Julia is a former teacher who now runs her own successful dressmaking business in Wakefield. The problems with her leg started after falling down two steps in a shop in Leeds Market in November 2015, which resulted in her right lower leg being broken.
“After six months my leg bones had healed but there was an open wound that just wouldn’t heal. It was decided that I would undergo a ‘flap operation’ where all the pins and screws were removed and I had a muscle transplant and a skin graft on the wound site. This would cover up the original open wound, but caused another wound to open which again, wouldn’t heal.”
How poor treatment led to a chronic leg ulcer
Julia was going to the hospital every week to have her dressings changed but after two and half years, the wound had still not healed but she was discharged from the hospital.
“The hospital team basically said that there was nothing more they could do and that it would heal by itself, but that I might still have it in twenty years! I was discharged from their care and that was that apparently. When, weeks later, it still wasn’t improving and was actually getting worse. I ended up asking my local GP to refer me to another consultant at a hospital closer to me.”
Julia was under this consultant’s care for a further year and it was just a merry-go-round of dressings and more dressings but with no real positive effect.
“The ulcer continued to ooze and bleed and was still really painful. In all that time the consultant didn’t suggest any treatment that would actually work and was just very unoptimistic about my chances of healing. I felt he didn’t really understand leg ulcers and how to heal them. I was always hopeful that the skin would finally meet up but after months of trying loads of remedies, including manuka honey, silver plasters and biopsies, which just made the wound bigger, nothing worked”
Julia was left with a very painful, open ulcer. She also became allergic to every dressing that was used. The consultant finally offered a further skin graft operation and this was arranged. However, Julia’s doctor / patient relationship with the consultant was badly compromised when he told her the new graft was unlikely to improve things and the operation didn’t take place. Finally, after almost a year, Julia was eventually transferred to a different specialist vascular consultant, which proved to be a turning point in her care:
“I’ve been with the new consultant for about 10 months now and she has just been wonderful! The whole vascular team, Leanne, Clare and Adele have just done all the things I believe I should have been offered from the start. They got me straight into compression socks, which are not great but really do work. I had an ultrasound which found I had blocked veins contributing greatly to the lack of healing and the team are all just determined to heal my wound. I feel they care about me which is something I hadn’t experienced with the previous consultant. As of today my wound has now been deemed ‘healed’ which is wonderful and the start of my new future.
Julia’s advice to anyone with a wound that isn’t healing is to act quickly and to not settle for being told you can’t heal:
“The crucial thing is to get the right care early. Effective vascular treatment for my wound was left too late. For wounds like these, you need a specialist consultant straight away. Compression treatment really does work. It is vitally important that you are confident with your consultant and the treatment being offered. Do not settle for anything less.”
Want to know more?
Find out more about leg ulcers including what to look out for
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in theses films, the following organisations may be able to provide help and advice.
Samaritans Samaritans are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. Call them free any time, from any phone.
Mind Mind is the UK’s leading mental health charity. They're there to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone you can call or text for free anytime.
NHS Choices the official NHS website, which provides vital information and support about leg and foot signs and other symptoms.
Call 111 - for non-emergency medical advice
Find out more on the NHS Choices website
Accelerate Based in East London, Accelerate can accept national referrals from your GP / specialist to our world-class centre where we pioneer and trial experimental new treatments for chronic leg ulcers / wounds, lymphoedema and mobility challenges.
The Lindsay Leg Club Foundation Promoting and supporting community based treatment, health promotion, education and ongoing care for people who are experiencing leg-related problems - including leg ulcers and other wound care issues.
Find out more on the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation website
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