In February of 2009, I was returning from an appointment for tests at Stanford and passed out at the wheel at 50 miles per hour, coming to a stop after smashing into two redwood trees. Ironically, I was airflightedback to Stanford. I was in pretty bad shape – I had fractured my femur, broke my radius and several ribs, my lung collapsed, there was bleeding into my brain and I spent a week in a coma. I had also crushed both of my ankles into “corn flakes,” is how the doctors described it to me.
After surgery, both of my legs were in fixators, outside hardware that was tensioned like the spokes of a bicycle. The emergency surgeons had gone in and using screws and plates, patched my ankles together as best as they could, and put me in casts for eight weeks.
When they removed the casts, the doctors told me that they had done all they could for me there. They advised me to see Dr. Nicholas Abidi as he was the best around was even located in Santa Cruz County, where I live. I already knew Dr. Abidi as I he did surgery on my foot to correct several bunion surgeries done by a local podiatrist. I wished I had visited him first for the procedure, rather than enduring five surgeries by the podiatrist attempting to correct her mistakes.
Dr. Abidi did surgery on me on two different occasions to remove hardware that was able to come out and to assess my ankles. In October 2010, he did a Total Ankle Replacement on my right ankle. He was able to use the French replacement ankle, which is cone-shaped and tends to be a lot more flexible for people. There was a question whether what was left of my ankle would support it or not, but he was able to use it, for which I’m grateful.
I had to spend the next 12 weeks off my ankle, and after that began learning to use the artificial joint. There’s a lot of physical therapy involved – learning how to use stairs again, stretching the muscle and addressing the atrophy that comes from being immobilized. In my case, I had even more atrophy because my ankles were so bad, I hadn’t really used them a lot longer than 12 weeks. The therapy helped me build up endurance and also focused on balancing and mastering the fine movements that are really painful but important to learn.
During this time, I used a cane and relied on a leg trolley – a “scooter” for the leg with wheels in front and back, a padded seat to rest my knee and shin, as well as hand brakes and a basket. It was so much more convenient that crutches.
Six months after my surgery, in April 2011, I took a vacation to Europe and was able to walk all over, even up mountains. I was amazed at how much I could do. Since there’s not a lot of ice available in Europe, I couldn’t ice my ankle, but it still did great.
I still have one more surgery to go, a Total Ankle Replacement on my left ankle. I am just holding on since the surgery and recovery is such a long process. I’m hoping to get closer to the five years from the original repair from Stanford. We’ll see – it just depends on how much arthritis develops, which is a given with these types of injuries.
The reception and medical staff at Santa Cruz Orthopaedic is great, and what I love about it is you can get everything you need done there. I get my X-rays done, my orthotics fitted by Brian, their orthoticist, who is so amazing. It’s really been a pleasure when I gone for my appointments.
I am sograteful that we have someone of Dr. Abidi’s caliber accessible to us here in the Central Coast. Dr. Abidi has a 96 to 97 percent success rate with his ankle surgery, which is much higher than the norm from what I understand. This is because he vets his patients very carefully to make sure their situation is appropriate for a Total Ankle Replacement. I really respect that – a lot of doctors would do the surgery, rolling the dice so they could collect their fees. But Dr. Abidi is not going to perform it unless he really believes it will be successful for the patient and for him.
The hardest thing for me is swelling, it depends on how much I push it during the day. Ive had ulcers so it’s no inflammatory.
Prior to the accident, I had a three level cervical disc fusion quite a few years back. I’ve been suffering from degenerative disc disease since I was 20. I’m 58 now. I feel that in my thoracic spine – affectint that now.
What I love about his office is everything you need is right there – esp at the Jade street location. You can get my xrays right there, and my orthothotics. Such a wonderful experience.