Ted Stanko had a blister on the bottom of his toe for about a year. After months of not seeing any progress from treatment, he attempted to heal it himself.
However, the wound continued to break down.
Stanko’s blister caused a severe infection that eventually went into his bones. A diabetic, Stanko has neuropathy — decreased sensitivity in the feet — which prevents him from feeling when a blister is forming.
Podiatrist Dr. Allyson Bress said it’s imperative that diabetics check their feet for wounds often.
“In the beginning, he didn’t realize he had developed a wound due to his neuropathy,” she said. “This is why it’s always important, and I stress to all of my neuropathic patients — particularly my diabetics — to check your feet every day because you may be developing a wound you didn’t know about.”
Stanko eventually lost his toe due to the infection that had gone into the metatarsal bone of his big toe.
“I am functional,” he said thankfully. “I walk perfectly fine and wear regular shoes. I have no issues there.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 230 Americans with diabetes suffer an amputation every day.
Dr. Bress said the best way to avoid wounds that can lead to amputation is to be vigilant about your feet.
“Check your feet daily, especially if you are diabetic,” she said. “If you can’t see the bottoms, have someone check them for you. Or prop a mirror up at the end of the bed and check them carefully — top, bottom and in between your toes.”
Don’t hesitate to contact a podiatrist or primary care physician immediately if there are any abnormalities, said Dr. Bress.
“I’d rather see you and say, ‘It’s nothing,’ than have you put it off and it end up infected or worse,” she said.
Though he has been through a lot, Stanko said he has gotten incredible care from Dr. Bress and SMC Wound Care.
“Dr. Bress really cares about her patients,” he said. “She’s a genuine person and explains everything she’s doing thoroughly. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give her a fifteen.”
If you or someone you know has diabetes or a non-healing wound, call SMC Wound Care at 856-878-6884 or visit smc.health/services/wound-care.