For Winston, 36, of Bridgeport, his foot problem started in the shower.
For most people, wound healing is a natural, uneventful process. However, for the five million Americans suffering from diabetes, it can become a complex medical problem requiring specialized treatment and care.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 16, Winston was a former basketball star at Central High School. Since then, he has struggled with complications, like the peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) that led to loss of sensation in his feet. Because of this nerve damage, Winston suffered a burn on the bottom of his right foot during that shower.
“It’s not uncommon for diabetics with neuropathy to obtain scald burns as a result of shower injuries or walking on hot surfaces without shoe protection,” said Alisa Savetamal, MD, medical director of the Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital.”
Winston’s treatment at the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine at Bridgeport Hospital included wound dressings, compression wraps and two debridement surgeries, followed by a skin graft.
“For many diabetics, it’s a delicate balance to keep feet healthy. Some of these problems are inherent with the disease, and it becomes a real challenge,” said William Butler, MD, medical director and general surgeon for the Wound Center.
The skin graft, however, showed signs of rejection. Winston received hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a medical treatment in which patients breathe 100 percent pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The therapy promotes the healing of specific chronic wounds, increases the effects of some antibiotics and activates white blood cells to fight certain infections.
A year after that hot shower, Winston is not only back on his feet, but also back on the basketball court.
“The staff at the Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine were like family to me,” said Winston. “They made sure I stayed on top of my care and helped me every step of the way.”