A double success

Ralph JohnsonRalph Johnson likes to take nature walks in his hometown of Hernando, Florida. But for a long time, medical problems made it difficult for him to enjoy his usual stroll.

Johnson was plagued by “aching in the legs and (being) tired, not being able to walk long distances.”

“I would get swelling in the legs,” he said. “I would have to elevate them.”

He also suffered from repeated infections.

An outside physician had diagnosed Johnson with cellulitis, a series of bacterial infections that start in the skin and can progress into the lymphatic system and bloodstream, potentially causing a litany of serious complications. During his treatment, Johnson also came down with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an extremely dangerous, drug-resistant infection.

He consulted a dermatologist at Shands at UF, who treated the cellulitis and MRSA. Johnson said his dermatologist referred him to UF’s Comprehensive Vein Center when he suspected circulatory problems were causing the infections.

During his first visit to the Vein Center, doctors tested Johnson’s venous system and found it was congested in his legs. This made the skin on his legs more vulnerable to infections.

Johnson noted that a UF surgeon met with him to discuss the condition immediately after the test, preventing him from having to travel again from Hernando to the Vein Center in Gainesville.

Peter Nelson, M.D., discussed the situation with Johnson and recommended a surgical procedure called venous ablation. Nelson and Johnson agreed on a plan to begin with surgery in the left leg and then assess the results, moving on to the right leg if the initial surgery was effective.

Johnson said he appreciated the time Nelson took to discuss his concerns about the treatment.

“He answered all my questions,” he said. “He’s a good surgeon.”

A few weeks after his first surgery, Johnson was excited about the results.

“Within a week, I could really see the difference,” Johnson said. “Every day it’s better.

“I had some pain in my leg, but I didn’t realize it until I had this fixed.”

Johnson soon underwent his second surgery, which also was a success. He continues to enjoy positive results and has returned to his nature walks.