A New Ankle for Dad
Taking my three children to Disney World for the very first time should have been a dream come true. Unfortunately, the lasting effects of an injury sustained to my left ankle while playing soccer in college threatened to ruin that dream. The constant, nagging ankle pain and numbness made it challenging for me to keep up with my seven, nine and eleven year old children during my recent vacation.
But first, let me back up a little bit. Back in 1989 I injured the ligaments in my ankle due to worn out AstroTurf. Years of consistent ligament injuries led to wear and tear. If I stepped on a carpet wrong my ankle would roll. I never knew when I’d injure my ankle again.
I had my ligament damage surgically repaired in 1993 and was told it would buy me about 15-20 years of relief. Like clockwork, in 2013 my ankle pain returned worse than ever before.
The trip to Disney with my kids was a wake-up call. At the age of 44 I didn’t want to struggle to keep up with my kids. Instead I wanted to be able to coach their sports teams and live an active life.
Our family loves being outside together. I’d finally had enough so I met with two physicians who discussed surgeries to “clean out” my ankle, but I worried they’d only provide temporary relief like my previous procedure. I wanted a permanent solution that would end my pain once and for all.
That’s when one of my former fraternity brothers introduced me to Dr. Wesley Stotler at Tulsa Bone & Joint. After being diagnosed with end-stage ankle arthritis we discussed two treatment options—ankle fusion and total ankle replacement. I had heard of hip and knee replacements, but I didn’t know that ankle replacements were possible. I wanted to be able to shoot baskets in the driveway and play catch with my kids. I wanted to do the things that parents do with their kids. I’m active and really involved with my kids’ sports, it is something that is very important to me. I knew the fusion where the physician would “weld” the two bones together wasn’t right for me because I knew that would decrease my mobility and would not allow me to do the things I loved to do.
Ten days later, on March 11, 2015, Dr. Stotler implanted an INBONE® Total Ankle System in my left ankle. Weeks of modified weight baring and thrice weekly physical therapy sessions followed to help me rehab my new joint. With the replaced joint I no longer experienced the painful grinding sensation I lived with before the procedure.
I only took a week off of work after my surgery. In hindsight I should have taken a bit more time off, but I was anxious to get back to my normal life. I got myself into a routine where I could take showers and use my knee scooter to do everything I needed to do during my rehab. I even traveled for work and coached my son’s football team and daughter’s soccer team during my rehabilitation.
I was really amazed by how quickly I progressed. The summer before my surgery, while coaching my son’s football team, I needed to take rosters up to the press box. I remember thinking, “That’s a long walk. I don’t know if I can do it.” During my son’s last football season, I could do everything I needed to do—including climbing the stairs to the press box with little to no thought whatsoever.
I get sore from time to time when I push my ankle, but I am able to keep up with my kids and be the best dad I can be. I’d tell anyone that would listen about ankle replacement so they know they have options. It was a true game changer for me! I can’t wait until our next family vacation to see just how far I’ve come.