For 11 long years, Mary Maddox suffered indignities and frustrations few can truly understand — or would ever want to.
“I was just at work one day, and I couldn’t clock out, literally. I could not move to do it. My legs just would not do what I asked them to do,” said Maddox, who was in her 40s at the time.
The frightening experience touched off a frenzied series of physician exams — none of which provided Maddox with a clear answer as to why her body betrayed her. And so she endured, doing her best to find some sense of normalcy and mobility, despite her legs’ deterioration. Years spent searching for answers left her with just one certainty, however: Maddox could move about only with the aid of a motorized wheelchair.
That all changed when the now 56-year-old Maddox met Longstreet Clinic surgeon Charles B. Moomey, M.D.
“I had been to a back doctor, a hip doctor, all kinds of doctors,” Maddox said. “And they all thought I was crazy. I had lots of people say it’s all in your head. All they could tell me was that my body forgot what to do. Over the years I just about given up, and my whole life had gone up in smoke,” said Maddox, who knew that circulatory and heart problems ran in her family and grew to believe that could well be the cause of her problems, even though it had not yet been pinpointed.
“It’s been a journey.”
Upon meeting with Maddox and determining her ills were, in fact, all circulatory related, Dr. Moomey set to work — and, in August, Mary took her first steps in 11 years.
“I love Dr. Moomey to death; he gave me part of my life back,” Maddox said. “He just checked the pulse in my feet; it was so simple. Then he sent me for a CT scan and found out that I was blocked, from my chest all the way to my stomach.”
The blockages were blood clots that, in similar cases, are severe enough to necessitate leg amputation. While Maddox’s problems were not quite that severe, Dr. Moomey knew that something had to be done immediately — and that Longstreet Clinic’s Vascular & Vein care providers had the ability to release her from her health imprisonment.
“I met Mary for the first time and was immediately struck by the fact that she was only 50-something years old and had not walked for 11 years,” said Dr. Moomey, who identified that Maddox was suffering from an aortic occlusion, in a news release. “Yes, she had other medical problems, but there’s no way she should be confined to a motorized wheelchair. I kind of feel like she was overlooked by modern medicine, and I felt compelled to help her.”
Understanding Maddox also faced complications from osteoperosis, rheumatoid arthritis and excess weight, Dr. Moomey and his staff opted for endovascular therapy over the more standard treatment of bypass surgery, performing the procedure at Longstreet Clinic’s Gwinnett County offices in Lawrenceville.
“We gave her an angioplasty and placed (six) stents in her aorta that bypassed some blockages internally,” Dr. Moomey said.
It was a decision that has produced life-altering changes.
“Her youth and the extent of the blockages just shocked me, and it really made her a prisoner in her own body,” Dr. Moomey said. “Now she’s been freed from her wheelchair.”
Indeed, just weeks after the therapy, Maddox walked in and out of Dr. Moomey’s office, regaining self-mobility for the first time in more than a decade.
“I’ve been fighting for this for 11 years. There’s no way to stop me now,” said Maddox, who said she can now begin to focus on taking control of her life.
“She’ll be able to walk and exercise and lose weight, which will help her diabetes. And if she gets her diabetes in better shape that will help her heart disease,” said Dr. Moomey, who has high hopes for Maddox. “We come to work to do these things, but Mary will always be special for me, and it’s really gratifying to see her get better and be freed from her prison.”