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Roxie Brown:

I was born with congenital anomalies in the bones of my feet.  The heels and metatarsals were malformed in both my feet, which resulted in a lot of pain as I was growing up.  My parents took me to Stanford, where doctors originally diagnosed me with Charcot-Marie-Tooth or CMT, a disease with a wide range of physical and neurological components.  Faced with such a devastating prognosis, my mother demanded doctors do all the confirming tests, and thankfully, they found I had a less severe variation of the Charcot-Marie Tooth disorder.  While I had the physical anomalies, I didn’t have the degenerative components.   

Still, I was in a lot of pain – I’d wake up in the morning and my feet hurt; after playing my favorite sport, softball, I was in severe pain.  My family searched for doctors throughout the country to see if they could help, and we even visited surgeons as far away as Pennsylvania.  No one was really familiar with these types of problems, and the best they could offer was, “well, I can try.”  With what I was facing, that kind of response doesn’t provide a lot of confidence.   

During our search, one of the doctors asked us if we had heard of Dr. Nicholas Abidi, whose specialty is lower extremity in reconstruction. We had not, and were surprised to learn that he was located in the Monterey Bay area, with offices just a few miles north of where I grew up In Watsonville, Calif.   

Not only was Dr. Abidi familiar with the disease, but had done a number of surgeries on children in various stages of Charcot-Marie tooth, and assured us he could help us.  His confidence really helped after all we had faced.  The surgeries on each foot needed to be done consecutively, at least six months apart.  I knew I didn’t want to face any longer recovery time, so I scheduled the surgery almost six months to the day.

He performed triple osteotomy full-foot reconstruction, cutting in half my first metatarsal to the toe, and then resetting it straight with a plate and four screws.  He then cut a wedge from my heel and put in a huge pin to bring the sides together to heal.   In addition, he severed my calf muscle completely in half and loosely stitched it back together to lengthen it as it grew back.  For a solid year afterwards, I couldn’t use my calf muscle.

The surgeries all went according to plan, but I was one of those patients with a very unique problem with pain.  The amount of medications I was given would have knocked the average person on the floor, but I was still crying from the pain.  Dr. Abidi did everything he could to alleviate my suffering, eventually giving me an epidural to control it.  I was really impressed that he was there every day to help me get through it.  

Since I was being aggressive to get this all behind me, I was only able to walk for three days before my second surgery.  Then I had to go through a long recovery for each foot, which is normal.

Dr. Abidi and the staff at Santa Cruz Orthopedic were great and totally there for me.  It’s unbelievable to me that the expertise that I needed was in my back yard.  My feet feel 100 percent better; I have no pain when I wake up or from any of my activities.  I can’t express the change this has made in my quality of life – it has alleviated a lot of worry and freed me up to be fully active.  My 21st through 22nd year wasn’t a lot of fun, but I am so glad I went through it.  Thank you, Dr. Abidi!


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