SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Today, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day. The goal is to bring awareness about a disease that affects tens of millions of Americans.

While 29 million Americans are dealing with diabetes, another 86 million have prediabetes yet only a fraction are aware of it. A doctor and a diabetic patient spoke about a part of the body that’s often the first to signal you may be at risk of having the disease. 

42-year-old David Wanchisen visited his foot doctor Tuesday morning. The Scranton man didn’t expect he’d end up here but it’s the result of a diagnosis last year that took him by surprise. “I’m dealing with a diabetic ulcer that it’s curing but it takes a lot of time and a little bit of pain.”

He’s wearing an orthowedge shoe to reduce pressure on that diabetic ulcer. Before he had the wound, the first physical sign he had Type 2 diabetes surfaced after a summer day at the beach. “Neuropathy on my feet caused the burning.” That burning pain, weakness and numbness were a result of his diabetic condition. “I might have had it for quite some time.”

Commonwealth Health Podiatrist Laura Virtue-Delayo, DPM said, “Oftentimes it’s that they’re getting tingling in their toes or burning.” She added that many patients first learn of their diabetes by having a sore on their foot that’s not getting better. “When you have a wound, the longer it’s open the better chance of getting an infection in the soft tissue, in the bone, which can lead to amputation of the toes, the forefoot or even the lower leg.”

Dave’s treatment includes having the doctor debride, or scrape, his wound once a week while he has to apply a specialized ointment to that area every day. He’s also eating healthier and lost 50 pounds in less than a year. “You have to make a lifestyle change to somewhat cure it or you know improve your lifestyle.” Dr. Virtue-Delayo added, “He definitely is working on keeping his sugars in tact so they don’t have to be a problem. You can be a diabetic without having foot problems or other problems that go along with diabetes.”

Dr. Virtue-Delayo says a diabetic who notices a foot wound, even a blister, should call the doctor as soon as possible. She says delaying treatment even a few days could lead to amputation.