“I never thought I’d walk again”
Getting dressed, driving a car, taking a walk. Most people call these everyday activities. Ed Armbrister no longer takes them for granted. Just two years ago, bedbound and struggling to recover from the amputation of five toes, Ed found these daily tasks unthinkable.
“I never thought I’d walk again,” Ed says.
His health scare stemmed from complications of type 2 diabetes. Having kept his diabetes in check for years, Ed began to slack on good eating habits and taking medications. Equally important for people with diabetes is keeping an eye on good foot care. Diabetes can cause poor blood flow to the feet, which slows the healing process when an injury develops. What may start as a small problem – in Ed’s case, a hangnail – can lead to an infection. It was not long before Ed’s minor cut grew worse, leading to gangrene and the amputation of all five toes on his right foot.
Ed’s amputation wounds were still slow to heal, so his physician referred him to a unique treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy at the Saint Agnes Wound, Ostomy and Hyperbaric Center.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen. Patients relax in a sealed chamber pressurized at up to three times the normal atmospheric pressure. The pressure inside the chamber causes the oxygen to dissolve into the patient’s blood and diffuse into the body’s tissues and fluids, which stimulates healing.
“It’s is a simple, noninvasive and painless way of delivering high doses of oxygen to the body,” says vascular surgeon Leo Fong, MD, medical director of the center. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help stimulate new blood vessel growth, increase oxygen to tissues, reduce swelling and help fight certain infections.”
The center includes a comprehensive team of physicians, nurses and licensed support staff who create a specific treatment plan for each patient. Ed’s treatments involved two-hour sessions five days a week over several months. It wasn’t long before Ed noticed the benefits.
“Going for my hyperbaric treatments became the high point of my day,” he says. “Had it not been for the hyperbaric oxygen treatments and the people who helped me, I probably wouldn’t have a right leg.”
Now, more than a year after treatment, Ed is fully mobile and counting his blessings. “You have no idea how appreciative I am of just being able to walk down a step, stand in the shower, or go fishing,” Ed says. “Saint Agnes Wound, Ostomy and Hyperbaric Center is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
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