Patient Finds Healing at Mon Health Wound Care
After a 4-year battle with life-threatening illnesses, 65-year-old Bonnie Woods, of Fairmont, is looking forward to finally planning a vacation she’s had to postpone so many times before.
Her road to recovery has been anything but smooth. Between type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia and a host of autoimmune diseases, Bonnie is no stranger to battling heath ailments.
Bonnie’s journey at Mon Health Wound Care began in 2015 when diabetic ulcers began to form on the bottoms of her feet. Under the care of Dr. Gordon Miller, a Morgantown podiatrist and Mon Health Wound Care specialist, she underwent a number of basic care treatments to heal the infected areas, including oral and IV antibiotics under the supervision of infectious disease physician Dr. Dino Delaportas —but something wasn’t quite right.
“Even though we managed to get the diabetes under control, the ulcers were strangely not responding to treatment, and I would end up being admitted due to sepsis,” said Bonnie. “Dr. Miller suspected something else was going on in my body—but it just wasn’t revealing itself in tests yet.”
In January 2017, doctors made the decision to remove a bone from her left foot in order to prevent further complications.
“I’m so thankful Dr. Miller made the decision to amputate when he did,” said Bonnie. “The infection would likely have spread to the entire limb had he not amputated.”
Unfortunately, even after surgery, ulcers continued to reappear and worsen. That’s when Dr. Miller referred Bonnie to an oncologist.
After a series of tests, a bone marrow biopsy confirmed the worst—Bonnie had cancer. Multiple myeloma, a cancer present in Bonnie’s plasma cells, prevented her ulcers from healing and set her back on the road to recovery.
“I remember feeling numb…like he was telling someone else that was behind me, like I wasn’t the one he was talking to,” said Bonnie. “The combination of my autoimmune disorders, my medications and treatments and the cancer—it was all working against each other and preventing me from getting better.”
Bonnie wouldn’t be able to return to the wound center to heal the ulcers until her cancer was in remission. Back at square one, Bonnie received cancer treatments under the care of Dr. John Azar, an oncologist at the Mon Health Cancer Center.
Miraculously, Bonnie’s cancer responded quickly to treatments, and she soon entered remission. With the cancer under control, Bonnie was back at the wound center undergoing intensive treatments for her ulcers in the center’s Hyperbaric Chamber.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy places patients with hard-to-heal wounds in a pressurized tube and exposes them to 100 percent pure oxygen. The treatment enables lungs to gather more oxygen, which then travels through the bloodstream to organs and tissues throughout the body. The process aids in healing by allowing white blood cells to fight infections quickly.
“The unit had a TV/DVD player and a communication system so I could talk with people outside of the chamber,” said Bonnie. “It was amazing—after 60 HBO treatments, my left foot was healed completely.”
In March 2018, another diabetic ulcer formed on the opposite foot, causing Bonnie to have a toe and metatarsal bone amputated. Additionally, Bonnie’s neuropathy—a condition that causes weakness, numbness, and pain from nerve damage—resulted in several broken bones in her foot and a surgery to remedy the issue.
This, in addition to the newly formed ulcer, placed her back at the wound center for more HBO therapy. Despite Bonnie’s rollercoaster of a journey, her wounds are healing, and she’s managed to stay strong.
“I’ve been discouraged at times,” said Bonnie. “But I have to stay strong—I have no choice but to get better. I want to be there for my mom and my husband and I have family vacations to look forward to.”
Bonnie recently learned that a spot on her leg is stage 2 melanoma, and she would need another surgery.
In the meantime, Bonnie will continue fighting, and she looks forward to the exciting plans that lie on the other side of recovery.
“I have a lot fighting against me, but I’m getting better with the help of my care team,” said Bonnie. “I look forward to walking on my own two feet, spending time with family and going on vacation with my husband.”
While she isn’t sure how long her journey to independence will continue, she knows one thing for sure—she’ll be returning to Mon Health Wound Care to help speed up the recovery process.
“I have so much faith in the doctors, nurses and staff,” said Bonnie. “Each of them knows me and takes care of me—you just don’t get the same care anywhere else.”