Mr Cocomella Narrowly Avoided Amputation After A Wound Became Infected

Melbourne resident John Cocomello nearly lost his leg when a scratch became infected. People with diabetes, such as Mr Cocomello, are also at high risk of developing chronic wounds.  This is because diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage particularly in the feet.

“Don’t do what I did – I learnt the hard way,” warns Mr Cocomello.

When Mr Cocomello spotted a small scratch on his foot, around two years ago, he just assumed it would heal on its own. “It was only the size of a shirt button,” he recalled. But within only a matter of days the scratch became infected and turned gangrenous. Mr Cocomello ended up in hospital, with doctors struggling to treat the rapidly spreading infection in his foot. They eventually gave him a chilling ultimatum: “They gave me two choices – it’s either life or limb,” said Mr Cocomello.

Thankfully, they managed to save Mr Cocomello’s leg. He spent over five weeks in hospital, had to wear a vacuum dressing for months, and needed a skin graft. After his own experience, Mr Cocomello is calling for Australians to recognise the risks and learn the ‘Warning Signs of Wounds’ during Wound Awareness Week – and don’t delay treatment. “If you’ve got diabetes, and you get a scratch go and get it checked out – we neglect these things, but we can’t risk it,” he said.

“Don’t do what I did and think it’s going to heal. It could have cost me my leg and my life.” People with Type 2 Diabetes should ask their doctor, podiatrist or nurse for a foot assessment.

Mr Templeman Suffered With A Chronic Wound For Most Of His Life Before He Finally Received The Correct Treatment

David Templeman lived unknowingly with a chronic wound for most of his life, after injuring his leg playing football in 1970.

Years after his injury, Mr Templeman underwent significant vascular surgery which he thought was successful until he started to get flare ups many years later. These flare ups were often caused by international and domestic travel, and resulted in fluid build ups under the skin.

During one of the flare ups Mr Templeman accidentally knocked the area which resulted in a wound. As the wound gradually increased in size, Mr Templeman realised he needed medical advice as his wound just wasn’t healing.

Mr Templeman saw wound expert Professor David Hardman in Canberra, ACT, who immediately started him on a course of compression therapy. By the time the 8 weeks of treatment was up the wound had completely cleared.

Mr Templeman was surprised about the lack of information on this sort of thing in the community. “I wish I knew to ask the question “is this a chronic wound?” said David.

“My one piece of advice is that you shouldn’t suffer in silence – if a wound doesn’t show signs of going away within 4 weeks, you need to treat it seriously and seek appropriate medical assistance.”

Daniela Ricci was told she needed amputation after a wound developed so large that it exposed her Achilles Tendon

Daniela Ricci, 32, a Dental Nurse and mother from Victoria, was told she would need amputation after radiation and surgery to remove a tumour from her ankle, created a wound so large it exposed her Achilles tendon.

Ms Ricci had chemotherapy and radiation in July until August 2016, followed by surgery in early October 2016. A few months later the skin started to breakdown, creating a wound so large it exposed her Achilles tendon. When the wound initially appeared it wasn’t known how serious the situation was, until the plastic surgeon reviewed it and told her that she might need amputation.

Ms Ricci decided to take matters into her own hands and started looking into alternative options. She had no idea if she would find a way of treating the wound but eventually found there was hope after chatting to a friend who said she should visit a wound clinic. Ms Ricci then contacted Professor Geoff Sussman, Austin Hospital, who began using a negative pressure dressing to treat her wound. After just 1-2 weeks (there was a big improvement to the wound. There was a variety of different dressings used over the time from January 2017 until October 2017 – and she was delighted to find her wound eventually completely healed over. The negative pressure dressing was used in conjunction with Hyperbaric Medicine at Alfred Health.

The wound had a huge impact on Ms Ricci’s life, it was very painful and became infected which meant she couldn’t walk properly and often needed crutches. She always needed assistance whether that was carry out her daily routine, or to help her look after her toddler. Ms Ricci also had to stop work – this led to financial pressures as she and her partner had to rely on one income, and there were expensive on-going medical costs.

“I wish I knew about Professor Geoff Sussman and hyperbaric medicine earlier, the wound got so large. If it was treated properly before the Achilles tendon was exposed then the treatment time would have been a lot shorter” warns Ms Ricci.

She advises others “People trust in doctors but they need to keep their options open and look for them – never give up as there may be an alternative solution out there.”

If you have a wound that won’t heal, don’t delay – seek specialist treatment.

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