GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Mary Maddox is finally back on her feet, 11 years after the 56-year-old Winder, Georgia woman's legs suddenly stopped working.
"I was at work one day," Maddox said. "I went to go clock out and my legs just wouldn't let me."
Soon Maddox was using a motorized wheelchair to get around.
She'd long been struggling with chronic health problems like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and weight gain.
Now, at 45, her legs felt "dead," and no one, she says, not even her doctors, could tell her why.
"Back doctor says 'It's not your back, it's your hip,' and the hip doctor says, 'It's not your hip, it's your back,'" Maddox says. "Then, all they could come up with is that my body just forgot what to do. So, I just lived the best I could, trying to accept my life."
Earlier this year, Maddox finally came to see vascular surgeon Dr. Charles Moomey at the Vein and Vascular Center at Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville.
He and his team ran some tests.
"It was clear to us she had major problems with her circulation to her legs," Mooney says.
Maddox had an abdominal aortic branch occlusion, or a blockage, in the artery that feeds blood down into both of her legs.
Imaging tests showed the blood flow would get to a certain point at the top of each leg, and then stop.
She underwent two procedures to reopen the flow of blood.
First, Moomey placed a series of stents, or mesh scaffolds, in the artery supplying her right leg.
Once Maddox had recovered from that procedure, Mooney used a piece of another blood vessel to bypass the blockage and restore the blood flow to her left leg.
Within days, Maddox says, that “dead” feeling began to lift, and she was able to get up and walk.
"You couldn't tell me nothing," Maddox said, smiling. "I was so happy."
Mary Maddox still has a way to go, but she's hopeful for the first time in more than a decade.
"I mean that's what I've been fighting for for 11 years, for my life back," she says. "I'm gonna reach for that little star in the sky. I'm gonna reach for it."