Leg ulcers are not a glamorous topic, but they are one that I have become very evangelical about since being afflicted myself in the latter part of 2015.
My Daddy suffered from leg ulcers during the middle part of the 20th Century, when treatments were much less successful and he wore heavy bandages around his legs all day every day and still he used to get a recurring ulcer.
I turned 60 during 2015. I was looking forward to my 60th birthday both because I was looking forward to getting a 60+ Oyster Photocard, which would give me a lot of travel benefits within Greater London; and also because I would get free prescriptions. These two things between them were going to at least help a little with my beleaguered finances!
Meanwhile, my partner Stephen told me I shouldn’t be so keen to turn 60 as it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sadly, he was proved right, as I was suffering from my first leg ulcer shortly after my birthday.
Some web research turned up the website for the Leg Ulcer Charity and I discovered that since my Daddy suffered from leg ulcers, there had been significant developments in their treatment and that there are now very effective 21st Century treatments available which are even NICE approved within the NHS.
Sadly, I wasn’t initially offered these treatments, but when my ulcers quickly escalated, I was referred to an Ulcer Clinic where I was put into compression bandages. These did actually heal my ulcers, but as I was aware of treatments which lead to a cure of leg ulcers in as many as 85% of cases, I returned to my GP and with the advantage of private insurance through my workplace, I was able to obtain a referral within the private sector where I was seen promptly and I was diagnosed with enlarged veins with incompetent valves in both legs. Within a month, I had laser surgery (EVLT) and I am happy to report that I have had no recurrence of my leg ulcers and I don’t need to wear compression socks for the rest of my life.
I was lucky that I had an understanding employer and that my job is suitable for home-working and I managed to continue working through the nightmare of a raw and infected leg, but just imagine what would have happened if I couldn’t have home-worked: leg ulcers would have been career-threatening.
Now here’s the really ironic bit: leg ulcers managed with compression bandages will heal, but this is often only temporary, so the sufferer will be back into compression bandages again and again, costing the NHS thousands in expensive dressing materials and the time it takes nurses to apply these. EVLT laser surgery (often carried out under local anaesthetic) is a once-off treatment which will cure about 85% of sufferers. Getting one leg done in the private sector will cost about £2,500. It won’t take long to rack up that amount of expenditure with a continual cycle of compression bandages, yet many leg ulcer patients are never offered the opportunity to receive this cost-effective treatment which may not only take away their leg ulcers, but may save their careers and keep them in employment. It will certainly put them in a position to enjoy life a lot more and be a much more useful member of society, whether in or out of the workforce.
In an attempt to get the NHS to follow NICE guidelines, a petition was launched during March 2016. If you live in England, please consider signing this: Cure leg ulcer sufferers whilst saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds