Mae Marcell: Back on Her Own Two Feet
Mae Marcell of McKinney is walking on two healthy feet again thanks to the efforts of the Wound Care Program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen. Not long ago, however, the outlook wasn't so positive.
In January 2005, Marcell had had surgery to remove bunions from both feet. Her left foot had healed normally, but the incision on her right foot had not. Her orthopedic surgeon followed the accepted treatment protocols to address the problem, but progress was painfully slow. In the meantime, Mae was hobbled by the rigid boot she had to wear to as part of the treatment regimen.
In August 2007, more than two years after the original surgery, her orthopedist tried a fourth corrective procedure. For several weeks after treatment, the wound appeared to be healing. But then the stitches loosened and the incision began to open up again. That's when Marcell's doctor referred her to the wound specialists at Texas Health Allen.
The Wound Care Program's medical director, Shahida Rafiq, M.D., removed the remaining stitches and cleaned and examined the opening on Mae's foot. What she found was a silver-dollar sized hole through which tendons and bone were visible.
This was the first time that Marcell had taken a good look at the wound, and it alarmed her. "I was shocked," she said. "I thought I might lose my foot." Fortunately, the Wound Care Program had other ideas.
Rafiq prescribed an innovative treatment called V.A.C.® (Vacuum-Assisted Closure) Therapy for Mae's problem. This unique approach to wound care uses an ingenious combination of therapeutic materials and equipment to stimulate the healing process. Although it may not be appropriate for all wounds, V.A.C. therapy proved to be "just what the doctor ordered" in Marcell's case.
First, a special foam dressing was placed on her wound. This was covered with a clear adhesive seal, much like a large bandage.Then a computer-controlled therapy unit was connected to the seal via sterile plastic tubing. This therapy unit created a vacuum - a steady, negative pressure that drew out air, compressed the foamdressing, and brought the edges of the wound together to help it close. It also removed infectious materials and fluids.
Mae wore the V.A.C. Freedom® System 24 hours a day for a number of weeks. "It was inconvenient but not uncomfortable," she said. By Thanksgiving, enough progress had been made for Marcell to travel to California to visit relatives for the holiday. And by Christmas, her wound was completely healed.
Today, Mae is undergoing physical therapy to regain full flexibility and strength in a foot that had been immobilized for so many months, and she expects to have 100 percent function soon. An avid jogger, she's looking forward to getting back to regular exercise and restoring her full quality of life once again. She readily acknowledges how much the Wound Care Program contributed to her recovery.
"I can't say enough about everyone there," she said. "Dr. Rafiq and all the nurses are absolutely wonderful and very nurturing. Anyone who has a wound that won't heal should definitely go to the Wound Care Program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen."
Marcell is just one of 3 to 5 million Americans who suffer from nonhealing wounds every year. Fortunately, the advanced treatment options available today give most of them new hope for effective healing, and the Texas Health Allen Wound Care Program is making those options more readily available for residents of North Texas.
"I stand by the Wound Care Program," Marcell said.
"And I mean that literally."