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James Petroulas

Montclair, NJ

I love to travel, always have. Very few things give me as much pleasure as walking through a city or town, watching how people move through their day, how they interact with each other and their environment, and how the sun moves through a square or across a building’s facade. But not too long ago, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to enjoy travelling again.

Long story short: In December 1999, I had a catastrophic right ankle injury – dislocation, along with a shattered fibula – while walking the dog. Over time the fibula healed, but my ankle was a mess. The injury left me with post-traumatic osteoarthritis; no cartilage in the joint and a collection of bone spurs that combined to significantly limit range of motion. My mobility was limited (no more jogging) but I was able to get around. I considered ankle replacement, but upon examination was told that I was not a good candidate (too young).

Fast forward to July 2011, and what turned out to be a severe rheumatoid arthritis flare. My hands, wrists, elbows knees, ankles, and feet were swollen; I could barely move. I say “what turned out to be” because my RA is seronegative, and it was not diagnosed until after my GP gave up after months of tests and all kinds of PT and suggested I find a rheumatologist.

So I found Steven Magid at HSS. Dr. Magid was able to provide me a huge measure of relief through his treatment (an initial course Prednisone, followed by a regimen of Methotrexate and Humira), but the RA flare caused lasting changes, particularly to my feet (they grew – seriously – from 9.5D to 10.5 EE) and my ankle; its range of motion became even more limited and considerably more painful. Simply walking at all was difficult.

At the same time, my PT recommended that I see Dr. Rock Positano; she had success herself with Dr. Positano and thought he could help me. Rock’s assessment and treatment of my ankle (along with continued treatment from Dr. Magid – I haven’t had a RA flare since 2011) have allowed me to walk again, simple as that. For the past 1.5 years, I have walked at least 10,000 steps every day, and have begun travelling again, to Peru, to Italy (twice!), to the American Southwest, and I am planning to hike the Tour du Mt. Blanc (75 miles in 7 days) next summer. Without Dr. Positano and his team, Dr. Magid and HSS, I’m pretty sure I would just be sitting home watching TV.