Pride comes before a fall
Darrell Robinson finally sought help after many years of doctoring on his unhealed, open leg wounds. What took him so long? “Pride,” says the 56-year-old software support coordinator. Life-long obesity, a bad diet, a lack of physical fitness, and diabetes led to venous skin ulcers, shallow wounds usually found on the lower leg that are a result of poor blood circulation.
June is Men’s Health Month and encourages men, like Robinson, to make their health a priority, something he didn’t do for years. “I didn’t want to hear another doctor tell me to lose weight or hand me the latest diet. I’ve battled weight since I was six and living this way was my own choice.” Robinson, at the time, weighed in at over 400 pounds and was eating fast food up to six times a week. He treated his wounds by elevating his feet, sometimes sleeping upright in a chair and using over-the-counter drugs for pain. He even deliberately hid his wounds during doctor visits.
Robinson’s condition had gotten so bad that one day, he swallowed his pride and asked for help. His oozing wounds grew to six inches long. “I was failing. My doctor sent me directly to the ER.”
From there he was referred to the Lifestyle Management Program, a grant-funded program within Legacy Emanuel’s Chronic Wound and Outpatient Burn Clinic. “Darrell was a perfect candidate,” says Becky Fromhart, OT, an occupational therapist with the program. “Our approach assembled a team of specialists from smoking cessation, diabetes education, nutrition services and case management to care for patients like Darrell, with the worst kind of wounds.”
Emily Helmold, RN, a manager with the Oregon Burn Center and Wound Clinic says the program allows them to focus on a few patients to provide intensive care. “Our goal is to increase wound healing, decrease hospital admission or readmission and to promote healthy living.”
The program yielded such positive results during the trial period that weight loss management, nutritional counseling and meal planning services were added. Robinson’s weight was a concern. He grudgingly met with registered dietitian and nutritionist Megan Antosik. “I know everything about losing but this time was different. She didn’t try to change my whole life. She gave me one small goal, to eat a protein with every meal. Next time, to drink two bottles of water before noon,” says Robinson. “She didn’t judge me or overwhelm me.”
Fromhart says Robinson is doing well and they’ll continue to monitor his progress at least annually. Leg treatment involves seeing patients, even after wounds have healed, to help them manage chronic conditions, like swollen legs. “We check for new wounds and also whether the patient is ready to make other lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking or losing weight, both factors in leg ulcers.”
Since last fall, he’s lost 100 pounds. “I park the car a little farther; I rarely eat fast food; and I’m making plans to get more active this summer, “says Robinson. “The wound clinic folks were great, very positive and they gave me tools to manage my health. Pride comes before a fall. I had to knock it down and listen to health care professionals who didn’t lay any guilt on me and cared for me with compassion.”
For questions or media inquiries, contact Vicki Guinn, firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-413-2939. Photos courtesy of Darrell Robinson.