"People need to be aware," said Patty Meek of Newcomerstown. She wants to inform the public of a serious situation that has affected her family and wants others to know about it, too.
Her husband Daniel Meek, who drove the senior transportation van for the Newcomerstown Senior Citizens Center for four years, has Type II Diabetes which has lead to diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy affects all peripheral nerves: Pain fibers, motor neurons, autonomic nerves. One of the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy is numbness and tingling of extremities. In Dan's case, his feet are completely numb.
On Friday (June 3), Dan awoke to his seven-year old Dachshund dog Cooper chewing on his big toe on the left foot. Because of Dan's severe diabetic neuropathy, he had no idea what was happening. By the time he was awake, half of his toe was already gone.
Patty said Dan usually wears socks to bed but for some reason didn't the night before, and Cooper found Dan's toe seeping and started to chew on it.
The doctor treating Dan told Patty that it was the natural instinct for the dog to chew on his toe, especially when it had blood already on it. But, the dog did more than lick the toe.
Patty said she will not get rid of the dog. She said the dog acts different now, like he knows he did something wrong.
"It'll probably be a long process," Patty said about Dan's road to recovery.
Dan underwent surgery the next day (without anesthesia because his foot was already numb) to repair the toe, which is half gone. However, it will depend on the growth of the tissue to determine what the next step in the recovery process will be.
The big toe is needed for balance. If the toe is removed, the person would need to be re-trained on how to walk, according surgeryask.com.
"You never hear about this happening to you," Patty said. "But, I think it would be nice for people to know."
Patty, who is also a diabetic, wants others to be aware of the dangers that diabetic neuropathy and the problems that may arise from the loss of the feeling in a person's extremities.
Cards and well-wishes may be sent to Dan at 18785 Township Road 121, Newcomerstown, OH 43832.