Anne Edmonson of Middle Island is a fighter and a survivor. Between living with three autoimmune conditions, battling lung cancer and keeping her type 2 insulin-dependent diabetes in check, she’s overcome more than her fair share of struggles.
In April 2020, Anne accidentally hit her pinky finger on a door handle in her home. At first her finger turned a little pink and had some soreness, but then a second hit to that same finger caused the skin to pull away. Anne tried to treat the injury on her own for some months for fear of going to a hospital emergency room and catching COVID-19. “I was in agony trying to wash my hands and use hand sanitizer all the time with this pandemic. July was my breaking point. The wound wouldn’t heal and had become infected with the bone almost visible. I knew I needed help,” Anne said.
At a visit with her oncologist, David Chu, MD of New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, she asked what she could do about her pinky. Anne said she didn’t want to go to an emergency room or be admitted to a hospital, but she also feared that she would lose her finger and that amputation might now be the only option. Dr. Chu told her to go to Mather’s Wound Treatment Center and that’s just what she did.
Anne’s treatment at Mather’s Port Jefferson Wound Treatment Center began in July 2020. “The nurses and doctors at the Wound Treatment Center were all wonderful,” Anne said. “My physician, Dr. Roque was great, he never rushed, listened to me, and kept my other doctors up-to-date and informed of my progress throughout my treatment.”
In addition to her treatment at the Wound Treatment Center, Anne also underwent 20 treatments in Mather’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) department. “The first time I went into the HBOT chamber I had a little anxiety because you’re in this enclosed tube, but you can talk to the nurses and staff on the outside of the chamber and I quickly got used to it. I eventually started falling asleep during my treatments.”
“I felt very safe throughout the pandemic getting treatments at both the Wound Treatment Center and the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Unit. Everyone worked so hard. Both the nursing and housekeeping staff were constantly cleaning and disinfecting. They took every precaution possible.”
By September 2020, Anne finished her HBOT and wound treatment program. With the skin on her finger fully healed and no longer painful or sensitive to the touch Anne is happy with the outcome. “Prior to all of this, my finger was permanently bent at a 90-degree angle and I only had very limited mobility in it. It’s been like that for some time. Unfortunately, that’s just what scleroderma does.” Scleroderma is one of the three autoimmune disorders Anne suffers with. It causes a chronic hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues in the body, among other symptoms. That in combination with her type 2 diabetes made it extremely difficult for her skin to heal. “I just have to be extra careful not to hit my finger again,” said Anne.
“When I was first diagnosed with scleroderma the doctor back then told me I had maybe five years to live. I’ve been living with it now for 39 years. It’s my will to survive. I have a husband, kids and grandkids that need me. I have to be around for the people I love, and I would hate to see someone else give up on their treatment or delay getting the care they need and jeopardize their health.”
Now Anne is back to normal life. “I am so grateful to everyone who helped me. The doctors and nurses were all wonderful. Without them I would have lost my finger. It was nothing short of a miracle. Although my finger will never look perfect – to me, my husband, and kids it looks beautiful.”