Maria Sandoval weighed 440 pounds and had ulcers on the back of her leg that would not heal

April 03, 2014

“Everyone had given up on me because my wounds would not heal,” says Maria. “I had given up on myself and for the first time in my life was suicidal. But the people at the Providence Tarzana Wound Center didn’t give up on me, and because of them, I am alive today.”

A past experience with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism weakened the vein in Maria’s leg, leading to persistent ulcers. Having diabetes, healing took a long time, and she finally had to visit the Emergency Department at Providence Tarzana. This was a fateful move for Maria because there she met Barbara Walker, an RN and Certified Wound Specialist who works in the Wound Center.

A follow-up visit to the Wound Center led to a couple of debridement treatments, but with no successful results. Next was skin grafting, and this worked on one ulcer but not both. “The team didn’t give up on me,” said Maria. “They continued to try different approaches and a Dermagraft procedure finally did the job.” But Maria’s troubles were not yet over, as the compression stockings she had led to one of the ulcers returning. Again, the team went into action and fitted Maria for a new set of stockings. This combined with diabetic education put her on a successful course she never could have imagined.

“Dr. Teplinsky, Dr. Chollet, Terry, Barbara, Rachel and Desiree all saw me as a person. They never gave up on me when I continued to have complications. They were always, cheerful, hopeful, loving and compassionate,” said Maria. “Because they didn’t give up on me, I stopped giving up on myself and now I am a totally different person.”

Indeed she is. Maria lost 180 pounds and is no longer diabetic. She joined the gym, is traveling with job-related work, learning how to swim, and having relationships. “I’m turning 30 and I wouldn’t be able to have the life I am living today if it hadn’t been for the Providence Tarzana Wound Center. I know my leg would have been amputated. The things people take for granted, like wearing shorts or swimming are things I am so grateful to be able to do. They literally changed my life, and for that I am forever grateful.”