Seeking a warmer climate, 73-year-old Maryska Skidmore, a retired office worker, relocated last year from Massachusetts to sunny Florida. For the most part, the southern heat did her body good.
“I came to Florida because of my arthritis,” she explains. “I love the cold, but my bones don’t. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get used to the hot weather, but my bones like it.”
With arthritis, Maryska knew she needed physical activity to keep her joints as limber as possible, so she joined an exercise class. She tried to keep it up, but her legs began to swell, and other changes also started to occur. She blamed most of the changes on the heat.
“My legs became three times their normal size,” she describes. “They were also discolored and I was getting charley horses. I couldn’t sit still, but I didn’t think anything of it. Then one day, I discovered a wound around my right ankle, and I could hardly walk.”
Being fairly new to the community, Maryska didn’t know where to turn. She tried several doctors, but none had an answer for her. Then, miraculously, she discovered the answer she was seeking. She had been browsing in St. Francis Animal Rescue Thrift Store in Venice when she picked up an item wrapped in newspaper. The paper was Florida Health Care News, and when she unfolded it, she saw an article about Douglas H. Joyce, DO, of Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute in Punta Gorda. The subject of the article was venous ulcers.
“I read the article and thought, This is exactly what’s wrong with me,” she relates. “I went to four doctors and they all said nothing was wrong. Meanwhile, I had a wound that was oozing blood and was pretty painful. I called Dr. Joyce, and I drove myself to his office through the pain – and it’s nearly seventy miles.”
It was worth it. When Maryska arrived at Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute, Dr. Joyce and his staff impressed her and made her feel comfortable.
“I love Dr. Joyce,” she notes. “I think he is wonderful. I love his staff, too. They are like family. I just can’t say it enough; I love them.”
First things first
As he does with everyone who comes to Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute with venous ulcers, Dr. Joyce first made sure Maryska received appropriate care for the open wound on her leg. He referred her to a local wound care clinic.
“I work in partnership with the wound care centers,” says Dr. Joyce. “In some cases, the patients are already being seen by wound care when they come to me, and sometimes, they’re not. If they’re not, I set them up with a wound care center, and if they are, I encourage them to continue because the wound care centers are specialists in healing the outside, the actual wound. My job is to fix the inside and stop the reason for the wound – venous disease.”
Venous disease is a continuum, notes Dr. Joyce. Symptoms initially include swelling, tired legs, spider veins, varicose veins and a feeling that the legs are getting progressively heavier. Over time, it slowly worsens. Left untreated, it can lead to skin discoloration, thickening and ulceration.
“There are two systems of veins in the legs,” Dr. Joyce educates. “There are the high-pressure deep veins in the middle of the leg and the low-pressure superficial veins near the surface of the skin. With venous disease, we find numerous connections between the superficial system and the deep system that are not functioning correctly.
“When this occurs, high-pressure blood leaks out to the skin veins. Pressure builds up, and if that pressure gets to be too much in an area, it interferes with blood flow. Fresh blood cannot get in to that area to provide nourishment and take away the waste. When that happens, you get an ulcer.”
To correct the issue, Dr. Joyce uses ultrasound to identify these dysfunctional veins, and then he closes them with the laser. This allows the normal veins to take over. As a result, the ulcers heal permanently with appropriate wound care.
“If a wound care center should get a venous wound to heal on its own, the recurrence rate is very high,” observes the doctor. “However, if we fix the underlying problem using the venous surgery, then the recurrence rate is very low.”
Dr. Joyce is a pioneer in treating all of the causes of venous disease of the leg. He has developed new techniques to treat venous disease, including single-needle laser ablation, a noninvasive method of treating the diseased veins responsible for advanced venous conditions.
“Since then, we have become one of the few centers in the United States performing a significant number of these procedures,” states Dr. Joyce. “In fact, we teach physicians from all over the world how to do this technique. We have developed it to the point where it’s quite successful and have treated more than five thousand of these abnormal vessels, with a very high success rate and almost no complications.”
Maryska was nervous when it came time to have her procedure, but she was amazed to learn she had nothing to fear. She was surprised by how swiftly and smoothly the procedure was performed.
“I was shaking in my bones,” she shares. “I didn’t know what to expect, and the staff tried to calm me down. Then, I said to Dr. Joyce, When are you going to begin? He said, I’m all through. I couldn’t believe it.
“I think I would rather have laser ablation than go to the dentist.”
Maryska is just as pleased with the results as she is with the procedure itself. She’s happy now that she looks and feels much better. She credits Dr. Joyce and Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute with the turnaround in her condition.
“My right leg doesn’t have any wound at all,” she reports. “It’s cleared up and it looks fantastic. Before the surgery, I hadn’t been able to get into my shoes, and I had to wear slippers out. Now, I can get into my shoes.
“I think Dr. Joyce is wonderful. I am so pleased with the procedure and with what they do at Joyce Vein and Aesthetic Institute, how clean they are and how everything’s sterilized to the hilt. I can’t say enough about the staff.”
Maryska just laughs when asked if she would recommend Dr. Joyce to others with vein problems like hers.
“No,” she jokes, “because I want him all to myself. Actually, I’ve been taking copies of Florida Health Care News and passing them out around here.”
She really does want to spread the news about the care and treatment she received from Dr. Joyce and Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute. She’s more than pleased with the results of her treatment.
“I’m ecstatic,” she says.