John Stair was only a day or so into his pleasure trip to Costa Rica when paradise was almost lost at the end of an “endless” swimming pool.
It was there that Stair scraped his right foot against the rough finish surface of the pool, peeling back the skin and setting the stage for a nasty diabetic wound that required the special healing skills of Methodist Medical Center’s Wound Treatment Center in Oak Ridge.
“I can’t say enough about how good the care was at The Wound Treatment Center,” said Stair, a 65-year-old retiree who had been diagnosed as “borderline diabetic” three years earlier, but had only begun taking medication to control his blood sugar weeks before leaving for his tropical excursion.
“During the time frame that they treated me, Dr. (David) Stanley and his staff were just super!” said Stair. “I can’t say enough about this facility. The doctors, the nurses, all the people here are top-notch people. I tried to comply with everything they asked of me, and it turned out to be a good experience – that is if you can have a good experience wearing a cast for a month.”
Known as a total contact cast, the pliable cast is considered the “gold standard” for diabetic foot ulcers on the plantar surface of the foot, said Michelle Bailey, a registered nurse and the center’s program director. “The cast is applied preferably with the patient lying on their stomach. This position allows the cast to capture the calf muscle and decrease pressure on the bottom of the foot. An outer walking boot is then applied.”
But the cast does more than keep pressure off the wound – it also provides a healing environment. Before it is applied, the wound is cleaned and coated with an antibacterial topical wound dressing and wrapped in absorptive cover dressings. It is rechecked within three days and then weekly until healed.
Bailey said Mr. Stair’s healing process was “unusually rapid.” “We attribute the speed of healing to his attempting to be compliant with all of our recommendations and improving his glucose control,” she said. “Any type of healing is slowed by glucose elevations. Elevated glucose causes cellular damage and impedes the functions of the cells for healing.”
Lessons learned from his misadventure in paradise have changed Stair’s perspective on his diabetes.
He’s particularly grateful to the staff at The Wound Treatment Center for his quick healing and pointing him in the right direction. “I’ve lost about 25 pounds, haven’t had anything sweet in about two months, and I’m taking my medication like I should,” he said. “There’s nothing about it that makes diabetes a happy disease. No doubt about it. I respect it more now because if you’ve got it, you need to address the situation. It’s something you’ve got to learn to control.”