Dr. T’s reputation alone allayed so much fear for us. And when we met with him, and he said he could fix her problem and get her out of pain, we were overwhelmed with gratitude.

Vernell’s Story: If You Knock On Enough Doors, You Will Find the Right Answer


San Antonio resident Vernell Bernhard is one blessed 91-year old. Blessed to be alive and able to enjoy life. But she is blessed in many other ways, too.

Cathy is Vernell’s daughter, but she is also her fierce advocate and loving caregiver (blessing #1). So when Vernell’s feet and leg pain became so debilitating that she couldn’t bear it, Cathy jumped into action. She took her mother her to a regional research hospital, thinking they would have access to the latest and best treatment options.
When Vernell’s doctor told her that amputation was her only option, Cathy and Vernell were both shocked. Cathy stepped in protectively and firmly stated that amputation was not the solution they were looking for. “She would like to leave this world with as many limbs as she entered it with,” Cathy told the doctor.

Using the same tenacity and research skills she honed in her career in corporate marketing, Cathy set out to find a better, more hopeful solution for her beloved mom. This led them to the office of Dr. Boulos Toursarkissian (Dr. T) at Peripheral Vascular Associates (blessing #2). Cathy’s own podiatrist told her about PVA and a surgeon by the name of Dr. T, who was doing amazing things for people with serious vascular issues like Vernell.
“It was a very emotional time and we were beginning to lose hope,” said Cathy. “Dr. T’s reputation alone allayed so much fear for us. And when we met with him, and he said he could fix her problem and get her out of pain, we were overwhelmed with gratitude.”

And fix it, he did (blessing #3).

At 91-years young, recovering from surgery can be an uphill battle. But Vernell reported right after her surgery that her leg and foot pain were significantly reduced. And best of all, she was able to keep all four of her limbs (blessing #4).

“If you knock on enough doors, you will find the right answer,” said Cathy, with emotion. “Just keep asking questions, keep knocking and you will find extraordinary things.”

PAD is a Persistent Disease Requiring the Expertise of a Vascular Specialist

Vernell’s vascular issues and leg/foot pain were being caused by Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). And PVA just happens to be a practice that specializes in advanced treatments for PAD (blessing #5).

PVA is comprised of a team of 20 experienced vascular surgeons dedicated to circulatory system disorders as they relate to arteries and veins. Vascular surgeons manage veins and arteries in every part of the body except the brain (neurosurgeons) and the heart (cardiothoracic surgeons). In other words, they know the ins-and-outs of PAD more intricately than any other type of doctor.

PAD is a relatively common medical condition where a buildup of plaque, due to something called atherosclerosis, makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries. Over time, the arteries can become so narrow that it is difficult for blood to bring oxygen to the muscles, tissue and organs. Clots can form when plaque breaks off and enters the bloodstream. PAD primarily affects the legs, but can also damage arteries in the kidneys, abdomen, feet, ankles, pelvis, hips, buttocks and arms.

PAD Risk Factors:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Family history of heart or vascular disease
  • Overweight (Body Mass Index over 30)
  • Lack of exercise and/or sedentary lifestyle
  • Over 70 years old (or over 50 if you also smoke and/or have diabetes)

PAD Treatments

Reducing risk factors, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and smoking cessation are often the first steps in the management of PAD. If these measures fail to improve the condition enough, angioplasty or stenting may be performed to improve circulation. For more advanced cases, surgical bypass or endarterectomy may be necessary to improve blood flow. Rest assured, the vascular specialists at PVA will take into consideration each patient’s anatomy, symptoms and risks carefully before creating an individualized treatment plan.

Dr. Toursarkissian and the entire PVA team invite you to schedule an appointment for an in-office evaluation at PVA. Click here to schedule one now. 

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