Nearly 40 years ago, my left leg was crushed in an auto accident. When I pulled my leg out, I saw nothing attached past my left knee. Instantly, I saw myself as an amputee.
Hospitalized for 3 months, I had 6 surgeries for stabilization, skin grafts after debridement, which is removal of bone fragments, soft tissue, nerves, and tendons that could not be salvaged.
This is my journey to a pain free and walking life.
Because I lost my peroneal nerve, I was not able to pick up my toes and was left with a permanent drop foot. When the tibia bones finally knitted, the lower part of my leg was rotated inward so I became pigeon toed. This malunion required me to wear a brace, an AFO (ankle-foot orthotic) to keep the foot from dropping.
As the lower left leg was permanently numb, I could not feel skin abrasions from the AFO. To rid myself of nightly chafed raw skin, I trained to walk without the AFO by lifting my knee higher to keep from tripping over my toes in the drop foot to compensate.
Over time, my foot continued to turn inward, and I was walking on the outside edge of my foot. Walking on the outside of the foot forced my ankle to bend with every painful step. The inside of my foot never touched the ground even with custom shoe inserts to correct the turned-in foot
Because of the instability of my ankle and foot, I often sprained and twisted my ankle even with those custom-shoe inserts. Every year I asked many orthopedists if anything could be done to correct it. Unfortunately, the only thing I was told was to stick with AFO and shoe inserts.
Finally, last year, an orthopedist referred me to his podiatrist for consultation who in turn referred me to Dr. Dror Paley and the innovative corrective surgeries at The Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, FL.
I met Dr. Craig Robbins at the Paley Institute, and he said he could help me. I was so thrilled to hear that after hearing no hope for 38 years. Dr. Robbins was very thorough explaining how the surgical procedure would be done. He was going to fuse my ankle, rotate the foot outwards and insert the internal fixator called the “Precise” nail, a telescopic rod with a nail or screw inserted into my surgically cut tibia that will lengthen my leg when activated by an electro-magnetic handheld device. I felt complete confidence and scheduled my surgery.
On May 21, 2015, I had my surgery. After a month of lengthening with a hand held magnet actuator at home with my husband, my leg lengthened to the desired length of 1.7 cm. Subsequent biweekly X-rays showed my ankle fusing and the tibia bones starting to grow between the cut gap. Three months post surgery, exactly as Dr. Robbins projected, I was healing and could put weight onto my left foot.
Before and after correction. First image shows pre-surgery: leg twisted and shorter. Second image shows post-surgery: fused ankle and internal fixator applied.
Fixator removed. Tibia consolidated and leg healed.
I am totally ecstatic with the stunning outcome! For the first time in 38 years I can finally put my left foot flat on the ground. The leg is straight, ankle is fused and the left foot is no longer turning under my ankle as I stand and walk pain free. No more inserts or chafing braces!
I have met many doctors throughout my 38 years of dealing with the simple task of walking without pain. It was not until I came to The Paley Institute and met Dr. Craig Robbins that I received hope. He saved my life by helping me walk normally and pain-free. I cannot say enough of how grateful I am to Dr. Robbins who is an exceptional physician with compassion, knowledge and fantastic bedside manner. My dream has come true! I am forever indebted to Dr. Robbins and the entire Paley Institute medical team. It is truly a miracle!