By Bavina Sookdeo
Chiropodist/Podiatrist Doctor Ann Lima recently received a Service award from the Rotary Club of Penal for her excellent vocational skills in the field of preventive health care. Lima, who studied in Canada and England, has great knowledge and experience in her field and is highly sought after the dust settles from Carnival. She offered some advice to those playing mas and attending fetes during this season.
She related, “Persons must be cautious when purchasing shoes and boots for Carnival. You must ensure that you have the right fit and that those feet are always comfortable.” The foot doctor, whose office is located on Leotaud Street, San Fernando added, “Diabetics too have to be extra careful when playing mas. Only low risk diabetics who have been cleared with their multidisciplinary team should decide on playing mas and remember that prevention is always better than cure.”
Lima, who works with her son, Ryan Lima, a Foot Care Specialist pointed out that “any form of pressure would create problems for the feet especially for diabetics. She warned that “it only takes 24 hours for blisters and the like to become infected (where diabetics are concerned). Forty percent of diabetic patients coming to me after Carnival come with Pressure ulcers and others come with Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Venous Leg Ulcers. Eighty to 85 percent of patients come in with fungal nails and in-grown toenails.”
The foot specialist then related that throughout her years of experience as a medical professional, she has seen a lot of discoloured nails (from purple to black), lifting nails and bruising after Carnival. She reminded masqueraders that while they may love the look of mas boots, “Not everyone is the same and some may actually get a better fit with track shoes.” “Some boots and footwear may not have the right depth and width to accommodate the feet” she said, “and this can sometimes lead to corns, calluses, blisters, in-grown toenails, pressure sores and other complications”.
So now that you have the time to get yourself comfortable shoes, what should you do to ensure that you get the right fit? “It is advisable to have your feet measured before buying or fitting accordingly” said Podiatrist Lima “and diabetics may need more padding in their footwear.” She then recommended that diabetics wear ‘New Balance’ sneakers which are available right here in Trinidad. “Some of the more popular brands don’t give you the width” the foot doctor explained “and the New Balance provides you with the width.” Birkenstock footwear is another great wear for persons with foot problems. This is being worn by Diabetics and Non-Diabetics all over the world.
She added that there should be enough room to wiggle the toes in your sneakers and she warned against getting shoes that are of a size bigger. “Get shoes that fit well” she again insisted “and please don’t get shoes that are pointed.” To help with the toenails there are specific nail protection oils available that are antifungal and are particularly useful for diabetics.
In addition, diabetics should not wear strappy sandals because they will definitely rub against the skin causing blisters. To those of you who are not diabetic and decide to wear strappy sandals, the foot doctor insisted that you wear sun-block on the feet since the sun damages the feet as well.
The foot specialist then sent out a stern warning, “If a diabetic sustains an injury then get out of the band and get it checked immediately. If further harm is prevented then you will not lose your feet. Additionally, don’t take off your shoes and walk barefoot. Diabetics must dust and shake out their shoes before wearing them to ensure that there are no stones or other items that can harm the diabetic foot.”
To those diabetics who are going to the beach she insisted that you wear beach shoes. “The sand” she explained “is sometimes so hot that diabetics get burnt (and don’t know it because they have no sensation under their feet) and they develop ulcers.”
With more than 20 years of experience under her belt, Lima urged diabetics to, “Remember that the smallest lesion, if seen in time, can prevent complications and save the diabetic’s feet. If in doubt after Carnival, do not hesitate to visit your healthcare practitioner. It could save your toe, limb or life.”