Paul Tschieder's Story
The human body is remarkably resilient. For everything the human body goes through – with all of the various diseases, ailments and injuries encountered in a lifetime – it has a way of repairing itself. Sometimes it is easy to take this for granted. Along with the body’s undeniable resiliency, it is often a person’s will to take the needed measures and steps to get better that helps speed along the healing process – and no one knows this better than Paul Tschieder.
Paul was diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly a decade ago, and he had surgery to help remove the cancer. After about six months, his doctors noticed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels – a measurement of protein produced by cells of the prostate gland – were beginning to rise, something that is often seen in men with prostate cancer. Paul was then prescribed to have 30 sessions of radiation, which ultimately impacted his bladder in a way he wasn’t quite aware of yet.
In 2013, five years after his treatment, Paul began experiencing chronic bleeding. Because of this chronic bleeding, painful clots would begin to develop – causing him so much pain, he was often rushed to the ER. Paul was diagnosed with radiation cystitis, a complication of radiation therapy when treating tumors of the pelvic organs, such as prostate cancer, that often times doesn’t appear until months or years after radiation therapy, such as in Paul’s case.
“It was the worst experience of my life – it was highly depressing,” explained Paul. “I’ve had cancer, a heart attack and open heart surgery, and I can’t even begin to compare any of it.
I had never experienced pain like that before. I didn’t want to continue with my life or go on any further under those conditions.”
After meeting with an urologist, his primary care doctor and trying a few options, Paul was at his wit’s end with finding relief and didn’t see any end in sight to his pain. Determined to find a solution, Paul and his wife, Marie, searched the internet to see if they could find any similar cases. After researching, Marie found another situation similar to her husband’s where the patient received a treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO).
After speaking with his doctors, Paul was referred to the Tallahassee Memorial Wound Healing Center. There, he met Joseph Mazziotta, MD, and learned more about HBOT treatments. HBOT is an outpatient treatment offered at TMH’s Wound Healing Center that helps fight bacteria, stimulates healthy cells and enhances the healing process. Patients are placed in a large, clear acrylic chamber that is pressurized with 100 percent oxygen — typically at twice the ambient atmospheric pressure. This steady supply of oxygen causes the previous local oxygen deficit to be corrected and allows the body to heal.
“Hyperbaric oxygen is one of the many advanced healing tools available to our patients at the Wound Healing Center,” said Dr. Mazziotta, Medical Director, Tallahassee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. “We have seen excellent results healing complex wounds related to diabetes, impaired blood flow and the effects of radiation. Patients tolerate the treatments quite well and some can notice the first signs of improvement in the first 10 treatments.”
Patients who used HBOT treatments typically have 90-minute sessions up to five days a week, for a total of 20-30 treatments. After Paul’s treatment was finished, he found relief and was able to return to his normal lifestyle and enjoying activities he previously couldn’t do.
“It didn’t take long for the treatments to start working,” said Paul. “I got there first thing every day and was the first patient they’d see – normally I’d be waiting before the doors even opened. But I was dedicated and wanted to get well.”
As radiation therapy can sometimes damage surrounding tissue, causing issues such as radiation cystitis like Paul had, over time that damaged tissue can continue to break down. While Paul found relief for two years, unfortunately his symptoms of bleeding returned in 2015. But this time was different, because Paul knew exactly where to go.
“It turned my life upside down again,” said Paul. “I immediately went back to TMH for hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Dr. Mazziotta and all the nurses and staff were great – they were just so good to me. If anyone else were going through this, I would tell them to be positive and to get the treatment. I don’t think there is any other way I could have gotten well again if it wasn’t for the treatment at Tallahassee Memorial Wound Healing Center.”
It has been two years since Paul’s second round of HBO treatments, and he’s been doing well ever since with no complications. Along with the support of his wife and TMH’s Wound Healing Center, Paul says he’s enjoying life again and looks forward to staying well. “Having a positive attitude – well, it makes a big difference.”
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