Getting back to good health – Carrie’s story

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Carrie Brinson Schulze and her husband, Ryan Schulze

When you visit or are referred to VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute complaining of leg pain, we take a very close look at what’s behind it. Leg pain can be one of the first and most common symptoms of peripheral vascular disease, a variety of conditions and diseases that affect the arteries of the body, usually in the heart, brain and especially the legs, that can have life-threatening consequences. So leg pain is our signal to check out your overall vascular health.

Carrie Brinson Schulze experienced some unusual leg pain and swelling. Though she was only 33 at the time, and much too young, she thought, to experience such symptoms, she decided to come to us for an evaluation.

“I’m a chef and I stand all day long, sometimes 12 to 15 hours a day depending on what I’m doing,” she said. “About 4 years ago, I noticed that I would get a large amount of swelling in my left leg, and some bulging veins in my left calf, not the small spider-like veins, but big bumps on my leg.”

Her symptoms started appearing in 2012 after the birth of her child. It was then she noticed that after long periods of standing her left leg would swell to almost twice the size of her right leg. At the time, she didn’t have health insurance, but had been previously been tested for muscular issues and blood clots, and the results were negative.

“Living downtown, I was familiar with Baird Vascular Institute because I had seen their billboards,” said Carrie. “When I finally got health insurance, the very first appointment I made was to Baird Vascular.”

She had her first appointment with us in 2015. Since that time, she has had three separate procedures with our team.

“My experience with Baird Vascular Institute has been amazing,” said Carrie. “The first time I called there, the receptionist happened to be on vacation and I actually talked to Cindy, the one who does the ultrasounds. She fielded my call and made me feel very comfortable, and told me over the phone what to expect with my first appointment. She assured me that I was calling the right place.”

“When I came in for my first appointment with Dr. Komorowski,” she continued, “The ladies at the reception desk, Deena and Tiffany, were super fast, efficient, friendly, courteous – they were so great!”

“At the time of this appointment, I was 33 years old and my anxiety level was through the roof,” she admits. “I thought I was too young for anything like this to be happening. So I was really scared at my first appointment.”

Our experienced staff soon eased Carrie’s fears. “I first met nurse Richard – who is amazing,” said Carrie. “He has the best bedside manner of anyone I’ve ever met – nurse or doctor. He just makes you feel so relaxed with his great sense of humor and good stories. He assured me I would be OK.”

Carrie underwent a vascular ultrasound exam with Dr. Komorowski and discovered that her greater saphenous vein was four times its normal size. “That’s when I learned that I would need an ablation and at least 2 procedures to correct the problem,” said Carrie.

Carrie underwent the first procedure soon after her exam, and the only issue she had was some sickness from the anesthesia. “I had to stay in the recovery room for several hours because of the nausea,” Carrie recalled. “The staff took such excellent care of me and even called me that night to check on me. They followed me very closely throughout my recovery.”

When she came in for her follow up appointments, she had recovered well and got the approval to proceed with her second procedure. “This time,” she said, Nurse Richard had done some thinking on my behalf after the first procedure, knowing that I gotten very ill from the anesthesia. This time, they sent me a little patch to put behind my ear to prevent nausea.” She continued, “Richard really went above and beyond to comfort me in that manner – he really takes excellent care of his patients.” She underwent a second procedure to close the lower saphenous and some branch veins.

“I had to go in there a lot because I had 3 procedures, with many pre- and post-op appointments, and 2 week and 6 week follow ups,” she said. “I never felt like ‘just a patient,’ because they really take their time to answer all your questions thoroughly.”

“In May of this year, I had my final yearly examination,” said Carrie. “Right now, everything has been good.”

“I used to stand and within a minute, I would get a bulge in the back of my calf and my ankles and I would have fatigue and pain, and now I don’t have that any more,” Carrie said. “My leg doesn’t swell anymore.”

Carrie notes that she was particularly impressed with the technology at Baird Vascular Institute. “It’s not a scary thing to go into the clinic like it is to check into the hospital,” she said. “You’re kind of awake while they’re doing the procedure, they let you pick out the music you listen to, it was all very relaxed.”

“If I do need to go back in the future, I have no worries,” Carrie continued. “I’ve just been really impressed with that whole clinic.”

Carrie concluded, “I feel like I’m finally on the path to wellness. I’ve been able to exercise again, and standing at my job is no problem. It was a successful treatment for me, definitely.”

If you’re facing leg pain like Carrie, we have the latest in technology, techniques and medications to treat vascular disease, ease your pain and help you get back into good health. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

Patient Follow up – Colleen Mescall

We talked to Colleen Mescall in November of 2015 about her recent image guided tendon treatment to relieve her foot pain. You may remember this video.

We recently caught up with Colleen to ask her how she’s doing today, and how the treatment has made a difference in her life.

How has your activity level changed since having image guided tendon treatment at VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute? Before, my feet hurt all the time – walking, standing, or getting up from sitting they hurt; I did not really like to walk or stand for a long period, but now I can take walks, go sightseeing ,etc. without having pain or discomfort.

How long did it take you to feel fully recovered? Within 6 months of having both feet done, I noticed I could get out of bed in the morning without the painful first few steps, and now, when walking for long periods, I no longer have any discomfort.

How has your life changed since having the treatment? I am more inclined to go for walks or stand when I teach a class, I have joined a gym and take classes and I can wear heels again (that’s one of the best parts).

Would you have the surgery again if needed? I hope to not have it again, but if I had to do it again I most definitely would.

Would you recommend this treatment to others? Absolutely! And I have recommended it to others.

We’re so glad that Colleen is back in her cute shoes and feeling fantastic. You may be wondering, “Is image-guided treatment right for me?” If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss whether image-guided treatment is the right option for you.

Kind words

We’re so happy when we can help a patient overcome a medical issue. We don’t do what we do for the thanks, but it’s certainly appreciated when we get a letter like this from a patient. We are glad to have helped Mr. Wagle overcome his plantar fasciitis pain with our tendon treatment procedure. Thank you, Mr. Wagle, for your kind words and confidence in our physicians and our practice.

Wagle letter[1]

Dear Mr. Chestnut,

I am writing to offer my thanks and praise. 1 wish to show my appreciation to the following; Dr. Jeffery Elbich, Nancy Lang, Jennifer Salang, Lauren Lipchak, Tiffany Brown, and Deena Omrch. From the very first phone call to my surgery on the 6th I was treated with the utmost respect and friendliness. The rest of your staff I assume is just as
good as these people. They all exhibited the level of professionalism that is beyond compare. VCU can be extremely proud of this facility and its employees.
l was lucky enough to find you by doing a google search on Plantar Fasciitis. After reviewing the excellent information regarding your innovative treatment I immediately made the phone call to schedule a consultation. I had been suffering from intense heel pain for several months. Previously l had seen an Orthopedic surgeon who had me wear a device and go to physical therapy. This only seemed to exacerbate the pain. I was at my wits end when I did the search. Thank God for your web site and l am more than willing to sing your praise to any and all who might suffer from this malady.
May God Bless you and your staff and keep you under His countenance always.

Warm Regards,

John Wagle, III

Karen’s Story

Karen was battling breast cancer for the third time after a six-year remission. She came to Baird Vascular Institute for the implantation of her port for chemotherapy. Here is her story, and how Baird helped her.

“Breast cancer runs in my family. My mom, two of my grandmothers and one of my great grandmothers had it. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor and now a three-time breast cancer fighter. I have to keep a positive attitude. I’m definitely in this to win this and I will beat this again. “

What has helped you this time?

One thing that has helped me tremendously is a book I read by Barry Seigel titled Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients. It taught me to embrace the attitude of other people who have the will to fight and to live.”

Was VCU Baird convenient for you?

Another thing that has been important to me this time around is my relationship and experience with VCU Medical Center, including the VCU Baird Vascular Institute (BVI). The convenient location (of Baird) is great. The fact that I could go to this particular location for this procedure was fantastic. I didn’t have to go to the hospital and deal with all the confusion and hassle of parking and making my way to the right floor. The location really was key.

Was there one staff member at VCU Baird who stood out?

Richard, my nurse, was my primary contact through the whole process. I experienced great telephone contact prior to the appointment, and when Richard greeted me at the front desk, he was warm and welcoming, very thorough and he made me feel at ease. Richard explained how the procedure would be different, and was reassuring and straightforward. He even called to check on me, which is something I found out he does as a matter of course for every patient. Richard rocked.”

Patients like Karen are why the team at BVI works so hard to take care of our patients. Thank you, Karen, for your story and keep up the fight! Want to share your story? Email us at bairdvascularinstitute@mcvh-vcu.edu or give us a call, (804) 828-2600.