Chronic wounds are a silent epidemic in the United States, leaving nearly 6.7 million people suffering from painful non-healing sores. Non-healing wounds drastically affect people by diminishing their overall quality of life and potentially decreasing life expectancy if left untreated. An aging population and increasing rates of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and vascular disease contribute to the chronic wound epidemic. If left untreated, chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possible amputation of the affected limb to prevent further infection. Fortunately, this was not the case for Bob Axford.

The Start of the Problem

Bob Axford, husband 43 years and counting, father of 4, and grandpa to 11 grandchildren found himself on a long, ever debarring path of healing.  In August of 2017, Bob had started to notice sores on his right and left big toes, sores that over time would not heal and go away. Being a Type 2 diabetic which creates circulation issues, Bobs ulcers were starting to become a never-ending battle. With a passion for riding and caring for horses and spending time with his dog Oreo, Bob found himself no longer able to ride.

“My wounds just kept on getting worse, so bad they went all the way to the bone,” stated Bob. After a year and a half of seeing two different wound specialists, first one suggesting amputation. “They were threating to take both my toes off.” Bob and Kate decided to ask for additional advice with a wound specialist in Sioux Falls. Upon meeting with the specialist, thoughts were to treat with antibiotics with no need to amputate. “I was then placed on antibiotics, but they did not work with actual wounds,” stated Bob. “I would clean them, and take the callous off, we found ourselves going back and forth,” Kate stated. Bob’s wife Kate is an RN at Windom Area Health.

Rock Bottom

In October 2018, Bob came down with a terrible case of cellulitis in his left leg on top of his painful non-healing wounds, at this point now ulcers. During this visit for his cellulites with Bob’s primary provider Dr. Hartberg Kate also attended. “I was tired of him telling Dr. Hartberg his toes were , ahh ok. This appointment I said, Dr. Hartberg, you need to look at his toes.” With no luck with the Sioux Falls provider and now with the availability of the Wound Center right at Windom Area health, Dr. Hartberg referred Bob to the new clinic. “Dr. Hartberg suggested I should go over to the Wound & Hyperbaric Healing Center and give them a shot at my wounds,” stated Bob. By the time of admission to the Wound Center, Bob’s wounds had increased in size and was now dealing with a constant pain, horrible pain. “Bob’s ulcers were really big and deep, practically took up his whole toe and down to the bone, “stated Kate, “Quarter size on both left and right big toes.”

A New Start

In September of 2019, Bob was introduced to Elizabeth (Liz) Coleman, one of three providers at the Wound & Hyperbaric Healing Center. Upon arrival, Bob’s ulcers were assessed and a personalized healing plan was created. “Bob was one of our first patients to use the Total Contact Cast (TCC) system, which offloads the pressure on the foot to promote healing and decrease the risk of amputation,” stated Liz Coleman.

“I had a cast on my right foot almost all winter, they couldn’t case my left side due to cellulitis,” stated Bob, “My left leg kept swelling.” “The wound healed nicely” stated Kate, “During the whole treatment process they were always thinking of ways to get the left foot off and little contraptions, which worked! If they did not have it, they made it! Always asking us for suggestions from us too! Liz was very good.”

“Bob healed quite quickly after starting TCC, even though he had the wounds for many months,” stated Liz. “The TCC system is considered the gold standard in diabetic foot ulcer treatment.  Bob did a great job and I enjoyed working with him and Kate!”

Bob was fully healed and discharged from the Wound & Hyperbaric Healing Center on March 29, 2019

A New Life

“I battled my wounds a year and a half before the Wound Center opened.” I am pleased with them, it’s a good addition to the hospital. When asked what is what  the best part about receiving services at Windom Area Hospital Bob stated, “Got to keep both of my toes! No they were really good, very helpful. I would recommend to Wound Center to anyone big time.” “Dealing with my case mostly over the winter, it was handy and nice to be close to home.  “We didn’t have to travel to Sioux Falls or Mankato, especially the way the winter was. We could come right here,” stated Kate, “They were very helpful and were always so happy help and see you and did a lot of good encouragement. Always asked about blood sugars and Bob’s A1C count. “They have a good staff back there in the Wound Center. I can get around better and don’t have the pain,” stated Bob, “If they don’t have the answer, they will find one for you.”

Non-healing wounds cause patients severe emotional and physical stress. Not only is pain caused from a non-healing wound, but the patient often experiences trouble walking and moving. Healing these wounds helps patients regain mobility and independence. Advanced wound care can help patients heal quicker, avoid infection, experience less pain, and prevent amputation/loss of limbs. Most importantly, advanced wound care can help patients return to jobs, to parenting or grandparenting, and to living life more fully, like Bob’s story.

Bob and Kate’s plans are to go back someday to Hawaii to enjoy the beach and have a couple drinks!

Advice for Others Suffering from a Non-Healing Wound

“People need to know this is available, not just for diabetics but also for incision wounds that do not heal, stated Kate, “There are so many people out there with wounds, stomach wounds, leg wounds, arm wounds, its every type of non-healing wound, they help with everything! Don’t wait a year and a half to two years to see a provider. “If you have any type of wound, you defiantly should come,” states Bob, “They know what they are doing and very helpful.”

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