The annual toe tickle

By | 21 February, 2011

I went for my annual diabetic toe tickle last week. This follows a similar routine every year. I walk in, the chiropodist does a double take and says “Oh, hello, they’re normally a lot older than you!”. I take this to mean he doesn’t see too many sprightly type 1’s. I also dread the day that he doesn’t say that when he sees me, that’s when I’ll know old age has arrived.

The torture commences with the vibrating tuning fork on the toe. At which point I shriek and the chiropodist says he normally asks people if they can feel that, but he guesses by my outburst that I can. He then brings a bit of reality into play by telling me that the man he had in before me couldn’t feel anything when he did that. That’s quite a terrifying thought, it really wasn’t a gentle touch, it was like a hundred mice tickling the end of my toe and running up my leg. To not be able to feel that because of the broken pancreas is quite a scary thought.

Once my heart rate had returned to normal following the foot vibration excitement, I tried not to be ticklish while we did the “If I poke here can you feel it” routine. Thankfully, my feet remain ticklish as ever and are confirmed as still being attached to the end of my legs and working for another year.

As the foot man sorted his paperwork at the end, he asked the standard “How is your diabetes” question and I resisted giving some of my fantasy answers because he was a nice man and I didn’t want to scare him. Then he asked how my diabetes was treated. I told him I had a pump and his face lit up. Apparently he went to a meeting the other day where a professor from the local teaching hospital was talking about some fancy new diabetes treatment that might be available soon. I feigned interest. Conversations that start like this normally end up with me being cured by eating curried lentils and cucumber whilst standing on my head twice a day or some such rubbish. But no oh great cynical one, it turns out the fancy new tech is a pump with something called a continuous glucose monitor attached! I said, oh yes, they’re great, I’ve got one. Mr foot man said “oh no, these are very new, you wear a sensor under your skin and it transmits your glucose levels to your pump”. There was nothing for it, I whipped up my top and showed him my sensor. He said “That’s it!” I said, “I know, I’ve had it for 4 years, it’s marvellous”.

What I didn’t tell him was that the professor he was talking about was the one who tried to tell my PCT four years ago that CGM was no good, despite never having used it on a patient himself. It’s nice to know he’s changed his mind eventually!

6 thoughts on “The annual toe tickle

  1. Stephen

    @alison – is that an appointment with a registered toe tickler, or some generic doc at the hospital who has a thing for feet?

    Reason I ask is I’ve been refused an appointment to see a registered toe tickler as there’s nothing wrong (yet,) with my feet.

    Backwards logic FTW!

  2. Alison Post author

    @Stephen My PCT run an annual foot screening programme for all pancreatically challenged people. They basically check the blood supply to the feet and all sensations in the feet are normal so they can spot any potential problems early. I can also call them at any time for an appointment if I think I’ve got a problem. They also said I’m entitled to see them to have my toenails cut but I think that would be overkill and there are people in greater need of foot care than me. The service is provided by a registered toe tickler/chiropodist. I think all PCTs are meant to provide foot screening, I’m sure I’ve seen that somewhere but I can’t find it at the moment, I’ll keep looking.

  3. Tim

    Yes, I think all PCTs should provide foot screening. But saying that, I haven’t had mine thoroughly checked for a couple of years. I expect being relatively newly diagnosed with good control, that it’s probably not all *that* important; but I’ll check next time I’m up at the clinic.

    In other – related – news, I am trying to arm-twist my friend who is a foot-person into writing an article for the blog. She has all sorts of great stories about diabetic feet. So much so she’ll probably write it anonymously…

  4. Alison Post author

    @Tim Personally I think my feet are something I can check quite well myself, being nimble enough to be able to see and touch them. However, my GP gets hugely overexited if he sees I haven’t had my toes tickled in the last 12 months. That leads me to believe he is paid for making sure he’s ticked that box.

  5. Tim

    @Alison – indeed, I can still feel my feet and they don’t appear to have rotted off (though @Katie might say they smell like they have from time to time) so I’m not entirely worried about them really.

  6. Hairy Gnome

    Well, you’ve made me an unhappy old gnome today @Alison, thanks to your excellent article I am now forced to admit that when I visited Nursie last week I couldn’t feel either her tickling device, or the tuning fork. I knew the sensation in my feet had deteriorated, but I didn’t quite realise how far; thankfully though, there are no signs of them actually rotting off… yet…

    I used to see a podiatrist once a year, but nowadays the standard tests are conducted by Nursie every six months or so, though I still have unlimited access to the podiatrist if I need her. I even get accelerated appointments, usually within a week. Once a year, a special nursing team (it takes two of them, one to hold me down, the other to apply the torture) at my GP’s medical centre check the blood supply to my feet with ultrasound. Again, luckily, although my nerves are shot, the blood supply is still adequate, though my poor little tooties do get much colder than they used to! It’s quite reassuring to be able to hear my blood pumping round though. 🙂


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