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Joy Howell – Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center Success Story

The Healing Power of Oxygen

A quarter of an inch. That’s the size of the tiny nick Joy Howell got when she bumped her left ankle on her daughter’s truck in October 2015.

“I’d never had trouble healing in my life, but it wouldn’t get well,” she says. Instead, her foot swelled and she developed an infection that spread to her Achilles tendon, where an old abscess remained from a surgery in 2012. By December, she had two infected wounds that needed treatment.

“It hurt so badly,” Joy says. “The ankle wound was to the bone.”

Joy’s primary care doctor referred her to the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

“I could see the concern on her face,” says Gil Flores, Joy’s boyfriend. “She wouldn’t say it, but I knew she was scared of losing her foot.”

undefinedTwo main goals

Basit Amr Ali, DO, UHMS, medical director, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center, and wound care physician on the Methodist Charlton medical staff, identified two main goals for Joy: improving her circulation and treating the infection. At Joy’s very first appointment, Dr. Ali drained the abscess and prescribed antibiotics and debridement treatments. He also ordered an imaging test of her circulatory system.

“They found I had no circulation in my leg, no pulse in my foot at all,” Joy says.

Her type 2 diabetes had led to a blocked major artery and damaged microscopic arteries in her leg. Repairing her circulatory system started with a revascularization procedure in January with Craig Ferrara, DO, a vascular surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton. This procedure restored the main source of blood flow to her leg, making her eligible for the next phase of treatment: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

“Think of your circulatory system like a highway system,” Dr. Ali says. “You have major freeways and interstates, and then you have exits that lead to back roads. A vascular surgeon can open up the larger arteries, the interstates, but we need hyperbarics to work on those small arteries, the back roads that lead to the final destination. Hyperbarics increases the number of those back roads, or arteries, in our skin and tissue.”

Refreshed and renewed ‚Äč

Joy had daily HBOT treatments five days a week for eight weeks and loved them.

“I felt so fresh,” she says. “That pure oxygen makes you feel so good.”

Even better than how she felt was being discharged on May 26 with her wounds completely healed. She credits the wound care center staff and Dr. Ali.

“They became like a family,” Joy says.

With her wound care center days behind her, the next place you’ll find Joy is on the dance floor.

“We haven’t gotten to country dance since my surgery four years ago,” she says. “Now I’m fixing to go back.”

From the winter 2016 edition of Shine magazine