I made this resolution last year, and it turned out to be more interesting than I expected. I have type two diabetes, which I can control fairly well through diet and exercise. “Can control” is a long way from “does control.” This time last year, I was in terrible shape physically, so my new year’s resolution was to exercise every day.
I started out by mall walking, and went to the Arundel Mills mall near my house and walked around the mall. This mall is a big loop, and I’ve been told that it’s about a mile around the loop. For about a week, I slowly built up to walking five times around the mall each day, and felt like I was doing well.
I knew that my feet had some sore spots on them, but I didn’t really think about it. I have diabetic neuropathy, which means that I don’t have a lot of feeling in my feet.
On Saturday night, I went mall walking, and felt a little soreness in my left foot. I went home and went to bed, and when I took my sock off, I discovered that my left foot was a puffy red mess. The top layer of skin from the ball of my left foot had fallen off, and left an ugly sight.
On Sunday, I went to see a “doc in the box,” who both failed to treat me and left me in a panic. The doctor took one very quick look at my foot, and said something like “Oh my gosh! You have a very serious infection here, and you need to see a surgeon immediately. Most likely this foot will need to be amputated.” Then he sent me home with some antibiotics.
On Monday, I cancelled my travel for that week and made an appointment for the following day with a podiatric surgeon. I saw him on Tuesday, and he cleaned up my foot and told me I could stop panicking. His reaction to the doc in the box’s comments was “I guess they don’t see a lot of this.”
I lay in bed for a few days, taking multiple antibiotics, and my left foot started to recover. I went to see the foot surgeon again, and he told me that one of the issues with my feet is that I had a very bad case of athlete’s foot. (That’s a fungal infection of the foot.) He gave me a set of instructions for treating this, which included putting urea cream on my feet at night and then rubbing them with a pumice stone in the morning.
That week, I went to Allentown and Wilmington, doing MSDN Events out of a wheelchair for the first time. I also polished my feet with the pumice stone every day. Around the same time, I saw a diabetes specialist and started taking various pills for blood sugar control. After a few days, I decided that I could accomplish the foot polishing more efficiently if I used a foot file instead of a stone. When I tried this, I managed to make a small cut on the outside edge of my right foot. That’s no big thing, I thought, it will just heal on its own.
I continued to work out of a wheelchair, but I was walking a lot. At the time, I was traveling to Pennsylvania quite a bit, and when I stopped on the turnpike to get gas or use the restroom, I would walk into the rest stop rather than pulling the wheelchair out of the car. My foot doctor told me that I should be on crutches all the time, and I basically ignored him.
The left foot healed completely, but the small hole in my right foot never got better. Fast forward to April, when I was in Philly for Developer Days. For various reasons, I ended up spending a lot of time walking around Center City Philadelphia. I was running off to Kinko’s to print flyers, eating cheese steaks, and doing other vital errands.
That evening, I stopped by a CMAP meeting, and I was limping badly. My foot really hurt, and the time bomb of the hole in my left foot had finally detonated. I had a bad infection in my foot. My podiatrist was out of town, so I went to see my other doctor. I can’t remember what they prescribed, but they called back after they got the culture and told that I needed something stronger. I started taking Levaquin, and it left me completely dazed. Each day I would get up and try to read e-mail, and after about an hour I would need to go back to bed. The developer evangelism team in Pennsylvania was trying to get hold of me, and I just couldn’t get back to them, or even explain why I couldn’t answer their e-mail. I had never had an experience quite like it, and for a time I thought I was going through a very serious episode of depression, until I realized that I was literally “on drugs,” and that had done me in.
After being barely conscious for a few days, the infection in my foot cleared, although the hole had increased in size. I stopped taking Levaquin, and went back to work in a wheelchair, although I still walked about a lot.
Around this time we had a team meeting in Florida, and I showed up to the team meeting in a wheelchair. We took a boat ride to the Bahamas, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t really go exploring as I was in the chair.
Fast forward some more to June. My podiatrist insisted that it wasn’t going to get better unless I stayed off it, but I wasn’t staying off it. I was using a little cocktail on the foot of Regranex, covered by Promogran, covered by Curasol, covered by a Band Aid.
What finally made me see the light was a trip to Miami because the Toolman was on vacation. I did an MSDN Event in a mall, and using the wheelchair to get from the parking lot to the theater was an ordeal. July is the first month of our new financial year, and Microsoft folks go to a big internal conference called the Microsoft Global Briefing or MGB. I realized that I couldn’t go to MGB in a wheelchair because I couldn’t get from one end of a convention center to the other. I decided to stay home for July and let my feet heal up. I took short-term disability, and lay in bed for a while.
I missed one week of MSDN Events in August, but spending a month in bed allowed the foot to heal, and I was back on the road by mid-August. I was told to avoid weight-bearing exercise for a while, but the last couple of times I’ve seen the podiatrist he’s told me that my feet are in great shape and I can do any exercise I want. I do, however, have athlete’s foot again. I think I’ll avoid filing them.
In the interim, I’ve gained a ton of weight. I’m taking a diabetes medication that makes you hungry all the time. So the diet and exercise regimen starts today. My goal is to gain enough muscle and lose enough fat that I can give up the diabetes pills sometime soon. I’ll check in again with the blog from time to time and let you know how it’s going. My priority is exercise, because I know if I exercise I can diet as well. It’s strange, but the more calories I put out exercising, the less I feel the need to eat.
Before I wrap this excessively long post, I want to say thanks to several members of the MSDN Events team who have picked up the slack for me this year when I’ve needed to miss events. Thanks, Guys!
I’m going to do some walking now, and I hope my feet don’t fall apart this new year’s like they did last year. Wish me luck!