In this essay, I will be discussing the uniqueness of living
with diabetes and having an amputation as a result, in comparison to someone
without the condition.
Diabetes Mellitus (often referred to as just diabetes)
is a condition which can be recognised in two different types; Type 1 and Type 2. People
diagnosed with diabetes find themselves with one of these types, however, type 2 is much more common. 90% of
people who have been diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 1. The condition itself can be defined as a condition
where the pancreas fails to create and supply the body with enough insulin to
maintain the body’s blood sugars 2. Type 1 diabetes is the type which you are
born with, and cannot be prevented.
Type 2 is developed in later life due to a number of reasons. For example, poor dieting or obesity.
Diabetes can often result in an amputation, however, this is not always the case. One can
define an amputation as the removal of a limb or body part for medical reasons.
Diabetes and amputations are often linked – the lack of sugar level management
in the body can lead to nerve damage, especially in the feet. With improper
treatment, amputations are sometimes the only solution. There are 135
amputations a week due to diabetes, and 3.6 million people in the UK have
diabetes alone. Shockingly, 1 million people have Type 2 diabetes and don’t
know due to a lack of diagnostics 3.
Despite this, not everyone with diabetes needs an
amputation. Amputations can be prevented, as can diabetes. But once you are
diagnosed with diabetes, there is currently no cure for it. Amputations can
also be needed even for people without diabetes, depending on their
Whilst suffering from diabetes, and because there is no
cure, medical professionals can only recommend correct maintenance of the body
to maintain diabetes. Taking care of
the feet is one of the most vital things anyone can do when diabetes is
present. To do this, the feet should regularly be examined for any sort of cuts
or scratches. A diabetic patient might find that, due to a loss of sensation in
the feet, they won’t feel any damage to the feet. Because of this, a small,
unrecognised cut might lead to an infection, yet the patient won’t know unless
they had examined the foot prior. Diabetes can be linked with several medical
complications, which the sufferer might experience some or none of. For
instance, nerve damage and cardiovascular disease are just two of the many
medical complications which might follow diabetes. For someone without
diabetes, it’s obvious that they don’t have to examine their feet regularly,
and that the chance of these medical complications is significantly lower.
Diabetes can also run in the family. It has been
scientifically proven that if someone has been diagnosed with diabetes, their next generation (i.e their children) might also
carry the diabetic gene, and will suffer from a higher chance of developing
diabetes. However, it is not certain, and only the chance of developing
As it grows more and more common, more people are finding
themselves with a diabetic diagnosis,
simply because the world around us is developing in an unhealthy way. As food
on our shelves is becoming unhealthier by the minute, one can argue that diabetes
is on the rise because the food in shops
is getting worse for nutrition. For prevention, someone can simply make sure
their diet is healthy and includes the required nutrition, and that they are
keeping active. If someone fails to comply with these, they might find that
their risk of diabetes will rise.
As previously mentioned, diabetes is often linked to amputations. Lower limb amputations are much
more common (this includes the feet and legs). Amputations are categorised by
the following; major and minor amputations. An amputation is classed as major
if it is above the knee, and an amputation is classed as minor if it finds
itself below the knee. Amputations are further categorised, by either lateral or bilateral. A lateral amputation includes just one leg, and a
bilateral amputation includes both legs.
An amputation can occur due to many reasons. As made clear
in this essay so far, diabetes is one of these factors. Experiences that result
in an amputation can be classified as either traumatic or non-traumatic. A traumatic amputation is
sudden and unexpected, whereas a non-traumatic amputation is expected, and has
been happening over time. A diabetic related amputation would fit in the
non-traumatic sector. Someone living with an amputation which hasn’t been as a
result of diabetes could fit into either category. An amputation due to a car
crash would be traumatic, yet an amputation due to gangrene would be
People who have previously undergone an amputation sometimes
experience something called Phantom Limb
Pain. Phantom Limb Pain is a pain which comes from a limb or body part
which no longer exists on that person’s
body. For example, someone might have their right leg amputated. Later in life,
they might begin to experience painful sensations from this limb, despite it
not being there. This can be inflicted on amputations related to diabetes or
not, so anyone with an amputation may experience this in their day-to-day life.
Living with an amputation can impose multiple challenges,
whether it be a diabetic-related amputation or not. Amputations commonly affect
the following 6 challenges; bathing, ambulation (walking), toileting,
transferring, eating and dressing. The acronym
‘BATTED’ resembles this. The day-to-day life of someone with a diabetic
amputation is often different to that of an amputation for another reason. For
instance, a diabetic patient which has had an amputation must still then treat
the condition, as there are remaining limbs to be examined and blood sugar
levels to be managed. Someone who has had an amputation because of another
condition (for example, gangrene), might not need to manage this condition anymore
because it has been cured and removed with the amputation.
Amputations generally put a dent in the independence of the
suffering person. One can argue that there is lots of technology to stop this, however, an amputation merely prevents people
from doing everything they used to. A major amputation of someone’s right leg
can stop them from walking. Although a wheelchair can help them, they lose
their independence when they can’t reach something high because of the wheelchair.
Amputations usually pose challenges on a societal level as
well as individual challenges. On a societal level, an amputation sufferer
might find issues with employment and socialisation.
This challenge remains no matter what type of amputation has been experienced.