Davis County woman who nearly lost foot urges other diabetics to monitor health

Nov 9, 2023, 5:53 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm

MURRAY — Seventh-grade teacher Debra Eaton is on her feet a lot, so when she started to notice pain and swelling in her leg, she shook it off.

“I just thought that it was from standing on my feet all day,” she said.

When it got to the point where she couldn’t walk anymore, Eaton went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Charcot Neuroarthropathy, or Charcot Foot, a rare complication of diabetes.

“All of my bones in my foot collapsed and I had multiple fractures,” Eaton said. “That’s why it was so difficult to walk.”

Symptoms of Charcot Foot include foot pain, swelling, discoloration or redness, and feeling of heat or warmth.

Dr. Anna Hronek, a podiatrist with Intermountain Health, says Charcot Foot is rare but can be extremely dangerous. It’s usually triggered by minor trauma or by overuse.

“I’ve had patients who were on vacation and walked 20,000 steps every day for five days and then came home and their foot’s red, hot, and swollen,” Hronek said. “Eventually, we start staring at the bone, and we gotta do something, and we gotta do something fast.”

Debra Eaton (left) and Dr. Anna Hronek (right) speaking about Eaton's options.

Debra Eaton (left) and Dr. Anna Hronek (right) speaking about Eaton’s options. (KSL TV)

Eaton said Hronek told her to decide between amputation or a complete reconstruction of her foot. What followed was a series of surgeries, which included placing a 12-inch rod in her leg. Eaton relied on a wheelchair during her recovery.

“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done was to sit for six months,” she said.

Eaton’s foot after the surgery.

Eaton had to learn how to walk again. While it’s been a long recovery, she’s now back in the classroom and is grateful for two feet.

“It’s been challenging but definitely worth it,” Eaton said.

Now, Eaton and Hronek are echoing the same message: if you notice something’s wrong, don’t wait. Go get it checked out.


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Davis County woman who nearly lost foot urges other diabetics to monitor health