Jim Massey - West Branch, MI
"I would highly recommend them to anyone - they're wound care angels."
Expert Care Helped Him Heal an Old, Painful Injury
Being a detective, Jim Massey was an active person. As part of the job, he was on his feet and moving around quite a bit, and he also kept himself fit by swimming. Over the years he participated in a number of different sports as well, including track and football. In his free time, he loved to travel through scenic parts of the country on his Harley dresser bike.
It was during one such excursion that Massey first ran into trouble. While riding through the Great Smoky Mountains in 2002, he crashed his 1,000-pound motorcycle. The bike fell onto his leg, which got hyper-compressed and severely bruised. The rest of him was uninjured, but his leg was never the same.
Though he didn't think much of his injuries at the time, over the years Massey would occasionally suffer pain in his injured leg. As time progressed, the pain worsened and he began developing wounds in his flesh. Reflecting back on his initial accident with what he knows now, Massey says it's likely that the weight of his motorcycle crushed the arteries and veins in his leg and damaged his circulation.
The wounds that Massey developed were consistent with those associated with circulatory problems. Elastic socks rubbed abscesses and ulcers into his skin, which seeped and were extremely painful. The open wounds deepened and spread.
Walking and riding around in cars - significant aspects of Massey's job - and even sitting, became difficult. "It was absolute hell," he remembers, saying it was like a type of nerve pain. He no longer could wear normal socks, high-top shoes or boots, and had to keep out of the swimming pool.
For months Massey tried to heal the wounds on his own. As a law enforcement officer, he says, he had no desire to take narcotics for the pain. He used all the methods typically used to treat normal cuts - Neosporin, sanitary covers, and washing at least twice a day. "It just didn't work," Massey says of his efforts. "It just didn't heal." Eventually, his wife Norma convinced him that he needed to see a professional for treatment.
At first Massey was uncertain about visiting his doctor about his leg because he was afraid it would end up needing to be amputated. His fears were alleviated, however, when his doctor looked his injuries over and then right away referred him to the Wound Treatment Center at what is now MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch.
Massey began receiving treatment there in May 2017, where he says that he was given the greatest level of care. In particular he commends the nurses and care staff who looked after him, especially his physician assistant, Lisa. "They're trained and skilled in their area," he says. "They are very kind to the patients, very considerate."
The doctors used a few methods to clear dead and diseased tissue out of his wounds. One was debridement - using an instrument to scrape out the damaged tissue. Another was maggot therapy, wherein the doctors placed pouches of a specific type of maggot onto his wounds to eat the dead cells. While this might seem like an unusual and off-putting type of therapy, Massey says he wasn't fazed by it. "After 40 years of working on crime scenes, there wasn't much I hadn’t seen."
After each cleaning session, the doctors put collagen into Massey's wounds to promote quicker tissue regeneration and wrapped the area with a high-grade sports bandage. At each visit, they took photos and measurements of the affected areas to document the recovery process. According to Massey's wife, they began to see improvement after just one month of treatment.
With encouragement from the staff at the Wound Treatment Center, Massey underwent a surgery to improve the circulation in his leg. Using ultrasound guidance, surgeons ran a probe through a major vein, which expanded it to increase blood flow. Now, he shouldn't be developing further problems due to inadequate circulation. The increased oxygen and nutrient delivery to his extremities also helped speed the healing process.
Massey completed his treatments in March 2018. "It's not even comparable" between then and now, he says, it's changed so drastically. While the pain used to be almost unbearable, his leg feels much more comfortable now. Massey can now do routine things like sleep, walk, and put on shoes without pain.
Massey is also now able to take advantage of his new retired status and take some well-deserved vacations with his wife. They went to Aruba after his therapy ended and he was able to enjoy the classic long walks on the beach without being bothered by leg pain.
Signs of Massey's old injuries are still apparent today. The skin on his lower leg is still dark where the wounds used to be, but overall the area is looking and feeling much more like normal flesh, he says. It's still "new baby skin," as he describes, and still fairly delicate. Massey actually re-injured one spot during a camping trip with his wife in June, when he scraped his leg on some fire wood.
Fortunately, Massey knew right where to go this time around. He returned to the Wound Treatment Center to have this re-injury taken care of. This time the wound healed quickly, and the skin has regrown. At this point, his doctors are having him come back for just two more weekly treatments to build up a little more toughness in the new skin.
Massey now tells everyone he can about the Wound Treatment Center and how they can help people with chronic wounds or pain. "I would highly recommend them to anyone," he says. "They're wound care angels."
MidMichigan's Wound Treatment Centers in Alma, Alpena, Clare, Midland and West Branch provide specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. The Centers feature physicians and other clinical experts with advanced training and expertise in wound management as well as state-of-the-art technology, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Learn more at www.midmichigan.org/woundcenter.