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From Blister To Amputation

Last year I had to have my left little toe removed. I kept a diary of my treatment throughout the year, partly for my own interest and also to write a report for The Alliance of Private Sector Practitioners – the professional foot health body that I am a fully accredited member of.

Here is a summary of my year (with most of the gory images removed. So you can read it whilst having your breakfast lol)…..

A Foot Health Practitioner Loses A Toe?

How ironic! Especially when you take into consideration my last name is Walker and it all started after a walking holiday in the lake district

To be fair, this already started well before my holiday to the lakes. I have always had issues with my left foot since I was a young girl. My toes are clawed and I have a neurological condition which means I have very limited feeling in my left foot and toes.

My left foot before any treatment-it wasn’t looking great then!

A Walking Holiday In The Lake District – July 2018

Taken On My Lake District Holiday July 2018

However, I have always loved to walk and a walking holiday in the lovely Lake District in July 2018 started off perfectly. It was a lovely week, even with some sunny weather!.

A beautiful day walking around Lake Buttermere. Back when I had all 10 Toes!

It was after the fourth day after we had walked around the beautiful Lake Buttermere that I picked up a blister on my left little toe. Unfortunately, no matter what I did this wouldn’t heal up. The blister became ulcerated and just wouldnt go away, even several weeks after returning from the Lakes.

I went to my GP and took a few courses of antibiotics. And continued applying creams and dressings all to no avail.

A Broken Toe All These Years! – September 2018

After about 6 weeks of this, I asked my GP for a foot X-ray to be taken as I felt that there may be something more going on as I was normally fairly healthy and able to fight most infections. This was done at the end of Sept. I was called back to my GPs days after this was taken and it was explained that my left little toe appeared to be broken in 2 places. Furthermore, they reported that this was not a recent occurrence, but must have happened many years ago, as they could tell that healing appeared to have tried to take place with callus been formed around the bone fragments. Like I said earlier I have very little feeling in my left foot so I hadn’t even felt the broken toe all those years ago!

So it was decided that I would benefit from a referral to The Foot and Ankle Surgery Clinic, in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. Where hopefully I would receive an explanation and treatment to give me a satisfactory outcome.

My First Visit To The Foot And Ankle Clinic – October 2018

The Foot and Ankle Surgery Clinic, in Ipswich, Suffolk, UK.

This appointment took place on Oct 18th 2018. I was seen by Emmanuel a qualified Podiatrist who together with Podiatric Surgeon Mr Dale Halford viewed my foot but were keeping an open mind as to the possible problem and whether we could resolve this, but it was at this time it was mentioned that it could be Osteomyelitis (Infection of the bone). Mr Halford lanced the infected toe some more and it was then redressed, I was prescribed more Antibiotics, Sodium Fusidate and Flucloxacillin and it was redressed, I was advised to redress every 2/7 days myself.

After showering that weekend I cleared the wound with sterile water, but it felt very sharp and a bit sore, I felt a bit more and realised that a piece of bone was sticking thru the wound!. I debated going to A+E and waiting umpteen hours to be seen, but decided if I was very careful would be able to sort myself. I was a foot health practioner after all!

So I proceeded with a sterile pair of Teflon tweezers to ease out the broken piece of bone through the wound.

Small Piece of my little toe bone I removed myself!

I was due to see the clinic the following week so I placed the piece of bone in an envelope to show Mr Halford at my appointment. Half of me was hoping that with this now being removed, that maybe the infection would clear. I attended the appointment and explained to the Podiatrist Emmanuel and Mr Halford that I had removed the piece of bone and showed the offending piece to them. Obviously they were concerned that the toe still seemed very red and bulbous and slightly warm so with this in mind, It was decided that I would be sent to the local hospital for an MRI scan with contrast dye to be done to establish what was happening and whether Osteomyelitis was to blame.

MRI Scan And Blood Tests – November 2018

I waited a few weeks for the MRI Appointment to come through and attended. I also had blood tests taken to check that liver functions were good as the fusidate can affect this.

Given The All Clear? – December 2018

Antibiotics still being continued, On my last appointment 18/12/18. The resident Podiatrist Emmanual advised that the little toe looked like it had stabilized and was looking healthier than previously noted which myself and my partner felt also. It was on his suggestion that we left things as they were for now and monitor at home for any changes i.e. in colour, temp, swelling or generally feeling unwell and I was then to contact immediately. I left the centre hoping and feeling that the infection had decided to move on!.

Little Toe Looking Bad, Again! – January 2019

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. I awoke one Monday morning towards the end of Jan 2019 to my little toe looking swollen, red and fairly warm to touch. Remembering what the podiatrist had told me at my last appointment back in December, I immediately called the team in Ipswich who advised I come down later that day. On the way over in the car, the swelling had partly burst. The Podiatrist Surgeon came through and cleaned up the toe and removed any further swelling that was there by lancing and redressed.

It was then that the decision was made that the Osteomyelitis was not clearing up and to prevent any further infections and avoid any further progression in the bone etc, it would be best to remove the toe. But they needed as much healthy tissue available to them for the surgery, so they advise me to go away and redress with Inadine every other day and try and get the wound healed. I was a very keen walker and was walking many miles a day in my job and also along the promenade where I live which I had to give up on for a while as it seemed to aggravate the toe.

Goodbye, Little Toe! – February 2019

I was sent for another urgent 2nd MRI scan for contrast as they felt that there was a possibility of further progression and they needed this before they could operate. This was done in early Feb 2019.

An appointment was then made for me to attend a pre-health screening that is done before all operations these days. This included nasal and groin swabs for possible MRSA, Blood pressure readings, Height, weight, and a list of any medications taken etc.

They then made an appointment for the Operation to be done- Weds 13th February 2019 in the afternoon, waves of relief flooded over me knowing that the end was nigh,

I attended the Surgical unit on the 13th Feb, I was told to wear something loose on my legs to accommodate the heavily bandaged foot that I would be leaving with. I was shown through to a clinic bed and told to change into a gown and wait. Emmanuel the Podiatrist that I had seen throughout my time at the clinic bought through some forms for signing before the surgery,

I was then taken, in a wheelchair, along to the operating theatre where the Podiatric Surgeon Mr Halford and the trainee Pod Surgeon were scrubbing up, there were 3 other assistants in the theatre also, one up with me and one over at the computer and screens which could display the MRI scans etc. I was given what I believe was a digital block (anaesthetic in my foot). As I have a neurological issue with that foot anyway, I didn’t feel it too much. I was allowed to take my iPod for music and my kindle to read which I did. It all seemed to be over very quickly and took under an hour in total.

My Poor Little toe, just before removal

I explained that I was going to do a piece for the Alliance Journal on my Toe Journey and the Pod Surgeon stated that he would allow for a member of staff to take pictures of the procedure for me to be included which was great. So I do have a lovely collection of great photographs of my little toe being removed. But as they are quite gory I won’t post them on here. Just a picture of my foot after the operation!

My well bandaged Left foot just after the operation

They told me that they would send the toe off to Histology for checking which I would find out about on my follow up clinic appointments.

It was over and I was bandaged up and put back in the wheelchair to take me back to the ward. I was offered a coffee and a biscuit and relaxed for a bit and then I was asked to dress and helped out to my Partner Keith who was waiting in the waiting room to drive me home.

I am genuinely sad that it came to this but it was for the best.

Rest And Recuperation For 10 Days – February / March 2019

As instructed I rested my foot at home for the next 2 weeks. Not able to run my business Heel The Soles at all and having to keep my foot elevated as much as possible.

After 10 days I returned to the clinic to have the dressing removed and stitches taken out. It was my first opportunity to see how my foot looked. To my relief, all looked well and all stitches were able to be removed.

It was then cleaned and redressed with a crepe bandage. I then continued resting at home, changing my bandage every 3 or 4 days. My jigsaw puzzle skills have never been better!

My Jigsaw skills improved no end during my 3 week recuperation

Final Clinic Visit – April 2019

My final assessment was done on 1st April 2019—no jokes!

My Left foot a few months after surgery to remove my little toe

I was seen by Emmanuelle, a podiatrist at the clinic. He said he was very happy with my foot and it looked good. He said the histology report stated it was inconclusive as to whether my little toe had osteomyelitis. But he said all was good and I could return to work.

I have returned to work and had no problems. I am very grateful to all the team at the foot and ankle surgery centre, Ipswich, Suffolk, Uk. For seeing me through this treatment and carrying out all the necessary tasks to enable me to have a full recovery and return to my foot care business.

I am very pleased to report that my foot is fully healed and causes me no further problems or pain at all. In fact, I forget that I even have a missing little toe!

I think I am ready for another return trip to the lovely lakes!

My foot in 2020. Completely healed!

Theresa runs a mobile foot care business called Heel The Soles In Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK

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