Taking my three children to Disney World for the very first time should have been a dream come true. Unfortunately, the lasting effects of a left ankle injury I sustained while playing soccer at the University of Tulsa threatened to ruin that dream. The constant, nagging ankle pain and numbing made it challenging for me to keep up with my 7, 9 and 11 year old children during a recent trip.
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 injures lead 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. 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.
I turned to one of my former fraternity brothers who introduced me to Dr. Wesley Stotler at Tulsa Bone & Joint. Dr. Stotler diagnosed me with end-stage ankle arthritis and presented 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 with my kids. I wanted to be able to play Frisbee and do the things that parents do with their kids. I knew the fusion wasn’t right for me because I knew that would decrease my mobility and would not allow me to do the things I longed 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.
I only took a week off of work after my surgery. In hindsight I should have taken a bit more time, 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 coach 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.” Now I’m knee-deep in my son’s football season and can do everything I need to do—including climbing the stairs to the press box.
A few weeks ago I shot a few hoops with some friends at my house. I was sore the next day, but I could do it! The worst is truly behind me.