The Windsor Star article published on May 9, 2019
By Katie Jacobs, the Windsor Star
Windsor experts are taking steps to teach people with diabetes how to properly care for their feet.
The Diabetes, Healthy Feet and You workshop was led by two peers at the Essex County Nurse Practitioner Led Clinic at the Gino Marcus Community Centre on Drouillard Road on Wednesday.
It is a 2 1/2-hour course developed by Diabetic Foot Canada that discusses diabetic foot management by being aware of changes in one’s feet — like bone structure, deformities, sores, loss of sensation and temperature.
Carrie White, a diabetic foot care nurse at ECNPLC, said people with diabetes don’t normally seek help for their feet until there is an issue.
“Our feet is the most important things we have, they are going to hold us for the rest of our life,” White said. “Unfortunately with diabetes, majority of the problems start in your feet. So if we can keep our feet healthy, it will help them keep the deformities at bay.”
Peer leader Geri Robitaille, who has diabetes herself, also teaches a six-week Master your Health course since 2011.
Robitaille said monitoring feet helps avoid serious infections.
“If it’s unattended and it gets infected, then gangrene can set in and it could lead to amputations and further complications, so this course is to teach people how to look out for that,” Robitaille said.
For people with diabetes, foot complications are common because of poor circulation. Without assessing ulcers, calluses, fungus, deformity, numbness or proper footwear, some feet could be amputated.
However, White said eight out of 10 amputations can be avoided through proper attention.
“My grandfather lost his leg from complications,” White said. “Since then, I want to help people to prevent that from happening, and I just want them to know how easy it is to prevent it from happening.”
The workshop featured a slideshow presentation and discussions about foot screening — up-keeping feet like trimming toenails — and resources for finding foot care specialists. It also taught how to self-advocate one’s care, such as asking for professionally fitted shoes or taking off shoes and socks before a nurse or doctor walks in for a check-up.
“My mother had diabetes for a long time, and she was in denial for a long time, and she had some very bad complications,” Robitaille said. “It was hard for my mom, and if I can just help one person, then that makes what I’m doing worthwhile.”