Getting Her Life Back

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A woman in Susquehanna County has a lot of good things to say about her doctors at Geisinger Medical Center.  After a lot of pain, and many months in a wheelchair, she is finally able to live her life again.

The fact that Patsy Dmytryszyn is standing upright, walking around in her kitchen making coffee, may not look like an accomplishment.  But it certainly is to her.

"My whole world turned around.   I was given a 20% chance of ever walking again."

67-year-old Patsy met us at her home in Hallstead to talk about what happened one night last February, when she lived in her native New York.  She'd been perfectly healthy one day, no pain and no idea what was about to hit her the next.

"I got up about 11 o clock at night to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden I collapsed," Patsy remembered.

She was rushed to a hospital and underwent a 6 hour operation on her back.

"I had an abcess the size of a pineapple that burst in my back," she explained.

But she says the surgery only made it worse, and the problem kept coming back.  One of her daughters, who lives in nearby Hop Bottom, moved her to Pennsylvania and started getting her treated at Geisinger.

Dr. Brett Schlifka is a neurosurgeon at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center who diagnosed Patsy as having a very serious infection in her back.  By this point she was in a wheelchair and in severe pain, unable to walk or take care of herself.

"We put a VAC dressing, a sponge-type dressing, to heal from the inside out, and we had our infectious disease colleagues assist us with the antibiotic regimen and treat her with that," explained Dr. Schlifka.

VAC dressing is vacuum-assisted closure, used to promote  healing in chronic wounds.  It pulls wounds closed from the inside.  It was a long recovery, with lots of physical and occupational therapy, but it worked.

Today Patsy lives on her own, makes her own bed, cooks for herself, and is able to walk without a walker.  She thanks the staff at Geisinger for all of it.

"I can do all the things I used to do.  Just maybe not as quick!"