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Hartford Hospital APRN Helps Lymphedema Patient Find Relief

November 16, 2021

For eight years, Kevin Jones lived with terribly swollen legs, in pain, in and out of doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, and hospitals, on and off antibiotics, unable to find anyone to help him with his condition. The owner and one of three employees at his family’s metal fabrication business in Storrs, the 62-year-old said he was about ready to just give up. His bouts with cellulitis were growing more severe and happening more frequently, and no one, it seemed, could help him. It was an old football injury that was exacerbated by an accident in 2013 that started the roller coaster of swelling, pain, and doctors visits. The initial diagnosis was a blood clot that had badly damaged a vein in his right leg, which then caused fluid to build up in both legs repeatedly. “Over the last six years, no one could get the fluid down,” he said. “It was not controllable. Then the cellulitis started, and it kept coming back. A couple of times I was almost septic.” Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain in the infected area of the skin. If untreated, it can spread and cause serious health problems. “They kept telling me to look for cuts, but I never had any cuts,” Jones said. “I would end up at urgent care, they would give me antibiotics. Nobody could give me any answers.” Frustrated, he told his primary care doctor, Dr. William Spector, “I want the best vascular surgeon there is,’ even though I had already been to several vascular surgeons,” Jones said. “He sent me to Patty.” [caption id="attachment_37065" align="alignright" width="200"] Patricia Bozeman, APRN[/caption] Patricia Bozeman is an APRN, CVN, with Hartford HealthCare’s Heart & Vascular Institute. “I told him, ‘I’m not a surgeon’,” Bozeman said of their initial visit in April 2021. “But I also told him, ‘We can fix you. It’s not going to be easy, but we can.’ ” She diagnosed him with lymphedema, the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. Bozeman referred Jones for lymphedema therapy. “It is really intense, and it is not easy or comfortable,” she said. Jones said his occupational therapist, Allyson Rossi, wrapped his legs tightly for two weeks. Complex Lymphedema Therapy (CLT) is the Casley-Smith (Australian) method for the treatment of lymphedema. CLT is also known as Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), and is a multifaceted treatment approach which consists of manual lymph drainage and compression therapy. After that, he was provided special socks and a pneumatic pumping device for use at home. With the device, Jones would don special garments for both legs and his torso. Hooked to the pump, the garments inflate and deflate. It feels like his lower body is in a blood pressure cuff. He uses the equipment five to seven days a week, usually at night for about an hour at a time. His legs — and his life — have returned to normal. “When we had our six month follow up, I came into the room, and Kevin said, ‘You changed my life,’ and I said, ‘Well that’s nice to hear on a Monday morning, thank you.’ This condition is underrecognized, underdiagnosed and undertreated,” Bozeman said. “It’s nice to be able to do something that changes someone’s life.” It is a chronic condition that Jones understands he will be dealing with for the rest of his life. But he is managing it successfully with this protocol, and he is thrilled to be back at work and back at life. “As a former athlete and a runner, to not be able to do anything, well, you will do anything to make it right,” he said. “This has been a game changer for me. I haven’t felt this good in eight years.”