Our Patients: Meet Mary Simmons

Location: Houston, TX
Age: 65
Insurance: Medicare

For more than a decade Mary Simmons lived with unbearable pains in both her right and left lower legs. While on vacation with her family in 2004, Mary experienced her first symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), yet she had no idea why and chalked up the tremendous pain in the form of deep leg cramps to all the walking she was doing during her travels.

“The pain was take you down, knock the breath of you and bring you to tears pain,” explains Mary.

IMG_0198Upon her return home, bouts with leg pain persisted, so she visited her doctor in Houston, at which time she was insured privately through her employer. Over the course of several years, Mary was diagnosed with a series of conditions and
prescribed various medications and instructed to do leg stretches. She followed her physicians’ instructions, but the pain prevailed.

Mary was basically rendered immobile, unable to walk more than 50 yards, at which point she’d experience debilitating leg cramps. The situation escalated when Mary collapsed while visiting a local retail store with her husband a few years ago.

“I was afraid to walk,” says Mary. “The only thing that provided any relief was a heating pad, so I felt confined to my home living in fear of the unbearable cramps.”

Her heating pad and a low-calcium dietary supplement called Calcet were the only things that seemed to help yet they did not offer a permanent solution.

Finally, after retiring and enrolling in the Medicare program, Mary was referred to Dr. Banergie, a cardiologist specializing in vascular interventions. In her initial meeting with Dr. Banergie, he performed an ultrasound on both her legs and found that the artery in her left leg was 90 percent blocked while her right leg contained an 85 percent blockage.

Immediately, he diagnosed Mary with Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD. And he explained treatment options she had never heard before. Finally, she had hope.

That is when Mary also had her ah-ha moment, “After I understood my condition, it finally clicked that I had seen this before. In my own mother. She had leg pain too. Her death certificate read, ‘peripheral vascular disease.’”

Since her diagnoses, Mary has undergone two vascular interventions – one in each leg – including an angioplasty on her right leg to allow Dr. Banergie to remove more of the plaque buildup in her artery.

The procedures were each about one hour, and Mary was back home the same day. The procedures we’re done about 4 weeks apart at a freestanding vascular center near Mary’s community.

Today, Mary is experiencing minimal pain and very optimistic about the future, “Before, the pain was horrendous. I am walking again. I used to think about the future and envision a mobility scooter. Now, I think about spending more time with my little granddaughter. I want to be there for her graduation, her wedding.”

When asked how she would rate her diagnosis and treatment for PAD from Dr. Banergie on a scale from one to 10, Mary answers with an enthusiastic 15.