It’s Time to Trust an Expert
No one was more surprised than Steve Mierow when he found out the pain in his lower right leg was not related to his strict running regimen; that, in fact, it was a serious vascular issue and he was at imminent risk of losing his leg. “It just came on so quickly,” said Steve, a 55-year old distance runner from Allen, Texas, who was training for the Dallas Marathon when his life took an abrupt turn in the fall of 2016.
Over the course of just two months, Steve went from experiencing tingling and mild discomfort in his right leg after running a few miles to debilitating and continuous pain radiating from his foot to his thigh. In a blink, he went from training for a marathon to using crutches just to get from his car to this office. “It progressed very rapidly and it got so bad, it was waking me up at night,” said Steve.
Steve had always done well with trusting his body to heal itself when given the right resources to pull from. He ate a healthy diet and exercised often. But as the days passed and the pain continued to mount, he knew it was time to seek out medical help.
He started by visiting an orthopedic doctor, as any seasoned runner would. An MRI revealed that Steve’s running mechanics were fine and there was no acute injury to explain the pain. Nerve tests revealed the issue might be vascular. At this time, Steve still had hope that he would feel well enough to run in the Dallas Marathon, which was scheduled for early December, so he wasted no time finding a vascular doctor.
An exam revealed no pulse in his lower leg and clots that were restricting blood flow. Surgery to clear out the arteries was performed, but when Steve woke in recovery, he was disappointed and shocked to hear that the degree of blockage was so significant that it was beyond the skill set of the surgeon.
In a whirlwind of events, Steve was transferred via ambulance to Dallas, where he met for the first time Dr. Cassidy Duran of Lam Vascular & Associates. Things escalated quickly, and after a scan, Dr. Duran calmly but firmly told Steve that this was no longer so much about getting him out of pain as it was about saving his leg. She told him he was at imminent risk of amputation (90% chance) and that if he had waited for even a few more days, there would have been no hope of saving his leg.
A Promise Made and a Promise Kept
Over the next few days and weeks, Steve saw a lot of Dr. Duran. She performed six different surgeries in what was an ambitious and meticulous plan to restore blood flow to Steve’s leg and avoid amputation. Many of their conversations centered around returning Steve to his active lifestyle of working out and running, something that’s an important part of both their lives. In fact, they discovered they were both registered for the Dallas Rock & Roll 5K in March of that year.
While he did have to miss the half marathon he was planning to run in early January, Steve was determined to be competing again by the spring. “When I was finally well enough to be released, I told Dr. Duran I’d meet her at the start line of the Dallas Rock & Roll 5K in March,” said Steve.
The two participants—doctor and patient—kept their word to each other and lined up side by side at the start of the popular race. “Well, she beat me by 7 minutes, but if I’d had more time to train, I think I could have beat her!” said Steve, with a smile.
Compassionate Care from Trusted Vascular Experts
When Steve thinks about how differently things could have gone for him if he hadn’t met Dr. Duran and the team at Lam Vascular & Associates, it’s sobering. Instead of lacing up his sneakers for his next training session, he could be going to rehab to learn how to get around without his right leg.
The doctors at Lam Vascular & Associates see many individuals who have been told amputation is their only option. The truth is, that’s rarely the case. Proper testing and treatment usually lead to limb salvage. The Lam Vascular team specializes in these second-opinion evaluations and has saved thousands of limbs of patients who thought amputation was inevitable.
Hope for the Future
Steve and Dr. Duran have run a few races together since that eventful year when he almost lost his leg. At present, they are training for a triathlon and have plans to participate in a 100-mile benefit bike ride.
Steve and his family take an annual trip to the beaches of South Texas every summer and love to spend time walking on the beach, enjoying the local sandcastle contest displays with the grandchildren. He was filled with gratitude last summer when he envisioned missing out on this annual tradition or being unable to fully engage because of a wheelchair or a prosthetic leg.
“Dr. Duran helped me get my life back,” said Steve. “I live an active, healthy life and she understood how important that is to me. She put in a lot of hours with me, checking on me and making sure I kept that leg. That kind of thoroughness of care is impressive.”
Your Next Step Matters
At Lam Vascular & Associates, the goal with every patient is to alleviate pain and get you back to living your life. If you have been told you have a clogged artery in your leg or are experiencing unexplained leg pain, don’t let this stop you from getting the treatment you need.
Lam Vascular & Associates specialize in minimally invasive vascular surgery and limb salvage. For your comfort and convenience, Lam Vascular & Associates has locations in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas. Click here to schedule an initial appointment and/or free screening to get a leg up on your vascular health.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.