Finding Relief from Her Leg Pain was a Big Relief
After experiencing what were thought to be severe muscle spasms, Linda Woodrow of Riverdale was first diagnosed with heart disease when she was just 44. Heart disease runs in her family, but Woodrow was still caught off-guard when she had a heart attack and a double coronary bypass the next year, a carotid endarterectomy the year after that and then, 11 years later, suffered another heart attack.
“I had my latest heart attack on December 19, 2012,” Woodrow said. “I was having severe chest pains at work and went to the Emergency Department at MidMichigan Medical Center in Alma. They gave me a clot buster and sent me by ambulance to Midland. My two brothers and my sister met me there. Woodrow said she first met Interventional Cardiologist Andrzej Boguszewski, M.D., after he performed several tests, including a cardiac catheterization. “While hospitalized, Dr. Boguszewski asked my sister about my additional medical history,” she said. “My sister told him that I had not walked much. Dr. Boguszewski asked her why and she said that for more than a year, I couldn’t because my legs would hurt.”
During the catheterization, Linda told Dr. Boguszewski that she had blockages in her legs that could not be fixed by her prior doctors. Dr. Boguszewski assured her that those blockages could be addressed in the future. “I was so excited when he told me that,” she said.
Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which clogged or narrowed arteries limit blood flow to the head, organs and/or limbs. The condition had made it increasingly difficult for Woodrow to do her job as a cashier.
“I couldn’t stand for long periods of time and it was difficult to do things with my arms like sweeping, mopping and lifting heavy bags of ice,” she said. “I had so much pain in my legs I had to do everything slower. In addition to my job, I also watch my seven grandchildren, ages three to 14, five days a week. Even though the older ones are pretty self-sufficient and help take care of the younger ones, they can get to be a handful.
When Dr. Boguszewski told Woodrow he could help relieve her leg pain, she was eager to get started right away. “My exact response was, ‘you’re kidding me – let’s get on with this!”
Exercise is the first line of treatment for early peripheral vascular disease. Dr. Boguszewski discussed exercise with Linda, but she told him that she could not exercise because of the severe pain. He also explored medications, but this was not an option because of her heart condition. “Dr. Boguszewski, or Dr. B. as I call him, is an excellent doctor. He’s very nice, takes his time with me and he listens and really pays attention to the details.”
Once the diagnostic tests were complete, Dr. Boguszewski explained the angioplasty procedure to Woodrow and told her what to expect. Her procedure was scheduled for May at the cardiac catheterization lab at MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland.
“The day before I had the procedure, I was in so much pain I could barely walk,” Woodrow said. “I worked the night before and it was all I could do to walk to my vehicle.”
Because of extensive blockages in her peripheral blood vessels, Woodrow had two angioplasty procedures and stents in each leg. In both, she had conscious sedation, allowing her to be aware of her surroundings but not feel any pain. Angioplasty involves using a balloon-tipped catheter to insert a tiny wire mesh tube called a stent into a blocked or narrowed blood vessel to improve blood flow to the heart and limbs, relieving pain and supplying the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function well.
“For the first surgery, Dr. B. went from the right groin to get the stents into the left leg,” said Woodrow. “Afterward, one leg was hot and the other one was cold. One leg still hurt and the other one didn’t. So the next day, a second procedure was done to stent the other affected leg.
“I sure walked out of that hospital a lot better than when I walked in,” Woodrow said, adding that the follow-up after her surgery was simple.
“I got a letter from MidMichigan in the mail with some instructions, but other than following up with Dr. B. in his office a couple of times, there wasn’t a whole lot to do,” she said. “When I left the hospital, I got a prescription for some pain medication, but I didn’t need it. Then when I went for a blood pressure test 30 days after the procedure, they said ‘wow, what a difference between the last time you were here and this one!’ Dr. B. got the blood flowing – that was the big thing. Of all of the doctors I’ve seen over the years, he’s done the best for me.”
When she’s not working or watching her grandkids, Woodrow says she likes racing four-wheelers. “We’ve got five of them. But oh my gosh. It feels so good to walk again.”
MidMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. Those who would like additional information on Dr. Boguszewski and other members of MidMichigan’s comprehensive cardiovascular team may visit www.midmichigan.org/heart.