There were days when Brad Long walked entire days while teaching golf in the southeastern and western United States. The 62-year-old worked at a luxury resort where he worked his way up from a valet to a junior golf instructor. He relished his time at the resort, until 10 years ago when his legs began to ache and swell from diabetes.
“I was lucky that, once my pain began, I could work elsewhere on the resort. But, eventually, I couldn’t walk around like I used to,” Brad stated.
After 25 years in the golf business, Brad returned to his hometown of Villa Grove in 2015 to be closer to family. He got an apartment and new job at the local Walmart.
“When you get older, family is even more important. I’m so grateful for the people in my life,” Brad said, giving particular credit to his aunt and uncle who help get him to the grocery store and to medical appointments at Sarah Bush Lincoln.
In May, Brad began to battle a diabetic wound that would not heal. He visited the SBL Advanced Wound Center, where staff tried to scrape and heal the wound, but circulation issues exacerbated the injury. Brad’s wound lingered for months and grew infected. Everyone understood that if the lesion did not heal, Brad could loose his foot. Two artery blockages stood in the way of that wound from healing.
On a referral, Brad booked an appointment with SBL Cardiologist Dean Katsamakis, DO, who made Brad feel seen and safe. Brad said he had never experienced such incredible communication with a cardiologist.
“In my experience, most doctors tell you what they are going to do in big medical terms and then quickly hurry away. Instead, Dr. Katsamakis explained the procedure and then asked me if I had any questions. I told him it was a lot to take in. So, he left me to think about any questions that I had, and he came back 15 minutes later. Then, of course, I had questions for him, and he answered every one so kindly,” Brad explained.
Dr. Katsamakis planned to perform two artery angioplasties in Brad’s leg. Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the legs. Cardiologists guide a catheter through the artery to the blocked area to place a stent (a small, metal mesh tube that keeps the artery open). The stent opens the blocked vessel and restores blood flow to the heart.
Brad explained that he had the procedure done before at a tertiary hospital, but he felt more comfortable this time since Dr. Katsamakis had described the procedure to Brad in a way that made him understand exactly what was going to happen.
“I felt very comfortable with Dr. Katsamakis doing my procedure. He’s an amazing person, and I would tell anyone to go see him. I trust him more than any other doctor,” Brad remarked.
The angioplasty restored blood flow to Brad’s leg, which healed quicker thanks to the procedure. He expects to return to walking without pain once his wound completely heals.
“I’m already walking a lot easier after the procedure. My legs used to hurt so much that they quivered, and I had to take pain medication daily. Now, I feel much better and rarely take the medication,” Brad expressed.
Brad plans to soon return to his hobby of taking nature photographs, with hope of shooting more snowy barn landscapes and starry sky shots.
“When you’re young, you feel fearless. Years ago, I rode my motorcycle out to Arizona from Illinois and back. It’s scary when your life changes. Health problems arise, and then you aren’t young and fearless anymore. But it feels better knowing you have great people on your side like Dr. Katsamakis,” Brad said.
For more information about the SBL Heart Center, or to make an appointment with Dr. Katsamakis, please call 217-238-4960.