Judy Main - Midland, MI
"If I had looked into treatment at the Wound Center earlier, I could have saved a whole month of nurse visits."
Specialized Wound Treatment Near Home Helped Her Leave Cancer Behind and Restart Her Life
In July of 2014, Judy Main of Midland was finished with surgery and chemotherapy for her breast cancer. She looked forward to completing radiation treatment and then restarting the busy life she enjoyed with her family and friends.
Instead, she developed an open wound called a seroma that would not go away. "It opened on its own," she said, "and I couldn't have radiation treatment until it closed."
It healed cleanly after her surgeon closed it with two stitches. Four months later, though, the second wound appeared. "This time it was a little bit bigger," Main said, "and a culture of the wound found unusual bacteria, not treatable with over-the-counter antibiotics."
Main began having daily visits from home care nurses. They packed the wound and showed her how to give herself intravenous treatments through a PICC line, a long, soft, tube placed in her upper arm. "When the wound didn't show much improvement by March, I was getting desperate," Main said.
After her surgeon suggested the Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland, she called right away and was thrilled to get a prompt appointment.
The center, led by physicians with advanced training in wound management and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, offers specialized treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. Nursing staff members are trained in the care of chronic wounds, and technicians are able to perform noninvasive studies and various therapies.
General Surgeon James R. Shepich, M.D., ordered a CT scan and discovered that Main's seroma contained scar tissue resulting from her radiation treatment.
"Thank God for Dr. Shepich!" Main said. "They found out exactly what was happening. The seroma was never going to heal until the scar tissue was gone!" she said. "I was so relieved! I was going to get some help!"
Dr. Shepich removed the scar tissue, and Main had 30 treatments in the center's hyperbaric chamber to fully heal the wound. At first, she wasn't sure how well she would tolerate being inside the clear, pressurized chamber for the treatments.
"When Dr. Shepich first mentioned it, I thought, 'That's not me, I'm slightly claustrophobic. Why would I go there?'" Main said. "Now, I'm trying to get the word out that we have this excellent facility right in Midland. It's a small office, and I know the campus area, so I just drove myself back and forth from home for the treatments."
Each treatment took a little over two hours. She said the physicians and staff were very caring and highly considerate of patients. They answered all of her questions; for example, they explained that when you breathe 100 percent oxygen, all the oxygen goes right to the area that needs to be healed.
"They did a good job of getting rid of my fear," she said. "The room is bright, cheery and very clean. The staff are gentle and caring, and they all get along. The hyperbaric chambers are completely clear. They have blankets and pillows inside and you can move around and get all comfy. You can watch TV or a video. Some people sleep."
With her treatment now complete and her right side fully healed from treatment and reconstructive surgery, Main says she feels and looks much better. She realizes that if she had looked into Wound Center treatment earlier, she could have saved a full month of nurse visits.
"If you're having issues with a non-healing wound - anywhere on your body - call and talk to the Wound Center," Main said. "Don't wait. Even if you think you've tried everything, don't give up! Continue to look for solutions, because you may still have options."
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.