Patient Perseveres to Overcome Threat of Amputation

July 9, 2012

When Ronald Sandbach, a 74-year-old retired teacher who now runs a corn and soybean farm in Memphis, was first told that his severe foot wound would require amputation, he decided then and there that he’d do whatever it took to not let that happen. He has led a life full of activity, from being a father of four and grandfather of five, to teaching math and science to middle schoolers, farming, driving race cars in the Sports Car Club of America and wintering at his home in Florida. He’s never been one to slow down, and he wasn’t about to give up his foot without a fight.

Ron Sandbach

“When you come through the shadow of an amputation and you get to keep your foot, it’s hard to put that into words. The best I can say is that you get out of life what you put into it. And I put a lot into keeping my foot!”
– Ronald Sandbach

Pictured left to right, (seated) Abby McKinney, Hyperbaric Technician, Ronald Sandbach and Julianna Pavey, RN, (standing) Syed Ahmed, DPM, Susanne Wolf, RN, Sandra Lawrence and Cassandra Gustin, RN.

Syed Ahmed, DPM, podiatrist and wound care specialist, explained Ronald’s condition at their first meeting in the Floyd Memorial Wound Healing Center. “Ronald is a special patient to me because he’s someone who refuses to let his health conditions get in the way of leading an active, fulfilling life. He has diabetes, circulation problems, heart disease and renal failure that requires dialysis three times per week. But those things do not define him at all. He’s an incredibly active man and he intends to keep it that way.”

Syed Ahmed, DPM“Ronald had many specialists tell him that he needed an amputation, but he was determined to keep his foot and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was a challenge we happily accepted. After intense treatment and just about every therapy in our arsenal, his foot is safely where it belongs and he’s well on his way to making a full recovery.”

Syed Ahmed, DPM | Podiatrist & Wound Care Specialist
Floyd Memorial Wound Healing Center

Vasti Broadstone, MD“Diabetes wounds can be very complex and many physicians tend to either do too much or not enough when treating them. I’ve found that the experts at the Wound Healing Center get it right every time. They are a fantastic resource for our community, especially for diabetes patients.”

Vasti Broadstone, MD | Board Certified Endocrinologist & Medical Director
Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at Floyd Memorial Hospital

Srini Manchi, MD“As Ronald’s cardiologist, I appreciated that the team at the Wound Healing Center made the extra effort to involve me in his care plan. His cardiovascular health is very fragile, but working as a team, we were able to keep his heart in good condition while also saving his foot from amputation, which was a win-win for Ronald.”

Srini Manchi, MD | Board Certified Cardiologist
Cardiovascular Associates of Southern Indiana

Dr. Ahmed continued, “His foot was in bad shape, he had an ulcer that had developed into a bone infection, which is concerning enough, but I was even more concerned about his poor circulation to his feet. We found a severe blockage of his right foot that required revascularization surgery, but first we had to get his heart condition under control. Before long, he had developed three more ulcers and been told by countless professionals that amputation was unavoidable. But I knew with determination like his, we could save his foot. He went through just about every tool in our arsenal-surgical debridement to clear out dead and infected tissue, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) to increase blood oxygen saturation and speed healing, vacuum therapy to increase circulation, skin grafts to cover the wounds, and regular dressing changes in the Center and at his home with the help of our home health nurses. He went through all this while continuing to manage his heart, diabetes and renal health. He’s nearly back to normal now, and he tells me he’s getting out in his fields this summer to farm. I couldn’t be happier about that.”

Wondering About Wound Care?
To learn more about services available at the Floyd Memorial Wound Healing Center, call 812-949-7964.

Up to 85 percent of Amputations Can Be Avoided
Follow these 10 easy steps for healthier feet with diabetes:

  1. Inspect your feet carefully everyday.
  2. Never go barefoot, even indoors.
  3. Wear shoes that fit properly. They should be supportive, have low heels and should not rub or pinch.
  4. Wash and dry your feet (especially between your toes), and moisturize your heels and soles every day.
  5. Wear fresh, clean socks everyday. Do not wear tight socks, garters, elastics or knee highs.
  6. Check the surfaces of your feet and between the toes thoroughly for anything that looks unusual (blisters, cuts, sores, cracks, etc.).
  7. Clean cuts or scratches with mild soap and water, and cover with a dry dressing for sensitive skin.
  8. File your toenails to follow the shape of your toes. Never use scissors or clippers.
  9. Do not treat your own corns, calluses, in-grown toenails, warts or slivers, or use over-the-counter medications. People with diabetes should not have pedicures given by a non-healthcare professional.
  10. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice redness, swelling or warmth in your legs or feet, or if you have a cut or wound anywhere that appears to be infected.