“Brightness and happiness!”
That’s how Brenda Sturgeon describes life today. But if you would have asked her to make the same assessment just a short time ago, she would have described it in much darker terms: “I might have been facing the loss of both legs,” she says softly.
A native of Pennsylvania, Brenda, 63, moved 19 times in her first 18 years of life as her father switched jobs. She lives now with her husband, Steve, in Illinois, in a newly purchased home on a river.
After earning a degree in human relations, Brenda became a nursing home social worker, then worked for the state department of human services in Iowa before taking leave to home-school their daughter Crystal. Steve worked in transportation many years for a major retailer. Both are now retired.
Brenda’s medical journey became dire when suddenly, “my legs felt like I was trying to move cement.” A trip to the doctor confirmed she was suffering from critical limb ischemia, or CLI, which is an advanced from of peripheral arterial disease, commonly known as PAD, in both legs. After more than a dozen angiograms and the insertion of stents over a period of more than a decade, she was informed she was likely going to need bypass surgery on both legs and would likely lose both legs at the knee five years after that.
Eventually, Brenda ended up consulting a friend she’d met through TheWayToMyHeart.org’s PAD support group and learned of ACV in Michigan. “I was in a deep depression,” she remembers. “And then, I made the six-hour trip to ACV and completely reversed the direction I was going in.”
“We are fortunate Brenda sought a second opinion before receiving an amputation,” says Dr. Jihad Mustapha. “Amputation due to CLI is deadly with recent studies showing more than 75% of patients who receive an amputation die within 4 years. More patients die from CLI than all major cancers except for lung cancer.
“Brenda received procedures that opened her blood vessels, which relieved her pain and discomfort. This allowed her to resume an active life, focus on preventing further arterial disease and live a longer life with both of her legs intact.”
Today, Brenda and Steve enjoy time with grandson Ned, and the bucolic life on the river. “I cannot express in words how happy I am now,” she says. I walk with no problems. I get things done. Now, it’s all brightness and happiness.
As for the six-hour trip to visit ACV, Brenda thinks nothing of it. “That’s nothing, considering what I’m getting in return,” she says.
Brenda acknowledges having two other diseases – one is diabetes and the other a rare condition that causes pain in her head and face. “But when you have a doctor like Dr. Mustapha, it’s impossible to have a bad attitude,” she insists.
“Instead, you have joy.”