Sammons’ restoration of cars, feet aided by St. Vincent’s

Published 3:15 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

The Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital’s wound center is promoting National Foot Health Awareness Month in April, encouraging people to take care of the only two feet they will ever have. Residents in Chilton County, like Tim Sammons, have already benefited greatly from the wound center’s services by getting them back into doing their favorite hobbies.

“We hope that, by bringing awareness to daily foot care, we can help prevent some foot wounds from occurring,” Amy Weldon, CRNP at the wound center, said. “For the diabetic population and those with neuropathy, we want them to be aware that we are here to help at the wound clinic if they notice any signs of damage to their feet. Often, early detection can make wound healing much easier for the patient and involve less time in treatment.”

The 59-year-old Sammons has battled diabetes for over 15 years, but in 2021, he received the health scare of a lifetime. Sammons had a bad reaction to a medication and he was rushed to St. Vincent’s Chilton hospital where the last thing he remembers is telling the doctor “I cannot breathe,” before falling unconscious. Sammons spent 38 days in the hospital, and 28 of those were on life support. He spent time at both Ascension St. Vincent’s Chilton and Birmingham hospitals being bedridden where he lost feeling in his legs from the knees down.

Sammons was discharged from the hospital after a lengthy recovery and started rehabbing to get his motor skills back. The rehab facility said that when he left, Sammons would be in a wheelchair. However, he left the rehab with a walker and only used that before graduating to only needing a cane to get around.

“I could barely walk when I left rehab, but I was determined,” Sammons said. “Now I have gotten to where I can walk from point A to point B.”

While Sammons mobility improved, the condition of his toes did not, and he started developing wounds and diabetic sores on both sets of toes. He was seeing a podiatrist, or foot doctor, but when it comes to wounds and sores, there is only so much they can do.

“From that point on I stayed in the bed, and I started getting wounds on my toes because of the diabetes and I did not move my legs for a while,” Sammons said.

Sammons saw in the local news in December 2021 that St. Vincent’s was opening its wound center. He gave them a call, and they encouraged him to come in and begin his treatment. Sammons’ treatment began shortly after the wound center opened, and his issues fell right in line with the center’s main area of expertise — treating patients with nonhealing and slow healing wounds.

The treatment lasted roughly a year, bouncing back and forth between feet treating as many wounds and sores as possible at the same time.

“It was hard for me to heal one and then the other, but they came up with a plan that really worked. I was very happy,” Sammons said. “They have been great, and they have my toes in pretty good shape now. (All of the nurses) there are so great. They are extremely nice, and treated me very well. I would recommend them to anyone that has a problem with any type of wound, not just feet. You could not ask for anything better.”

Now, over three years removed from the health scare, Sammons is grateful for the hospital’s wound center, but also the simple fact they are here. He said the hospital saved his life when he had the reaction to the medication that landed him on life support. If St. Vincent’s Chilton was not there he would have had to be taken out of the county, and Sammons believes he would not have made it if that were the case.

Nowadays, Sammons can be found once again under the hood of a classic car restoring it back to pristine condition, his favorite hobby. He also enjoys fishing. The medical scares took Sammons away from those hobbies for a bit, but with the help of St. Vincent’s and its wound center, Sammons is now back into those hobbies and enjoying life, a true blessing in his mind.