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For Those Newly Diagnosed With Diabetes: Never, Ever Use Garden Tools On Your Toe Nails

June 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 190

It was a Tuesday, late morning, a pretty day. I was going to try to see one more patient before going to lunch. This would mean my afternoon would be fairly light. I always tried to get most of my patients assessed before eating lunch. This way if I ate too much lunch and was sluggish or sleepy after eating I wouldn't be sitting across from my patient desperately trying to keep my eyes from closing while asking them questions about their diabetes history.

Anyway, I grabbed the forms I needed and went into the patient's room to assess why he was in the hospital and how diabetes was involved. Back in the mid 1990's, doctor's could admit their patients to the hospital for a 3-4 day stay for having uncontrolled blood sugar levels. I believe that was the case with this sixty plus year-old gentleman.

I positioned a chair near the foot of the patient's chair and sat down to conduct my assessment. An initial patient assessment is required of all diabetes patients that we teach.

I explained to the patient who I was and why I was there. The patient was good-natured and answered the questions I asked the best he could.

Over the course of the next thirty to forty minutes I asked the patient numerous questions to help me get a better feel for his knowledge about diabetes.

Typically, my assessment of the patient will yield information that determines what I need to teach the patient, areas of diabetes self-care that either the patient is not doing or not doing very well. For the most part it was a routine assessment, nothing significantly outside the range of what I typically hear, until I got to his feet.

Shortly after taking a seat and getting started I glanced casually to my left and got my first good glimpse of the patient's feet. If my jaw dropped I don't think the patient saw it, at least he didn't say anything if he did. I think it did though. Anyway, it was really good that the rest of the assessment didn't take too long because I was definitely going to need some extra time to discuss this patient's feet.

With all else having been discussed, it was time for me to address the feet.

The patient was semi-sitting up in bed with his legs stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. His feet were not covered. They were OK feet, as far as feet go. They were long, pale and dry, particularly around the heels, not-unusual for someone with diabetes. The skin was unremarkable with no splotches, discoloration or subsurface evidence of broken capillaries so often present in older patients.

Hardly unremarkable however, were his toenails, undoubtedly, some of the thickest nails I have ever seen and poorly kept to say the least. When you see toenails like this you say to yourself, "Man, don't you ever take a look at your feet?"

"So, how are your feet?" I asked.

Before he responds, he rearranges the position of his feet slightly, rubbing them together gently and wiggling a few of his ten unsightly toes.

"They're OK, " he responded.

I'm sitting there, looking at his feet, thinking, "Are you kidding me, you think this is OK? If this is OK I think we are going to have to examine your eyes also" This is what I am thinking, mind you, not what I am saying.

"Yeh, they're do'in pretty good now. My toenails are kind of thick and I used to have a hard time cuttin em."

"Yeh, I can see that. So what do you do now, how do you get them trimmed?"

"Well, I'll tell ya. Regular toenail clippers, you know, the same ones you use to trim your fingernails, those don't work at all. They just break," he told me.

"I tell you what I did," the man starts to explain as he looks down the length of the bed at his feet the same way a newly engaged lady admires her engagement ring.

"You know I'm retired. And I spend a lot of my time now, out taking care of my roses.

One day I was out pruning my rose plants, and I got to thinkin; I bet these Rose clippers would work on my toe nails. So after I was finished with my roses I went in and tried em. They trimmed em right up. I mean they worked great. You can see em. I haven't had a problem with em ever since."

The man looked proud, as if he had just made a great discovery. I got out of my chair and bent over the bed to take a closer look, a closer look at the toe nails, pruned by the pruning shears, meant to be used on the thorny Rose bush. Truly amazing, I thought.

I found my nose to be about a foot away from his feet, hands on my knees, staring, the same way you would stare at the destructive path a deadly tornado might make as it cuts through a town or city.

As I returned to my chair and sat back down, I remember thinking, how do I break it to this man that using pruning shears to trim his toe nails is really a bad idea? I could have said, "What are you, nuts?" but my better judgment got the best of me, thank goodness, and it never came out.

"Eventually, in a calm voice, I tried to diplomatically, compassionately, explain the potential problems with what he had done. The patient, obviously a bit deflated when he learned that his toe trimming method was not the great idea he thought it was, agreed to let a podiatrist look at his toes soon to see if he could assist the patient with proper foot care.

Before I left the patients bedside that day, I reviewed some of the topics we had discussed during my visit. When it came to foot care I told the patient to remember the following and he should be alright:

If your toenails ever become so long, or thickened that you cannot trim them with regular toenail clippers, never, ever, go to the shed and pick out some gardening tools to use on your feet. Instead, go see a podiatrist.

Although some folks may think using Rose pruning shears is innocent enough, this may eventually lead to the use of electric hedge trimmers and even gas powered chain saws. As I am sure you can see now, the use of garden tools for the purpose of trimming body parts that grow excessively or out of control, is inappropriate and should be discouraged.

So in summary, just to be clear, never ever, use garden tools to trim your toe nails no matter how much you may want to. It's for the best. Trust me.

Milt Bedingfield is a certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist. Milt has been teaching people with diabetes about the disease and how to care for it for the last 18 years. Milt is the author of: Prescription For Type 2 Diabetes: Exercise. This book is very entertaining and easy to understand. Milt's websites can be found at: NewlyDiagnosedDiabetes.com and TheExerciseDiabetesLink.com. Milt has a Twitter account. His user name is: MiltBed. Milt's email address is: MBedingfield@yahoo.com

Source: EzineArticles
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