Bill’s Story

Tropic Bay, Delray Beach Resident

The day after Thanksgiving, I went for a walk and was wearing a brand new pair of diabetic walking shoes. In one of those shoes there was a little imperfection that rubbed on my right foot and ankle to the point of creating a massive blister. That blister opened up while I was wearing the shoe and the wound became badly infected. The size of the wound infection had eaten away the attachment of the Achilles tendon, which was by now seriously infected. The orthopaedic surgeon I saw felt there was no way around amputation of the knee and ankle. I was sent to another orthopedic surgeon who said there was no way the leg could be saved. I refused to consent for amputation. The doctor then referred me to Dr. Joseph Ricotta, a vascular surgeon who would treat the apparent circulatory problems in my right leg.

My right foot and ankle infection went all the way down to my bone. It was a nightmare. I went to see Dr. Ricotta in his office, where he determined it would be beneficial to undergo a procedure to save my foot, ankle and leg. I had an immediate sense of caring from the people who work in his office. Jessica Bruno, the physician’s assistant, was outstanding during my two follow-ups at Dr. Ricotta’s practice. She is excellent. Dr. Ricotta’s staff is unbelievably wonderful – they instill a real sense of confidence, and they really believe in Dr. Ricotta’s program. Dr. Ricotta’s staff carries themselves with exuberance, care and concern. His staff knows me by name.

The procedure was done at Delray Medical Center. This limb salvage procedure was done by Dr. Ricotta, robotically using an intravenous approach to get into the vascular system in my leg. Dr. Ricotta told me during the surgery he inflated a drug-coated balloon to create an angioplasty to open up a blockage and create a path in my right leg, which was caused by my diabetes and the infection. This is what saved my life. The lack of circulation in my right leg was causing my limb to die and the infection in the leg was down to the bone. In addition, Dr. Ricotta had to remove three-quarters of my Achilles tendon.

The infection was so bad that when you were looking at the wound you were looking straight at my bone in my ankle, it was so intense and so big. It was massive. Before I met with Dr. Ricotta, this wound and infection was deemed totally inoperable. This was totally a miracle what Dr. Ricotta did to save my leg. Dr. Ricotta and his limb salvage procedure was truly the turning point in saving my life. He had a great outlook during the whole ordeal while other doctors just gave me a grim prognosis. Dr. Ricotta’s demeanor is calm in his office and then after surgery, he made sure he acknowledged me by coming by to say hello. His visit with me and my wife was very personal. Dr. Ricotta even met me in the hospital lobby the day I was discharged. Delray Medical Center was just wonderful. I was only in the hospital for three days. After being discharged, I saw Dr. Ricotta in his Delray Beach office. There’s an immediate sense of caring by the people who work in his office. That is very special. I had two follow-ups and then home care was ordered to dress and care for the wound. Dr. Ricotta’s office off of Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach is convenient to get in and out of.

Dr. Ricotta and his staff say I’ll be able to walk on the beach and go in the water again. That’s my goal to go down to the beach and walk in the water again.

Dr. Ricotta’s operation is what saved my leg and foot. The wound was the size of a silver dollar and now it’s completely closed. The MRI’s showed the infection went down to the bone. I had osteomyelitis which is an infection in a bone.

I have three daughters, my oldest is a child advocate lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska, and my middle daughter is a world-renowned physical therapist specializing in a program of obstetrical physical therapy – she goes all over the world lecturing, and my youngest daughter is an RN and an oncology specialist at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. My daughters think that the care Dr. Ricotta provided me was outstanding. They are just elated. They’ve been here and looked over the facilities at Dr. Ricotta’s office and at Delray Medical Center. My daughters are all in the position to understand first-hand what kind of care I received from Dr. Ricotta. I have seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. I come from a medical family. My uncle, Dr. George Wilson, was chief of thoracic surgery when he was at Yale University. When I was young, I would go with my uncle to St. Raphael Hospital where he was working on the rejection factor of heart transplants. My father taught at Harvard Medical School and dental schools, my brother teaches at Tufts University. I’m the only one who didn’t go into medicine. I flew airplanes.

When I was younger, I was a speech therapist, I was in the U.S. Merchant Marine, I was a pilot from 1959 to 1987 and also served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) on the back of fire trucks in my hometown of Yankton, South Dakota, before moving to South Florida. I was a nationally registered EMT. I was an EMT in South Dakota where I dealt with a lot of the farm injuries, severed limbs, from the bailing machines that bail the hay and whip the wire around.

I’ve had no discomfort whatsoever, none procedurally or after care. I have Brittle Diabetes and my team of doctors and everyone at Delray Medical Center from my primary care doctor to my podiatrist, to my infectious disease specialist and Dr. Joseph Ricotta, did such a fantastic job in treating me. This team of doctors was great because without giving me back my circulation it would’ve been a moot point. I can’t say enough about my patient caretaker, my wife Barbara, My wife Barbara Wilson is truly an angel. She played an important role in my recovery. It was a real team effort but the turning point was the establishment of the blood flow by Dr. Ricotta – that saved my leg and my life.