Elizabeth’s Story

Exceptional wound care restores independence

In 2017, Elizabeth Wheeler had surgery to remove a blockage in her small bowel.

However, she developed a complication called a fistula, or hole, in her abdomen. The wound remained open, despite doctor’s visits, home care and countless treatments.

In 2019, at age 63, she returned to the hospital because the wound seemed to be getting worse.

“I was told there was really nothing that could be done,” Elizabeth said. “I was faced with living with gauze and tape on my belly for the rest of my life. Not really being able to go anywhere. Then, the clinical liaison from Select Specialty Hospital – Cincinnati came into my hospital room and talked to me about coming there. It was the best decision I ever made!”

She arrived in June and immediately connected with one of the nurses. He came in every day, examining her wound and changing bandages.

One day, the nurse spotted a piece of adeptic – surgical wound dressing -- that was caught in Elizabeth’s wound. It took the nurse and a doctor an hour to remove the material. That nurse’s keen eye marked the turning point in Elizabeth’s recovery.

“I started to heal,” Elizabeth said. “When that came out, it showed me I wasn’t nuts. I knew something wasn’t right. As soon as it came out, my wound started to close.”

During her stay, Elizabeth’s treatment team also found doctors who treated a long-standing kidney issue.

Her wound had kept her inactive for so long, Elizabeth also had serious weakness. The physical therapy team began working with her on weight-bearing and conditioning exercises helping Elizabeth stand and walk more freely.

“I’m still using the walker, but I expect not to need it once I get home,” she said. “I’m going to keep doing all my exercises.”

A month after admission, Elizabeth returned home to her son and cat to continue the healing process. She’s looking forward to moving forward without her wound, and the independence that will come with a healed body.

“They’ve taught me how to change the dressings and take care of it. And it will heal and I will finally be free of all of this!”