, NE., a town of about seven hundred population. The school had about 300 pupils. My graduating class of 1959 was 16 students. You knew everyone. You were able to participate in so many school functions. There was a place for everyone in multiple activities church and school. I participated in band (playing the clarinet) in marching band (I was drum majorette), chorus, school plays, county government days. Outside of school church youth leadership, Jobs Daughters (part of Masons). In my spare time (ha ha) worked on the farm with family. Never thought of this as a special lifestyle, but oh how I do now.

B@11, Donna-QueenieAfter graduation, I worked in a nearby town of Morrill, NE. (pop 900), started as bookkeeper at a local Pontiac car sales, where my father always bought his new cars. A year later (1960) became a telephone receptionist at Chester B.Brown CO, now Kelley Bean CO. (a dry bean company) .

May 1961, married my high school sweetheart, Gary Foland, from Morrill. He was working in Denver, CO. at the time. We moved to Denver. In November of 1961, Gary joined the Air Force. I stayed in Denver working as a bank teller. In March of 1962, I followed Gary to Wichita Falls, Texas. In June of 1962, he was assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage Alaska. I stayed in Morrill until Gary could find an apartment for us. By August of 1962, I had prepared a pickup truck (which Gary had purchased and built a camper for carrying our belongings). My brother Jerry (age 18) and I drove from Morrill, NE to Seattle, WA. (Oh, yes, my little Pug, TyeTye, was with us). Quite an experience for two farm kids. Believe me, God was with us all the way. Brother Jerry returned to Denver on his first airplane ride and I flew on my first plane ride from Seattle to Anchorage, with dog in tow.

Bonnie a personal friend will be sharing her story over the next several weeks.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Charcot Foot Requires Care Even After Surgery

Though I had surgery for Charcot on my right foot, it has now been hurting for about four months. I got a new pair of shoes 6 months ago with custom orthotics. They decided my old shoes were just a tiny bit too short and could create problems for my feet as I am a type II diabetic. I hadn’t had any problems with the old ones. My new shoes especially on my left foot felt really good, but my right foot seemed to slide forward in the new shoe.

As the months rolled on, the side of my right foot seem to become uncomfortable. About three months ago there seemed to be a welt on the outside middle of my foot that was getting really tender. I decided to go back to my walking boot so I didn’t put pressure on the sore spot. After a week, it seemed to be better. Back in the shoe, that was fine for a day or two then back to pain.

Though I was to wear hard soled shoes, I wore my slippers in the house most of the time and even in the car, keeping pressure off the outside of my foot. Wearing my shoe was just too uncomfortable, really painful.

Soon it was time for my regular podiatrist appointment. He trimmed my toenails and checked my feet. Everything seemed fine. Then I mentioned to him the bump on the side of my right foot and that it was really sore and really hurt when I wore my shoe. I asked if it should be x-rayed.

He sent me for x-rays. He called me later in the day as said it was scar tissue from all my surgery. He said to go back to the surgeon, or he could remove it for me. I chose to go back to the limb preservation clinic that had done the surgery. However, the following week I had my six month check up with my dermatologist and asked his opinion about my foot as I had been able to pull a scab or layer of skin off of it earlier. He thought it could be a problem with the bone and agreed that I should see my surgeon at limb preservation.

My husband called the clinic and I was in to see my doctor about two weeks later. It was good to see her after nearly two years. They took several x-rays of both feet. My feet were very stable, good blood flow and a good check up. The problem was the shoe and orthotics as they were rubbing a callus of the 5th metatarsal, mid foot. We then went to orthotics with the doctors recommendation. They modified the orthotics. It felt great for two days….now I have to go back for another adjustment until the callus is gone.

I will have an appointment every six months and more often if necessary. As I have stated before Charcot is a very serious condition and needs to be monitored continually. Please take very good care of your feet. Don’t wait until it is too late to save your feet and you end up with an amputation. If you can’t see your feet, have some one look at them regularly for you…or use a mirror.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

Sugery On My Left Foot

My left foot was in stage one of Charcot. My toes were becoming hammer toes and the Achilles’ tendon was not very flexible. My ankle and foot were exhibiting some of the same problems my right foot and ankle did. In that, they felt like they were not wanting to stay together.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, when Dr. Roukis said he would perform surgery on my left foot the next summer. I guess I didn’t think I needed it. After all I was not having major pain in that foot. Surgery made a lot of sense though. It did mean recovery time, but only about six weeks compared to years. It would also be an out patient surgery so no hospital stay. This is why it is so important to get this diagnosis in the early stages.

Surgery was June 13, 2008. Of course I went through all the physical and permission stuff. We arrived at MAMC at 5:50 AM, checked in and was sent to the area to prepare for surgery. Max took my shoes and clothes as I would be in the surgical gown. My anesthesiologist was excellent. I had no bruises. There was only a small entry point between my thumb and pointer finger. I also asked him if I could be awake when I went into the operating room as I was out for the other two surgeries. He said sure. He kept his promise. I was surprised at how large the room was and that there were so many people there. I’m sure some were Dr. Roukis’ students. As soon as they began to swab my toes, I was out like a light.Before my left foot operation

One rather funny thing happened while waiting to go into surgery though I’m not sure Dr. Roukis thought it was. He came rushing in to the waiting area right past us. Stopped quickly, backing up. Greeted me and introduced himself to my anesthesiologist. Then he asked him, “What operating room are we in?” He replied “A.” Dr. Roukis said “They told me C. When I went in there , looked around and said, “I don’t do this type of surgery” and left. ”

We discussed the type of anesthesia so I asked Dr. Roukis what he wanted for me. Apparently I could have had a spinal, but we decided completely out. (I really don’t think he wanted me to be able to talk.)

Recovery after surgery was very quick. No sore throat, so was able to dress, get in the wheel chair and to the van, back seat and packed in. This was quite awkward as I couldn’t use the foot I had depended on for so long and I wasn’t sure of the right one. We were back home by 11 AM. I slept most of the way home. All went well until about 2:30 AM. I thought I could get up on my own. I knew I should wake Max and have him help me, but he was sleeping so soundly. (Not for long) As I tried to slide my feet to the potty, my shoe caught in the carpet and I fell. I tried to save my feet, so my knees hit the walker and I hit the right side of my head when I hit the floor.

After the operationIt took a while to gain my senses so I could roll, crawl and get up enough to sit on the small stool Max was holding so I could stand as I couldn’t put weight on the left foot. Need I say I asked for help after this. Was I afraid to tell Dr. R about this? Oh, Yes!

During surgery Dr. R straightened my hammer toes, lengthened the achilles tendon by slipping the calf muscle and placed a pin in my ankle like my right foot. They sent pain medication home with me and I only used a couple of the pills. One after the fall and another the next evening to help me sleep. That didn’t work. I didn’t take any more again I really didn’t have any pain.

Now I have to tell DR. Roukis about my fall three days after surgery.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

The Confession and Surgery Followup

My left foot was in stage one of Charcot. My toes were becoming hammer toes and the Achilles’ tendon was not very flexible. My ankle and foot were exhibiting some of the same problems my right foot and ankle did. In that, they felt like they were not wanting to stay together.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, when Dr. Roukis said he would perform surgery on my left foot the next summer. I guess I didn’t think I needed it. After all I was not having major pain in that foot. Surgery made a lot of sense though. It did mean recovery time, but only about six weeks compared to years. It would also be an out patient surgery so no hospital stay. This is why it is so important to get this diagnosis in the early stages.

Surgery was June 13, 2008. Of course I went through all the physical and permission stuff. We arrived at MAMC at 5:50 AM, checked in and was sent to the area to prepare for surgery. Max took my shoes and clothes as I would be in the surgical gown. My anesthesiologist was excellent. I had no bruises. There was only a small entry point between my thumb and pointer finger. I also asked him if I could be awake when I went into the operating room as I was out for the other two surgeries. He said sure. He kept his promise. I was surprised at how large the room was and that there were so many people there. I’m sure some were Dr. Roukis’ students. As soon as they began to swab my toes, I was out like a light.Before my left foot operation

One rather funny thing happened while waiting to go into surgery though I’m not sure Dr. Roukis thought it was. He came rushing in to the waiting area right past us. Stopped quickly, backing up. Greeted me and introduced himself to my anesthesiologist. Then he asked him, “What operating room are we in?” He replied “A.” Dr. Roukis said “They told me C. When I went in there , looked around and said, “I don’t do this type of surgery” and left. ”

We discussed the type of anesthesia so I asked Dr. Roukis what he wanted for me. Apparently I could have had a spinal, but we decided completely out. (I really don’t think he wanted me to be able to talk.)

Recovery after surgery was very quick. No sore throat, so was able to dress, get in the wheel chair and to the van, back seat and packed in. This was quite awkward as I couldn’t use the foot I had depended on for so long and I wasn’t sure of the right one. We were back home by 11 AM. I slept most of the way home. All went well until about 2:30 AM. I thought I could get up on my own. I knew I should wake Max and have him help me, but he was sleeping so soundly. (Not for long) As I tried to slide my feet to the potty, my shoe caught in the carpet and I fell. I tried to save my feet, so my knees hit the walker and I hit the right side of my head when I hit the floor.

After the operationIt took a while to gain my senses so I could roll, crawl and get up enough to sit on the small stool Max was holding so I could stand as I couldn’t put weight on the left foot. Need I say I asked for help after this. Was I afraid to tell Dr. R about this? Oh, Yes!

During surgery Dr. Roukis straightened my hammer toes, lengthened the achilles tendon by slipping the calf muscle and placed a pin in my ankle like my right foot. They sent pain medication home with me and I only used a couple of the pills. One after the fall and another the next evening to help me sleep. That didn’t work. I didn’t take any more again I really didn’t have any pain.

Now I have to tell DR. Roukis about my fall three days after surgery.

Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation

The Next Step Custom Shoes

Foot covering is always a concern. Since I was now able to walk, it was necesary to have footwear that would protect my feet and be comfortable. The thought of being able to wear shoes again was exciting.

Since there would be a year between the surgeries on my feet, it was decided custom shoes would work well for me before the left foot surgery. I had an appointment with orthotics where the casting would be done for both feet. The process took nearly an hour.

Fitting #1Pat cut a length of “tube” sock, putting it over my foot and lower leg. Next a plastic bag, a stay, like the tongue of a shoe, and another length of “tube” sock over that. She had my foot over a Styrofoam block. Next came a fiberglass sock dipped in water and slipped over my covered foot. My foot was pressed into the foam, The fiberglass massaged and shaped to my foot exactly. Once set, it was warm. Pat then marked it and cut over the stay so it was like a shoe. I was able to slide my foot out of the “fiber glass shoe”. These forms were then sent to the shoe company to be measured in the inside with a laser. A leather shoe was made and an orthotic placed inside specifically for each foot.Fitting #2

I was never really satisfied with these shoes. I was accused of not liking them because they weren’t pretty, or fashionable. I never felt they were comfortable nor did they fit right. I think by the time I finally got the shoes much of the last swelling had gone down in my right foot and the fit was no longer correct. I couldn’t get this communicated so ended up wearing them and limping. I also found my feet sweat a lot. This concerned me, but no solution was found. I needed to use the walker as I seemed to tire a lot. I also tried to use a cane, but I couldn’t adjust to using it with my left hand. I never felt like I was stable.Fitting #3

Max’s observation was that when I walked the outside of my right foot seemed to touch the walking surface first. then flatten out. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wear these shoes very long. I would like to add however, if these shoes had been a good fit they would have been excellent shoes for someone with foot problems and needed to protect the feet..Untitled-1Brought to you by Charcot Awareness Education Foundation