Not all medical success stories start with a single issue and end with a single treatment –particularly in the complex field of vascular health. A perfect example of that is Alicia Fielder, a United States Marine Corps Veteran and current Dental Assistant and Office Manager in the Brookhaven area.
Alicia had debilitating pain and swelling in her left foot that just wouldn’t go away. She visited her podiatrist regularly to receive cortisone injections. While these worked for a few days at a time, her nagging pain would always return.
Alicia and her podiatrist finally decided to take an x-ray to see if they could uncover the source of the problem. When the x-ray returned, Alicia’s podiatrist knew they were dealing with something more significant. Alicia was then recommended to Dr. Sendhil K. Subramanian of Georgia Vascular Institute (GVI).
From there, her story of pain and swelling finally began to change. However, it would still take many steps and complications before Alicia found relief.
Through an ultrasound in her first appointment, Dr. Subramanian and GVI discovered Alicia had May-Thurner Syndrome. A medical condition that causes a compression in the veins of the pelvis which can prevent the proper flow of blood back to the heart. This can result in severe swelling and pain in the leg (s) and can cause blood clots.
Luckily for Alicia, she had one of the best physicians in the field supporting her.
“Dr. Subramanian saved my life, plain and simple,” Alicia reported. “I truly believe he was my Godsend. His level of high-quality patient care is just out of this world. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been in the medical field for 33 years. There’s no one better than him at what he does.”
Once they had a diagnosis, Dr. Subramanian recommended putting a stent in Alicia’s veins to get the blood flowing properly again. The first stent was placed on May 6th, 2015. For more than a year, she felt better.
The Swelling Returns
Unfortunately, things began to regress in July 2016, when Alicia and her husband took their grandchildren to Disney World. After a six-hour car drive, Alicia’s leg and foot were so swollen she couldn’t even bend her toes.
“Back when I first met Dr. Subramanian, he gave me his cell phone number,” Alicia explained. “The two of us would text and call each other if he needed to check up on me or if I had a medical question. You just don’t get that level of care anymore. I called him in Orlando, and he asked me to head to the emergency room just to make sure everything was okay.”
However, the staff at the emergency room couldn’t find anything majorly wrong, like a blood clot. She was released, but things began to get worse when Alicia couldn’t get a single drop of blood out of her finger to check her blood sugar levels. After their vacation, Alicia went right to Dr. Subramanian for another scan and blood work.
The diagnosis hit Alicia hard: polycythemia vera, a slow-growing blood cancer in which bone marrow creates too many red blood cells. As someone who had already beaten ovarian cancer, Alicia knew this would be hard to overcome.
While this diagnosis allowed Alicia to start a treatment plan for her polycythemia, there was still the unresolved issue of her leg swelling. Dr. Subramanian decided to put in two more stents in hopes that it would allow blood to flow properly.
After completing this next procedure, the team quickly realized that the flow through stents was still too sluggish due to the thickness of Alicia’s blood despite being on blood thinners.
After consulting with a hematologist, the solution came in the form of stronger blood thinners, which reduced the swelling in Alicia’s leg by 50 percent. From there, continual use of a leg pump was able to get the rest of the swelling down over the next month.
One Last Hurdle
Just a few months later in October 2016, Alicia experienced extreme groin pain, and her leg swelled back up while she was at work. She called Dr. Subramanian right away and got an appointment for that afternoon to come back into the GVI office.
Dr. Subramanian was able to immediately identify the problem — Alicia’s stents became narrowed. Dr. Subramanian performed a balloon procedure on the stents that day, and again in a few months’ time.
Finally, Alicia was able to find sustained relief.
“It’s currently 2018, and I’ve not used my leg pump in four months. For the first time in three years, I finally have two ankles again. You really take those things for granted when they’re taken away from you,” Alicia said.
Alicia’s progress continues to hold strong thanks to her treatment with GVI and regular check-ups to see Dr. Subramanian. She is able to return to her work as a Dental Assistant and Office Manager, enjoying travel with her husband of 25 years, and spending time with her five children and seven grandchildren.
Georgia Vascular Institute’s goal is to provide our patients with the best and most comprehensive care available. If you would like to meet with Dr. Subramanian to fix another vascular health medical issue you may have, either call us at 770-506-4007 or click here to schedule an appointment.