Two years ago I faced the most frightening moment of my life when I was told my left leg might need to be amputated due to a diabetes-related complication.
Having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager, I first knew something was wrong when an excruciating pain down my left leg woke me in the middle of the night.
I held off calling the hospital until 6am, but not wanting to make a fuss almost cost me my leg.
When I eventually got to hospital I was told I had a blocked artery that meant no blood was getting to my leg, sometimes known as a ‘foot attack’.
I was rushed into a five-hour operation and luckily the surgeons saved my leg. Sadly I can no longer kick a football or go running with my dog, but I realise how lucky I am my leg was saved from being amputated.
My hope now is that my story can help raise awareness of the importance of looking after your feet when you have diabetes, and this is why I am supporting Diabetes UK’s Putting Feet First campaign which aims to reduce diabetes-related amputations by half.
At present 120 amputations take place in the UK each week due to diabetes – but Diabetes UK says 80 per cent of these are preventable.
It is vital that people with diabetes understand the importance of good foot care, that foot care services are improved, and the people know what services they should expect to receive.
One of the key ways that people with diabetes can take good care of their feet is by attending annual foot checks. Diabetes UK’s new leaflet, What To Expect At Your Annual Foot Check, explains why it is so important to have your foot check and outlines the care you should receive in these checks.
I know I am very lucky to still have both my legs. I strongly urge everyone with diabetes, who is aged 12 and over, to download and print off this leaflet and take it to their next annual foot check. Being prepared is the best defence.
You can download the What To Expect At Your Annual Foot Check leaflet and find out more about the Putting Feet First campaign at: www.diabetes.org.uk/putting-feet-first. To order free copies of the leaflet visit: https://shop.diabetes.org.uk/go/foot-check
Gary Mabbutt MBE
Honorary vice president of Diabetes UK