Great news for a Norman woman who was told three months ago she'd lose her leg due to an infection. She was treated by a team of doctors, who not only saved her leg, but told her she would be able to stand up on her own two feet again in no time.
Cathy Forister said she kept getting bad sores on her feet, but would treat them herself. That was until they got so bad one of her feet swelled up to the size of a grapefruit, and she was left with very slim options to save it.
Going down the hall for the last time at the Norman Regional HealthPlex, Cathy can't wait to get her cast off. With a special saw, Cathy's cast was cracked open after three months.
"It's a great relief," she said.
Cathy had been relying on her son and her sisters to help her walk after she was rushed to the hospital on her 62nd birthday on Jan. 14 for her swollen foot.
"It was just like an elephant foot or something. It was huge," Cathy said. "They immediately knew it was a problem and a doctor said you only have a five percent chance of saving it."
She was told she would have to have her leg amputated until a team of doctors, a part of the new Diabetic Limb Salvage program, worked around the clock to save it.
"She was so pale and weak and in such bad shape because she was so sick overall, so the success of her wound, kind of mirrors the success of her taking ownership of her diabetes and her family supporting her," said Dr. Tay Sha Howell, medical director of the Oklahoma Wound Center, which oversees the program.
After a quick examination, Cathy got the best news.
"You're healed up," exclaimed Howell as she gave Cathy a hug. "It's the best day, that's what we're here for, that's what each one of us is here for."
And all Cathy wants to do now is walk.
"You think you'd like to sit down, but you really like to walk," Cathy said. "[It] makes you grateful for having feet."
Cathy will wear a light cast for another seven days as her foot continues get better. She'll take antibiotics for another month and will come back for a checkup, but Howell says she is 100 percent healed.
The Diabetic Limb Salvage program started in January at Norman Regional and is the only one in the state. The program is made up of emergency physicians, internal medicine and infectious disease doctors, podiatrists, surgeons, wound care doctors, and cardiologists.
Howell says Oklahoma has such a high incidence of diabetes and resulting amputations at a rate of 11% compared to the US at 8%. If you'd like to learn more about the program, call (405) 515-0025 or go to the Norman Regional website.