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Lymphedema Patients toss the dice – Podiatrist or Pedicurist

What does it take to keep vulnerable senior patients/any patient reasonably cared for in a rehab setting?  How many oversee patients when a podiatrist comes to call and cut toenails?

Is it true that Pedicurists aren’t trained well enough for Lymphedema patients to take a chance on them.  Really?

….I believed it might be true even though I had never seen bloody toenails from a pedicurist cutting nails during my career as a cosmetologist in Washington and California and a small business owner here.  What do I know about medical things?  I’m learning that one thing can and does frequently lead into another.

The comments from a trusted Lymphedema medical professional was enough and I stopped going to a licensed pedicurist I liked who cheerfully gave me well trimmed and bright, jazzy colored painted toenails.

And, like Jacks Beanstalk, my toenails grew … until months later I overheard that a Podiatrist would be available to cut toenails – just’ line up.  I waited until mid-afternoon, then ‘got in line.’

The crowd finally thinned in the hallway. Finally, there was room inside where he and an assistant were working with patients in a semi-circle. I was escorted to an empty seat at the far end of the semi-circle facing the doorway.  Many of the patients were in wheelchairs and I noticed as he made his way around to the left of the circle, some of the people wore band-aids on their toes.   I watched him tap, tap push something against a toe then put the band aid on.  As he got closer to me, one or two chairs away I TOLD him I had lymphedema and COULDN’T GET CUT because I too easily was infected.   I had been fighting the last session almost a year.  Almost nothing, I have experienced compares to the pain of lymphedema.  Nothing.  He did not reply.

That said, many of the bare toes left behind the Podiatrist sprouted Band-Aids as he moved along past the chairs/wheelchairs.

My visions of getting up graciously, majestically and quietly walking away before he reached me did not happen.  I sat there like a stump off a log while he worked his way around to my chair and began cutting my toenails.  I didn’t say a word as he finished one foot and worked on the other.  I watched him get something and go tap, tap, push on the end of my big toe then placed a band aide over the end.  He said something as he moved away and I was escorted out of the room to the wheelchair I pushed away down the hall.  To the other end of the hall elevator and down to the next floor..  I rolled into the physical therapy room where I had an appointment and told the therapist what happened.  I was shaking and she said she would find the nurse on duty when I couldn’t tell her how bad it was – only that he cut my toe.

The nurse pulled the Band-Aid away to see it and said ‘that’s not bad.’  The trouble with Lymphedema – for me, if not most of us – a simple scratch or bruise can develop into a big deal infection.

In addition, I mentioned to her the room upstairs was full of Band-Aid covered toes on patients – some in wheel chairs.  What if they got infected and had to UNNECESSARILY deal with infection caused by cuts on their feet from a podiatrist?  I suggested they check the patients.

I asked her to take photos for me because I couldn’t see it.  The photos were taken, the Band-Aid replaced and I had my physical therapy session.

To be absolutely clear.  I was loaded with antibiotics at the time.  My toe healed nicely.  No lawsuits then or now.  I don’t know how the other patients faired.

My point here is to ask  how you know your loved one is not being cut leading to an infection when a trained podiatrist cuts their toenails.  You don’t know.  Go watch a time or two – check these things out.

Patients be aware – patient centers too.  Make sure that podiatrist is competent.

Who is watching?

Thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

3 thoughts on “Lymphedema Patients toss the dice – Podiatrist or Pedicurist

  1. So Sharon… don’t leave me hanging. I go to Dr. Gent for my toenails but i haven’t been there since the first of the year and he has two new associates. Did they do this???? Who should I avoid? Please send me an email at I, too, have lymphedema and can’t get an infection. Thank u!!!

  2. Sorry I don’t remember his name Sally – Only that he said his office was close by in Poulsbo. And he did toenails there every two months. Martha & Mary know his name..

    Dr Gent was recommended to me One of two Podiatrists recommended to me..

    At the same time I posted this I sent the URL and a complaint to the state director of Podiatrists … Something I should have done immediately after this happened. I expect that M & M took direct action and handled the situation… I told this story several times to different people there at the time..

    M&M is a place if need be I would want to return.. It’s a stellar place for patients to recover.

    That said, if incompetent toenail cutters can happen in a quality place like Martha & Mary – I worry about what’s going on with patients at lessor places… Who is watching?

  3. The preferred method of Aryuvedic treatment is to massage the feet with mustard oil twice a day. This need not be a lengthy process, a few minutes should do it. Leave as much of the oil on as you can and wear clean cotton socks if you must wear shoes. (Of course you know that people who do not wear shoes never get athlete’s foot or have toenail fungus; it is caused by wearing shoes and the dark, humid environment your feet must endure.) Take your shoes off as often as possible, socks, also. Wear sandals when you can. Mustard oil should be rubbed directly on to each toenail after the skin around it has been gently pulled back just a tiny bit. You should also scrape out the accumulated debris under each nail and fill the resulting space with mustard oil. Also if you take a scraper or a file to the rough and thickened upper surfaces of each nail and pare or file them down to smoothness and to a thinner state they will be more porous to the air. Mustard has excellent antifungal properties, and if you mix in a bit of oil of oregano this helps also.

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