Dennis Gonzalez might be missing a toe, but he isn’t missing a beat. The 61 year-old retired teacher and renowned trumpeter is learning how to walk in his famous cowboy boots without his left big toe. He’s lived with Type 2 Diabetes since 1990 and managed it well until this past spring. He started having a pain in his left foot but didn’t think much of it. Finally, the infection got so bad in May, he had to ask his students at Woodrow Wilson High School to call administrators for help because he couldn’t stand up. Gonzalez’s wife is a nurse and forcefully convinced him to come to Methodist to have it looked at. Fortunately, he agreed and doctors in the Methodist Dallas emergency department quickly determined he had a bone infection in his foot.
Three days later, his big toe was amputated to stop the spread and remove the infected bone and tissue. He joked with the nursing staff he wanted to keep the toe, dip it in gold and add it to a chain to wear as a necklace. While that didn’t happen, his wife did nickname the detached appendage “Tobie”. The nursing staff quickly learned Dennis Gonzalez had no shortage of personality and wit.
Gonzalez spent the next 30 days commuting back and forth from his Oak Cliff home to the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at Methodist Dallas for treatment under the direction of Dr. Maryam Raza, the Medical Director. He spent nearly two hours going “diving”, or sitting in a hyperbaric chamber receiving 100% compressed oxygen to help his wound heal quicker. He came to know the nurses like Amy Anderson well. She says he always kept them laughing and especially enjoyed trading barbs with Wound Care director Charlotte Chaney.
The Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center offer care for patients with diabetic wounds and foot ulcers, skin tears, traumatic injuries, gangrene, post-surgical incisions, radiation wounds, burns, and many other types of non-healing wounds. Often, time in the hyperbaric chambers can save a life and a limb if treated quickly and consistently enough.
From left to right: Aiden Anderson; Evan Anderson; Amy Anderson RN, Nurse Manager; Maile Galagac RN, Case Manager; Lauren Smith, Acute Nurse Practitioner; Steve Chaney; Dennis Gonzales; Charlotte Chaney RN, Program Director; Gabe Nolan; Blake Bennett.
Now that he’s back on his feet for good, he wanted to say “thank you” to the Wound Care staff and hosted them at a special concert with his band “Yells at Eels” at the All Good Café on Saturday, August 29th. Six nurses and their spouses came to hear his trumpet and storytelling talents, and plan to return to the audience for future shows.
Calvert Collins-Bratton spent ten years on TV as a broadcast journalist in Columbia, Missouri, Omaha, Las Vegas, and Dallas-Fort Worth. She recently joined Methodist Health System as the Public Relations Manager. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri and enjoys traveling, walking, watching football (especially her Mizzou Tigers) and spending time with her husband and toddler daughter, Vivienne.