A GRANDMOTHER who had not seen a doctor for almost 40 years could have died after failing to seek treatment for an infected toe.
But for the swift actions of her husband and a Leamington GP, Elaine Treadwell, could have lost her toe, foot or leg – or even suffered a fatal heart attack – and all because she did not want to bother a doctor.
The 67 year-old said: “It got to the stage that I couldn’t put my wellies on, then my shoes and finally I was housebound in the only thing I could wear without being in crippling pain were my house slippers.
“I was in a lot of discomfort but it didn’t occur to me to visit my doctor – I haven’t seen a doctor for as long as I can remember – maybe 40 years. I just get on with life.
Eventually husband Ray became so concerned he booked a private consultation so she could be seen immediately.
Dr Jeff Foster, from TFJ Private GP Services in Leamington, who saw Elaine at his out-of-hours surgery, said: “When I saw her foot I was very concerned; her toe was black, swollen and was badly infected.”
When he failed to find a pulse in her foot he knew something was seriously wrong. He immediately arranged for a scan of her whole leg, and requested blood tests.
Dr Foster continued: “She had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, severe diabetes, impaired vascular supply to her whole leg, to the point where it was suggested she may lose her foot, and need major vascular surgery. She was very unwell, and due to her other newly diagnosed medical problems would be at risk of a major heart attack.”
Surgery was a possibility – taking an artery from under her arm and putting it in her leg, but even this only came with a 70 per cent chance of success depending on the damage – and doctors could not even rule out amputation.
Elaine said: “I went home that night in shock. I’ve never been ill in my life. I was terrified hearing about the surgery, the chances of losing my foot and being a ticking time bomb.
“Dr Foster started to get me back on track straight away. He wanted to try and avoid surgery and prescribed a change of lifestyle and medication for my blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol. I changed my eating and shopping habits to cut out sugar – I was so determined to stick to the plan.
After six weeks Elaine surprised everyone. She saw the vascular surgeon who said surgery would no longer be necessary and that she was unlikely to lose her toe.
Also, already her, cholesterol and blood sugars had both dropped significantly due to the prescribed medication.
Elaine said Dr Foster’s swift action may have saved her life.
Dr Foster said: “It’s a marvellous result for Elaine. It was very lucky she sought professional advice when she did. I’m delighted for her and her family.”
Elaine Treadwell with her saviour Dr Jeff Foster. (s)
Elaine’s infected toe could have proved life-threatening. (s)